Law And Order’s Sam Waterston Shares Thoughts On SVU Breaking A Major TV Record Before His Show Could

sam waterston jack mccoy law and order season 21
(Image credit: NBC)

After being off the air for nearly 12 years, Law & Order finally returned to the small screen last week. The revival is being treated as the 21st overall season of the flagship series though, if the season had aired over a decade ago, the beloved procedural would now hold a major distinction. Though due to its cancellation, spin-off series SVU managed to break a major TV record before its parent show did. And now, Sam Waterston is sharing his thoughts.

In 2019, Law & Order: SVU premiered its 21st season, breaking the 20-season TV drama record once held by Gunsmoke in the process. Sam Waterston, who portrays A.D.A. Jack McCoy on Law & Order, discussed the record and all things L&O while catching up with USA Today. During the conversation, the veteran actor was very honest about whether the show missing out on the milestone was sad for him:

Definitely. That was seriously disappointing. And then it's very rude that ‘SVU’ has gotten ahead of us. We'll never catch up now. They'll go on forever, and we'll be behind them panting for breath.

It’s definitely a disappointment that the series was just a season away from breaking a record that was set back in 1975. I guess there's has to be some comfort in the fact that it was taken by fellow Law & Order series, though admittedly that's probably more exciting for Dick Wolf and CBS than it is for the actor. Of course, the actor seemed to be mostly joking, so it's highly doubtful there are any true hard feelings there.

Law & Order had its long-awaited premiere this past Thursday and kicked off a full night of courtroom dramas on NBC. The revival saw some impressive ratings, which is significant considering its 12-year hiatus. Per reports, the drama hit 5.5 million viewers in the preliminary ratings, meaning the network may have yet another hit on its hands. It's still early, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Season 22 could be in the cards! 

Meanwhile, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is in its 23rd season and already snagged its 24th season, which was ordered back in 2020. It doesn’t seem like there’s any end in sight, meaning that as of now, it remains the longest-running primetime, live-action series in the U.S. 

It'll be interesting to see whether or not Law & Order can catch up with its spinoff, though I'd wager that the latter probably has things locked up. As the shows continue their respective runs, it would also appear that they're going to crossover. When asked about the possibility, SVU’s Mariska Hargitay mentioned that one will happen as she's been told by Dick Wolf), she just doesn’t know when. (Though some might argue that the show might be better off without a crossover for now.) Regardless of the tie-ins it's just great to have Sam Waterston and the OG series back and, hopefully, they'll be able to add quite a few more episodes to its list.

New episodes of Law & Order air on Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, followed by SVU and Organized Crime! While you watch, check out CinemaBlend’s 2022 winter and spring TV schedule for more info on other shows.

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.