Come mid-May (if not sometimes sooner), the networks will be making some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2012-13 TV season, and which … won’t. As we did last spring, TVLine is singling out select “bubble” shows to survey their prospects.
Next up is a veteran NBC procedural hoping to cop a 14th season.
THE SHOW | Law & Order: SVU (NBC)
THE TIME SLOT | Wednesdays at 10/9c
THE CASE FOR KEEPING | Just call it The Comeback Kid! After what could have a been a series-ending shakeup (the departure of fan fave and front man Christopher Meloni), SVU somehow found a new footing. Whether it was through the addition of interesting new characters (most notably Danny Pino’s Det. Amaro), the introduction of a romantic interest (bravo, Harry Connick, Jr.) for the perpetually lovelorn Benson (Mariska Hargitay) or unfurling fresh takes on the special victims’ cases (Treat Williams’ emotional turn stands out), the show was arguably better for it. This is also the last of the Law & Order series still on the air, and to end this genre-changing lineage completely seems almost criminal. As long as tragic-yet-dramatic real-life crime continues to occur, SVU will have inspiration for exciting material. Plus, if the procedural continues even one more season, it could mean the difference between the return of Stabler (he would have to come back for a series finale, right?) and never getting a true and proper sendoff for the beloved family man detective.
THE CASE FOR CUTTING | SVU has certainly seen better days, and, after 13 years — a run which can only be deemed extremely successful — it might be time to shutter the always-busy sex crimes division. While Meloni’s departure was handled with more grace and ease than we ever thought possible, his absence is at times glaring and, so long as the series continues, might always be. Plus, it’s hard to ignore the all-time ratings lows the show has been delivering. Procedurals will forever be a part of TV vernacular, and the carrying on of SVU might be preventing us from finding the next great, gritty, solve-this-case-along-with-us cop drama.