Det. John Munch said good-bye to “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” on Wednesday, but the door could remain open for Munch to return occasionally.
In the episode of the long-running NBC police drama — which started its 15th season last month — Munch (played by Richard Belzer) was feted with a going-away party where it was revealed that he’s not retiring completely from police work.
Instead, he’s due to become a special investigator for the district attorney’s office — which could mean the character might show up from time to time. As it happens, Munch never held that title in the 20-year existence of this character, who was first introduced on another show entirely, the Baltimore-based “Homicide: Life on the Street” in 1993. When that show was cancelled, the Munch character “transferred” to the NYPD’s Special Victim’s Unit (and “L&O”) as a detective — a move that is possibly unique (or at least exceedingly rare) in the annals of television.
The DA investigator’s job that he is due to take up is ironic: Though it is a job Munch never had, it is a job that many other detectives have held in the storied history of this multi-tentacled TV franchise, especially on the series that started it all, the original “Law & Order.”
In the “L&O: SVU” farewell episode — which you can watch above — Munch’s farewell party is held at the opening of the show, with various characters sharing affectionate memories and heartfelt good-byes to their friend and colleague.
One nice touch that we liked: The audience was sprinkled with an interesting array of guests. Among others, we spied veteran comedian David Steinberg, who we figure might be a long-time friend of Belzer, who first became famous as a standup comedian. Also in the audience: Actor-turned-director Clark Johnson, in character as Baltimore PD Det. Meldrick Lewis, one of the Munch character’s former colleagues on “Homicide.”