Last night on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Hilary Duff played a young mom whose baby was first missing and then found dead. I tuned in because I couldn't resist the promo ads featuring Duff screeching at her mother, played by NYPD Blue's Gail O'Grady. Hoo boy, what a nutty episode: Duff's character was portrayed as a partying, self-absorbed single mom (the episode was called "Selfish"), and her performance was good, a model of restraint compared to a bellowing, grimacing O'Grady, who seemed to be getting her working-class acting tips from Archie Bunker.
Mid-way through the episode, the plot nearly became a different episode, as Duff faded into the background and L&O commenced a storyline about how Duff's baby had died from measles contracted by another kid in a public playground. The mother of that kid was one of those parents who doesn't believe in vaccinating her offspring. That woman was tried for murder. Stars Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, and the L&O:SVU regulars engaged in a lot of yawny debate about vaccination, pro and con. The whole thing reminded me why SVU is my least-favorite Law & Order franchise: Give me the cranky scoldings of Sam Waterston on the original, crispy version, or the new tangy flavor of Criminal Intent's Jeff Goldblum any time.
Even Duff looked bored by the end. Maybe she was pondering her upcoming new version of Bonnie and Clyde during the vast stretches when she had no lines.
Did you watch? What did you think? hilaryerhardduff.com