After flopping with a February “sweep” stunt in which a convicted rapist was cast as a rape victim, “Law & Order: SVU” — now a sadder but wiser sex-crimes drama — has gone back to what the franchise does best: Rip from the headlines.
This time, it’s Chris Brown and Rihanna.
On the final night of the February sweep next week, an episode called “Funny Valentine” will feature a story-line about a rising, young music star who is physically beaten by her high-profile music-star boyfriend. The victim refuses to help the prosecution and, despite Mariska Hargitay’s best efforts, continues to put herself in danger. Meanwhile, the case gets turned into a media circus because of the antics of the abuser guy and his attorney (Jeffrey Tambor).
Over its lifetime, the “Law & Order” franchise has become famous for ripping from the headlines, with just enough tinkering to keep lawyers at bay. Often that tinkering involves someone getting snuffed.
We hope the episode will make some noise for NBC, which is poised to finish the February sweep in fifth place among the 18- to 49-year-olds who are the network’s ad-sales Holy Grail.
That would mark the first time that the network has finished behind Univision in the age bracket during a sweep. So far, Univision has beaten NBC every single night of the sweep.
Among NBC’s February sweep ratings debacles: The highly hyped launch of its Jekyll/Hyde doc drama, “Do No Harm,” resulted in historically low ratings and was quickly euthanized; and the Season 2 launch of “Smash” crashed and burned.
Just a year ago, NBC easily won the February sweep. On the other hand, NBC last year had the Super Bowl and “The Voice.”