Alicia Witt joins the ladies of “Law & Order”

As a person who gorges herself daily on a smorgasbord of pop culture (thank heavens for gossip antacids, they’re a real lifesaver), it’s the rare day that something slips past my plate. So imagine my surprise when I read, belatedly, that Alicia Witt was joining Law & Order: Criminal Intent. How could I have missed that tasty morsel?

You remember Alicia Witt, right? She was the acerbic, red-haired daughter of flighty, drama-queen Cybill on the mid-’90s sitcom by the same name. No, not ringing any bells? Cybill wore a silk bathrobe a lot. Still no? Fine. But if you do remember the show you, like me, are probably wishing The L Word had asked Alicia to join the cast instead of Cybill Shepherd. (Before you judge, it’s not the age thing. It’s the over-the-top, scenery-chewing thing. OK, sure, the red hair helps.)

Alicia joins CI as a temporary replacement for Julianne Nicholson, who is on maternity leave, as the show moves from NBC to USA this season. She will play Det. Nola Falacci, the new partner for Det. Mike Logan (Chris Noth). I know I should say more about this, but I got sidetracked fantasizing about Alicia wielding a gun and cuffing bad guys. Perhaps a plot will come up with a female suspect and we could even get to see some frisking … Right, sorry, I’m back.

Now, I like Julianna on CI. She forever endeared herself to me and countless lesbians the world over by flirting with a lesbian mechanic on her first episode last season. And then there’s the short hair. And the freckles. And the big, big gun … OK, really, I’m back. I promise.

As a fan of the crime procedural, I’ve watched all the Law & Order shows on-and-off. The formula couldn’t be simpler, and for a while CI was even my favorite. But unlike Law & Order: SVU, the problem with CI was that the female partner never got as much to do as the male lead. Pity poor Kathryn Erbe, who has spent six seasons playing second fiddle to Vincent D’Onofrio’s idiosyncratic antics.

Still, I like almost all the actresses Dick Wolf & Co. have hired for his Law & Order empire (particularly on the spin-offs). And, just so she doesn’t feel left out, here is Mariska Hargitay’s latest promo shot for SVU, now with a hint of cleavage. Well hello, officer.