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NYPD Blue - Season One (15)



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 Finale.

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, nonetheless.

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!

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