It’s a tradition as time-honored as Law & Order‘s "dun-duhn" and Horatio Caine’s sunglasses: Every now and then, network crime procedurals and/or ensemble dramas like to shake up their casts to boost ratings and revitalize their plotting prospects. And the end of the 2007-2008 TV season will prove no exception: Gary Dourdan is leaving CSI; Diane Neal and Adam Beach are exiting Law & Order: SVU; and Khandi Alexander is fleeing the ridonk world of CSI: Miami. If that’s not enough, Jesse L. Martin’s final Law & Order episode airs Wednesday, and Maura Tierney, who’s cutting way back on her ER workload, tells AOL Television that she’s been (unsuccessfully) begging the writers of her long-running hospital drama to kill off her character before the series ends its run.
I, for one, am glad to hear Tierney’s Abby won’t be paying the ultimate price for drama, because, let’s be honest here — isn’t it almost too easy for TV writers to enlist the Grim Reaper when it’s time to write off a character? Wouldn’t it be a greater (and more fulfilling) writing challenge for these scribes to tackle workplace exits the way they actually happen?
In fact, if SVU hasn’t already decided the fate of Neal’s ADA Casey Novak, how about this scenario? On a lazy Friday afternoon, Benson is catching up on some paperwork, when she hears the siren call of her email "ping," which turns out to be an announcement that Novak will be resigning in two weeks to pursue a lucrative gig at a private firm uptown. As Benson and Stabler spend the episode solving the latest "especially heinous" crime, they secretly plan a farewell pour for their coworker at a local pub. By episode’s end, the beer begins to flow. Toasts are made. A few tears are shed. Somebody makes an awkward plea to move the festivities to a nearby karaoke joint. And scene!
There, now doesn’t that sound like a fitting exit? Any other ideas for how the aforementioned actors can exit their series without ending up six feet under? By all means, get to brainstorming!