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07/01/2004

Goofs

The other night I found myself transfixed by an episode of Law and Order. Actually, I wasn't truly transfixed; I was so awash in torpor that I could scarcely raise the remote control. Actually, I wasn't awash in torpor; I was immobilized by the hypnotic rhythmic bobble of Sam Waterston's head. But that's not important right now.

What's important is that I was watching Law and Order, an episode called "Scrambled." The episode opens with a woman lying conscious on a gurney, husband smoothing back her sweat-dampened hair, while an off-screen doctor's voice counts, "11...12...13...your ovaries are nice and supple."

Egg retrieval.

The husband is then instructed to go "do his part" — "There are magazines," the doctor kindly informs him, then returns to his delicate ovum-plucking.

We soon learn that in this elite fertility clinic, an embryologist has been killed by an intruder who has invaded the lab, conked her on the head with a tank of liquid nitrogen, and emptied a bunch of frozen embryos into the stainless steel sink.

Hilarity subsequently ensues.

As the minutes passed and the case unfolded, I found myself getting more and more incensed. I get so angry when I see the inaccuracies that riddle any dramatic treatment of infertility. This episode alone included the following egregious errors:

  • Lieutenant Van Buren confides that her sister pursued fertility treatment. Detective Curtis, who is opposed to assisted reproduction, suggests, "Maybe she just wasn't meant to have a baby." Van Buren does not seize the nearest blunt instrument and cave in the side of his skull with a single powerhouse blow.

  • The husband of the patient in the opening scene is lovingly soothing her instead of a) chewing his fingernails past the bloody quick; b) loudly and self-importantly fielding business calls on his cell phone in the waiting room; or c) worrying aloud about whether he'll be able to achieve erection and orgasm on demand.

    The patient is a) fully conscious; b) entirely lucid; c) in no apparent discomfort; and d) not raving deliriously about the desperate crush she has on the doctor who is, even now, perforating her vagina with dozens of tiny needle holes.

  • The receptionist at the top-tier fertility clinic is warm and friendly, with a comforting motherly air. One gets the distinct impression that she returns calls promptly and passes messages on accurately.

  • A couple have a daughter as the result of IVF. Nine years after her birth, they appear to have recovered entirely from the emotional and financial strain.

  • Briscoe works with grim determination to ejaculate into a cup. Because Jerry Orbach is a consummate actor, his penis is convincing, responding to his panicked manual blandishments with realistic sluggishness, but the cup is marked with measurements in hectares instead of the more conventional mL/cc.

    Additionally, the room in which he is sequestered includes no toilet.

I don't know about you, but I demand more realism from my courtroom dramas.

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