Review: Jack Foley
SPECIAL FEATURES: Script to scene comparisons (11 mins); Making
of Season One (58 mins); Cast blotter (11 mins); Commentaries;
Love On NYPD Blue (11 mins).
EPISODE GUIDE: Pilot, 4B Or Not 4B, Brown Appetit, True Confession,
Emission Accomplished, Personal Foul, NYPD Lou, Tempest In A C-Cup,
Ice Follies, Oscar Myer Weiner, From Hare To Eternity, Up On A
Roof, Abandoned Abandoned, Jumpin' Jack Fleischman, Steroid Boy,
A Sudden Fish, Black Men Can Jump, Zeppo Marks Brothers, Serge
The Concierge, Good Time Charlie, Guns 'N Rosaries, Rockin' Robin
EVERY so often a television programme comes along that defies
convention, pushes the boundaries and challenges viewers' perceptions.
At the moment, we have programmes such as 24
and Six Feet Under to do that, but back in 1993, it was NYPD Blue.
Created by Steven Bochco and David Milch, the team behind the
equally ground-breaking Hill Street Blues (which also featured
both of NYPD's stars), NYPD Blue arrived as a foul-mouthed, in
'yer face, straight-talking slice of popular entertainment, which
has gone on to win countless awards, while providing the inspiration
for several others.
Series one revolved around the central pairing of David Caruso's
honest Detective John Kelly, and Dennis Franz's fiery, alcoholic
and racist Detective Andy Sipowicz.
Caught in the crossfire were the likes of James McDaniel's Lieutenant
Fancy, peripheral characters, but retaining an emotional edge,
The Bochco themes are familiar - but seldom so well executed.
Tough-but-put-upon cops struggle with their own problems as well
as the criminal element.
Kelly, for instance, is going through a divorce, and starting
a new relationship with a fellow officer, Janice Licalsi, who
has been ordered by the Mob to kill him, despite falling for him
in the process. Her answer, however, is to turn the gun on her
blackmailers, prompting an Internal Affairs case that will eventually
lead to Kelly's exit at the start of season two.
And if you thought that was complex, then Sipowicz is fighting
alcoholism, and trying to put his life back in order, having been
shot in the arse in the first episode.
Shot in a fast-cut, street-smart style, using a jittery, hand-held
camera technique, NYPD Blue could just as easily be a 45-minute
documentary at times, despite being criticised in certain quarters
for its right wing views.
Yet it is unquestionably powerful, possessing a raw, gritty edge
that was curiously missing from most cop shows at the time.
Notable episodes/plots include a segment involving a quiet vigilante,
nicknamed 4B (played by a young David Schwimmer), whose eventual
demise serves as a warning against taking the law into your own
hands, and the penultimate episode in which rookie Martinez guns
down a road-rage motorist in a bid to protect his partner.
The ensuing investigation, played out against the backdrop of
Licalsi's painful confession, makes for riveting viewing and pushes
Kelly to the edge, as he takes on the wrath of the media.
Subsequent series have maintained the high standards of the first
series (with Jimmy Smits, in particular, making a fine double
act with Franz), but this is where it all began, and fans of the
series will want to put this in their DVD collection.
Television has seldom been bettered!