|Few series reach a 200th episode, especially these days.|
The cast and crew of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” have much to celebrate. Executive producer Dick Wolf’s NBC drama reaches that milestone Tuesday (at 10 p.m. on WHDH, Ch. 7).
Guest star Robin Williams plays a prankster who poses as a police detective when making a phone call. The man on the other end - later arrested for molestation - claims he was following the instructions of the persuasive “detective,” posing yet another unusual case for longtime New York police partners Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay).
“It’s awesome,” Meloni said of making episode 200. “When we got to 100, it really hit me. I was a guest star on ‘NYPD Blue’ when they hit theirs and I remember thinking, ‘Man, I can’t believe that.’ Now, 200 is almost surreal. It’s rarefied air. I had somebody look up the number of network shows that have reached (such) milestones and it’s pretty darned few.”
Meloni said working with Williams was “an ultimate acting moment for me. He’s iconic. He’s proven himself in a variety of venues from stand-up comedy to film, and I’m a fan, so it’s pretty cool. (The episode) is a cat-and-mouse game that leaves a question mark as to who won and who was right or wrong.”
Also shown frequently in USA Network repeats, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” skillfully balances the professional and the personal for Benson and Stabler. The unmarried Benson now wants to be a mom and Stabler may be the last to question her maternal instincts - especially since she helped deliver his youngest child, Elliot Jr., after a car accident involving his wife.
“We actually screen-tested together,” Meloni said of Hargitay. “She and I were just cutting up left and right, so I knew our senses of humor jived. She ‘got it’ much sooner than I did. She was saying, ‘They really love our chemistry,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, OK, whatever.’ It’s taken me quite a few years to catch on to that.”
“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” has given Stabler many challenges, from facing an on-the-job brutality charge to being temporarily blinded.
Nominated for an Emmy for the show in 2006, Meloni knows he’s had a lot to play with.
“Look, I’ve been extremely blessed. People have seen me in threatening roles (notably in the movie ‘Bound’ and the HBO series ‘Oz’) and now I play this flawed guy who’s still a heroic figure. I get to skate all over the sphere.”
If anything proves “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is still getting the job done after 200 episodes, Meloni finds it in reactions from actual New York police officers.
“It’s the highest compliment you can be paid,” he said of positive comments from that sector. “It’s always a begrudging, ‘You play that cop? Hey, you’re not bad.’ ”