In an homage to the pilot, the 300th episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” will feature three actors from the very first episode (Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9/8c on NBC), entitled “Payback,” in addition to original cast members Mariska Hargitay (Detective Olivia Benson), Richard Belzer (Detective John Munch) and Dann Florek (Captain Donald Cragen), who remain with the series.
They are Mili Avital, who plays Laurie Morris in the “Manhattan Vigil” episode, and played Marta Stevens in “Payback”; Ramsey Faragallah who is Rudy Singh in the new episode, but was a taxi driver in the pilot; and Gordana Rashovich, who switches from playing Anya Rugova to Patti Lomatin in Wednesday night’s episode.
Chris Orbach — Jerry Orbach’s real-life son — who played Detective Ken Briscoe in the pilot and several episodes of “SVU,” filmed a scene for “Manhattan Vigil” but ended up on the cutting room floor. Executive producer Dick Wolf explains, saying, “It was great having him on set, but my latest cut does not have him in it. It has nothing to do [with anything] but the needs of a constantly shrinking format. People should not go on an obsessive search [for him].”
Watch a Sneak Peek of “SVU’s” 300th Episode:
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“Manhattan Vigil” starts with the kidnapping of a young boy from Morningside Heights. Olivia, Munch and Captain Cragen put two and two together and see a connection to an unsolved child abduction case that took place 13 years ago and vow to solve both cases.
Even though the time frame places the cold case in the first season, Wolf says it is actually newly created, not a case that was featured back then. In fact, he says that when the story idea for “Manhattan Vigil” was thought of last July, it wasn’t crafted as the 300th episode. That happened later.
“As the story was broken, it had elements of things that are the essence of the show,” he says. “It sort of evolved into, ‘Let’s make this the 300th,’ because it was an opportunity to do some things creatively that the show has never done before, which is using the lifespan of the show as a story point in a landmark episode.”
“Manhattan Vigil” also features Tom Sizemore in a small, but significant role that Wolf says he is “expert” at playing. As for other guest stars on his wish list, Wolf says, “There are a whole range of actors going from the sublime to the ridiculous.” But he refuses to name anyone except for Jimmy Fallon. But don’t get your knickers in a twist waiting for it to happen. It is just something they discussed in passing, and while Fallon expressed his interest, nothing is currently in the works.
Not a lot of shows make it to 300 episodes, and Wolf is appreciative of that fact. He adds that Hargitay was an integral part making it happen and reassures fans of his continued interest in her presence, saying, “I am delighted she is here and I am hoping she will be here as long as the show is.”
As proud as Wolf is of the fact that “Law & Order” made it to 20 years, he considers “SVU” to be the most substantive of all his procedurals as it has had the biggest effect off-screen. He explains, “SVU has been a profoundly influential show in terms of the reporting of sex crimes and child and elder abuse.”
Watch Another Preview with Ice-T and Kelli Giddish:
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The 300th episode of “SVU” airs Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 9/8c on NBC.