Christopher Meloni is just days away from making his long-awaited return to Law & Order: SVU, where he starred as Elliot Stabler alongside Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson for more than a decade. His return to SVU will launch his Organized Crime spinoff, and although there is the potential for frequent crossover between the two series, Organized Crime will be very different from SVU in one key way, despite Stabler and Benson sharing the screen once more.
The big way that Organized Crime will be different from SVU was revealed by none other than Christopher Meloni himself, who explained what to expect from his new show to TV Insider:
The first eight episodes will be about one crime. Elliot was doing an investigation somewhere else, then followed a lead to New York, where it’s causing him problems. Benson tries to help and then she’s called off the case. He goes on to investigate with her help every once in a while.
While there is a surprising amount worth getting excited about in the span of just one tease, the big thing of note is that the first eight episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime will be about one crime. Law & Order: SVU is very much a procedural show, which is why it's actually impressive that SVU has managed to find 22 seasons (and counting) worth of crimes for Benson and Co. to investigate. Organized Crime will apparently be serialized through the first eight episodes.
While SVU has been known to deliver arcs, revisit villains, and participate in crossovers, there are generally cases of the week in between. Of course, all but one of Law & Order: SVU's 22 seasons so far have run for upward of 20 episodes each, so serializing a full season would be a pretty tricky endeavor. Eight episodes more or less amounts to a miniseries.
Considering the hype surrounding Organized Crime, I'd be very surprised if it's cancelled after one season and goes down as a miniseries, but fans can look forward to a show that has a lot of familiar elements and some familiar SVU characters while tackling... well, law and order differently when it comes to the length of cases. Stabler will suffer a devastating personal loss to set the stage for the SVU spinoff, which could explain why it's a big enough deal to occupy the first eight episodes.
Organized Crime (which just suspended production for the second time) being formatted somewhat differently than SVU doesn't mean that SVU's Benson can't drop in on the action every once in a while, based on Christopher Meloni's comments. As the captain of Special Victims, Benson can't exactly run off and investigate organized crimes with her former partner on a regular basis, but their paths are going to cross every once in a while.
Unfortunately, none of the trailers or promotional photos released for the Law & Order: SVU/Organized Crime crossover so far actually show Stabler and Benson reunited, so fans still have a lot to look forward to and wonder about in the days leading up to Christopher Meloni's return. The crossover that launches Law & Order: Organized Crime begins on Thursday, April 1 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC with a new episode of SVU, followed by the Organized Crime series premiere at 10 p.m. to expand the Dick Wolf universe of shows even further.