Tonight's episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, "Manhattan Vigil," was the show's 300th. In a conference call earlier this week, series creator Dick Wolf talked a bit about the landmark episode.
While the return of actor Chris Orbach in the episode was much buzzed about, Wolf shared that the actor's part had been cut. "It was great having him onset," he remarked, but due to "the needs of a constantly shrinking format" he had been cut. "But it was great to have him back and it was nice to see him."
Wolf also discussed his thoughts on why SVU is the last long-running bastion of the Law & Order franchise. "It's very difficult to be in my position and complain or moan about anything," he remarked. "I mean, Law & Order had twenty years, tied with Gunsmoke. And Criminal Intent, between its various iterations, was around for ten years, and is still a source of kind of unending joy to me in reruns... But I think SVU has perservered because of really strong writing I don't think it's ever been stronger."
Wolf also addressed the constantly revolving door of cast members the series possessed, delving into a bit of existentialism: "[SVU] dealt with cast changes very efficiently... The elephant in the room is there were a lot of people that said the show can't survive Chris Meloni leaving. I never believed that... You know, it's just the way it is. I mean, I learned the myth of sort of necessity of anybody when I was 16 and John F. Kennedy was assassinated. That night there was Lyndon Johnson taking the Oath of Office and he was President. And the horrifying fact of human existence is that nobody is indispensable, but in television, you know, it's just part and parcel. Nobody anticipates when they sign a deal that they're going to have to be dealing with whether they want to come back twelve years later."
Despite the Law & Order franchise's rich and diverse former cast members, Wolf responded to queries of a potential reunion episode with, "I doubt it."
"[It would be] not only very difficult to pull off [creatively], but also frustrating to a lot of the fans."
So what is Wolf's goal for the long-running SVU (which is currently in its 14th season)? "Well, if I say it, you'll think I'm insane," he remarked. "But the next goal would be to go 21 years, to beat [the original] Law & Order. Another six years, you never know. As I said, I don't think it's ever been better and it's something that is a very dependable player and continues to be for the network."
His dream guest star for Law & Order: SVU? "It's Jimmy Fallon... I talked to him and he said, 'Oh yes, I'd love to do that.' First of all, he's a very good actor and second of all, I think he'd have a lot of fun."
Wolf also spoke at length about the new NBC series Chicago Fire, for which he is an executive producer. The first two episodes of the series have gained relatively low ratings, though Wolf remarked that he is "optimistic about [the series] settling in."
"I'm hopeful that over the course of this season people are going to find it and be very satisfied with it because everybody is enormously proud of it and the show is getting better every week."
The next, 301st, episode of Law & Order: SVU, "Friending Emily," airs October 31 on NBC. The next episode of Chicago Fire, "Professional Courtesy," airs the same night.