NBC took Thursday night with its three hour block of “Law & Order.” From 8 to 10pm, there was a 2 hour “SVU” special to launch the record breaking 23rd season, and a new “Organized Crime” with Chris Meloni at 10pm.
“SVU” scored a solid 5.55 million viewers in fast overnight ratings which will undoubtedly increase when all the ratings are compiled.
For a 23 year old show, “SVU” showed that anything old can be new again. The two hour story was one of the very best in the show’s history, with the story of a congressman who was accused of sexing it up with underage girls. Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson, who now runs the Special Victims Unit, and her two main lieutenants — Fin and Rollins aka Ice T and Kelli Giddish — seem re-charged with enthusiasm. In the case of the latter, it may be because Rollins is now having a secret romance with Carisi, the ADA played so well by Peter Scanavino.
The 2 hour special also featured some cast changes. Written out in these episodes were Jamie Gray Hyder and Demore Barnes, who joined the long list of Dick Wolf castoffs who were talented but written into corners. In their place, though, comes a new potential leading man in Octavia Pisano as Velasco, an undercover cop sent into SUV’s midst and quickly moves to the forefront. Pisano, 34, comes with a long resume but this would be his breakout as a prime time star. The writers certainly set him up that way, as Velasco– who goes by the moniker “Q” — got a very showy spotlight last night. We’ll be seeing a lot of him, I think, as the season proceeds.
“SVU” under executive producer Warren Leight remains eminently watchable. Hargitay’s performance is fresh and honest, and the show doesn’t get into silly soap opera plots like its ABC competition, “Grey’s Anatomy.” Plus, the “SVU” team cleverly wrote in Hargitay’s summer accident in which she broke her ankle and had to sit through a lot of the first hour.
“Organized Crime” came in with similar ratings to its spring tryout– 4.32 million. Chris Meloni has a big grey beard and looks like a biker. The show remains unfocused and kind of random. We see the Law, but where is the Order?