In the fourth season of this award-winning show, the action at New York City's 15th Precinct is as hectic as ever. While Lieutenant Fancy continues as precinct commander, Detective Andy Sipowicz, although still a bit rough... more » around the edges, has mellowed with the birth of his son. Detective Bobby Simone and Detective Diane Russell take the next step in their relationship, James Martinez becomes the Squad Delegate, and Greg Meadavoy considers becoming a surrogate father. But one thing that hasn't changed is the squad's determination to make sure the bad guys get their day in court and to also attempt to maintain a touch of normalcy in their personal lives even as they investigate cases that often put them directly in the line of fire.« less
Picking Right Up Where Season 3 Left Off, It Hits the Ground
Boss Fan | Take a Right at the Light, Keep Going Straight Unt | 06/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Season 3 of "NYPD Blue" was my favorite season of my favorite TV show of all time. That was where "Blue" hooked me - throwing me into a drama I had never seen the likes of before on TV - especially network TV. I suppose there were similar plot elements and storylines explored in past shows or done more graphically in feature films, but even having seen some of this before, I had never seen it done so well and so effectively. Credit the writing, the performances and a sense of in-your-face real world authenticity - we feel we know these characters - they ARE real.
There was a lot of hoopla surrounding this series when it began over its frank depictions of racism, alcoholism, sex, violence and rough language (all this, of course, is what made it feel like something of a docudrama versus just another police serial); and again in its second season with the whole David Caruso, Jimmy Smits thing. Season 1 had plenty of great storylines and season 2 was riveting as a season of change; full of new ideas, different from season 1. It retained the gritty realism of the first season's police stories, but managed to become more involving on a character level. Season 3 was so spectacularly effective because, unlike season 2, this is not a season of change. Where season 2 got much of its drama from everything being shaken up, in season 3 we knew and cared about all the characters on a much deeper level. Sensing this - using this - the writers decided to pull the rug out from under us resulting in some of the best drama I had seen before or since.
Season 4 had some mighty high standards to live up to; and for the most part it does. It hits the ground running with an episode that immediately sets a few major plot points in motion that will effect the rest of the season: The squad gets a new PAA named Geri, who sets her sights on Andy, and later she desperately needs his help, Greg's weight concerns introduces him to a cop named Abby who will play a pivotal role in his life this season, Martinez's victory against Vince for delegate leads to pivotal episodes for each of them, Martinez also meets a cute young PAA who will play a major role in his life, Jill Kerkindal joins the squad halfway through the season, Fancy, feeling the victim of racial profiling, is forced to examine his own prejudices, and Bobby asks Diane to marry him and her response sets off a chain of events that becomes the dramatic center of this season. Andy's issues, although they surface from time to time, take a backseat this season as the dramatic focus is placed more on Simone and Russell, both together and individually, than ever before. This results in some truly captivating episodes that effect both the individuals involved, as well as those around them: Russell and her undercover assignment with James Leary gives her character a big overhaul, but it also shows cracks in Simone's generally cool demeanor; you see his weaknesses and what makes him tick. And Simone, in probably the best story arch of this season, gets screwed by the job and the FBI as he is told to get close to, and do favors for, a former childhood pal turned wiseguy. This assignment and the secretiveness with which Simone must carry it out, as he gets in deeper and deeper over his head, enrages both Russell and Andy and leads to two terrific episodes: "Is Paris Burning?" in which, between a horrible murder of a witness, Simone's tightening noose with IAB, and his own feelings of frustration and helplessness, Andy just loses it. And the season finale which I remember shocked the hell out of me back when it first aired. If you are going to try to make fans salivate for a shows return the following season, this is the way to do it. That was a long summer.
But if there is one, lone standout scene this season that all by itself demonstrates this shows depth, honesty, terrific writing and extraordinary performances; without any flashy nudity, foul language or violence; it is a 3 minute scene between just Andy and Bobby in the locker room (which has over the years became the squads confessional, sanctuary and boxing ring) at the end of "Where's Swaldo" where Andy explains in great, sympathetic detail his prejudices and shows a glimmer of hope for overcoming them, while Bobby goes from sensitive, to disgusted, to understanding, to cathartic in his few, but powerful lines of dialogue. It is a brilliant showcase for these two actors' tremendous talents, as well as a perfect scene to submit as evidence of this show's excellence. It should also be required viewing in any sociology class. I bet more people will relate to it than any number of pages trying to explain such a situation in any text book.
As proven by the above mentioned scene and countless others, none of the drama, rough language, sex and cringe-inducing cases on "Blue" would be at all effective if we didn't care about these characters so much. And it is to this show's awesome credit that we do. Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits are simply wondrous in their performances. And everyone is great, but always better when interacting with the two extraordinary leads. And David Milch and the rest of his writers have created a cop show with stories and characters unlike any other. "Blue" goes to some dark places. As such, it emerges as so much more than a cop show. It is a fascinating character study of tragic heroes and flawed souls; good people and their problems. In other words: human beings.
"NYPD Blue" may not be just another cop show, but it never forgets it is a cop show. Where the characters and their issues are always front and center the writers never forget to give us compelling cases, interesting mysteries and criminals that range from brilliant, to diabolical, to insane, to comical. Sometimes this can be said of the fellow officers as well. In season 4 there are a handful of memorable cases: topical at the time (and probably still today) Russell and Kirkindal investigate a baby shaken to death, "Upstairs, Downstairs," a classic in which the detective squad (upstairs) investigate one of the cops in the house (downstairs), Simone and Sipowicz investigate the shooting of a uncooperative rap star (Sipowicz's "bow tie" line and Simone's response is a classic scene), and in the second episode, as the squad investigates a missing girl, there is a heartbreaking scene in which they discover her whereabouts. The scene is done as well and as effectively as any of its kind I have ever seen. As it would for the cops in real life and as it is supposed to, the scene saddens and enrages the viewer in equal measures.
And that is just a brief overview of what season 4 has in store. Yes, this and all the other emotional drama is just another day for the tormented cops on "NYPD Blue."
It is impossible to over-rate this show. And if you have never seen the show or always blew it off, you simply do not know what you are missing. Even now it holds up. FX has followed this mold of gritty, realistic drama with shows like "The Shield" and "Rescue Me." While those shows, being on cable, have gone even further in terms of sex, language, and violence, "Blue" still feels blue. You can have all the shock value you want, but it will always be more effective when it is smartly written and happens to characters you truly care about.
And that is, and has always been, "Blue's" biggest asset.
The show deserves more attention as a classic and deserves to be remembered as something much more than just an old cop show. Hopefully with DVD that will be possible. The 2 and a half year wait between seasons two and three, and a step down in quality and quantity of this boxset, compared with seasons 1 and 2, doesn't make me optimistic that Fox will be doing "Blue's" legacy proud. But at least they are back to putting them out. For those of us who cherish this great series and want to have these season sets around for the rest our lives, it may just be enough.
Amazon has a great suggestion that you buy this with Season 3. Do that and you will be getting the two best seasons of the best TV drama ever (at a price slightly better than in stores). Do yourself a favor and take them up on their offer. Or get it eslewhere. But get it.
Great show, great season, horrible disc choice
Joshua Spaulding | Ossipee, New Hampshire | 08/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This set should've rated five stars easily with my criteria. The show was at its peak, with great story lines, great characters and fantastic writing. The extras on the set were solid, with three commentaries, including one from two actresses from the show and two from producers. There was a featurette looking at the new characters and another focusing on the "Look" of NYPD Blue, which in and of itself was basically a character on the show.
What made this set so tough was the continued use of double-sided dual discs. I know that this saves money and without these types of disc, which were also used for season three, we may not have seen NYPD Blue after the first two seasons, but I just have to complain. I had one disc that the main menu wouldn't pop up, which left me scratching my head on how to get past the first episode (which automatically played when I hit play). I finally had to go into the program portion and program one episode at a time for the final three episodes on that disc. In addition, there were a few episodes on a couple of discs where the action and sound weren't in sync and others where the disc almost froze. I couldn't locate any scratches, but I imagine they were there. This type of disc just screams for problems and unfortunately it happened on a great set of a great season.
The fourth season of Blue featured a few new characters in the 15th precinct, but the story still revolves around Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) and Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits), partners in the detective squad. The end of the previous season saw Sipowicz slide back into his drinking habits after the death of his son. While he is able to conquer that demon again, he finds himself dealing with more and more issues in the fourth year as he deals with being a parent again with wife Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence). He helps fellow detective Diane Russell (Kim Delaney when she was at her hottest) keep away from the drinking and works with his partner to put away countless criminals. But he is still Sipowicz, the guy who certainly has some issues and they always seem to come out. Franz played this character to perfection and it would be hard to imagine anyone else playing that role. A highlight for the Sipowicz character in this season was the attraction of Jeri (guest star Debra Christoffersson), a PAA in the office to start the season. Her attraction to Sipowicz and her strange behavior made for some great lines and particularly facial moves from the veteran detective.
Simone and Russell experience a number of growing pains in their relationship. They have to keep their engagement a secret due to department rules, but before the engagement comes along, they run into trouble. Russell's undercover assignment strains the relationship between the pair and Simone's involvement with the FBI, which leads to his being suspended by IAB in the season finale, doesn't help matters any. These two characters always shared good chemistry and it is in good form this season. Simone also inherits an apartment building with many problems of its own, including a jealous son who thought he should've inherited the building when his mother passed (guest star Willlie Garson).
Detective James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro) wins election as the union delegate in the early stages of the season and that plays into some stories throughout the season. Perhaps his best storyline is meeting Gina Colon (guest star Lourdes Benedicto), the squad's new PAA. He is smitten with her from the start and stands by her side after she is brutally attacked. This is a good story line for Martinez, as viewers finally get to see him find luck in love, something that hadn't happened a lot in the previous year.
As for his partner, Greg Medavoy (Gordon Clapp), the opposite is true. The bumbling Medavoy thinks he has found someone to be with, but it turns out that officer Abby Sullivan (guest star Paige Turco) is gay. However, she and her partner ask Medavoy to donate sperm so they can have a baby. The scene at Abby's apartment where the three have dinner has to be one of the best awkward scenes in television history. Clapp played the part to perfection.
Lieutenant Arthur Fancy continues to oversee the detective squad. His biggest storyline of the year happens when he gets pulled over by a racist cop and gets his revenge by first transferring the cop to a black neighborhood and eventually to the 15th. He also is caught in the middle as Simone is dragged through the fire by IAB as the season draws to a close.
Andrea Thompson joined the squad as Detective Jill Kirkendall. She wasn't in the credits this season, but appeared through most of the year. Her character was a refreshing change from Adrienne Lesniak, (Justine Miceli), who's story had kind of petered out at the end of season three.
The shocking final scene makes a viewer anxious for season five to head to DVD. Watching it, I found it hard to believe what happened. Being as it has been 10 years since the episode aired, I don't exactly remember how it turned out in season five, but I know that as the sirens wailed and Simone stood, shocked against the wall, I found myself wishing for season five to come out as soon as possible.
There were a number of great guest stars who would go on to star in other shows: Leland Orser (ER), Christopher Meloni (Law and Order SVU), Ken Jenkins (Scrubs), K Callan (Lois and Clark), Benedicto (Dawson's Creek), and others graced the screen. In a strange turn of events, Currie Graham did a turn as a criminal at the end of the season. In the show's final year, Graham would star as the squad's boss. Just a kind of interesting note.
As I mentioned, there were some great extras on the set and I am anxiously awaiting word on season five. Now, if they'd only do something about the discs."
Great Show, Horrible New Packaging
Owen Murray | The Good Old USA | 06/04/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'll skip the glowing praise for the show in this short review, and instead address something I feel has been largely ignored: the packaging.
Seasons 1 and 2 came in a nice fold-out boxed set and ran at 6 DVDs. They played great on all my DVD players and were as beautiful as the content on them. Unfortunately, someone decided to save money by using 2-sided DVDs and reduce the count to 4 (and smaller packaging as well) with Seasons 3 and 4. For those of you not familiar with dual-sided discs I say this . . . Ordinarily, if they are used it's to have a 1-side is fullscreen (pan and scan) 1-side is widescreen movie disc. This is in itself no great hardship, since the main issues with such discs (there's nowhere to safely touch but the inner ring and outer edge, which is damn difficult putting it in or taking it our of a case) is mitigated by the owner's preference of 4:3 or 16:9; That is, you'll always play one or the other so the inevitable fingerprints are not that big a deal, since you'll touch the 'top' you never play.
Unfortunately, the episodes in NYPD Blue are on both sides of all the discs, so the inevitable fingerprints (and I imagine scratches, sooner or later) prevent you playing episodes. Not to mention that out of the box I had issues playing them on one of my DVD players. I don't know if it's bending the spec on compression, oversized discs, or some exotic new copy-protection mod, but I will say this: I resent buying discs that appear designed to fail and cost me to replace later on. I, for one, would gladly pay extra for the single-sided DVDs and larger packaging they used previously. I'm Extremely unhappy with the new packaging\discs and would advise anyone looking to get the series to think twice if they have problems with newer or dual-sided DVDs.
Short form? Horrible changes I suspect were just to boost a profit margin at the fans' expense. Not only am I unlikely to pick up Season 5 or later if they stick with the format, I'm seriously considering unloading what I already bought."
Climactic ending - GIVE US SEASON 5!
Dan | Mamaroneck, NY United States | 07/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this series or most of it through the end of 'Danny''s time on it. I won't go into how great it is or all of that other stuff, if you don't know that already... you haven't read these and any other reviews or probably talked to anyone in the last decade about television ;)
I had forgotten how it ended, and better yet - I think I forgot what happens next which is great - I am posting here in the hopes that others will (and buy the whole series, Caruso as well - I know alot of people feel animosity towards him over the 'thing' but he was good in the show, his character was needed - Andy would have made a bit less sense and the changes less contrasted had John not been there 'old school.')
I loved the ending 'jackpots' - get Fox to crank out the rest of these, the show is over... Long Live the Blue."
Bl;ame it on manufacturer
DTL | Boston, Ma. | 08/09/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It's a fine show. If you love this stuff it become addictive. The knock concerns the DVD manufacturer. The software for these discs is terrible. You can only watch one show at a time. There is no play them all! Then you must flip them! Too easy to get your thumbprint on the DVD. It's irritating."