After viewing a grossly mangled dead body of a young woman who apparently fell from a balcony six stories above, Jerry Orbach’s beloved character Det. Lennie Briscoe quickly quipped, “Wonder if her friends knew she was dropping by?”
At another grisly crime scene, Det. Briscoe pulled open a body bag to see a decapitated body of a teenage boy and deadpanned to no one in particular, “Hope his parents weren’t getting him any hats for Christmas.”
These are just a couple of the morbid bon mots that the weathered old Det. Briscoe regularly dished out on the long running NBC hit “Law & Order.” Now there is finally a video collection available capturing over 100 of his greatest callous remarks that have absolutely no regard for the dead or their grieving family members.
“Looks like they lucked out and found the one Chinaman in New York who doesn’t know karate,” zinged Briscoe after looking over the bloodied body of a Chinese delivery boy who was robbed and beaten to death by a gang of white youths.
Now-deceased actor Orbach once described the genesis of his now famous heartless, abhorrent one-liners, “Most people don’t realize it, but I ad lib all of those great lines. In the early days, the scripts were a little staid and too dry, very ‘Dragnet.’ So I decided to spice things up with some good old fashioned gallows humor.”
Orbach perked up and proudly continued, “Some people make jokes to ease the uncomfortable nature of death and murder. I just make jokes because I think death is funny. I love it! I also love that ‘Jackass’ show and ‘Cops,’ anything violent cheers me up.”
On a rare occasion, you’ll find Briscoe mixing in some pop-culture references to appeal to the kids. “Who let the dogs out? Who? Who?” said the recovering alcoholic gumshoe upon seeing the disemboweled body of a female jogger who was the victim of a fatal pit bull attack. When his partner Det. Green failed to acknowledge his tuneful observation, Briscoe continued. “The jogger looks pretty fit, at least the little doggy had a healthy meal.”
In a very poignant older episode, Briscoe witnessed the brutal murder of his partner Larry McMurphy (one of 32 that have appeared with him on the show since 1990). As his dying partner whispered his last request for Briscoe to tell his children he loves them, Briscoe cut him off mid-sentence, “Save it for St. Peter, buddy, I got my own problems.”
Sam Waterston, who plays District Attorney Jack McCoy, can’t wait for the video. “Jerry is a comic genius and one scary mother-effer. He can’t stop giggling during all the crime scenes. We have to re-shoot like twenty times before he settles down. My favorite line of Jerry’s was when he investigated the bludgeoning of a nun and cracked, ‘Hope this doesn’t become habit forming.'”
The “Law & Order” franchise is so popular that NBC has three more spin-offs in the works to add to the current lineup of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Look for the future debuts of “Law & Order: Truancy & Crossing Guard Unit,” “Law & Order: Roughing Up The Perps” and “Law & Order: FuckFest 2004.”
[This story originally appeared on UsedWigs back in 2003. It has been updated.]