10/10/1994 at 01:00 AM EDT
WELL, LAW & ORDER HAS DONE IT again. They've replaced a central cast member—Sam Waterston taking over for Michael Moriarty—without missing a subpoena. In five seasons the NBC drama has made a practice of rotating actors in and out of the show while only getting better. (Chris Noth, the one actor on the show I wish they would get rid of, is now one of two last remaining members of the charter cast.) Law & Order can get away with changing faces because it truly is an ensemble program supported by fine writing. That's the same argument ABC's NYPD Blue is using to justify its impending substitution of Jimmy Smits for David Caruso. It's complete hogwash. And I don't care how many Emmys Dennis Franz wins. The charismatic Caruso is essential to the spirit of NYPD Blue. To let him get away—thus hobbling a superb TV show—is idiotic and unforgivable.