DickwolfhrtsCh-ching: "Law & Order" is back. The two segs on tap for Wednesday’s two-hour premiere are as strong any the show has delivered in years. Linus Roache is a great addition to the cast as the driven chief assistant district attorney Michael Cutter. Jeremy Sisto is intense but low-key as Det. Cyrus Lupo, the new partner of Jesse Martin’s Det. Ed Green.

After hitting a ratings slump during the past few years, "Law & Order" hasn’t been treated too well by NBC. The show was exiled to the Friday 10 p.m. berth last season, and then it was in limbo about a pickup (for an astounding 18th season) until the last minute prior to this year’s upfronts. And then it was left off the fall sked as a bench show for the post-football period.

But the tide may have turned for the Peacock’s war horse. "Law & Order" boss Dick Wolf is glad to see the show landing back in its old familiar time slot of Wednesday 10 p.m., which it owned from 1992-2006. And he is optimistic that the infusion of new thesps the return of Rene Balcer as showrunner will put the show in good stead for many more seasons to come. Show hasn’t seen so many on- and off-screen changes in one year since the 1993-94 period, when key cast members Michael Moriarty, Dann Florek, Richard Brooks departed and stalwarts like Sam Waterston and S. Epatha Merkerson arrived, Wolf notes.

"It’s changing the whole zeitgeist of the show," Wolf sez of the new cast lineup. "It was getting to be an older show in terms of the age of the cast and in the literal number of years it had been on. Now, it’s the same show, but it’s a very different six-person ensemble."

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