Christopher Meloni's return as Elliot Stabler in Thursday's Law & Order: SVU was "fan-servicey and indulgent — lots of opportunities to stare deeply into his old partner Olivia Benson’s eyes and attempt to atone for the mistakes of his past," says Kathryn VanArendonk. "But by the time Stabler strolls out of the SVU domain and over into his own series, that character in particular and Organized Crime more broadly starts looking like a frustrating measure of just how far the world has moved on from the values and tropes that defined the character years ago. Worse, Organized Crime seems to misjudge the appeal of Law & Order altogether, and it does so in a way that only exacerbates the gap between now and the Stabler of old. Bringing back Elliot Stabler in 2021 was always going to be a mess. Sure, when seen through nostalgia glasses, Stabler is your Law & Order problematic zaddy or whatever. When he’s forced to exist in a contemporary context, though, it’s immediately obvious that all the things he was best known for a decade ago are now enormous flaws. He’s violent and impulsive, he cannot follow rules, and deep in his heart he truly believes that all these things make him a good cop." VanArendonk adds: "More generally, I’m just not sure that Organized Crime is what audiences want from the Law & Order universe. Setting aside the dubious choice of creating even more cop shows right now, the appeal of the franchise’s most enduring properties has always been their role as episodic-TV comfort food. It is copaganda of a very specific flavor: There are cops, there are problems, and then those problems get fixed. If Organized Crime keeps the 'cops' and 'there are problems' parts of the equation, but chucks out the part where those problems are fixed in a reliable clockwork rhythm, I’m not sure the lingering fondness for Elliot Stabler will be enough to win Organized Crime a dedicated place in viewers’ hearts. (Plus, there’s no DUN DUN. Is it even Law & Order without the DUN DUN?!)"
TOPICS: Law & Order: Organized Crime, NBC, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Christopher Meloni, Dick Wolf, Mariska Hargitay