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With Leno Gone, Law & Order Reclaims Its Time-Slot

Debra Winger (center) guest stars when Law & Order returns this week.
Debra Winger (center) guest stars when Law & Order returns this week.
NBC

In the world of TV dramas, a show like Mad Men is a five-star, four-course meal. Something like True Blood is pure dessert.

 Now Law & Order? Think of it as the TV equivalent of mashed potatoes & meat loaf, or peanut butter & jelly. In other words, comfort food. There's something soothing about the show's familiar rhythms: body is found, police follow leads, case goes to trial, something goes wrong, lawyers pull case out of the fire at the last minute.

(Unless the case revolves around a controversial issue, in which case the defendant will go free due to a hung jury, as a way for the show to illustrate how controversial the issue is.)

 All the same, there was something a little discomforting about seeing it airing at 8 p.m. for the past few months, as Jay Leno's 10 p.m. show displaced all the normal NBC programming that aired at that hour.

 Tonight, that changes. Jay's back on The Tonight Show, and NBC needs to fill five hours in the time slot Leno used to occupy. That means Law & Order returns to its rightful place, starting tonight at 9 p.m. with two back to back episodes. (The show will air at 10 p.m. starting next week.)

  It's worth tuning in, or at least catching up later on Hulu, because Law & Order has gotten a second wind lately, with one of its strongest casts in a long time. 

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