Predicting The Inevitable Letterman and Balloon Boy Law & Order Episodes
In 1998, Law & Order aired a pivotal episode in its police procedural oeuvre. Entitled Tabloid and based on Princess Diana's recent death, writers tweaked a few minor details of the international tragedy to stage an entire investigation around a fatal car crash caused by reckless gossip reporters. Since that groundbreaking "ripped from the headlines" episode, it has become a bit of a game to scan through each morning's paper and predict which slightly-altered-for-television pedophile strangling or Central Park dismemberment case your grandmother will be watching over cold coffee and jam cookies in a month. With this knowledge, that L&O regularly exploits high-profile headlines with a few minor changes to uphold the series prefacing declaration that "the story and characters are fictional", Movieline predicts the inevitable episodes harvested from the David Letterman and Balloon Boy scandals.
Law & Order
The nation is captivated when a young boy lifts off from his Ronkonkoma, Long Island home in a homemade balloon - except the boy isn't inside. After 48 hours of tense Amber Alert conditions, Detectives Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Bernard (Anthony Anderson) find the missing child in the last possible place one would think to look - his own toy box. With the press thirsty for blood and District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) hoping to avoid embarrassment, the detectives are pushed to close this case ASAP. But when further evidence of child endangerment surfaces and the boy's mom is nowhere to be found, it's time to figure out what is hot air and what could be deadly to the life of a child.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
When a young woman turns up dead with signs of sexual assault behind a Midtown dumpster, Detectives Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) are hard up for leads until a low level medical examiner notices that the victim used to occasionally appear on a popular daytime talk show. After paying a visit to the set of the talk show, Detectives Munch (Richard Belzer) and Tutuola (Ice-T) find that the world of daytime television is a seedy hotbed of sex and debauchery, and the problem starts at the top. [Spoiler: The killer turns out to be the aging executive producer who was jealous of the bevy of beauties the host hired.]