20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 990 mins .
M15+ . PAL
In the year 1993 there were few decent one hour drama series’ on television apart from the superb L.A. Law, which was sadly starting to lose its pulling power. Perhaps the public were tired of this format and were happy with the endless sitcoms being churned out? Then one day, along came NYPD Blue. Not only was this series drama at its finest, but it also offered so many more new innovations. The jerking camera caught the public’s attention, offering a gritty realism that could only be seen on real life shows such as Cops. The true graphic nature of the show also grabbed the headlines, with its willingness to show murder scenes, drug use and violence as it really happens on the streets of New York.
"Previously on NYPD Blue…"
Not since Hill Street Blues had a television series captured the day to day happenings of a police precinct as well. Funnily enough it is Hill Street Blues creator and producer Steven Bochco who is yet again responsible. Again the setting is New York, but NYPD Blue surpassed its predecessor on so many levels. A superb cast of relative unknowns were assembled led by David Caruso as John Kelly. His partner Andy Sipowicz played by Dennis Franz is quite possible the most obnoxious man you could ever meet upon first sighting. Fans of the show will soon realise he is the driving force and most lovable character the show has ever produced, but at first he is the modern day Archie Bunker. He is racist, crude and obscene as well as being a drunk, but he also has a heart the size of Manhattan.
Eat me councellor!
Australian audiences are still a year behind our US counterparts, who have just seen the tenth series of this gripping show. The characters have changed over the years with Sipowicz being the only true original cast member. Many original cast members have only left the series in recent times, but they will live long in the memories of fans. David Caruso was superb in this series and really made his name. he has been fairly absent in recent years on television, but is due to return to our screens in the new series CSI Miami, a spin off of the superb series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Possibly the most amusing aspect of this series is that when the pilot was first shown to network executives - including its violence, bad language and such - the biggest uproar was against the nudity. Many stations refused to televise the show during prime time and many advertisers threatened a boycott. Despite all this turmoil, the pilot episode went to air on September 21, 1993 and won its timeslot easily.
You been at the beach Andy?
The show has gone on to receive 86 Emmy Award nominations to date and will no doubt receive many more in its continued lifespan. The current cast still do an exceptional job and the writers and remaining crew keep the show fresh and innovative after all this time. The superb music score of Mike Post is also as recognisable to fans as the catchphrase Previously on NYPD Blue, and fans that may have lost touch with the series over the years will easily slip back into addiction.
This six disc set contains the entire first season, which consists of 22 episodes with a running time of approximately 48 minutes each. The easy to navigate menu makes selecting an episode or scene quite simple. Being a fan from its first airing all those years ago, it truly was enjoyable to relive those early episodes. The elapsed time also allows the memory to forget who committed the related crimes so you can play the whodunit game once again as well.
But I don't have any friends in New York!
Following is a brief synopsis of each episode, but due to the fact that this is an ongoing series, there may be some crucial plot spoilers included. So buckle up and relive this groundbreaking series that has aged well over the years and rest assured, as soon as you hear the familiar catchphrase Previously on NYPD Blue… at the start of episode two, you will quickly be taken back to one of the best shows ever produced.
One of the best pilot episodes of any series, this one hits the ground running. The main characters are introduced and the style of the series is quickly evident. Andy Sipowicz is a veteran cop at the 15th Precinct and has a drinking problem. He also has a problem with a certain mob bad guy Alfonse Giardella (Robert Constanzo) who has so far evaded prosecution. Andy gets drunk and decides to tell the mobster exactly what he thinks. Assistant DA Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence) is the unsuccessful prosecutor and soon clashes with Andy. Lieutenant Fancy (James McDaniel) does all he can to keep the peace, as does John Kelly, but Andy is soon shot and ends up in hospital near death. With Andy in hospital, Kelly is partnered up with rookie detective James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro) from the Anti Crime Unit. Meanwhile Kelly’s wife Laura (Sherry ER Stringfield) enlists the help of her neighbour in 4B, Josh Goldstein (David Friends Schwimmer), to sort out her divorce.
You can't stop the music!
Kelly seeks comfort in the pushy and keen uniform cop Janice Licalsi (Amy Judging Amy Brenneman) who is not what she seems to be.
4B Or Not 4B Previously on NYPD Blue, yes this is the first time we hear this recognisable catchphrase. The second episode picks up the story from where the pilot left off and heads straight into action. Andy recovers from his near death shooting but can’t remember who shot him. Mob boss Angelo Marino (Joe Santos) is gunned down after he had put out a hit on John Kelly. 4B finally catches the man that mugged him and Kelly and Laura sign the divorce papers.
The investigation continues into proving that Giardella shot Andy. Meanwhile Kelly investigates a house break-in that has gone wrong, leaving an elderly woman dead. Kelly moonlights as a security guard for rich woman Susan Wagner (Wendie Just Shoot Me Malick), while Andy is deskbound against his wishes. Andy and Fancy come to loggerheads over Andy being put back on the job and we meet Medavoy (Gordan Clapp) for the first time.
Kelly quits his moonlighting job, but is soon after called back to the house to find his former employer still sporting a black eye and a dead husband. Andy is now on full duty, but faces daily aggravation from detective Walker, a veteran cop with an attitude problem. 4B continues to ignore Kelly’s pleas to disarm with a subway encounter imminent and the detectives investigate a liquor store robbery.
James Martinez discovers an abusive super (Mitchell Dharma & Greg Ryan) in his brother’s building is causing problems for the residents, but soon learns he will struggle to enact justice as the super is a fellow policeman. Kelly gets involved when a tenant dies and offers assistance to James. Laura becomes involved in the Giardiella case and Fancy struggles to deal with a cop that likes practical jokes.
Racism rears its ugly head when a friendly basketball game goes sour. Kelly’s playing pals get into an argument, the cause being that Larry is upset about a black man gaining a promotion over him and takes it out on Nathan, a black postal courier. Andy and Kelly investigate a drive-by shooting and a drug raid simultaneously and Laura tries to deal with a guy with a crush.
The 15th Precinct gets an unwelcome visitor in the form of Lou (Dan Hedaya), who asks to be locked up before the next full moon to stop him inflicting himself on the public. The Giardella case continues with a surprise outcome and Andy is reunited with his son Andy Jnr. (Michael DeLuise).
Tempest in a C-Cup
We see the introduction of administrative assistant Donna Abandando (Gail O’Grady) at the 15th Precinct and she instantly attracts the interest of Medavoy. Kelly shows Martinez how to secure a confession from a suspect and Andy goes on a date with assistant DA Sylvia.
Martinez discovers his brother dead and is consoled by Kelly. Martinez’s father is not so consolable though and vows revenge on the dealer who supplied the drugs that caused the overdose. Janice is sailing along nicely until she is contacted by a man who has a book containing all the names that were at his disposal before his death. In return for keeping quiet he asks her to run a licence plate check and she decides to fess up to the Organised Crime Unit. Greg and Donna become closer, causing Greg to evaluate his feelings and Andy teaches Donna how to deal with nutcases on the phone.
Oscar, Meyer, Weiner
Kelly and Sipowicz start of the day with a multiple homicide where a family has been brutally murdered. The eldest daughter of the family, Rebecca (Renee Xena O’Connor), is away at the time but is brought in for questioning. Sipowicz discovers she has been dating one of the black male suspects and plays the race card to cause some heated exchanges. Racism plays a big part in this episode, with Andy struggling to deal with his racist attitude.
From Here to Eternity
It’s Christmas in the city, but sadly the crime rate remains constant as criminals don’t take holidays. The daughter of a doctor is kidnapped, the mob investigation continues, Medavoy prepares for the Christmas children’s party and Kelly gets a Christmas visit from his mother. Andy reluctantly become Santa and spreads some seasonal cheer.
Up On the Roof
Mob boss Tommy Linardi turns up dead, Martinez takes on his first case as detective and Laura identifies Giardella’s killer. Fancy faces the possibility that the teenage boy Maceo he and his wife Lillian (Tamara 24 Tunie) have been caring for due to his mothers drug addiction, may be leaving.
No I was not in Clockwork Orange!
An old friend of Kelly, Sharon LaSalle (Wendy Makkena), joins the 15th Precinct and lifts the spirits of Kelly who has just helped Janice with the Marino notebook. This mood soon changes when Sharon’s husband is killed. Medavoy pays a visit to Donna after leaving his wife and they get intimate.
Jumpin’ Jack Fleishman
The detectives investigate another murder case while Sharon handles her first case since the death of her husband. She has to investigate a mugging where the victim may have been raped. Licalsi has to fight off the unwanted advances of a fellow cop and Andy deals with toothache and the return of Lois, the hooker who was with him when he was shot.
A Sudden Fish
Medavoy suffers a suspected heart attack and Kelly returns to his moonlighting. Andy and Sylvia struggle to become closer, but Andy misreads Sylvia’s offer of a new clownfish for his fishtank. Andy investigates a robbery and Laura has news for John.
Sylvia is getting tired of Andy’s excuses for avoiding getting together. Laura requests that Kelly gets more evidence in a murder case she is assigned to and Officer Roy Larson is suspected of using steroids.
Black Men Can Jump
A young boy is shot for his boombox, the precinct building needs repairs, Sharon considers moving and Sipowicz is incensed by a PI who is taking advantage of a father searching for his missing daughter.
Zeppo Marks Brothers
Laura is being followed and Kelly is sure her current boyfriend is involved. The station is terrified at a pending uniform inspection and the girlfriend of a murdered witness is hesitant to reveal the identity of a hitman. This episode sees the final appearance of Sherry Stringfield as Laura, she left the series to film the pilot for ER.
Serge the Concierge
Andy Jnr is wrongly arrested for selling coke and surprisingly gets help from his father to prove his innocence. Medavoy and Martinez have to search through trash for a body and Kelly gets a surprise visit.
Good Time Charlie
Janice gains a promotion to Intelligence and Andy falls off the wagon with a thud at a party for Sylvia’s father. Fancy has misgivings about his wife’s pregnancy and a lawyer is suspected of murdering his mistress.
Guns 'n' Rosaries
Sipowicz attends his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and Greg gets into a traffic altercation after his wife admits to infidelity. After a heated argument with another driver, a man is shot causing major problems for the 15th. Licalsi seeks guidance from Kelly’s basketball buddy Father Downey.
Kelly recruits Giardella lawyer James Sinclair (Daniel Benzalli) to help Licalsi. He is also investigating the murder of a priest found dead near a hangout for homosexuals. Sipowicz also discovers a lead that could help solving an earlier child disappearance.
Yes I am from the fashion police and you are under arrest lady!
The curtain falls on Season One and all I can say is please hurry with the release of Season Two! The prospect of buying another ten box sets is a bit daunting, but the quality of this show makes it more than worthwhile. It is an addictive series with wonderful characters and storylines. The cast is superb and the direction gives this a documentary feel that puts the viewer right in the action.
The picture is presented in full frame and considering this is over ten years old and made for television, the quality is surprisingly good. There are the usual problems including slight grain, loss of detail and specks of dirt, but these are only minor glitches. Colours are very strong throughout and generally natural. Subtitles are supplied in English and French and the English ones sampled were accurate to what is said on screen. Overall this is a very nice transfer that is equal to many productions currently on television.
Audio is supplied in a choice of English and French Dolby Digital 4.0 and it sounds terrific. One of the most recognisable aspects of NYPD Blue is the music of Mike Post, those drum beats that kick in when a new scene begins, and here they sound terrific. Being a predominantly dialogue-driven series though, the majority of sound is kept across the front speakers. This is done well with some good use of side speakers for directional effect. Dialogue is crystal clear throughout with no synch problems. Overall this is a wonderful mix that does the series justice.
Well if 22 episodes aren’t quite enough for you, then bring on a plentiful supply of extras!
Before you even get to disc six where the collection of extras is housed, you will discover there is a commentary track for one episode on each disc, six in total. Episodes that receive the commentary treatment are True Confessions with writer David Milch, Personal Foul and Oscar, Meyer, Weiner from director Brad Siberling, A Sudden Fish with actress Sharon Lawrence, Black Men Can Jump with technical consultant Bill Clark and Guns ‘n’ Rosaries from director Michael Robin. All have something to offer in their own respect, but the most best would have to be those from Brad Siberling and actress Sharon Lawrence. Both are very easy to listen to and give an entertaining insight into the making of each respective episode and the series itself. Sibberling went on to marry Amy Brenneman and recounts his involvement with the actress along with other stories. These may be the commentary tracks of choice for this reviewer, but rest assured that each has something interesting to offer and do deserve to be heard.
The Making of Season One
This featurette runs for 58:26 and is jam packed with goodies for fans. It contains interviews with cast and crew along with footage from the series and outtakes. Practically everything is covered here from the technical side to the use of nudity and all is presented well. This is an excellent featurette that will hopefully set the standard for future series releases and comes with DD2.0 stereo sound.
Love on NYPD Blue
This second featurette looks at the romances during the series. It again contains interviews and footage and runs for 12 minutes with DD2.0 audio.
This featurette looks at the most memorable guest appearances in the series. It again contains interviews and many behind the scenes stories.
Pilot Script to Screen Comparison
This feature looks at four scenes from the pilot episode and allows you to compere the script to the finished product. Scenes included are Kelly and Sipowicz Argue, Sipowicz is Ambushed, Kelly Confronts Giardella and Kelly at the Hospital. Through a series of text pages of the script, the viewer can choose to press play and watch the relevant scene. This is a great feature that gives the viewer a real insight into how the series was made.
Cast and Crew Bios
Featured here are a series of text pages on cast and crew from the series. Included are Steven Bochco, Amy Brenneman, David Caruso, Gordon Clapp, Bill Clark, Dennis Franz, Gregory Hoblit, Junie Lowry-Johnson, Sharon Lawrence, David Milch, Gail O’Grady, Mike Post, Sherry Strigfield and Nicholas Turturro.
Overall I cannot recommend this set highly enough. The release of this series has been highly anticipated by many and rest assured, fans won’t be disappointed. The show is of the highest quality, the video and audio transfers are equal to that and the extras are plentiful. If you are a fan buy this now, if you have never experienced the show before, then the start is always a good place to begin, so take the time to experience this superb series.