Detective Elliot Stabler is back in the Dick Wolf universe, but it’s very different world.
“Law & Order: Organized Crime” premieres Thursday on NBC after a crossover with “SVU,” the show that made star Chris Meloni a household name. Meloni’s much anticipated return comes after a year of civil unrest and national outrage over police brutality and high profile cop-related killings.
The new spinoff sees Stabler returning to the force after more than a decade following a “devastating personal loss.” From there, he’ll set up a high-level task force to take down the city’s biggest crime syndicates.
Meloni is joined by Dylan McDermott, Danielle Mone Truitt, Ainsley Seiger and Tamara Taylor, who shows up in the second episode.
Beyond that, all Taylor, 50, can reveal about her character is that she’s a single mom and a mathematics professor at Columbia University.
“Smart, which we always love,” she told the Daily News. “Smart and strong.”
The Canadian actress, who spent 11 seasons as Dr. Camille Saroyan on “Bones,” has caught reruns of the original “Law & Order,” but she wouldn’t call herself a big fan. “Organized Crime” serves as her first real introduction to the franchise.
“I’m aware of the Dick Wolf universe, just like everyone,” Taylor said. “Just enough to like it, but not enough to be super intimidated by it.”
The gravity of filming a police procedural in the aftermath of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor killings is not lost on the cast.
“We’re showing up in the middle of what I feel to be one of the most important civil rights eras of our time,” Taylor told The News. “We get to jump right in and not have to correct this bizarre notion that all cops are great. It’s this creepy brotherhood that was always represented on cop shows... that was somehow romanticized back in the day. On this show, it’s different.”
For starters, Stabler’s new partner is a Black woman, Sgt. Ayanna Bell played by Truitt. There is also more of an emphasis on the characters than the crimes and that includes the squad members.
“Stabler has pretty consistently been the anti-cop, the anti-detective, very unconventional. He gets to land right back in, I don’t want to say old comfort zone, but this character isn’t like the boys in blue,” Taylor explained.
“Instead of skirting around it, what Dick Wolf does so masterfully is slide right at it. It can’t be ignored ... so he just flies right at it.”
As much as “Organized Crime” is the “Law & Order” of this era, it will feel like home for longtime Wolf fans.
“They’ve done a pretty elegant crossover with ‘SVU.’ Christopher Meloni pops into ‘SVU’ at the end and Mariska Hargitay will pop over to ‘Organized Crime,’” Taylor told The News.
“For anyone that doesn’t understand their backstory, we lay it out very clearly. It’s clear what their dynamic is, who they were to each other. New viewers will completely understand.”
This latest incarnation of “Law and Order” has a chance to not only dive into the grim realities of police work, but Taylor believes it has an opportunity to offer some introspection about the roles races and class play in American law enforcement.
“Our die hasn’t been cast yet,” she said.