NYPD Blue Season 2 Review
Aside from what happened on the screen, NYPD Season 2 is most famous for what happened prior to the start of filming. Following the success of Season 1, David Caruso, who starred as Det. John Kelly, decided that television was no longer of any benefit to his career and, with a notable lack of humility, resigned from NYPD Blue to make it big in the movies.
Any look at Caruso's career, which had a pre-NYPD Blue highlight with his playing of a deputy in First Blood who takes real pleasure at the beating given to Sylvester Stallone, will note the schadenfreude in Caruso's failure to land any starring roles and to his eventual return to television with CSI: Miami. Even with this latter show, Caruso's presence seemed not to endear the series to either fans or the cast of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations and against the other problems associated with the show - the lack of innovation and a dull cast, amongst others - it is Caruso's playing of Horatio Caine that particularly rankles. Fans of both the movies and of television have long memories and Caruso has yet to be forgiven for his lack of grace over NYPD Blue.
NYPD Blue was developed by Steven Bochco following his trip westwards with LA Law and marked a return to the type of gritty cop show that first brought Bochco to the fore, which, in particular, recalled Hill Street Blues. Bochco's intention was to clear the glamour of LA Law out of his work by showing the departmental and private lives of New York police officers as not always being particularly pleasant.
When it was first marketed in the UK, however, it suffered from the reputation of there being almost constant nudity and The Sun and its ilk bandied about such phrases as, "too hot for TV" but as this boxset demonstrates, NYPD Blue would have been better promoted as being a grittily realistic cop show that, whilst never ushering in any noticeable increase in the amount of skin shown by struggling actresses, foresaw a greater role of the personalities of the cops in the precinct as well as brief and shocking bursts of violence. Watching this series over ten years from when it was first shown, it's remarkable to see the legacy of NYPD Blue in shows like The Shield and Boomtown, both of which mixed the private lives of the cops with the brutal crimes they were required to investigate. Compare, as an example, a typical episode of The Shield, which is one of the more explicit cop shows of the last couple of years, with the NYPD Blue episode Double Abandando in which Bobby Simone and Andy Sipowicz investigate a man suspected of deliberately infecting a woman with HIV.
Of course, what this season will be remembered for is Jimmy Smits joining the cast, like Steven Bochco, from LA Law. Compared to Caruso, who retains an onscreen arrogance despite the humiliating failures he suffered whilst trying to break through into being Hollywood A-list talent, Smits brings a lighthearted feel to playing Bobby Simone but who has a decency in his place in the police force that his partner, Andy Sipowicz, lacks. Compared to Season One, which featured Caruso throughout the series, NYPD Blue only really comes together after Caruso's exit - reputed to be in the back of a limo at the very second that the cameras finished rolling on his last scene - with Smits ensuring that the show improved over the seasons in which he continued to partner Sipowicz, particularly with the support, the great direction on television and themes that grew throughout the series, Smits entry to NYPD Blue came at just the right time to ensure this would be the second series of many to come.
Listed below are brief synopses of all twenty-two episodes as included on this DVD release:
Trials & Tribulations (45m48s): Picking up where the previous season ended, Det. John Kelly risks his career when he agrees to testify for Licalsi's defence only for Internal Affairs to begin an investigation against him. Meanwhile, Sipowicz helps out a woman who is being physically abused by her husband but who refuses to aid a prosecution against him.
From Whom the Skell Rolls (45m50s): With Internal Affairs continuing to investigate Kelly, Sipowicz is handed a case involving a double murder and a verdict is served in the case against Licalsi.
Cop Suey (45m46s): When the body of the abused woman from Trials And Tribulations is found, Sipowicz is now asked to conduct an investigation into her murder. Elsewhere, Kelly looks into the murder of a cop in Chinatown and a new female detective, Lesniak, joins the department.
This episode also features a commentary by Director Mark Tinker.
Dead and Gone (45m47s): When a female friend of Sipowicz's calls him to ask for his help when a well-known client of hers dies in a compromising position, Sipowicz moves the body to spare blushes higher up in the force. With Internal Affairs continuing to investigate Kelly, he quits the force.
Simone Says (45m47s): With Kelly gone, his replacement, Bobby Simone, joins the force as Sipowicz's new partner despite some reticence on the part of the latter. Their first case together is to investigate a suspected hit on the son of a well-known gangster. Lesniak, meanwhile, gets involved in a case involving suspected child abuse. Simone and Sipowicz finally bond over a beer and talk about their keeping of homing pigeons and fish, respectively.
This episode also features a commentary by Executive Producer and Co-Writer David Milch.
The Final Adjustment (45m45s): In their second case together, Simone and Sipowicz investigate the murder of a woman by her husband but Simone is distracted by a friend whose young son is found with a weapon in his room. Sipowicz continues to romance Sylvia and agree to move in together.
Double Abandando (45m44s): When a man who is suspected of deliberately infecting a woman with HIV is targeted by her in a series of revenge attacks, Lesniak and Martinez not only try to protect him but to arrest him for reckless endangerment. Meanwhile, Simone and Sipowicz investigate a series of shots that are fired at a local school.
You Bet Your Life (45m48s): Whilst Sipowicz investigates an assault, he is also called to Simone to look into the murder of a pregnant woman. Elsewhere, Martinez and Medavoy check out a robbery at a pawn shop.
Don We Now Our Gay Apparel (45m47s): Simone and Sipowicz investigate the murder of man who owns a popular gay bar and Medavoy is asked to look into a man who claims to have been the victim of a curse put on him by a fortune teller.
In the Butt, Bob (45m47s): When Sipowicz is called in to help bust a guy buying in heavy armaments, he learns that he's been pulled into a job against the police force but turns the tables before proposing to Sylvia as the episode ends. Meanwhile, Lesniak is flashed and, having been beaten once by the perpetrators lawyer, vows not to let the same thing happen when the suspect is brought in again.
Vishy-Vashy-Vinny (45m47s): Simone questions a serial killer after finding some important evidence and Fancy closes the double-cross against the police from the previous episode, which still involves Sipowicz.
This episode also features a commentary by Director Michael Robin.
Large Mouth Bass (45m49s): Lesniak and Martinez investigate a con-artist who is exploiting lonely women as Simone and Sipowicz look into the murder of a young woman whose mother had violent threats made against her.
Travels With Andy (45m47s): Simone and Sipowicz investigate the murder of three people at a restaurant but Sipowicz is being distracted by his wedding plans with Sylvia. Meanwhile, Lesniak and Martinez investigate a rape during which Lezniak meets an old friend.
A Murder With Teeth in It (45m47s): When Sipowicz investigates the murder of a pimp, Simone mentions a number of complications in the case to his girlfriend who works as a reporter. What was building up to be a good relationship between Simone and Sipowicz is now in ruins as the story makes the papers.
Bombs Away (44m49s): Simone and Sipowicz investigate the kidnapping of a woman that leads to the detaining of a terrorist. Meanwhile, as a serial killer is being moved out of the precinct, he is shot and Simone investigates the obvious suspect - the father of the killer's last victim who was in the building at the time.
This episode also features a commentary by Consulting Producer Bill Clark.
UnAmerican Graffiti (45m17s): When a painter is murdered, Simone and Sipowicz investigate but Sipowicz is distracted when Sylvia is mugged.
Dirty Socks (44m26): As Simone prepares a witness for trial, he realises that, as her story keeps changing, she is only interested in him. Meanwhile, Sipowicz investigates a business that he once worked in where the owner's wife is murdered in a robbery.
Innuendo (44m48s): Simone is searching for a killer following a shooting spree in which a cop killed a bystander. Meanwhile, Sipowicz seeks medical advice but he's later saved when Simone and he search the apartment where the suspected shooter lives only for him to show up.
Boxer Rebellion (44m49s): Whilst the department prepares for a boxing tournament and Simone falls for an undercover cop, Sipowicz finds that a woman he called to act as witness in a murder trial has been killed by the men she was to testify against.
This episode also features a commentary by Technical Advisor Bill Clark.
The Bookie and Kooky Cookie (44m49s): Simone and Sipowicz search for a bookmaker's killer but Sipowicz gets distracted by Sylvia asking him to meet with a priest to discuss his loss of faith.
The Bank Dick (44m51s): Sipowicz asks Simone to be his best man but before the wedding, there is a serial rapist to catch. Sipowicz and Simone are called onto the case but Simone also has troubles at home.
A.D.A. Sipowicz (43m52s): After months of preparation, Sipowicz and Sylvia are getting ready for their wedding but Sipowicz is feeling pre-wedding jitters. Meanwhile, Simone finds that Russell is finally admitting to having a problem with her drinking but, as the episode closes, Sylvia appears at the church to find Andy waiting for her.
NYPD Blue Season 2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and looks fine although there are a few scratches and other marks in a number of the episodes. What will be noticeable, however, if the occasional blemish is not, is that NYPD Blue is a dark and grainy series similar to the gritty style of shooting that was employed on Law & Order in its early days but, to those viewers who recall watching Smits' entry to the series on Channel 4, this look will be the same as to how it was first presented.
NYPD Blue has been transferred onto DVD with a Dolby Digital 4.0 audio track with the rear speakers adding a little presence to the action.
The sixth disc in the set contains all the bonus features and these are listed below:
NYPD Season 2 Feature (57m26s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo): This is an hour-long look at the entire series with the cast, writers and the show's creator, Steven Bochco. Beginning with a couple of minutes that look back at Season 1, this feature takes each episode in turn and summarises the behind-the-scene...
Wedding Bell Blues (7m36s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo): This bonus feature looks back at the on-screen romance between Andy and Sylvia, which led to their wedding during season 2.
The Music Of Mike Post (7m25s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo): This feature interviews both Steven Bochco and Mike Post regarding the music that Post has written for three of Bochco's shows including Hill Street Blues, LA Law and NYPD Blue.
Script To Scene Comparison: Looking at three sequences in the series - Sipowicz Meets Simone, Sylvia Meets Simone and Sipowicz And Simone Bond - this compares the shooting script to what actually happens on-screen. There are few differences, if any, between the two so the appeal is no doubt in looking at how the actors bring out the personality in their characters.
NYPD Blue is a great television show and in keeping with many of the recent issues of television shows on DVD - The Shield, Law & Order, Boomtown, CSI: Crime Scene Investigations - the quality of both the picture and sound is good and there is a solid, if not remarkable, range of extras. As with these other television shows, their quality is the reason they have been selected for release on DVD and whilst NYPD Blue falls short of being as dazzling as Boomtown ever was - it being the best US cop show in years - this is still a excellent boxset.