Starring Dennis Franz, James McDaniel, Nicholas Turturro, Jimmy Smits, Sharon Lawrence, and Kim Delaney
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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NYPD Blue takes you inside the 15th precinct deep in the heart of New York City. The show focuses on a group of detectives who work long hours patrolling the streets of New York searching every nook and cranny as they solve everything from a homicide or a rape to more extreme crimes such as throwing children off of rooftops or the occasional ritual body burning. What can I say? New York City is a strange place.
I used to watch NYPD back in its early days and I even remember a few of the episodes in this set. After watching Season 3, I feel like it wasn’t as great as I thought it was. Sure, it was a groundbreaking show and won numerous awards during its thirteen year run, but in all honesty, it seemed like some of the actors weren’t actually actors, but robots that were placed on the set by crazy Hollywood-based mad scientists. I’ll start off by pointing out some of the negatives that turned me off a bit over the course of Season 3. Other than some bad acting, especially by Kim Delaney, (she really got my emotions going with her monotone voice and matter-of-fact dialogue, most notably during her family crisis…”Dad, don’t hit mom. Have some coffee, I got to go.”) most of the episodes just felt repetitive. Just about every episode started off with a murder followed by a witness who won’t talk at first but by the end of the episode is willing to spill their guts for a plea bargain. After I watched a few of the episodes in succession, they seemed to muddle together. There were some really good episodes, but there were also quite a few bad episodes. “Curt Russell” was probably the worst episode of the bunch. An Indian woman was murdered by her houseboy/servant because the woman got mad and was going to deport the boy because he had a picture of daughter in his possession. The plot seemed to rush along in no general direction until finally, the kid admits that he strangled the woman but he didn’t think that he was hurting her. I really didn’t care about the victim and felt no remorse for houseboy. I thought that the episode was nothing more than a filler episode that was jammed in there for good measure. After watching Hill Street Blues, I felt that the sense of camaraderie was lacking. Watching the interaction between Kim Delaney and Dennis Franz at times was like watching two magic eight balls strike up a conversation and even Jimmy Smits seemed dull at times especially around the two aforementioned culprits.
I wasn’t totally disappointed with this set. When there was a good episode, it really stood above the rest. Two of the strongest episodes dealt with tough issues and touchy social concepts. “Heavin’ Can Wait” began at a crime scene in which a double homicide had occurred. The victims…two children, one age 5, the other only a few months old. The thing about this episode that makes it so shockingly realistic was that the children were killed because the mother didn’t want to give up her drug money. Its sad to think about it, but there are people out there who would do the exact some thing. The other episode titled “Closing Time” dealt with the fallout of the death of Detective Sipowitz’s son Andy Jr. Having just lost his son, Det. Sipowitz gives up on everyone and everything that he holds dear and instead falls back on the comfort of scotch on the rocks. It’s safe to say that just about everyone knows and alcoholic and has felt the effects that alcoholism can have on that person and the people around him or her. Andy Sipowitz pretty much gives up on life. His wife throws him out for drinking, his co-workers don’t trust him on the job, he rips into suspects and victims that come into the precinct and he assaults some street thugs who in turn kick his ass and steal his gun. With his job and his marriage on the line, Detective Sipowitz has to rely on the other people around him to make it through this tumultuous time in his life. By the end of the episode, the outlook begins to look a lot better for Andy in large part due to the friends that he had turned his back on in his time of need. This was probably the best stand-alone episode on this set.
Again, in comparison to Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue seemed stale. Throughout most of the season, the continuous plot seemed to revolve around two main points…the love relationship between Kim Delaney and Jimmy Smits characters and coping with alcoholism in some way, shape or form. The relationship between Delaney and Smits was boring and only surfaced in brief spurts and was lackluster. I didn’t think this was a strong focal point to carry on for the entire season. The alcoholism subplot at least came to a boiling point towards the end of Season 3 but I was very disappointed with the final episode of the season. There was no cliffhanger and the story once again followed the exact same mold that most episodes followed…murder, no admittance, plea bargain, admittance. “Closing Time”, which was the second to last episode would have been a much better episode to close the season with. There was nothing special at all in the closer to bring the viewer back next season. It appeared that NYPD Blue was still riding on the coattails of its early success and the producers figured that people would be back no matter what. As I mentioned earlier, the employees of the 15th precinct didn’t seem to have the camaraderie as was prevalent in Hill Street Blues. They tried to act like it, but the whole family atmosphere just wasn’t there. As for the occasional appearance of something called humor, the weak attempts at it were anything but humorous. At times the show was just too serious even when the moment presented itself. I don’t think that I had a chuckle during any single one of the episodes. I know it is a cop show, but it’s nice to change things up. Even the Dukes of Hazzard had a serious episode.
If you’re a fan of NYPD Blue or have a taste for any of the crime dramas and cop shows on the tube today, then you’re probably going to enjoy Season 3. For me, there wasn’t much that stood out on this set. Most of the 22 episodes seem to run together and only being the third season of the long running show, it appeared that some of the actors didn’t quite have their characters down yet. I seriously doubt that this was one of the better seasons of NYPD Blue. I am anxious to find out how this particular season stacks up to some of the latter seasons. I didn’t get the enjoyment out of this set that I had anticipated I would. Too much of nothing going on led to a boring season with the occasional plot twist and turn but the stronger episodes towards the end were too little too late.
Selected episode commentaries
“Life in the 15th Precinct” featurette
“Father and Son” featurette
“Woman of NYPD Blue” featurette
Dolby Digital English Surround
Favorite Scenes: Heavin Can Wait, The Backboard Jungle, One Big Happy Family, A Death In The Family, Closing Time
Running Time: 1014 minutes