Home Television Review: “Law & Order SVU” 500th Anniversary Episode Rocks with Returns of...

Thursday brings must-see TV with the 500th anniversary episode of “SVU”: A celebration of twenty three years, so many stories, and actors who’ve come and gone who everyone loved.

Producer Warren Leight has really worked in a lot of guest shots and flashbacks, enough to satisfy every fan. Dann Florek is back as Captain Cragen; you will tear up during his video chat with Olivia (Mariska Hargitay). Tamara Tunie is still the M.E, Melinda. (Has she been in the basement all this time?) So great to see both of them.

Danny Pino is back as Nick Amaro, and he’s solving a cold case that involves a true crime writer who was Olivia’s English professor when she was a teen. They slept together and SPOILER they do again in this episode. Aidan Quinn is spectacular as Burton Lowe, just the right combination of charming and creepy.

We also get clips, by the way, of Diane Neal and Elizabeth Ashley from older episodes, and an appearance by Peter Hermann (Hargitay’s real life husband) as defense lawyer Trevor.

That’s a lot of people and a lot of plot, but this episode is cleverly and economically devised with a plot twist ripped from the headlines as well as a personal backstory that gives it gravitas. It’s an impressive trick. “Law & Order SVU” has more quality per square inch than any of the long running shows on TV. Plus, they actually paid for a snippet of “The Girl from Ipanema,” which makes for a pretty cool clue.

Kudos on Number 500. And to Mariska Hargitay, who turns in Emmy worthy work every week.

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