The long-anticipated "Law & Order: Organized Crime" premiered Thursday night and fans couldn't have been more excited to tune in.
The new TV show, a spinoff of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," reunites Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler, who cut their teeth cracking the most heinous crimes and connected with each other like no other partners did.
Meloni walked away from the long-running show in 2011. Fans learned his character had retired from the force at the start of season 13 but they never stopped pining for more.
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"After 10 years, people still had such a yearning for this character, Stabler, to come back," Hargitay acknowledged in a video preview for a new "The Law & Order SVU Podcast" episode being released Friday.
The actor and advocate joins her former co-star and host Anthony Roman for a special "In the Squadroom" segment that promises listeners they can "go behind the scenes of the reunion everyone was waiting for."
As the preview continues, we hear Meloni's Stabler yell "Liv!" off camera, as the scene cuts to Benson's face, searching for her former partner in the middle of an active crime scene with flashing ambulance and police vehicle lights and firefighters and officers lingering on a street.
"I felt the reunion was honest and true and painful," "After 10 years, people still had such a yearning for this character, Stabler, to come back," Meloni chimes in as the preview cuts back to voiceovers from the podcast.
"That's exactly what it was. I think it's what people are ready for now," Hargitay agreed.
"Somebody emailed me, who's close to the show, and she wrote that 'the episode is so good but my favorite moments are when you two look at each other without saying anything,'" she continued.
"12 years to work the craft with one person — you're riding the same wave," Meloni added.
"So the second we get back on the set together, it's almost like there's no other people. There's no one else." Hargitay recalled, as another behind-the-scenes clip from set plays where Hargitay is seen saying, "It's a historic day. Huge! All a testament to this guy."
Meloni said on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday his reunion with Hargitay was easy and familiar. "It was seamless. It just fit right together from the moment I saw them. You know, no time had passed whatsoever and it was a sweet feeling and it was very warm. It just felt great."
Meloni also revealed there will be at least two or three crossover episodes between the characters in the "SVU" universe and the new world being introduced in "Organized Crime." "You're going to see a lot of Benson and Stabler together," he promised.
"And I think out of Stabler, you know, you're going to see a guy who is, hopefully, you'll see him, the growth that he has gone through, the amends he has to make, the issues he has to grapple with, so you know, he's a finer wine."
Like its predecessors, "Law & Order: Organized Crime" is being filmed on location in New York City. The drama also stars Danielle Moné Truitt as Sgt. Ayanna Bell, Ainsley Seiger as Jet Sloomaekers, Tamara Taylor as Angela Wheatley, and Dylan McDermott as Richard Wheatley. "Organized Crime" will air after "SVU" on NBC on Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET.