Cast Promises Leaner, Sleeker New ‘SVU’

by | September 20, 2011 at 12:15 PM | Fall TV Preview 2011, Law Order SVU

Dann Florek as Capt. Donald Cragen, Richard Belzer as Det. John Munch, Danny Pino as Det. Nick Amaro, Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson, Ice-T as Det. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Kelli Giddish as Det. Amanda Rollins  on Law & Order: SVU (NBC)

Dann Florek as Capt. Donald Cragen, Richard Belzer as Det. John Munch, Danny Pino as Det. Nick Amaro, Mariska Hargitay as Det. Olivia Benson, Ice-T as Det. Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Kelli Giddish as Det. Amanda Rollins on Law & Order: SVU (NBC)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” returns with a ripped-from-the-headlines story on Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c on NBC, in which a hotel maid reports being sexually assaulted by an Italian diplomat. The case gets complicated when secrets from the maid’s past put her credibility as a witness in jeopardy.

“The show will be a reflection of what is happening in the news, but not exactly what is happening in the news,” says Stephanie March, who returns as assistant district attorney Alex Cabot for at least five episodes. “It will maybe provide an alternate perspective [to the real-life case of International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn] that I think the audience will find interesting.”

Preview The New Season:

Of course, the big news at “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is the loss of Chris Meloni, who has played Detective Elliott Stabler since the show’s inception, but decided not to renew his contract at the end of last season. In the season premiere, Stabler is dealing with the fall-out – meaning he is being investigated by Internal Affairs — from the shooting of a young girl in the precinct in last season’s finale. The shooting was by the book, but because of Stabler’s record and his many shootings in the past, Capt. Kragen (Dann Florek) tells Olivia (Mariska Hargitay), that her partner would have to jump through hoops to get his job back. Is Stabler willing to do it? Or will he walk away from his life’s work? Stay tuned.

Of course, we never see Stabler as he struggles to decide his future, but we do see how the loss of her partner is affecting Olivia, who a spokesperson for the series confirms will be in every episode of the new season.

“Through Mariska’s character there is a strong identity with really getting into the hearts of what it is like to be a victim of these crimes and how these people are fighting for justice,” says Linus Roche, who is guest starring for four episodes and, as Mike Cutter, has been promoted to Bureau Chief from ADA.

Replacing Stabler: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has added Kelli Giddish in the role of Detective Amanda Rollins, a transfer from Atlanta who joins the SVU squad in the first episode and Danny Pino as Detective Nick Amaro, who transfers into the SVU squad from another division of the NYPD. Pino doesn’t appear until episode two. “My sense is the show is evolving very nicely bringing in dynamic characters with Danny and Kelli playing detectives and bringing old blood back in new situations,” Roche says.

What Makes This Season Different: “It feels like a leaner, faster machine which is a great thing to be a part of,” March says. While Roche adds, “There is a sense the show is moving into new territory with the characters, but what will stay the same is the emotional strength.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” Alum T.R. Knight Returns To TV: It is a tour-de-force performance that may surprise many when Knight is charged with rape on the Oct. 12 “Double Strands” episode. Other guest stars this season include: Anika Noni Rose, Franco Nero, Ron Rifkin, Mehcad Brooks, Dan Lauria, Heavy D and New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat.

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