NBC kicks off its second mega-crossover event with “Law & Order: SVU,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” Tuesday night with Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson heading to the Windy City for an unsolved murder rape case.
Last year’s crossover of Dick Wolf’s NBC trifecta was a hit for the network, as a near-season high for “Chicago Fire,” while bringing in the best ratings of the season for both “P.D.” and “SVU.”
“It’s a little bit like ‘Justice League’ — it’s fun to watch the different heroes get together,” “SVU” showrunner Warren Leight tells Variety of the crossover’s popularity, adding that this week’s episodes have purposeful storylines, rather than simply being slapped onto the slate for more big numbers. “There was great chemistry between Benson and Voight (Jason Beghe), which was worth revisiting.”
The story sensibly brings the three casts together, thanks to a crime launched by a Ted Bundy-like serial rapist killer (played by “The Walking Dead’s” Dallas Roberts) on the loose in Chicago, which triggers Benson to believe the perp is the same suspect who committed a crime back in 2004.
“Dallas crossing over from one to the other links together the episodes. It’s great to have an outsider come in and be such a strong backbone,” Leight says. “I don’t know that anyone will be able to tell where the shows each end. We plotted essentially a movie structure, as opposed to three different episodes. It all came together. If you’re cooking, it’s all in one pot.”
With Benson on the case in Chicago, along with the “P.D.” unit, the “Fire” squad is enlisted because the sociopath killer burns one of his victims after assaulting her. Leight teases, “The victim is alive, but don’t get attached to her.”
“I think that the fans enjoy it the most, the actors enjoy it second best and the writers and the a.d.’s enjoy it the least,” the showrunner says of the crossover, with a laugh. “From a scheduling point of view, it’s very tricky for everybody.”
However, once the cast and crew got on location together, the shoot resulted in a great dynamic.
“Someone in Chicago said, when the actors of ‘SVU’ are here, we take out the fine China,” Leight recalls. He says that both casts of Wolf’s “Chicago” franchise especially enjoy Hargitay’s presence. “She’s a network television star. She’s an icon. There’s a lot of power and joy to Mariska, and it just radiates from her.”
Onscreen, the characters, unfortunately, won’t be in the same high spirits. The three-part event will see the death of a “P.D.” member, Variety has confirmed, which Leight says shakes up Lindsay (Sophia Bush).
The crossover may also serve as a link to potential spinoff “Chicago Med.”
“I would think that some of the losses that Voight and Lindsey endure, I’d imagine that will have a ripple effect,” Leight says. The three episodes also introduce a new paramedic, guest star Dora Madison Burge, who is speculated to move over to the medical project, if it’s ordered to series, which is promising.
And if “Chicago Med” is greenlit, can viewers expect a four-way crossover in the future?
“I can’t, but I’m sure that everybody else can,” Leight jokes. Where there’s a will and high demo, theres a way.”
The three-part crossover event begins Tuesday at 10/9c during “Chicago Fire’s” timeslot and continues Wednesday at 9/8c. Tuesday night’s episode will air again Wednesday night at 8/7c, leading into the final two parts.