NYPD Blue - Season 4 (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
PERSONAL lives came to the fore in the fourth season of NYPD Blue but the show continued to maintain its high standards.
Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) continued to come to terms with the murder of his son and, in the first episode, undergoes a crisis of confidence after being shot at by a suspect.
Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), meanwhile, continues to be plagued by her own personal demons as a result of ongoing issues surrounding her drinking.
She initially spurns Bobby (Jimmy Smits) Simone’s marriage proposal and then becomes embroiled in an undercover operation with organized crime concerning an old case she is familiar with.
The case in question involves her getting close to a man named Jimmy Liery (Christopher Meloni) who not only drinks hard but, during the course of the investigation, slips a pill in one of her drinks.
The resolution of the case (and the insecurities it uncovers) draws her closer to Bobby, who subsequently finds out that Diane was abused as a child.
Bobby, meanwhile, has his own problems to solve – first involving the inheritance of a building and a troublesome tenant and, much later, becoming the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation during which he is set up and suspended.
A new female detective also joins the 15th Squad in the form of Jill Kirkendall (Andrea Thompson), while Gina Colon (Lourdes Benedicto) eventually becomes the new PAA and is immediately attracted to James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro).
Of the other central characters, Greg Medavoy has his own decisions to make regarding a new personal relationship, while more is revealed about Lieutenant Fancy and his role within the department (as well as the continued prejudices he faces).
Throughout the season, however, the cases remained as challenging as ever, while the writers seldom shyed away from tackling controversy.
Racism played a prominent role in several episodes, most notably Where’s ‘Swaldo?, in which black community activist Kwasi, who crossed paths with Andy in season three, is found murdered. The case once again exposed the tensions that existed between the detective and his boss.
Rape and sexual abuse also played a big part in the lives of the central characters in this season, especially in regard to Diane and Gina, whose performances carried the intensity that matched their predicaments.
The show remained consistently strong when tackling such issues – employing both sensitivity with an authentic, gritty approach. It meant that just about every member of the 15th Precinct registered strongly in some way.
While even the tensions that existed between the detectives and their uniformed colleagues downstairs came to the fore in an episode entitled Upstairs, Downstairs.
Season 4 may not have boasted any series-defining events in terms of characters departing or being killed (as with seasons 2, 3 and 6) but it provided an effortlessly smooth guide to life among New York’s police detectives that still managed to tackle some difficult issues in intelligent fashion.
It cemented the show’s reputation as one of the top-rated creations of its time and continued to thrive on the irresistible camaraderie that existed between its two biggest assets – Simone and Sipowizc, whose chemistry has seldom been bettered.
As such, the long overdue release of this box set provides yet another 24 hours of required viewing.