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Pair of Laws ordered back to NBC

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With all the writers-strike chaos currently overtaking the television scene, NBC decided that a little Law & Order was necessary to keep things in line.

The network yesterday revealed the new premiere date for Law & Order's 18th season, and also promoted one of its spin-offs, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. The original Law & Order, which survived an unclear future with the network in May, will begin airing new episodes on Wednesdays beginning January 2.

Law & Order was a staple on television on hump day for many years, but last season was relegated to the less-than-optimal night of Fridays. Although the strike has been seen as a blow to many, it actually has some positive side effects for Law & Order. Before the strike hit Hollywood, the show was poised to air on Sundays at the conclusion of football season, as NBC took over Sunday Night Football this year. Now, it takes over the much-hyped "Bionic Wednesdays" night previously occupied by Bionic Woman and Life. (Life was picked up for a full season but the strike is preventing production of new episodes; Bionic's future hasn't been decided, but it's believed to be grim).

The new season of the longest-running current prime-time drama will open with a two-hour episode beginning at 9 p.m. on the first Wednesday of the new year. After that, it will hold the 10 p.m-11 p.m. slot that night. New members of the cast this season include Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, Six Feet Under) as detective Cyrus Lupo, and Linus Roache (Batman Begins, Kidnapped) as chief assistant district attorney Michael Cutter.

January 9 will see the season premiere of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which will lead in for Law & Order in the 9 p.m. slot. The strike is also having some positive effects for this show; when NBC released its fall schedule in May, Criminal Intent was moved over to NBC-owned cable channel USA Network, with rebroadcasts destined for NBC.

Criminal Intent stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Chris Noth, Julianne Nicholson, and Eric Bogosian (who chatted with TV.com earlier this year about his role), with Alicia Witt joining the cast while Nicholson is on maternity leave.

It's currently unclear how many episodes of each show have been completed and how many will be completed as a result of complications from the writers strike. Another Law & Order spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, currently airs on Tuesday nights on NBC.

For more on the writers strike, check out TV.com's Strike Source, featuring up-to-date statuses on shows, the latest information, and more.

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