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NYPD Blue - Season Two (15)



Review: Jack Foley

SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary for 'Cop Suey' by director Mark Tinker; Commentary for 'Simone Says' by David Milch; Commentary for 'Vishy Vashy Vinny' by director Michael Robin; Commentary for 'Bombs Away' by technical advisor Bill Clark; Commentary for 'Boxer Rebellion' by technical advisor Bill Clark; Commentary for 'A.D.A. Sipowicz' by director Mark Tinker; 57 min 'Season 2: A Season of Change' documentary; 'Wedding Bell Blues' and 'The Music of Mike Post' featurettes; Script-to-screen comparisons.

EPISODE GUIDE: Trials & Tribulations, From Whom the Skell Rolls, Cop Suey, Dead and Gone, Simone Says, The Final Adjustment, Double Abandando, You Bet Your Life, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel, In the Butt Bob, Vishy-Vashy-Vinny, Large Mouth Bass, Travels With Andy, A Murder With Teeth in It, Bombs Away, UnAmerican Grafitti, Dirty Socks, Innuendo, Boxer Rebellion, The Bookie and Kooky Cookie, The Bank Dick, A.D.A. Sipowicz.

AFTER such a phenomenally successful first season, one might have thought that the only way was down for the creators of NYPD Blue, especially as one of its two lead actors, David Caruso, announced his intention to quit the show after just four episodes.

But far from panicking, the show actually became stronger, with Jimmy Smits stepping in and creating one of the most memorable TV characters in the shape of the warm-hearted Bobby Simone.

Smits was an altogether cooler customer than Caruso's fiercely intense do-gooder, and his early scenes with Dennis Franz's put-upon Andy Sipowicz make for some riveting viewing.

Of course, the departure of Caruso was equally well-handled, centring around the high-profile murder case involving his lover, and the subsequent Internal Affairs investigation it warrants.

Caruso's final episode is a real humdinger, especially in his final moments with longtime friend, Sipowicz, and Det. Martinez, the street-wise kid he helped to train while Andy was injured.

Yet Smits' assured turn quickly helped to ensure that season two - and subsequent series - would not suffer the loss of one of its central stars. Indeed, it became proof positive that the real stars of the show weren't so much the actors, but the writers, who would have to endure more departures as the seasons came and went.

Other highlights in season two included Greg Medavoy's burgeoning, comical relationship with Donna Abandando, and the introduction of the sympathetic Detective Lesniak; while Sipowicz's continuing path to rehabilitation was typically well-handled, culminating in his wedding to Assistant DA Sylvia Costas, in the season finale.

NYPD Blue's ability to entertain so consistently is the way in which it maintains such a near-perfect balance between the humour and tragedy which surround each characters' lives.

Season two built on a strong reputation and provided several stand-out episodes to savour, not least of which was one involving a mad gunman, which eventually finds Simone having to step in and save Sipowicz's life.

It is a moment which signalled their transition from colleagues to partners, and wasn't overdone amid a sea of schmaltz.

Yet this is typical of the series throughout its early stages.

Extras on the DVD for season 2 include commentary on selected episodes, as well as an hour-long documentary in which the cast and programme-makers discuss the series episode by episode.

There are, of course, the odd digs at the expense of Caruso (who allegedly walked straight off the set following his final take into a waiting limo without any farewells), but that is only to be expected given the nature of the departure, I suppose.

There's also a small piece paying tribute to the music of theme-writer Mike Post, and an item covering the relationship between Sipowicz and Assistant DA Sylvia Costas, which was a popular story arc for several seasons.

In short, a must-have for any fans of this seminal series.

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