NBC's Law And Order Shows Won't Return With New Episodes This Fall, But Jesse L. Martin's The Irrational Could Be A Great Substitute

 Mariska Hargitay in Law & Order: SVU and Jesse L Martin in The Irrational.
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The ongoing WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike mean that the scripted TV pickings are slimmer than usual this fall, but some shows already had episodes banked that will be able to debut in the coming weeks. While the three Law & Order series won’t be back with new episodes, a show starring a former Law & Order regular is just days away. Jesse L. Martin returns to NBC for The Irrational, and I for one am ready to watch his new character while SVU’s Benson, Organized Crime’s Stabler, and L&O’s McCoy are MIA from primetime.

The Irrational debuts in the 2023 TV schedule on September 25, and NBC has been hyping Jesse L. Martin’s return to the network after spending the better part of a decade on The Flash with plenty of promos. His return is great news for fans of his from Law & Order who may have been disappointed that he didn’t reprise his role for the revival despite ranking as one of the 25 actors who appeared in the most franchise episodes. So, why will his new show be a good substitute for the Law & Order series?

Well, Jesse L. Martin’s Alec Mercer isn't a detective like Ed Green, and a recent first look even features the character cracking a joke about why he’d never want to work law enforcement. But cop or not, Alec's instincts and expertise will enable him to solve mysteries that stump others. The cases that he works include those with law enforcement (even if he's not a detective or agent himself), as well as corporations and government. He’s a behavioral science professor with an unconventional approach to his work.

Is The Irrational going to be Law & Order 2.0, with Alec Mercer as the second coming of Ed Green? Definitely not, and not just because the new drama is based on a book – called Predictably Irrational – by bestselling author Dan Ariely. But do we really need another Law & Order, particularly when the original series as well as SVU and Organized Crime will return once the strikes end and allow shows to begin belated production? Something new but still somewhat familiar could be perfect for this fall.

Jesse L. Martin is a reliable star on the small screen for this new take on solving mysteries, and The Irrational is poised to become a new kind of drama for NBC while seemingly also delivering tried-and-true procedural-type episodes like those for which the Law & Order shows are known. The series won’t premiere until September 25, but you can see a bit more of Alec Mercer and the other characters in the first look below:

As somebody who usually spends her Thursday nights during the TV season parked on NBC for the Law & Order action, I have a feeling that The Irrational is going to be high on my list of favorite scripted shows this fall… and not just because there’s going to be a shortage of other scripted possibilities. What's not to love about Jesse L. Martin in primetime? The new series also stars Maahra Hill, Travina Springer, Molly Kunz, and Arash DeMaxi.

NBC has also set the new drama up for success by scheduling the series premiere for Monday, September 25 at 10 p.m. ET, which places it directly behind the Season 24 premiere of The Voice. Season 24 will be the first without Blake Shelton on board as a coach, so I’m guessing that plenty of people will be tuning in to the network to check out the new era of the singing competition, and that bodes well for The Irrational directly afterwards.