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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Sixth Year'
(Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, et al / 5-Disc DVD / NR / (2004-05) 2008 / Universal)

Overview: Return to the scene of the crime with all 23 gripping episodes of the sixth year in a 5 disc set from the Primetime Emmy®-nominated series 'Law & Order: SVU.' Join Primetime Emmy® Award winner Mariska Hargitay and Primetime Emmy® Award nominee Chris Meloni as they and the members of the New York Special Victims Unit hunt down perpetrators and help the emotionally scarred victims of sexually based crimes.

DVD Verdict: Originally called 'Sex Crimes,' executive producer Dick Wolf wisely opted for something less lurid when the second in the inexhaustible 'Law & Order' franchise hit the air in 1999. Still, as the opening voiceover makes clear, the "sexually based offenses" investigated by New York's Special Victims Unit can be "especially heinous." This six-DVD boxed set includes all 23 gripping episodes of the sixth compelling season.

Although the original 'Law and Order: SVU' shows were very much story-driven shows, these on-going incarnations focused much more on the lives of the detectives and their families and/or home lives. Christopher Meloni plays Detective Stabler, a family man who is very dedicated to his work. The fact that he has a wife and daughters makes him a very interesting character and adds to his movivation to get the job done, to get the bad guys off the street, so that it won't be his daughters being abused next.

His partner, Detective Bensen, is played by Mariska Hargitay. She is in the work for different reasons. The fact that she herself was the product of a rape makes her also a very interesting character, as her motivations for being in the unit are very complicated. Richard Belser is Detective John Munch and he brings a lot of black humor to the show. It's just fun to watch him work, and Belser is a teriffic actor. His partner in the first year was Michelle Hurd, although she would later be supplanted by the equally dry-toned Ice-T.

Rounding out the cast is Dann Florek, reprising his role as Captain Cragen from the original 'Law and Order.' I loved him in that series, and he is still great here sis season in, too, walking the line between being tough and supportive with his detectives.

This series focal point has always been Detives Stabler and Benson (the incredible Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay) with Detectives Munch and Tutuola (Richard Belzer and Ice-T) as the back-up detectives. B.D. Wong returns as the forensic psychologist and Diane Neal comes back for a second season as the departments ADA. My top 5 episodes featured here are: "Birthright" - A kidnapping uncovers a scandal at a fertility clinic (probably inspired by the UCI scandal). Future Oscar Nominee Abigail Breslin and Lea Thompson guest; "Conscience" - Detectives get played by the murder suspect and then by the victim's father. Peter Reigert, Kyle McLachlan and Novella Nelson guest; "Weak" - After a fight with Stabler, Benson turns to a former officer, now a psychiatrist, to help solve the serial rape of disabled women. Amanda Plummer and Mary Stuart Masterson guest. (This episode won SVU its first Emmy); "Rage" - Stabler gets a second chance to nail a child molster but will his hatred blow the case? Matthew Modine and Anne Pitoniak guest; and "Night" - When a young woman is found raped and dead, the trail leads to a leading family. This is a crossover episode with L&O: Trial by Jury. Angela Lansbury, Alfred Molina guest. With crossover guests Bebe Neuwirth, Kirk Acevedo and Rita Moreno. (This creates another Oz reunion with Meloni.)

Nominated for 7 Emmys in its first five seasons, if you're a fan of great writing and acting as well as cop shows, this is one set you can't miss. I promise that once you start watching, you'll be hooked. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit pays a visit to Sesame Street as Detectives Mariska, Meloni and Munch search for the missing letter "M"