Anybody who knows me will tell you that I am a huge Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fan. It’s one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. Before you ask, no I am not 50. I just happen to enjoy quality TV. Over the past few years, I’m not ashamed to say that quality has dropped a bit. A few bright spots remain, but a lot of that glimmer has left the show. What follows is exactly what needs to happen for this show to regain its former glory.
No More Focus on Oliva
It seems to have become rather popular for a large majority of a season to focus on the story of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). I 100% understand why they are doing this. They know that when they lost Christopher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler, they would likely lose a good portion of their audience. The answer to this was to show how important Oliva was and how inconsequential Elliot was to the first twelve seasons. They even go so far as to never mention his name past season 12 (and that’s not even an exaggeration). What was so great about the show prior to his exit wasn’t just him or just her, it was their chemistry. We had great cases and 2 unbelievably wonderful detectives to solve said cases. The drop in ratings after he left had almost nothing to do with the loss of Detective Stabler, but with the loss of a great team. All you do when you have Olivia-centric seasons or episodes is remind us of what we are really missing and how great Law & Order: SVU used to be. So, stop it Dick Wolf!
Give Us a Big Twist
Let’s face it; the Law & Order franchise is a pretty by-the-book series. It can’t help it since it pretty much wrote the book. After almost 30 years, it’s probably time to shake things up a bit – and I don’t mean new cast members. The wife and I had a pretty bold idea circa season 15, but we knew the idea wouldn’t work with any of the current lineup of detectives. Then season 16 rolled around and we were given the perfect candidate on a bold and brash silver platter when Peter Scanavino’s Detective Dominick Carisi debuted. The idea would be that the last 3 episodes of a season are dedicated to bringing down a particularly disgusting child pornography ring (they’re all disgusting). This group has been active for decades, but has been very careful not to get caught. When searching a victim’s home for clues, they notice that she has pictures on her computer. After they arrest her, she spills the beans on this secret group of vile humans and the SVU detectives begin their search. They keep coming so close to finding out who is running it, but no matter what they do, no matter how hard they run, they are always just 1 step behind the ring leader. By the season’s end, we find out that Detective Carisi is actually a part of the ring. He’s not the leader, but he has been actively thwarting the NYPD every chance he got because he knew it would be his end. The season would end with Detective Fin (Ice-T) shooting and killing the young detective.
It doesn’t have to necessarily be this (although I think it would be cool), but give us something new! The only difference between the show 16 years ago and now are the new detectives and Olivia has a child (holy shit, does she have a baby!). If they give us something fresh, we will absolutely forget why we have become casual fans.
Bring Back Familiar Faces
What I’ve particularly disliked about the show recently are they blatant replacements for our old cast. It’s nothing against Kelli Giddish (Detective Rollins) or Danny Pino (Detective Amaro), but they were so clearly attempts at replacing beloved characters. They did get it right a couple of times (Raúl Esparza’s ADA Barba is absolutely incredible), but there has been something missing from most of the new characters. They try to give us a backstory, but between Oliva’s sudden love life, her biological clock kicking into overdrive, Amaro’s family and temper problems (*cough*Stabler*cough*), and Rollins’s gambling issues, we were given too much. They overfilled their plate and played a dangerous character-development balancing act.
My suggestion would be this: Keep the new detectives, they are fine, but you need to bring back a couple favorites. First and foremost would be Christopher Meloni, and this shouldn’t even be a question. While the team of Oliva and Elliot was brilliant, Meloni’s Detective Stabler was absolutely unforgettable. We never knew exactly what he was going to do from episode to episode, but we were always entertained. The episodes used to focus on him were few and far between, but still done perfectly. We know a lot about the character, but there is still a little mystery to the man.
The other suggestion might be a tough-sell, but I truly believe that Vincent D’Onofrio’s Detective Robert Goren should be brought back to Law & Order: SVU as one of the lead detectives. He would add that little magic of his that made Law & Order: Criminal Intent as popular as it became. He’s charming and the other detectives have never run into someone quite like him. Can you imagine putting Goren in the same department as Stabler? Plus it’s a department that regularly deals with rape, child molestation and pornography, and domestic violence. All of those things equal a very explosive character and, most importantly, ratings!
I’ve always loved Law & Order: SVU and will always watch it, but I can see their growing flaws. These are just my suggestions, what are yours? What do you think of mine? Let me know in the usual spot.
All Images Courtesy of NBC Universal