SVU with Nick Amaro vs. SVU with Elliot Stabler: Now That We've Gotten to Know the New Guy, How Does He Compare?

For twelve seasons, Law & Order: SVU was about many things—the cases, the wise-cracking but supportive police department, and the partnership between the show's lead detectives, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). But that changed in Season 13, when Meloni left and was replaced by Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish, who play Nick Amaro and Amanda Rollins, respectively. Since we've had about a season and a half to get comfortable with the new kids, I thought now might be a good time to compare the two lead male detectives to see how they stack up against one another.

Before I dig in, a couple of things about the show as a whole: Giddish is an excellent addition as a tough, smart detective with a shady past, but she's not Olivia's main partner—that honor is Amaro's. Though I will say SVU is doing a great job of changing up partnerships and letting us see how different cast members work together.

In fact, as a Law & Order franchise devotee, I am incredibly impressed with how SVU has evolved. It seems to me that the creators watched The Wire and took some cues—there are innovative uses of bureaucratic red tape, mistaken prosecutions that aren't corrected immediately, and the term "good police" has been used quite often. I don't mean to say that SVU is copying The Wire, but rather that it's taken on some of the more complex elements of a grittier crime show.

But now it's time for that comparison of Elliot Stabler and Nick Amaro, in handy chart form!


Elliot Stabler

Nick Amaro

Intensity level

High. Stabler has the crazy eyes. Sometimes his intense feelings about cases cloud his judgement.

Has a temper that comes out of nowhere—you don't realize how angry he is until he's pulling a gun on a witness.

Relationship to Olivia Benson

Consistent. Stabler and Benson were always understanding of each others' weaknesses.

Amaro feels that Benson doesn't trust him, and he brings it up a lot. Sometimes he requests to be partnerless.

Go-to methods for dealing with witnesses

Often pulls the "I've got some rage issues too, buddy" or the "I'm a dad, I get it" move.

Amaro is charming, perhaps a bit flirtatious, but witnesses see him as the good guy.

Family

Has a wife and five kids, one daughter who is a troublemaker. He and his wife separated at one point and got back together.

His wife is in the Armed Forces, and was stationed in Iraq for a while; they're currently separated. One daughter, Zara.

Special skills

Was in the Marines, is amazing at chasing down suspects.

Speaks Spanish, often throws it in when talking to witnesses.

Hair

Not so much.

Gorgeous locks.

Religion

Catholic.

Catholic.

Childhood happiness

No contact with his parents—Dad was abusive and Mom was Bipolar.

His dad beat his mom.

Penchant for wisecracks

Occasionally used sarcasm to make a point.

Not a ton so far—this dude is all business.

Relationship to Ice-T/Fin Tutuola

Could have used more.


Could use more. (Come on, SVU, pair up Tutuola and Amaro more often!)

Basic personality traits

Very emotional, willing to do anything for a case. Intense. Good police.


Smart, a bit paranoid (thinks his wife is cheating, fears that Benson doesn't trust him). Wants to do the right thing. Good police.


I miss Stabler, to be sure (and I'm sure you do too, especially if you didn't love him on True Blood), but it's the dawn of a new day on SVU. After watching him for over a season, I think Nick Amaro has more than enough backstory and charm to keep solving the "especially heinous" crimes of the Special Victims Unit. What do you guys think?

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I never really liked Elliot that much - I was glad when he left...
I love the new SVU - Danny is awesome anyway ;))

I have a question tho: Why arent Olivia and Elliot in contact? Somtimes they say something about him and I get he left the police, but why cant they meet for a coffee every now and then? He isnt dead
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I don't like Rollings that much. She is Ok an actress

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I like Amaro more than i ever did Elliot. Olivia definitely is my favorite.
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IMO Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish are far better actors than the rest of the cast. Yes, even Mariska. I love her, but her acting is often one-dimensional. Ice-T ranges from good to adequate, and we hardly see enough of Belzer and Florek to judge their acting.
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I like Danny & Kelli but I have to disagree with you about them being "better" actors than the others, they are far from it. Kelli's acting is good, but Danny's acting is too one-dimensional all the time, I've seen him in a couple of other TV dramas and his acting was the same with every role he played, his acting style is the same with every role he plays, even though he plays different roles, but he portrays every character I've seen the same way, and that's not good as an actor.

Mariska is still a much better actor than Danny & Kelli, her portrayal of Olivia is so convincing that she actually becomes the character on the show, and she portrays her emotions very convincingly. But with some of the other actors, I feel like they're just memorizing the lines & acting in ways that their characters are suppose to act. But Mariska actually BECOMES Olivia & she channels into the character she portrays.
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Amaro's cool. Elliot was cool. But i really like Amanda.
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Season 13 was just horrible! The writing was terrible. They made Olivia look like such a rookie. Season 14 picked it back up and was pretty good, but nothing compared to the Stabler years. You can't even compare the two.
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I absolutely love Stabler and would love to see him return to SVU. Amaro is cool and I like him, but he's nowhere near close enough to be put up against Stabler. Elliott Stabler all the way!
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Stabler who??? I like Amaro and Rollins
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I miss Stabler so much but I definitely like Nick Amaro. I'm not a big fan of Rollins but she's okay.
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I actually started to get my interest back on the show after Stabler left :) At some point, the show became a bit boring. I was shocked when Stabler left, obviously, and I had really not that much faith in the new guys, but after about half a season of Amaro and Rollins, it got interesting again. New relationships, new perspectives.. :) I'm really happy Benson's still on the show, though. Don't think the show could survive without both Stabler AND Benson. But for now, this is a nice change of scenery. :)
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No Stabler no Action bring him back want to see Him and Amaro get into it... Get rid of that blonde chock... Thumbs down...
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I thnk stabler needs to come back to the show!! like ASAP!!
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And Price and Tim thought procedurals wouldn't generate discussion. Ha!
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Stabler: massive hunk of gorgeous beefcake muscle with sexy blue eyes.
Amaro: scrawny little monkey-faced runt.
Any questions?
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Livandel: need to go to the eye doctor. Not seeing right. Pinno is gorgeous super talented.
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Amaro: Hot, sexy Latino cop with intense, smoldering dark eyes and a gorgeous head of black hair.
Stabler: Who?
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Neal Baer, and I consider him the most adorable cheerleader-showrunner in the business, started the show's death spiral in his final years with stunt casting, and bizarre story arcs that often forgot the show's charter written for A-list guest stars. He also frothed the Eliot/Olivia shippers into a heat by teasing them for two seasons that the relationship would finally be consummated. He knew full well he couldn't do that, but he sacrificed everything for the short-term ratings win and ended up almost losing it all.

You can see Leight's influence in the better plot structures and nuanced characters now. I'd like to think if Meloni had stuck around that you'd have seen less of a caricatured Stabler.
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I like Stabler better than Amaro. I feel like Stabler got along better with all of the other characters and Amaro consistently holds himself at a distance from everyone else, like he's afraid to be accepted in to their little group. Also, Benson and Amaro's issues: I don't know if that's really working out as a side storyline. I think one or two instances of the "Why don't you trust me" speech pretty much spells out the whole issue, why keep bringing it up if you're not going to actually address/resolve anything?
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Stabler will always be better than Amaro, and nothing will be as good as when SVU was in its prime with Benson & Stabler. That being said, Benson & Stabler as a partnership and as a storytelling device was on its last legs for at least 2 seasons, maybe more. So I was not too upset that Meloni left the show (although I would've rather it be Hagartay, but I digress).

The first season with the new cast was better than the season before it and I felt it brought some new energy and stories to the show that had been sorely missed. The story leading into last season's finale and this seasons premier, changed Amaro for the better and this season I have really enjoyed him as a character and his dynamic within the SVU detective team. On the whole, minus a couple episodes, this season of SVU has been the best in probably 3 or 4 seasons.

So as much as I liked Stabler, his departure has helped turn the show around. I wouldn't mind if Meloni came back for an arc though, I think that could be very interesting.
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"Benson & Stabler as a partnership and as a storytelling device was on its last legs for at least 2 seasons"


VERY TRUE. The show needed new blood.
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I think that the new season of SVU is shaping up very well, they handled Meloni leaving and bringing in new people in a way you almost wouldn't notice. I liked Stabler's personal style which I don't with Alvaro, but the problem here is personal to me: I just can't stand the actor playing him. I have hated his persona (it's usually of the same mold) in every show he's on, and Ican't figure out if it's the sort of character he is cast for or his method of acting. I do think he is good, and he fits in well with this show, I just like the pairings without him a lot more.
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I am a huge SVU fan and have seen every episode like a 100 times. I dreaded Meloni leaving because I love him so much but honestly I think the story lines have actually gotten better over the past 2 seasons. I even loved how they brought back Cassidy and wish he was on more too. I don't try to compare Amaro/Stabler since the aren't supposed to be the same person but I do think the past few seasons have been better than I expected to be. The one who should be mad is Munch because he is never on although I'm pretty sure he is still in the main credits.
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Meloni was the best in "Oz", and for me, he was the reasons to start watching SUV. No comparison I'm afraid.
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I never liked Meloni in SVU, personally. I thought he was very one-dimensional and I never warmed to the character.

It wasn't until I saw him (and many others from the L&O franchise) really get a chance to do some no-holds-barred acting in Oz that I realized he's really quite an amazing actor.

As for Munch, he's probably just tired :D

Trivia: Munch is the only fictional character to appear on ten different television shows on five different networks played by a single actor, Richard Belzer. The Character goes back to the pilot episode of "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (brilliant show).
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Didn't MI5 (bbc show called Spooks in the usa) also refer to Munch (talked to him on the phone). He wasn't in the show but he was referred to on that BBC show...wasn't he? I watch to much tv and sometimes get stuff confused....lol
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actually I think it was the BBC show Luther...someone called New York and spoke to Detective Munch.
Any anglophiles out there who know what I am talking about?

I stream some BBC shows and based on the poll done here, I think I need to watch Sherlock.
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"OZ" !
And "Homicide" was a great show. Beside Munch :), I will just mention Andre Braugher.
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I didn't know Munch was in that many shows! I thought it was only 3 or 4. I will have to look into this now since he's my favorite character on SVU.
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It's actually not as bad as I was expecting it to be without Stabler. Sure I do miss Meloni's fine big & cute Italian ass, his character's beefy hot bod, & morbid hatred towards pedophiles, but Nick Amaro is actually a great fill in for the guy. Sadly, I don't think Amaro completes Benson like Stabler did (the two were opposites & completed/balanced each other so perfectly). Anyways, regardless of Meloni's hot leaving, the show is still kicking ass. Still my favorite show of all time.
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I also miss Elliot Stabler. Amaro is like good cop and is cute.
This comparison is absurd, because everyone forgets that Meloni didn't mind the serie and it was as if nothing had happened. As if 12 years were a blink of an eye.
So, I miss Elliot and I love EO shipper ... but ... Amaro likes me, he's interesting.
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hahahha the hair bit kills me!!!!
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LOVE Amaro!. He seems much much more affectionate then Stabler ever was(who was often cold to her)
Danny Pino is doing a great job. soooo Over Meloni. he basically ditched the show after being offered a lot of money , But some morons blame Leight or NBC who had NOTHING to do with it.
the show is so much better written by Leight and Mariskas acting acting continues to be amazing! The show is an assemble show now
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I never watched SVU till Danny Pino and Kelli Giddish came on board, so I have no investment in Stabler. I'm sure he was fine, but I really like the show as it is now. I think Amaro and Rollins have brought a lot to the show, and Danny Pino is doing a great job; I think he's an excellent actor. It's become one of my can't-miss shows. Sometimes they make Amaro a little too...Scotty Valens, and I wish they'd lay off that crutch, but that's my only complaint.
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Stabler all the way. I'm not even sure this is a real question. lol.
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Remember Connie Nielsen who was Stabler's temporary partner Beck? It wasn't the same. Clearly Danny Pino was supposed to be partners with Kelli Gibbish.
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Oh I liked Connie Nielsen as Beck. She was complicated. But only for those episodes though. Mariska is queen. But it was a gust of fresh air to what had become the Benson & Stabler show imo. No Pino for Giddish, she's with Fin ;)
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I think he is pretty good. I have been pleased thus far, but would love to see a deal worked out to bring back (if Meloni is interested--and of course the right money could be worked out) Stabler for maybe a handful of episodes next season (or unrealisticaly, this season for the latter half)
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Meloni has NO interest in coming back.
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he has stated otherwise on numerous occasions.
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Well...that blows.
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I'm sorry, Pino is a mediocre actor AT BEST. He will never compare to my boy Meloni (whose best role, in my opinion, was the pediatrician on Scrubs). As far as I'm concerned, the show ended when Stabler left. I tried a few Pino episodes and won't be trying anymore. Also, the writing is really going downhill, too. One of the episodes I watched was the one when Amaro was having major issues with paranoia about his wife, and the crime storyline and the Amaro storyline were so disjointed it felt like I was watching two different TV shows. It was like, here, we're just sticking in this background story for this guy so you, the viewer, can get to know him better, but we, the writers, are so lazy by this point we're not even going to try and make a parallel between the Amaro story and the primary crime plot. I miss the good old days when the criminal element was reflected in whatever was going on with the detectives.
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Dani Pino is a mediocre actor? A single scene of him on SVU, one in which he discusses with his wife at work, earned more than all of Chris Meloni. Dani is an actor much deeper, much more expressive. Chris Meloni is just an actor correct. In recent seasons Eliot Stabler knew only laugh so sarcática in interrogations, cram your butt back and chest puffing. I hope he does not come back. For the sake of SVU. I want to make clear that I have nothing against the actor. Maybe he was tired. I wish you much success in their forays into cinema. In the movie he will show his real talent. He deserves it.
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Forget "Scrubs", Meloni's best role on television was easily that of Chris Keller, prison inmate in "Oz" and Tobias' Beecher's (Lee Tergeson) crazed lover.
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I've only watched SVU sporadically over the years, but when I found out Danny Pino was joining the cast I jumped on board. I loved him in Cold Case. Since then I've watched a lot of the Stabler episodes in repeats. I liked the relationship between Benson and Stabler, but it makes sense that he would move on. Twelve years in the same job with the same people, especially such an intense job, is unrealistic. Amaro and Rollins have been a great addition to the squad. Amaro's relationship with Olivia is one of coworkers learning to work together, just as it should be. She was really giving him the cold shoulder at first, until he saved her life. They were doing pretty well until the scandal with the escort services in the season cliffhanger cast doubt on Amaro. They're now learning to trust each other again.

I love how Nick works interrogations. He's really good at playing the "good cop," making the suspect believe he's on their side, and gets him to talk, even though he may want to smash his head in (which Stabler probably would have done). His marriage is wearing, but it makes sense. It would be really difficult to work the kinds of cases they do and have a happy home life. I don't like that there are such similarities between Stabler & Amaro--both married Catholics with military backgrounds and marital problems. They could have given Nick more differences.

Overall, the writing and performances this season have been excellent. I'm glad they shook things up with a new show runner and new writers as well as a couple of new cast members. Mariska said in an interview that Danny Pino was "bringing the sexy" to SVU. I couldn't agree more. :) Thanks for writing this. SVU doesn't usually get enough attention around here.
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Never had much admiration for Stabler. My passion was and will always be Olivia Benson. Mariska is simply fantastic and makes each scene a show. I love how she is caring and sensitive to the victims. Eliot Stabler was always very predictable. But he was a good cop, I admit. Dany Pino seems best actor Chris Meloni. I hope that your character will grow. Kelly Gidish an actress seems only reasonable. Not convinced me so far. This season is excellent. I hope it is renewed.
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Nick's intensity level is "Medium. Touchy-feely and then blows up for no reason, unless it involves his wife, then level is INSANE."

Nick's method for dealing with witnesses has always seemed to me like "Bumbling, tries to charm and then says something wrong and hands off to someone else, witnesses pay little attention to him."

How does "relationship to Tutuola" get included but NOT "relationship to Munch" and "relationship to Kragen"? Also, Fin thinks Nick is green and kinda off his game, IIRC.

Anyway, as for Amaro's turn on the show, he's alright but needs to break out of the Stabler mold (and the Mike Logan mold from the original Law & Order) a little more. Also his personal life should feel less like Stabler's, the separation and such feel reminiscent. He's fine but can't carry an episode on his shoulders yet. His problems are more tolerable than watching Rollins have an over-the-top life.
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I like Pino AND Amaro, but Stabler is THE guy. I miss that character. The show is still watchable, but has been devoted to "see it when I can" as opposed to "must see TV" during the Meloni years.
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I miss Stabler but I've liked Danny Pino since he was on Cold Case. I don't mind him here.
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I haven't watched SVU in a few years since I got bored/realized it made me intensely paranoid about every poor schlub I came across, but it seems to me Stabler is irreplaceable.
Also I think you underestimated his intensity level above, his "intense feelings" clouded his judgement in EVERY SINGLE case!

And personally, I prefer Meloni's character in Wet Hot American Summer.
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I prefer Meloni's character in Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.
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This is why I was so disappointed with his character in True Blood! I was hoping for a flamboyant vampire weirdo who talks to soup cans and fondles sweaters, but instead we got a Republican :(
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Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni)--disliked the character but like the actor.
Kelli Giddish is good.
I need more Munch & Tutuola
Haven't decided yet on amaro...
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I don't think you can compare the two really. Elliot was great in the Stabler & Benson show but it got boring by the tenth season or so, now it's back to being an ensemble show again and Nick Amaro fits in just fine.
I loved season 13, and 14 so far. Excellent writing, intresting cases. Warren Leight made the show fresh again. I like Danny Pino but I love the addition of Kelli Giddish, being a Chase fan it wasn't such a surprise I would. She and Ice T are my fave partnership at the moment. They are just excellent together in my opinion and I'd love to see more of them. Hopefully the show will be on for many seasons to come so I'll be able too.
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I agree with your comparison article through I will ALWAYS love and miss Stabler, I have come to appreciate and love Amaro as well, I defiantly want to get to know him more as a person get to know more of his family life other than what the little we've seen so far with the drama with his wife and all. I like how we got to see more of Amanda Rollins backstory with her gambling and her younger sister. I think SVU really has evolved a lot since Stabler's departure. I am a bigger fan of SVU now then I ever been before!
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As much as I like the addition of Kelli Giddish (she's a great actress) to the show I have a feeling that since season 12 SVU is slowly dying. IMO someone should finally pull the plug.

I used to watch SVU every week - now I do it only when I'm really bored. Dany Pino's character is terrible. I wish they limited the cast to two teams: 1.) Benson & Rollins and 2.) Munch & Tutuola.
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yeah the new characters have helped a lot with giving the show a boost; otherwise it should have just bowed out.
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I want more Belzer and Ice-T. I always feel like we don't get enough of those 2.
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Their partnership is much funnier and multidimensional than Benson/Amaro or Benson/Stabler.
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I just checked SVU for tonight and it centers on Ice-T's character so I guess some of what I asked for!
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I'd be lying if I said I thought the cast was as strong now as it was in the Stabler era. Having said that the new guys are certainly doing well but more significantly the writing is of a very high quality at the moment. I felt last season was relatively weak but this season is up with some of the better ones.
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agreed.
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I'm happy with the new people. Miss Stabler, of course, but they've done a good job with the transition.
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