Ask Matt: Why Didn’t Christopher Meloni Just Go Back to ‘SVU’?

Law & Order: Organized Crime chris meloni dylan mcdermott
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic — also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist” — Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. (We know background music is too loud, but there’s always closed-captioning.)

One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush). Look for Ask Matt columns on many Tuesdays and Fridays.

Stabler’s Comeback Felt More Like a Tease

Question: I watched Law & Order: Organized Crime. When I was more thrilled by the 30-second opening credits — wish we had these a lot more on broadcast TV — you know you’re in trouble. The one thing I kept thinking watching this glum, depressing revenge story is why isn’t Christopher Meloni back on SVU? I mean, the fans have been obsessed about this for a decade, why not honor the loyalists? Adding Mariska Hargitay into a guest arc just adds to the tease. Reuniting him and Mariska each week on SVU as Stabler and Benson could add another decade to this never-ending mothership, Organized Crime will be as memorable as Trial by Jury in years to come. I didn’t get the greediness here. It’s actually quite a “screw you” to the fans who have been campaigning for a reunion for a long time. I did like those opening credits, though. – Liam

Matt Roush: It was a messy start for Organized Crime, for sure, and kudos for even remembering the short run of Trial by Jury (2005-06), which was maybe the first time (definitely not the last) when the Law & Order franchise was seen to be vulnerable. It’s too soon to give up on this one, but it needs to slow down and make it more clear what’s going on in the criminal world of antagonist Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott) and why we should care, beyond Stabler’s mission to get payback for his wife’s murder. This is obviously a very different and more serialized type of Law & Order show, focused on one investigation over multiple weeks. Whether that’s a good or a bad idea, the actor was probably never going to go back to SVU as a regular, having been there and done that. (If Organized Crime does tank, we’ll see what happens.) In our interview with Christopher Meloni, he said what drew him back was “the idea of a recognizable character in an unrecognizable landscape.”

Memo to Grey’s Anatomy: Snap Out of It!

Question: I keep looking for discussion in your column about how bad the episode with Teddy was on Grey’s Anatomy. After all, did we really need another Grey’s character in a coma-like dream universe? How about going back to the Seattle hospital at least once in an episode instead of dealing with this crap — although you will probably say it was worth discussing because it really dealt with her post-war PTSD, but to me it makes for awfully boring tv. Combine this with a Lexi and McDreamy visit to Meredith last week, and I for one say pull the plug now. Also this week has yet another Grey’s and Station 19 crossover, which seems to drive people crazy and you can see my point. — JV

Matt Roush: Because variety is, as they say, the spice of life, I try to mix things up here so we’re not bashing Grey’s Anatomy each and every week. While what we now think of as “the Teddy episode” was a tour de force for Kim Raver, and there are elements of her story of trauma well worth exploring, that surreal hour was a long haul, and coming on the heels of DeLuca’s death just felt like too much heavy lifting during a heavy season. You’re not the only one who’s reaching their limit if Meredith doesn’t get off the beach soon. But this reminds me of other periods in Grey’s long history (Denny’s ghost, anyone?) when the impulse to ditch has been pretty strong, and some never come back. I figure I’ll keep watching Grey’s to the very end, whenever that may be, but they don’t always make it easy. And yes, a big sigh about another crossover, where an emergency on Station 19 carries over into Grey’s.

Are Manifest’s Mysteries Worth Your Time?

Question: Is it worth my time to re-commit to Manifest again? I’m giving up hope on answers. I’m on the fence about starting back up even though I did record the April 1st episode. Thanks for your guidance. — Dawn

Matt Roush: As with the Grey’s discussion earlier, one of the trickiest things to discuss is when to break up with a show that refuses to go away. Personally, I hit my limit in Season 2 with Manifest, which didn’t engage me enough with the characters or the storytelling to keep me plugged in. (No one can, or should, watch everything.) But I checked with our reporter who covers the show and was informed that there are enough new layers to the mystery — including the discovery of the tail fin in the ocean, and Zeke (Matt Long) surviving his “death date” — that if you’re still curious enough to record the show, you might want to check back in and make your own call on whether it’s more satisfying or frustrating to stick with it.

Not the Same Magnum

Question: Am I wrong to be a Magnum P.I. purist and hate that they knocked off Icepick, that Tanaka isn’t in the show, and that Higgins and Magnum are buddies in the reboot? Also: I heard a rumor that there’s going to be a NCIS: Hawaii and that Pride fits into this show. Any truth? — Gordon B

Matt Roush: You’re not wrong if it’s how you truly feel. My question would be: If you can’t accept this reimagined version of Magnum for what it is, why would you keep watching? Regarding NCIS Hawaii: While it’s still in development, with no official announcements that I’ve seen, everything regarding the show — especially the casting of another NCIS stalwart — should be considered only a rumor until the studio and network actually move forward.

Question: Can’t NCIS: New Orleans be saved? It’s my favorite. What can we do??? – S Nichols

Matt Roush: You can always reach out directly to CBS through its feedback line and let them know how you feel. Given the amount of mail I see nearly every day about this, I imagine there are campaigns on the show’s behalf being organized on social media. I’m not going to offer false hope that any of this will matter in the long run, but it may make you feel better than staying silent and stewing over this unpopular decision.

And Finally …

Question: Please tell me one of my favorite TV comedies, The Unicorn, is still on. B Positive (not funny) has recently been shown in place of my show. – Marie D

Matt Roush: Sorry, but The Unicorn aired its second-season finale on March 18, which was written as a season finale after 13 episodes of a COVID-shortened season. B Positive moved into its time period to make room for United States of Al after Young Sheldon. We probably won’t know until May, when CBS sets its fall schedule, if The Unicorn is returning for a third season. I hope it does, but it’s not a typical CBS sitcom and is very much on the fence when it comes to renewal. It probably wouldn’t hurt for fans to reach out through the aforementioned feedback line, because if we lose both The Unicorn and Mom (ending after eight seasons) from the Thursday lineup, that’s going to be really sad.

That’s all for now. We can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. (Please include a first name with your question.)