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Fridays on NBC (10-11 p.m. ET)

This hard-hitting and emotional companion series from NBC’s “Law & Order” franchise chronicles the life and crimes of the elite Special Victims Unit of the New York Police Department. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” was created by Emmy Award-winning producer Dick Wolf.

Although “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” carries the brand name “Law & Order,” the newer program has established a strong unique identity and has proven itself as a hit in its own right. Last season (2001-02), the series broke into the Top 10 and garnered an Emmy nomination for guest-star Martha Plimpton.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” was the only network prime-time series to go undefeated in its time period among adults 18-49 during the 2001-02 season. “SVU” also delivered NBC’s most dominant 18-49 win in the time period in the 15-season history of Nielsen Media Research’s current People Meter sample. Additionally, the series’ popularity was recognized in its debut season by both the People’s Choice Awards and the TV Guide Awards with nominations for Favorite New Series.

The drama — now in its fourth season — follows Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni, “Runaway Bride,” “Oz”), a seasoned veteran of the unit who has seen it all, and his partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay, NBC’s “ER”), whose difficult past is the reason she joined the unit.

Overseeing the team is Capt. Donald Cragen (Dann Florek, reprising the role he played on the first three seasons of “Law & Order”). Cragen’s tough but supportive approach to the team’s complex cases guides the squad through the challenges they face every day. Also featured is Det. John Munch (Richard Belzer, “Homicide: Life on the Street”), a transfer from Baltimore’s homicide unit, who brings his acerbic wit, conspiracy theories and street-honed investigative skills. Munch is partnered with Det.

Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (Ice-T, “Players,” “New Jack City”), whose unique sense of humor and investigative experience make him a formidable match for Munch.

Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March, Broadway’s “Death of a Salesman”) adds a legal component to the series through her efforts to bring closure to the intense investigations. Also aiding the detectives is forensic psychiatrist George Huang (B.D. Wong, “Oz”), whose insight into the minds of the accused often provides significant clues that lead to the resolution of a case.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a Wolf Films production in association with Universal Network Television. Dick Wolf (“Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Crime & Punishment”) is creator and executive producer, Ted Kotcheff (“Fun with Dick and Jane,” “Weekend at Bernie’s”), Neal Baer (NBC’s “ER,” “China Beach”) and Peter Jankowski are executive producers; Arthur Forney and Judith McCreary are co-executive producers.


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