Cast and crew of 'Law & Order Toronto' on the fervent first reactions to the spinoff

TORONTO — Few TV franchises are as cherished as "Law & Order," and the stars of its new Canadian spinoff learned of its deep resonance firsthand when they were cast on the Toronto-based show.

As word spread last year that "Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent" was headed into production, several of its lead actors say the reaction from friends, family, and even strangers was of a seismic level.

"Everybody has some relationship to 'Law & Order,'" said actress Kathleen Munroe, who plays Det. Sgt. Frankie Bateman on the series, which airs Thursdays on Citytv.

"It's the longest-running dramatic franchise in TV history for a reason."

Munroe says people in her circles know "Law & Order" inside and out. Some have it in their regular "comfort TV" rotation, while others have confessed to being drawn into the show's round-the-clock cable TV marathons while staying at a hotel.

The cast and creators of "Law & Order Toronto: Criminal Intent" spoke to The Canadian Press about the surprising ways some people reacted to their new gig.

Kathleen Munroe, who plays detective Bateman, learned she got the job while shopping:

"I was in a medical supply store and tearing up on the phone with my agent. A lovely woman was helping me find a knee brace. And she was the first person I told. She asked if I would sign the back of her receipt, 'Thanks for the support,' because she was giving me a supportive knee brace. It was such a nice moment but with a total stranger at the time."

Aden Young, who plays Det. Sgt. Henry Graff, on his stepdaughter's obsession:

"My family was living in Sydney ... and so we weren't able to up and move. There was a lot of, 'Do we do it or do we not do it?' I remember my stepdaughter, she said if you don't do (the show), you are disowned. She truly is a big fan. There was a channel that just screened 'Law & Order' and she had been bedridden (at one point). She watched like 30 hours in a row or something. There were a lot of people who immediately were like, 'You cannot not do this show.'"

Tassie Cameron, showrunner and executive producer, on winning over a food market owner:

"I have a place up north (and there's) a very intimidating woman who runs a food store. When I told her I was doing this (show), she hugged me. And I was like, 'I've arrived.' Taxi drivers are blown away. It's really different talking about this than trying to explain a show that nobody's heard of."

Karen Robinson, who plays Insp. Vivienne Holness, on how her role garnered a newfound respect from her relatives:

"I said to my father, who is 93 years old and extraordinary, 'Do you know Law & Order?' And he said to me, 'Why yes, I do know that show.' I didn't have to go through any explanation — he was already interested. With the rest of my friends and family they're like, 'Finally, Karen has a real job.' They don't understand the rest of the stuff that I've done, except for maybe Hallmark (movies) or 'Schitt's Creek,' but this one they recognize."

K.C. Collins, who plays deputy Crown attorney Theo Forrester, on letting the cat out of the bag:

"I didn't tell too many people because we weren't allowed to at first. And then before I could say I'm on the show, it was already out there. My phone was going (off), and I was just saying 'Yeah, that (publicity photo) is real.' I have one friend I still need to tell because she is the most diehard 'Law & Order' fan I know. I'm working up to it because I just know how crazy she's going to go."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2024.

David Friend, The Canadian Press