For its 17th season, the aging legal drama Law & Order will undergo an extreme makeover. The NBC warhorse moves to Fridays at 10 pm/ET in the fall and will add two new cast members, including for the first time a female street detective.
After owning Wednesdays at 10 for more than a decade, L&O finally met its match the past two seasons against CSI: NY. Now NBC is going to see if the show will fare any better against another CBS hit, Numbers, on a night with lower expectations.
Notoriously brusque creator and executive producer Dick Wolf initially admitted he "liked the first schedule better," but he now says, "I'm sure we'll do fine."
Media analyst Steve Sternberg of Magna Global agrees. "NBC realized that the show isn't as strong as it used to be. However, it will probably do very well on Friday," he says. "There's room for two shows in that time period."
Major cast changes are also on tap following the departure of Dennis Farina, who played Det. Joe Fontana for the past two seasons. (Farina says he quit the show to focus on other projects.) Wolf quickly moved to hire Milena Govich to join Jesse L. Martin's Det. Ed Green on the police beat. Govich was most recently seen on Wolf's latest legal drama, Conviction, which NBC canceled after its mid-season tryout, and also had a recurring role on the FX drama Rescue Me.
Additionally, a new assistant DA to be played by Alana De La Garza, fresh from her arc as Horatio Caine's ill-fated bride on CSI: Miami will replace Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse), who was murdered in L&O's season finale last month.
Despite all the changes, Wolf is optimistic about Law & Order's future. "The new blood will refresh the show in the way it's been refreshed in the past, since we first added women to the cast in 1993," he says.
A ruling from the ultimate judges the TV audience should come in September.
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