In a “Law & Order” first, the season opener will be a three-series crossover event with characters from the mothership series working with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) of “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”
“Law & Order” showrunner Rick Eid, who co-wrote the three-hour premiere episode, told TheWrap that the characters from all three series will be working together on the same case, which centers around the murder of a young girl that leads to an international crime ring.
“We’re excited about it. It’s a pretty big event. It’s really like a three-hour movie where all the characters from all the different shows are integrated, seamlessly, I hope, into one big story. They pop in and out as appropriate and it will feel like a three-hour movie starring the stars of your favorite “Law & Order” shows,” he said.
Season 22 also sees the introduction of Junior Detective Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks), who is paired up with Senior Detective Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) after the exit of Anthony Anderson’s Kevin Bernard.
Eid also talked about which hot topic is already on the “ripped from the headlines” docket and how D.A. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) has — and hasn’t — changed in 18 seasons.
TheWrap: What can you tell me about Mehcad Brooks’ character and how he and Donovan will work together?
Rick Eid: He’s a former lawyer, he worked as a narcotics detective and he’s pretty new to homicide when he joins up with Donovan. We’re trying not to do the ‘butting-heads partner’ trope, but at the same time, some conflict is kind of the whole point of drama. They have different approaches to the way they do things. They’re different ages, they come from different places. So there’s definitely lots for them to explore this season. I think it’s an interesting dynamic. In the crossover, when they first meet, they get to know each other pretty quickly.
Are we getting any other new characters?
Connie Shi [of ‘Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt’ and ‘Everything’s Trash’] is new to us this year. She’s a detective and she’ll be in the squad room.
Can we expect more ripped-from-the-headlines stories?
Yes, we will definitely continue to explore what’s going on in the world in the traditional ‘Law & Order’ way. We start with a headline or something that’s being discussed, but they invariably evolved into something different. We take inspiration from what’s going on in the world and then make it our own. One of the very first episodes explores the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. We don’t really get into debating whether it’s good or bad or right or wrong. An interesting wrinkle to the law happens and it gets into this idea of people coming to New York to seek an abortion.
In the past, Jack McCoy has been considered a liberal by some of his opponents in cases such as when he sued a gun manufacturer after a mass shooting. And he was a Vietnam War protester. Would you say he’s gotten more conservative as he’s gotten older? Where does he stand right now?
I don’t know that I would characterize McCoy as liberal. Traditionally, I think he was pretty middle of the road and not afraid to make hard decisions. Almost leaning a little more conservative, frankly. So I think he’s probably stayed about the same. He’s trying to balance his beliefs with the law and with the changing mores of society. It’s a tough balancing act, I think, in the real world as a D.A. right now. Ask all the D.A.s in New York and L.A.
I think [the question is], ‘What is liberal these days?’ I think at a moment in time, Jack McCoy was liberal and if you were to apply what was considered liberal 20 years ago as a prosecutor to what we consider liberal today, it’s not the same.
McCoy has been doing this job for a long time. How has he changed?
I think it’s a challenging role. McCoy came up as an amazing homicide prosecutor and he’s got certain beliefs based on all that. He likes to get the bad guys. I think he’s evolving, which is interesting, having done it this long and he’s still open to thinking differently. It is such an interesting time to be a prosecutor and a district attorney.
What’s happening this season for A.D.A.s Nolan Price (Hugh Dancy) and Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi )?
They will continue to try to thread that needle between doing what’s right for the victims, doing what’s right for the defendants, and following the law. It’s that sort of messiness of justice and what’s right. It’s an imperfect process and trying to find the best results for all the people involved is challenging. So I think that will continue to evolve.
And for Camryn Manheim’s character, Lieutenant Kate Dixon?
I don’t know when it’s going to air, but in one of the early episodes we see Camryn’s character signing fluently with someone and we find out her son is deaf. In real life, Camryn is fluent in sign language and is involved in the deaf community, so it’s really important to her that we integrate that. I think it’s a really cool aspect of her character on the show and obviously in real life.
Will we see the return of any other past ‘Law & Order’ stars?
We don’t have any scheduled right now, but I’m reasonably confident that you’ll see some of the ‘Law & Order’ alumni.