|Perhaps it’s my affection for his now-documented relationship with his wife. Perhaps it’s my love for the way his character is the rare comic relief on Law & Order: SVU. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s confident enough to sport a ponytail that looks all too similar to a rat tail. But I can’t help but wonder why, when Chris Meloni leaves Law & Order: SVU, Ice-T’s Det. Fin can’t replace Det. Stabler.|
As a huge fan of Meloni’s departing Det. Stabler, I’ll admit whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill. He (or, heck, she) needs to have a commanding presence on the small screen, prove he could master the procedural, and be an interesting enough character to encourage viewers to tune into SVU every week. But Ice-T — who has signed on for two more seasons on the series — has all those traits: He’s stolen scenes from his Emmy-nominated co-stars plenty of times, is actually believable as a New York detective (most don’t look fantastic and photo shoot-ready while chasing a criminal, Mariska Hargitay), and would introduce a fascinating dynamic on the show as Det. Benson’s partner. While Stabler was the aggressive ying to Benson’s emotion-laden yang, Fin and Benson would hardly work together in harmony: Many times in the past, we’ve seen Fin criticize Benson for her, ahem, slightly more prudish ways. (Remember when he criticized her for poo-pooing a pastime he enjoys, online porn?) We’ve watched SVU tackle brutal murder after brutal murder after brutal murder — some new tension in the workplace could be what the show needs to keep things fresh.
Plus, viewers are already comfortable with Ice-T’s Fin. For NBC to encourage viewers to return without Meloni, they need to make SVU a safe zone. Too often when shows attempt to replace stars with even bigger stars, they end up altering the whole fabric of the series, transforming it into an Emmy vehicle for whichever movie star decided to briefly dabble in television. (See: Jeff Goldblum on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.) But Hargitay and Meloni — hardly household names when SVU premiered in 1999 — have proven that you don’t need a big-budget movie credit on your resumé to hit on the small screen. SVU ain’t broke, NBC — don’t feel the need to fix it with the latest trophy-clamoring movie actor. Ice-T, quite simply, is cool. So let him be the next actor to heat up the series.