Law & Order (1990–2010)

The Working Stiff (12 May 1992)

TV Episode   |  TV-14   |    |  Crime, Drama, Mystery

The Working Stiff (1992) Poster

The murder of a "corporate raider" appears to be connected to a Brooklyn factory he took over and then shut down. But the DA's office uncovers a connection to a banking scandal that leads all the way to a former governor.


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21 May 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
| A corporate murder
Season 2 didn't find its feet straightaway. It underwent a lot of change almost immediately, all of it major and some sudden, so there was an understandably unsettled feel (Cerreta and Logan's chemistry took a bit of time to gel). It was still an impressive season and was more refined visually than the otherwise more consistent first season, once it found its groove it boasted some outstanding episodes and the weakest were still pretty good.

The season ends with a bang with one of its best episodes "The Working Stiff". Which was a wonderful episode in every way and boasted one of the best guest star turns of the early seasons, let alone of Season 2. "The Working Stiff" also as has been said already signalled the first time that Adam Schiff was showcased properly, in one of the episodes where it is difficult to not empathise with him, and more than a supporting character that pops up here and there.

Although everything about "The Working Stiff" is brilliant, Eli Wallach (yes that Eli Wallach) really stands out. He gives a performance that has subtle intensity but is also very moving, one of not many major suspects at this early stage of the show to be easy to feel sorry for or certainly his situation. William Prince is not quite as memorable but also does a fine job, his sordid character being quite chilling.

While all the regulars are great, this is a rare episode of Steven Hill in one of his best appearances as Schiff outshining Michael Moriarty. Moriarty as ever is full of authority but Hill is remarkably understated and quite affecting, did feel bad for Schiff here. The tight and clever dialogue really does help the cast though, the issues raised being handled in a way that isn't one-sided or superficial and Vilanis and Schiff especially of the characters have a good deal of depth. The story is not over-deliberate and the many turns taken are not obvious, confused or unnecessary.

Had no issues with comprehending what was going on in "The Working Stiff" while appreciating its intricacy, and connected with it emotionally. As always, it's a slickly made episode, the editing especially having come on quite a bit from when the show first started (never was it a problem but it got more fluid with each episode up to this stage). The music is sparingly used and never seemed melodramatic, the theme tune easy to remember as usual. The direction keeps the tension of the storytelling burning, especially in the legal scenes, while letting the more emotional moments shine too.

Overall, wonderful and one of Season 2's finest. 10/10

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