The New Faces on 'Law and Order:SVU'

Yahoo Contributor Network

"Law and Order:SVU" is attempting to keep the magic going without the popular character of Elliott Stabler. Doomsday predictions for the series began in the early summer when original cast member Christopher Meloni announced he was not returning for the new season. If the absence of Meloni was not bad enough, Marisa Hargitay decided her character, Olivia Benson would also soon fade away. Accomplished actors Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish joined the cast this season, but will their talents be enough to keep the series going?

Pino is no stranger to playing in a criminal detective series. He played detective Scotty Valens on the intelligently written yet short lived series "Cold Case." Pino joined the cast in the role of Detective Nick Amaro. It is a shame that Pino's will be largely viewed as a replacement actor for Meloni and face nearly constant and critical comparisons to the fan favorite. Cast changes have never been uncommon on any of the "Law and Order" spin-off series, but never has an actor been replaced after 12 seasons on a series. No matter how attractive and talented Pino is, the switch hitting may come a little too late in the game to keep veteran fans tuning in.

Kelli Giddish is an award winning actress who joined the cast as detective Amanda Rollins. Although the character of detective Olivia Benson is not leaving the show just yet, her screen time will continue to decrease until all that is left of the beautiful yet tough female detective are memories. Just like with Meloni, the cast change may be just too much for fans to embrace and cause the 13th season of the popular series to become the last. Giddish was a guest star on "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and played a recurring role on "The Good Wife."

Andre Braugher made a guest appearance on the show as a defense attorney and will hopefully be returning many times throughout the season. The actor was superb in the "Homicide - Life on the Streets" series with current "Law and Order: SVU" star Richard Belzer.

The show still offers excellent storylines and has a cast full of talented actors. The impact of the loss of Meloni and eventually Hargitay will have on viewership will likely not been known until the fall sweeps ratings are released.

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