NYPD Blue, Channel 4

by | May 20, 2003 | All, Reviews

In the mid-1990s, NYPD Blue was right up there with ER as a primetime heavyweight, on both sides of the Atlantic. Then it lost its star (twice), got bogged down in domestic misery storylines, and was dumped by Channel 4 when series seven ended in mid-2000. Now they’ve changed their minds, and two years after it first aired in America, we’re being treated to series eight, albeit at the deathly hour of 11.35pm.

The show follows a small, tightly-knit squad of homicide detectives in New York’s 15th Precinct. Its trademarks include shaky camera work (thankfully restricted to establishing shots of buildings), some fairly steamy sex scenes, quirky vocabulary (they “reach out” to people while we – or the Sex In The City girls – would give them a call) and a degree of police violence that must embarrass the real NYPD. It also contains some of the sharpest dialogue and action in the business, strong characters (on both sides of the law) and great use of long-running storylines.

Those storylines are, however, a bit of problem for UK viewers right now. In America, series eight aired just seven months after its predecessor ended, and the stories carried straight through. After two years, it’s harder to remember what was going on, although it’s becoming clearer after two episodes. Things have changed, though, and mostly for the better. After two series which focused far too heavily on the drawn-out death of Detective Bobby Simone (star Jimmy Smits) followed by the multiple bereavement of Detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz), it seems that police work, and personal stories of a less tragic kind, are at last back in the forefront.

With Sipowicz’s young son free of cancer (a wise move), Andy and his colleagues can concentrate on what they do best, threatening the bad guys with a beating over the interview room table if they don’t come clean. Meanwhile Simone’s replacement, angel-faced Det. Danny Sorensen (Rick Schroder), has finally got it together with the equally angelic Det. Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), and full-buttock nudity is back on the menu. NYPD Blue is undoubtedly back on track.

The mystery is why it took Channel 4 two years to realise this, when it could have found out by watching American TV in January 2001. In America, the show has moved on, and is now in its 10th series, reflecting post-9/11 New York and with half its major characters changed. At one episode a week, that’s a lot of catching up to do.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

20/05/2003

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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