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NYPD Blue - Season 3 (Review)

NYPD Blue, Season 3

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Father & Son Featurette; Life in The Precinct Featurette + more.

IT SEEMS to have taken an eternity to arrive but the third season of excellent TV cop drama, NYPD Blue, is finally available to buy on DVD.

Steven Bochco’s show was a genre-definer in terms of content thanks to its jerky, fly-on-the-wall camera style and the no-nonsense approach of its detectives – most notably Dennis Franz’s iconic Andy Sipowicz.

But while Channel 4 viewers were generally mucked around with broadcast times and the on-off approach of its programmers, the show continued to garner acclaim and healthy viewing figures right up to its 12th and final season.

Season three was one of the best the show has ever delivered. It remains notable for furthering the relationship between Sipowicz and Jimmy Smits’ caring Bobby Simone (who replaced David Caruso’s John Kelly early in season 2), as well as taking the time to explore the lives of other characters.

But it was the final three episodes – A Death In The Family, Closing Time and He’s Not Guilty, He’s My Brother – that really cemented the show’s reputation for refusing to pull any punches, while simultaneously delivering some of the best three hours of drama ever seen on television.

The episodes in question began with a routine call to a hospital to secure evidence from the victims of a homicide.

Once there, however, both Andy and Bobby are dismayed to discover that one of the victims is actually Andy’s son. The realisation of that moment sends shivers down the spine and was just as shocking to viewers as it was to the detectives themselves.

Needless to say, the case sends Andy – a recovering alcoholic – into a new spiral of self-loathing, recrimination and guilt, particularly as he had been training his son to follow in his footsteps as a cop.

But it also prompts him to ask Bobby to kill the suspects responsible, placing a burden of responsibility on Simone that requires him to possibly act out of character for a better good.

Although the case itself is concluded by the end of Closing Time, the fall-out and Andy’s subsequent recovery is explored during the season finale, He’s Not Guilty, He’s My Brother, in which Franz gets to show again why he was showered with so many awards and nominations during the show’s impressive run.

Those three episodes alone provide some of the most emotionally charged and grittily complex episodes in recent memory and are worth the price of this box set alone.

But series three also has plenty more to recommend it.

Early on, Bobby attempts to rebuild his relationship with fellow detective, Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), while James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro) is shot during the opening episode and faced with paralysis. Greg Medavoy, meanwhile, must contend with two failing relationships – with Donna, the unit’s secretary, and with his wife.

Of the cases up for investigation, Girl Talk, involving a serial rapist who has a habit of throwing his child victims from NY rooftops, places a particular strain on Simone and Sipowicz, while the lighter side of the show is effectively realised in the satisfying We Was Robbed, which finds Simone and Sipowicz being forced to commit a robbery while working with an FBI agent to place a bug in a mob hangout.

NYPD Blue has long been renowned for its ability to mix compelling crime stories with everyday human drama and season three excelled at both.

Let’s hope its belated release means that fans can start to look forward to the release of the remaining nine series – especially since the final chapter in the Sipowicz story has never been aired on UK screens.