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Monday, February 20, 2006

NYPD Blue finale and West Wing resurgence

February 23, 2005

Don’t tell the criminals in New York City, but life is about to get a little easier for them. And a whole lot tougher for me.

After 12 years of fighting crime in the Big Apple, the detectives of NYPD Blue are done. The series finale airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ABC.

I can’t imagine Tuesdays without Det. Andy Sipowicz and the gang. I’m currently in search of a support group to help me say goodbye to my friends at the 15th precinct. I’ve watched the show from the beginning. I’ve stayed true through Andy’s ever-changing list of partners, his marriages, his alcoholism, his heartbreak, and his naked shower scenes. Trust me, that’s dedication.

NYPD Blue has always been cutting-edge, depicting the gritty, less-than-glamorous life of detectives. From adult language to nudity, NYPD Blue pushed the envelope. But those scenes never felt gratuitous.

The show made a splash when it first hit the airwaves and spawned a new generation of crime dramas. And while its imitators fare well in the ratings still today, none have the heart of NYPD Blue.

It stands out because it’s character driven, rather than plot driven. Sure, the detectives may be solving multiple cases within the course of the hour, but at the same time, viewers are treated to a peak inside the character’s personal lives. From Andy’s latest crisis to John’s dating life to Greg’s diet disasters, it isn’t just about the criminal cases.

NYPD Blue never jumped the shark. It garnered 82 Emmy nominations during its run, 27 in its first year. And overall, the show has won 20 Emmys. It’s been guilty of only one thing: consistently good drama.

For longtime viewers, you’ve probably picked up a few of the cop terms. I know I have. I understand tossing “perps” in the “pokey.” (Putting criminals in a cell.) I know if I’m ever “collared” (arrested,) I should “lawyer up” (obtain legal counsel) when I get back to the “house” (the police station.) And if you’re ever called a “mope” or a “mutt,” it’s not a good thing. (It means criminal.)

When I visited New York City a few years ago, I talked with several members of the real NYPD about the show. They told me that they really do “talk the talk.”

The final season of NYPD Blue didn’t get the media attention that Friends, Seinfeld, and other popular-culture shows did. That’s too bad. It truly is the end of an era.

So, grab a tissue on Tuesday. The finale is certain to leave you a little blue. And there’s no crime in that.

The West Wing resurgence. - If you gave up on The West Wing last year, I understand. I was right there with you. It took a creative nosedive when writer Aaron Sorkin departed. However, the show has recently rebounded, ironically, by getting out of the west wing. The campaign-trail storyline with Josh, Donna, and the group of presidential candidates has revitalized the series. (Having Donna scolding a man in a chicken suit didn’t hurt either.) Showing the ridiculous political games candidates must play to get elected was a wake-up call. Sure, it’s a fictitious drama, but sadly, I don’t think it’s too far from the truth. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were actually political candidates like Matt Santos? I know he’d have my vote.

Oscar time: Don’t forget the Academy Awards 8 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Host Chris Rock has already caused more controversy than any host I can recall, and he hasn’t even taken the stage yet. Not to worry. I understand the five-second delay is a go.

Originally published 2/23/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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