NBC's Law & Order franchise is putting together an episode inspired by January's Tucson shootings, in which six people were killed and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was critically injured. The popular shows always use story lines that are "ripped from the headlines," and NBC stresses that, as always, this episode of Law & Order: L.A. will be a work of fiction, not a depiction of the Arizona shootings. But is it too soon to turn the tragedy into entertainment for TV viewers?

Of course it is. This is ghoulish: Law & Order: L.A.'s ratings are lousy, says the Arizona Daily Wildcat in an editorial, but exploiting the murders of six people, "including a 9-year-old girl, to get people watching is despicable." Given the bright reports about Giffords' recovery, the producers probably thought they could get away with this. But "it's easily, obviously, too early to turn the Jan. 8 tragedy into a TV drama."
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Maybe this will help honor Tucson's victims: The tragedy touched people far beyond Tucson, says SodaHead TV. The entire nation was shaken up and needed time to mourn, so it does seem like the producers might have waited a little longer. "Then again, maybe it will be just the reminder we need."
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The details will distinguish fiction from fact: The Law & Order franchise always tries to mirror real events, says the Associated Press, and doing that tastefully and respectfully "is always a tricky balance." But the writers always have to "make the story generic enough that it stands up as a rerun." So while there will be no denying this episode was inspired by the Tucson tragedy, it should be clear enough "that it is a work of fiction, not fact."
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