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Encyclopedia > Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 5 DVD

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU) is the first of three spin-offs of Law & Order (the other two being Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial by Jury; all series are presented on the NBC network, with SVU and CI syndicated on the USA network). SVU first hit the US airwaves in 1999.


Brief Description and Show Development

Unlike the original Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU follows a distinctive division of the New York Police Department: the Special Victims Unit (aka the Sex Crimes division). As its latter name may imply, the police detectors in this division investigate on the shocking crimes involving sex nature, such as the characters solving crimes that deal with rape, homicide, child abuse, etc. Thus some of the episodes are violent, especially for children under the age of 13. The series was originally proposed to be unrelated to the Law & Order brand, and the proposed title was originally Sex Crimes. NBC thought the title was too harsh of interference to the common TV viewer(s), and after discussing this issue to network executives, and Dick Wolf, who has had a big alliance with his Law & Order show, this thus became part of the L&O brand, and the new show debut as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The main two cast members Christopher Meloni as Police Detective Elliot Stabler, and Mariska Hargitay as Police Detective Olivia Benson; both wanted to join the Special Victims Unit for different reasons: Stabler felt a moral responsibility to protect all people from the criminals that they had to deal with, especially because he had four children of his own. Benson was an example of promise even though her birth was through unpleasant circumstances -- her father was a serial rapist. The cast also consists of characters from two other NBC series: Captain Donald Cragen, played by Dann Florek, who was on the first 3 seasons of Law & Order and Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) from Homicide: Life on the Street. Supporting cast of season one included Dean Winters as Munch's partner, Detective Brian Cassidy, and Michelle Hurd as Detective Monique Jefferies. The character of Det. Jefferies was originally a minor role, but when Winters left the show midway through the season, she played a more promonate player as Munch’s partner.

Casting Changes

Stephanie March as ADA Alexandra Cabot.

The show, like its parent show, has undergone some casting changes: Michelle Hurd was fired after season one, and at the start of show's second season, Hurd's Monique Jeffries character was replaced with Detective Odafin Tutuola (played by well-known rapper and actor, Ice-T); he has been on the show since. Also the spinoff has gained more popularity of adding actress and supermodel Stephanie March, as Assistant District Attorney Alexandra "Alex" Cabot. In season four, B.D. Wong joined the cast as George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist on mortgage from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Most noteably however, in season five, March was replaced with Diane Neal; her character’s name is Casey Novak.

In addition, the show has had many guest stars, including stars that were on Law & Order at the time, including Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Briscoe, Jesse L. Martin as Det. Ed Green, and Fred Dalton Thompson as DA Arthur Branch.

See Also

  • Law & Order
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent
  • Law & Order: Trial by Jury

External links



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