If one thing is certain about Dick Wolf, it’s that he likes to deal in the business of “Now.” The man has made a living with his “ripped from the headlines” approach to television through Law and Order, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and even the short-lived Law and Order: Trial by Jury. This time around, however, he has taken that approach a step further with Law and Order: Los Angeles. Not only was the storyline of the series premiere inspired heavily by the modern day young celeb-centric culture of Hollywood, but the show also centered on the detectives’ reliance on social networking and TMZ to further their investigation.

 If the first episode is any indication of the direction the show will follow, it is pretty clear that Dick Wolf and NBC are targeting a much younger audience. And with the original Law and Order airing its final episode on May 24, 2010 after 20 seasons, can anyone blame them? Los Angeles is certainly a “sexier” alternative to its predecessors thanks to its cutting-edge camera angles and editing coupled with its less than inconspicuous name-dropping (see Perez Hilton). But it also takes a slightly different approach to the traditional half-episode split between detectives and attorneys. The format of the show is much freer form, with seemingly more focus given to the “Order” aspect over the “Law.” It also seems to follow Detective Rex Winters (Skeet Ulrich) in a way similar to that of Criminal Intent’s treatment of Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) – that they are the main protagonists of their respective shows, rather than members of a detective team.

It is too early to judge the show’s treatment of the Los Angeles attorneys that prosecute the offenders (Terrence Howard, Alfred Molina, Regina Hall, Megan Boone), but early indications point to them taking a similar line to other Law and Order programs. The first episode of Los Angeles had a less than favorable portrayal of defense attorneys by making them fit the mold of the stereotypical, unscrupulous Hollywood lawyer. The first episode also attempted to forego nearly all discussion of actual law in lieu of fancy criminal hypotheses.

All things considered, Law and Order: Los Angeles is a solid new addition to Dick Wolf’s family of shows. It is not the best replacement for the original, but then again, it doesn’t necessarily try to be. The show has breathed new life into a once stagnant genre, and has the potential to capture viewers and critics alike. Just don’t hope to be able to pass the California bar after watching it.