Keeping audiences hooked on his show after 18 seasons is crucial for Law & Order creator/executive producer Dick Wolf.

The show has to stay alive, fresh and appealing for it to keep going, which it has accomplished due to its current and well-written scripts.

“The emphasis on Law & Order has always been the job and the way people interact in a work environment,” said Wolf during a conference call with U.S. and Canadian media. “And I think that it’s what keeps it fresh in a strange way, is that the matter at hand is the matter at hand. It’s the case and how they’re going to solve it, and how they’re going to prosecute it.”

That also means the departure of longtime characters like Jesse L. Martin and the introduction of new actors like Anthony Anderson, (Transformers, The Departed and the New Orleans-based drama K-Ville) who will be joining the show’s roster as Det. Kevin Bernard in tonight’s new episode.

Anderson’s character starts out in internal affairs — a job he did not volunteer for and one he was recruited for straight out of the academy.

“So it’s not like he’s a turncoat who wanted to police the police. His dream was to become a homicide detective but, you know, he has to serve two years in IAB before that can happen,” said Anderson. “You may think he’s a by-the-book guy because he comes from internal affairs, but he knows how to get around certain things without cutting too many corners to get the job done.”

When a notorious hustler is found dead in tonight’s episode, Det. Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) learns his partner Ed Green (Martin) is the shooter, causing confusion and disbelief in the department. The case is turned over to Bernard, which leaves Green to face his troubled past, which could cost him his badge.

Catch Law & Order tonight on NBC and CTV at 10.

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