'Law & Order: SVU,' Tuesday night on NBC

Verne Gay
Newsday (MCT)
LAW & ORDER: SVU. Tuesday night at 10 EDT, NBC.

Reason to watch: Six words - Robin Williams! Robin Williams! Robin Williams! He hasn't done TV since a 1997 guest shot on "Friends," so this is a red-letter event. Plus, this is "SVU's" 200th episode - surely you want to say you were there for the big anniversary.

What it's about: A young, beautiful fast-food restaurant employee is bound, gagged and then strip-searched by the restaurant ("Happy Burger") manager who insists he was acting on direct orders from one "Det. Milgram" of the NYPD. After Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) arrest the busybody (played by "30 Rock's" Scott Adsit, of all people), he's informed that there is no "Det. Milgram" - the guy was punked! But by whom? Well, it turns out this hoaxer has been calling fast-food restaurants all over the city, telling the managers to do pretty much the same thing (unclear whether they've complied) and the hoaxer's even got a Web site that kind of talks about this compulsion.

After a little detective work and before the first commercial break, one Merritt Rook - an audio engineer at some company - is apprehended. He's an odd, twitchy mild-mannered fellow stuffed into an ill-fitting shirt and accessorized with a pair of extremely balky horn-rimmed glasses. He's the guilty one, of course - and (of course) he's Robin Williams.

Think (as you're absolutely expected to) Williams' nervous twitchy mild-mannered Walter Finch in 2002's "Insomnia." Walter, err, Merritt has issues that make Elliot and Olivia suspicious: He hates conformity, authority, processed meat and French fries. Hmmm.

Plus, there are pictures of him buying the phone cards used to call the restaurants. Hmmm, again.

Long story short: Merritt wins at his trial, eventually becomes famous and even appears on "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough and a sheep. There's much more, but you're not gonna get the whole plot here.

Bottom line: Pure, unmitigated bunk. But watchable bunk. Unintentionally amusing bunk. Occasionally bizarre bunk. This many oddities and non sequiturs can add up to one fun hour of television. Still, these questions linger: Why would a restaurant manager, even an idiot restaurant manager, do that? Why would Robin Williams do this?

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