With NBC’s rebooted Law and Order struggling to recapture the audience it once had, can the addition of Supergirl’s Mehcad Brooks boost the show?
The first cast shake-up for the newly revived Law & Order occurred at the end of Season 21 when Anthony Anderson decided not to return as Detective Kevin Bernard. Anderson had only signed a one-year contract to reprise his character, and like his predecessor Jesse L. Martin, is ready to move on to other things. Supergirl and Desperate Housewives alum Mehcad Brooks was recently announced as Anderson’s replacement, and is just what the struggling series needs.
As talented of an actor as Anthony Anderson is, his chemistry with Jeffrey Donovan — who played Bernard’s partner Detective Frank Cosgrove — was somewhat anemic. The two actors failed to generate a compelling energy so the give and take of their partnership floundered and deprived Law & Order of some of its former gravitas. Anderson’s low-key, almost world-weary portrayal also didn’t contrast enough with Donovan’s brash character to truly work well. Brooks is a smart choice to reinvigorate Law & Order in Season 22.
With its format splitting time between the detectives and the untapped potential of its prosecutors, the series needs to hook the viewers in the first half to get them to watch the second. Mehcad Brooks is tailor-made for that with a strong fan base and the on-screen presence to attract and hold viewer interest. As James Olsen on Supergirl, he portrayed a convincing investigator — albeit as a reporter and not a detective — but also held his own in action scenes. His turn as the superhero Guardian aptly demonstrated he can handle himself in any physical scenes and showed off his range.
Brooks has a mellow charisma that could benefit scenes where his character interviews witnesses, but has also displayed a determined steely side that would deliver the needed tension while interrogating suspects. The Supergirl episode “In Plain Sight” is a great example of the mix of compassion and determination he will bring to Law & Order. He has the acting chops necessary to pull off complex characters, and depending on the way the writers go with his new detective, has the potential to be as much a fan-favorite as Anderson.
While best known for his run on Supergirl, this won’t be Brooks’ first foray into the Law & Order franchise. He guest-starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in the Season 13 episode “Personal Fouls.” He also has other experience in the genre, with his stint on the legal drama The Deep End and guest appearances on Cold Case — which starred future SVU alum Danny Pino — and Alcatraz. In addition, his Arrowverse tenure means he’s very familiar with crossovers, which the Law & Order brand needs more of.
Mehcad Brooks is a capable and charismatic actor, and joining Law & Order gives him a deserved opportunity to stretch his dramatic talents and offer fans another character to root for. It also provides an influx of new blood for the series while it looks to improve and grow its audience the second time around. Law & Order Season 22 of is off to a good start with Brooks’ addition to the cast.
Law & Order Season 22 premieres this fall on NBC.
A steadfast and proud sci-fi and fantasy geek, A. F. Stewart was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada and still calls it home. When not watching the latest Marvel TV show or movie, she’s busy writing and publishing horror/fantasy books and stories.