LOS ANGELES -

Law & Order

is settling back into its longtime Wednesday home next month, paired with sister series

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

, NBC announced Monday.

A two-hour episode will kick off the 9 p.m. Jan. 2 midseason return of

Law & Order

, which will move to 10 p.m. the following week when spin-off

Criminal Intent

joins the schedule in the 9 p.m. slot.

"I'm delighted to be back in the time slot where

Law & Order

was the only show to watch for 15 years," series creator and executive producer D

ick Wolf.

With a screenwriters strike now in its fifth week, and with networks running through their stock of completed dramas and comedies,

Law & Order

represents a bonanza of unaired hours for NBC.

So does

Criminal Intent

, which started showing earlier this season on USA Network, an NBC Universal cable channel, before beginning its broadcasting run.

Wolf declined to comment on how many scripts were completed before the walkout.

But if the strike is not protracted, he said, he's optimistic the series will fulfill their 22-episode orders.

Law & Order

is introducing six new cast members in its 18th year. Jeremy Sisto (

SixFeet Under)

is aboard as a detective, while Linus Roache plays an assistant district attorney who replaces Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) when McCoy steps up to New York district attorney.