Spiritual reality has always been one of the underpinnings of the show. God is at the root of Andy Sipowicz’s character. When he lost his faith in Him, his life completely unraveled into a drunken spiral into prostitution and self-loathing. In that, the show has come full circle with John Jr.’s channeling the spirit of Andy past. John Jr. is flailing about after the suicide of his father followed shortly by the suicide of his girlfriend, not knowing how to put his back together. [I’m just not quite buying Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s performance. He plays his character just this side of over the top, like he’s wearing a character he’s not quite comfortable with.] He could learn a lot from his partner.

(2005) Television Review

This page was created on June 6, 2005
This page was last updated on June 6, 2005


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CREDITS

Created by Steven Bochco and David Milch

29.jpg (211 K)Cast (in credits order)
Dennis Franz .... Det. Andy Sipowicz
Mark-Paul Gosselaar .... Det. John Clark, Jr. (2001-2005)
Gordon Clapp .... Det. Greg Medavoy (1994-2005)
Henry Simmons .... Det. Baldwin Jones (2000-2005)
Bill Brochtrup .... John Irvin (1995-1996, 1998-2005)
Jacqueline Obradors .... Det. Rita Ortiz (2001-2005)
Currie Graham .... Lt. Thomas Bale (2004-2005)
Bonnie Somerville .... Det. Laura Murphy (2004-2005)
David Caruso .... Det. John Kelly (1993-1994)
Gail O'Grady .... Donna Abandando (1994-1996)
Nicholas Turturro .... Det. James Martinez (1993-2000)
James McDaniel .... Lt. Arthur Fancy (1993-2001)
Kim Delaney .... Det. Diane Russell (1995-2001)
Sharon Lawrence .... ADA Sylvia Costas (1993-1999)
Amy Brenneman .... Officer Janice Licalsi (1993-1994)
Sherry Stringfield .... Laura Michaels Kelly (1993-1994)
Jimmy Smits .... Det. Bobby Simone (1994-1998)
Justine Miceli .... Det. Adrianne Lesniak (1994-1996)
Andrea Thompson .... Det. Jill Kirkendall (1996-2000)
Rick Schroder .... Det. Danny Sorenson (1998-2001)
Esai Morales .... Lt. Tony Rodriguez (2001-2004)
Charlotte Ross .... Det. Connie McDowell (2001-2004)
Garcelle Beauvais .... ADA Valerie Heywood (2001-2004)
John F. O'Donohue .... Sgt. Eddie Gibson (2003-2004)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Austin Majors .... Theo Sipowicz (1999-)
James McBride .... Officer Mike Shannon (1995-)
Henry Murph .... N.D. 'Hank' Harold (1996-)

BOOK

Book infoMaurice Broaddus
and David Bruce
wrote for this book!

What Would Sipowicz Do? : Race, Rights and Redemption in NYPD Blue (Smart Pop series)

by Glenn Yeffeth (Editor) "Surly, craggy-faced and often unpleasant, Andy Sipowicz seems an unlikely hero..."

Taking an entertaining, intelligent look at the culturally influential 11-year television run of NYPD Blue, this examination includes a collection of essays on topics ranging from the series' portrayal of race relations in New York City to Sipowicz's famously thorny demeanor. A media critic, two police psychologists, and addiction, interrogation, and sex experts contribute essays that take an accessible, intelligent look at a show that has redefined the police drama genre. From insightful analysis of the show's evolution to lighthearted jabs at its quirks, this is a work that will deepen any fan's Blue experience.

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SYNOPSIS
NYPD Blue, presently in its 12th season on ABC, is one of the longest-running police dramas in broadcast history. Since its network debut in September 1993, the series earned 27 Emmy nominations in its first season, won the coveted award for Outstanding Drama Series in its sophomore year and received Emmy Awards for writing and directing in its fourth and fifth seasons. NYPD Blue has received an astounding 82 Emmy nominations, winning 20.

Set against the gritty backdrop of New York City, NYPD Blue portrays realistic characters devoting themselves to the pursuit of justice while attempting to integrate their personal lives.

Four-time Emmy Award-winner Dennis Franz portrays Detective Andy Sipowicz, who married his colleague, Detective Connie McDowell, shortly before she gave birth to their son, Matt. Connie, having also successfully adopted her infant niece, is excited about mothering their blended family, which includes Theo, portrayed by Austin Majors, Sipowicz's son from a previous marriage. As a result she has opted to be a stay at home mom, particularly since the department has a policy which bars spouses from working in the same squad. Meanwhile, Sipowicz is in a cat-and-mouse game with a stalker who is subtly terrorizing him.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar portrays Detective John Clark, Jr., Sipowicz's partner who, still carrying unresolved guilt and anxiety from the suicide death of his father, experiences another loss when his ex-girlfriend kills herself. His partnership with Sipowicz becomes strained when this new season reveals a rebellious and carefree Clark seeking refuge in bars and casual sex with women.

Emmy-winner Gordon Clapp portrays Detective Greg Medavoy, an anxious and sensitive man whose promotion to Second Grade Detective gives him a new lease on life. After meeting with the squad's new lieutenant, he feels as though his job is in jeopardy. Medavoy's partner, Detective Baldwin Jones, portrayed by Henry Simmons, enters a new phase of his life when he becomes a surrogate father to a teenager, Michael, who witnessed the murder of his mother by his father. But their new life together is threatened when Michael's father is acquitted of the murder.

Jacqueline Obradors portrays Detective Rita Ortiz, who has been on an emotional roller coaster since transferring to the 15th. After the death of her husband, whom she had caught in bed with another woman, she became intimately involved with Detective Clark. When Clark's own emotional turmoil caused their relationship to end, Ortiz felt compelled to transfer out of the 15th precinct. However, heroism saved the day when she shot an IAB officer who was gunning for the lieutenant. Opting to stay at the 15th precinct, she and the lieutenant became involved, but then he retired early. Presently, Ortiz has a new partner, Detective Laura Murphy, portrayed by Bonnie Somerville. Although Murphy spent three years in uniform, it's questionable whether she can handle herself on the street, as she's a transfer from Applicant Investigations. Their partnership promises to be rather tense, since Ortiz finds Murphy's flirtatious style unprofessional.

The 15th squad's new lieutenant was sent by the department to replace Sergeant Gibson. Lieutenant Bale, portrayed by Currie Graham, is a former Internal Affairs Detective who's on a mission to get the detectives in line with department policies. He's particularly interested in making Sipowicz perform by the book, threatening the entire squad with termination if they don't adhere to his command.

Bill Brochtrup portrays public administrative assistant John Irvin, a gentle and compassionate gay man. His character is blessed with an uncanny ability to exhibit facial expressions that translate the mood of the squad.

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Review by
MAURICE BROADDUS

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This is the 12th and final season of NYPD Blue. Even if you were unaware of that fact, the entire season has the feeling of closure about it. Being a long time fan of the show, I’m glad to see it get a good-bye season. This is much like the pro athlete who announces his impending retirement so that the year plays out like a farewell tour.

12.jpg (158 K)The show, as it has for it duration, focused on the ever grumpy Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz), a man finding himself dissatisfied and frustrated with his calling as a detective. The show was in need of a shake up. It had gotten complacent with its easy rhythm and had fallen into a bit of a rut. Everyone got along with each other. The hustle and bustle of the squad room became six detectives and a boss solving cases in self-contained one hour arcs, not exploring the issues of their characters which had made it stand out from other police procedurals. In short, it had become staid. The first few episodes of this season, however, could best be described as "uncomfortable."

51.jpg (183 K)There is a cloud of palpable tenseness among the detectives squad. A new boss, Lt. Thomas Bale (Currie Graham) is transferred from Internal Affairs (the "rat squad") who not only is learning his new position on the job but also seems to have the agenda of easing Andy into early retirement. There are problems between partners. Andy and John Clark Jr. (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) continue to butt heads. John Jr. is in a destructive downward spiral of drunkenness and sexual carousing and no one knows how to help (and he isn’t asking for any). Det. Rita Ortiz and her new partner, Det. Laura Murphy (Bonnie Somerville), as Laura uses her sexiness to get by on the job to Rita’s chagrin.

02.jpg (76 K)Spiritual reality has always been one of the underpinnings of the show. God is at the root of Andy Sipowicz’s character. When he lost his faith in Him, his life completely unraveled into a drunken spiral into prostitution and self-loathing. In that, the show has come full circle with John Jr.’s channeling the spirit of Andy past. John Jr. is flailing about after the suicide of his father followed shortly by the suicide of his girlfriend, not knowing how to put his back together. [I’m just not quite buying Mark-Paul Gosselaar’s performance. He plays his character just this side of over the top, like he’s wearing a character he’s not quite comfortable with.] He could learn a lot from his partner.

Andy has long engaged in modeling the Book of Job, wherein Job is beset by a series of disasters in his life in turns losing his finances, his family, and his health. For Andy, his Job-ian affair involved wrestlingd with his demons of racism, homophobia, and alcoholism; and also suffering much loss (his son, Andy Jr.; his wife, Sylvia; and his partner, Bobby Simone).

18.jpg (150 K)In recent episodes, Andy has returned to the tortured character that was the hallmark of the series. He teetered on the edge of diving back into the bottle after a foe from the past successfully made his life hell on all fronts. Andy stared down his mortality after a recent shooting, tortured by thoughts of who he would be leaving behind. Having no room for "saint and prophet types", he doesn’t know where to turn, how to connect with God. So he is sent some help in the form of his deceased partner, Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits, pulling double duty on The West Wing).

Somewhat surreal turns in the show aren’t unprecedented. Two major turning points for Andy’s character came via dream episodes: One where he is reunited with his son via Christ and another where he learns the root of his racism. So a conversation with his deceased partner isn’t as surreal a turn as one might expect. And the first arc of the season seems to be pointing to this climax.

Who wouldn’t want a chance to converse with someone from beyond the grave? Especially a partner that you’ve loved and missed greatly who has been in heaven. Andy acts shocked to hear that there is a God; it’s one thing to believe quite another to know. He doesn’t surround himself with a community of believers and he is not a Bible reader. But he does have his reason and his spiritual experience. Bobby reminds him that when he’s needed Him the most, God’s been there. Like now.

The spirit of Bobby Simone comes to impart some life-changing, perspective-shifting wisdom. First he reminds Andy that life isn’t short: "Life is long ... Long in possibilities. Long in those you affect. Long in what lives on after you’re gone." Fears of ones mortality is a good thing as it leads to consideration of who you leave behind and what kind of legacy, but also it inevitably leads to wondering about the life to come after this one.

Secondly, Bobby suggests that maybe Andy should re-think his calling, pursuing instead a new role as a teacher. For example, serving also as a father figure to his current partner, he should "Spot him the mistakes, Andy, and teach him to ride out the losses ... Do you think the big guy [God] let up on you because of your looks? You’re suppose to serve a purpose when you’re down here." The show has always hinged on the demons of Andy Sipowicz. The vein of racism has seemingly been picked clean and left behind him. Ditto with his homophobia. Even his alcoholism was only touched on as a constant demon that he has under control. Leaving only his spiritual journey. A part of that journey has been recognizing his true purpose. As Bobby says, "We come when we are called."

While the show is still very good, with this season in particular highlighting the recent seasons, it hasn’t been great since it’s co-creator, the manic voice of David Milch (now running the show Deadwood), left. He seemed to best voice the tortured psyche of Andy Sipowicz and set the show apart, and above, other cop shows. But the show has aged, not always gracefully, but is still a cut above most of the shows on the air. Like Andy, it can look proudly at its own legacy and role as a teacher in how police shows can be done (Homicide: Life on the Streets, Law & Order, Boomtown, The Shield, Third Watch).

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