In today’s TV world, it’s a milestone when a show airs its 100th episode. But for NBC’s long running police procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the 100th episode is long in the past. According to The Hollywood Reporter, tonight’s episode is number 400, a feat that only a select few shows throughout the history of television can claim.
For tonight’s 400th episode, series star Mariska Hargitay (Olivia Benson) is once again stepping behind the camera as a director for the episode, in addition to starring in the episode and being an executive producer of the series.
Showrunner Rick Eid, who took over from Warren Leight this past summer, said he wanted Hargitay to direct the episode and said that the writers “tried to write something that she could really sink her teeth into and get excited about and passionate about. We wanted to give Mariska something that we thought was complicated and highlighted her strengths as an actor, as a director and ultimately, something that was hopefully emblematic of the show itself, a worthy representation of number 400 that symbolizes all the show can do, has done and hopefully will do in the future.”
Eid also previewed an upcoming storyline involving Barba (Raul Esparza), where a tech genius does some hacking and reveals information about Barba’s professional and personal life that he didn’t necessarily want revealed.
Meanwhile, series creator Dick Wolf spoke with the New York Post to look at the history of the show.
Wolf revealed that his favorite episode of the show’s run is “Payback,” which served as the pilot episode of the series and aired back in 1999 and a 2003 episode about Tay-Sachs was another one of his favorites.
He said that Hargitay is part of the reason that the show is so succcessful. “Mariska is much more than a TV actress — she’s literally a female icon for American women from the ages of 14 to 104 … Olivia represents an ideal, in one sense, but a person who is relatable because of her flaws. It’s an amazing achievement that Mariska has been able to maintain this degree of focus for this long. Emotionally, she’s got the perfect pitch.”
Wolf also talk about the show and his hopes for more of the show. He said he hasn’t heard any talk of a renewal or cancellation of the show from NBC. However, he does want the show to be on through season 21, which will make it the longest running non-animated primetime drama in the history of television, a feat the original Law & Order almost accomplished before it was canceled in its 20th season.
Bob Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, seems to echo Wolf’s sentiments about the longevity of the show. “We love SVU,” Greenblatt told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think we have deal issues to go through, but I think that show’s back again for another year, at least.”
Greenblatt seems to think that the show will continue as long as Hargitay wants to do the show since she’s the only remaining original cast member on the show. Ice T, who plays Fin Tutuola, joined the show at the beginning of the second season.
Greenblatt did think that if the show was ending, the network would give fans and executives on the show proper time to say goodbye to the show, like the network did with some of its shows that ended in the last few years.
Eid also seemed to think that SVU would most likely get a season 19 and would hopefully get a season 20 and 21. “There’s a lot that goes into those decisions. But I think we’re cautiously optimistic there will be more episodes of Law & Order: SVU.”
The 400th episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs tonight (Feb. 8) at 9 p.m. on NBC.