Although it seems tame compared to the show's currently on television (most notably "The Shield"), "NYPD Blue" was groundbreaking back in the day. It was one of the first television shows to truly push the envelope, featuring nudity, violence, and cuss words; things you thought you'd never see on network television… at the time.
It's now 10 years, and 86 Emmy nominations later. "NYPD Blue" is still on the air, although not really resembling the show that initially caught America's attention. The first thing I noticed was how different the cast was back then. Of course there's always Detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz), who's still alive and kicking on the show. And then there's Detective John Kelly (David Caruso). Unfortunately, people remember more about how Caruso's career went downhill after he left the show (only for it to be resurrected when he landed "CSI: Miami"), then just how good he was at playing Kelly.
Now, I'd be lying if I said I was a loyal viewer of "NYPD Blue." I think that all stems from the fact that I never even gave the show a chance until I sat down and reviewed the DVD box set of the first season. Like most cop shows, each episode follows a specific case. Some cases and storylines are spread over a few episodes (similar to "The Shield"). The result is a show that is easy to follow. It's a very simple formula that has no doubt influenced countless other shows.
"NYPD Blue – Season One" features 22 episodes, each having a running time of approximately 45 minutes. Below are episode summaries and commentary listings, broken down per disc. Be forewarned, there are some potential spoilers in their descriptions.
Pilot - Detective Andy Sipowicz's life is in danger, and it's up to his partner, Detective John Kelly to investigate the mob-related attempt on his life.
4B or Not 4B - Sipowicz finally regains consciousness following the latest attempt on his life, but has no recollection of what happened. Kelly and his wife sign separation papers.
Brown Appetit - Kelly and Sipowicz investigate the brutal murder of a woman in her home; meanwhile, Kelly moonlights as security for a woman who wishes her abusive husband was dead.
True Confessions - A liquor store robbery/homicide is investigated by the detectives. Kelly, after quitting his security job, is called back to the woman's home only to find out her wish has come true.
Commentary by writer David Milch.
Emission Accomplished - Detective Art Stillwell's pranks annoy Lt. Fancy, and Laura questions Giardella, the man who almost killed Sipowicz.
Personal Foul - The term flagrant foul has a whole new meaning when one of Kelly's friends is killed playing basketball. Sipowicz investigates a case of foul play.
Commentary by director Brad Siberling.
NYPD Lou - Sipowicz discovers that his son's fiancé is not as faithful as she is supposed to be. Meanwhile, a man who believes himself to be a werewolf wishes to be detained before he kills someone.
Tempest in a C-Cup - Sipowicz arrests a stripper for prostitution in an effort to get to her boss. Laura looks for a way to protect her reputation from the questionable ethics of her partner, Jimmy Craig.
Ice Follies - The mob continues to strong-arm Janice Licasli, asking her for more favors. The father of an OD victim sets out to kill the man who sold him the drugs.
Oscar, Meyer, Weiner - The detectives investigate the murder of an affluent family. Also, a screenwriter's Academy Award statuette is stolen.
Commentary by director Brad Siberling.
From Hare to Eternity - It's Christmas Eve, and the detectives are investigating a kidnapping. Sipowicz dresses up as Santa Claus for the neighborhood children.
Up on the Roof - Newly promoted Detective Martinez looks for the persons responsible for utilizing a fake ATM machine in a scam. Laura identifies a hit man.
Abandando Abandoned - Kelly and Sipowicz investigate the death of a former policeman. Medavoy confesses his love for Abandando.
Jumpin' Jack Fleishman - The detectives investigate a strangulation murder, in which the prime suspect is a cross-dresser.
Steroid Roy - Laura requests that Kelly get more evidence in a murder case. Officer Roy Larson is suspected of using steroids.
Commentary by actress Sharon Lawrence.
A Sudden Fish - Kelly moonlights as a bodyguard. A victim of a robbery takes his former tormentors hostage. Laura has big news for Kelly.
Black Men Can Jump - The father of a murder victim brings the killer down to the precinct himself. Meanwhile, Sharon considers quitting her job.
Commentary by technical consultant Bill Clark.
Zeppo Marks Brothers - A woman is afraid to finger the man who killed her boyfriend. Kelly meets Laura's new boyfriend.
Serge the Concierge - Sipowicz looks to clear his son of drug pushing charges. Kelly investigates a wealthy hotel owner of foul play.
Good Time Charlie - Kelly suspects his friend is being framed for murder. Lt. Fancy's wife is unhappy his wife is pregnant again.
Guns 'n Rosaries - Racial tensions come to a boil when a black motorist is shot and killed. Sipowicz attends an AA meeting.
Commentary by director Michael Robin.
Rockin' Robin - Kelly investigates the murder of a priest, while an innocent lunch between him and Robin ends passionately.
"NYPD Blue" is presented in full frame 1.33:1. Shot in the days when the idea of television shows presented in 16x9 wasn't even considered; "NYPD Blue" looks a little better on DVD than it does on television (I did a comparison with syndicated episodes and noticed some differences in picture quality). The picture is intentionally bright at times, causing flesh tones to look a little bit on the "white" side than usual. The print does suffer from specs of dirt, as well as grain; but that is more than expected from a television show 10 years old. Overall, I have no complaints, as this is the best we're ever going to get… which isn't so bad at all.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital Surround 4.0, Spanish 2.0, and French 2.0. There are no audio dropouts whatsoever, and character dialogue is crisp and clean. The soundtrack sounds very good, as the DVD presentation gives my system a good workout. Action scenes sound good, and everything else is spread nicely across the front three channels. Overall, this is as good as I expected considering the age of the show.
Every DVD, except for the fourth disc, has the same exact menu. An interactive screen with audio allows you to select between four episodes (the fourth disc has the season finale, plus the special features). Each episode has the following options: "Previously on NYPB Blue", "Play Episode" (English or Spanish Subtitles), "Scene Selection", and "Language Selection" (this is where you can access the commentaries). Everything is laid out neatly, and everything is easily accessible.
"NYPD Blue – Season One" is packed with special features, including: episode Commentaries and three lengthy, and informative featurettes. Except for the episode commentaries (one per DVD), all the special features are located on Disc 6.
Fox decided to treat us to three featurettes on this DVD set. The first one is a rather lengthy "The Making of Season One." Clocking in at nearly 60 minutes, this featurette pretty much covers everything. The cast and crew offer their comments as clips from the show play. Next up is a 12-minute featurette called "Love on NYPD Blue." Like you'd expect, it discussed the relationships between the characters (although some of it was already covered in the first featurette). "Cast Blotter" is very neat, as it plays out like a "before they were stars" featurette. Some of the stars discussed include David Schwimmer and Amy Brenneman. This featurette also runs for approximately 12 minutes.
The "Pilot Script to Screen Comparison" is just what it sounds like. Using your remote, you can navigate through a static version of the script. By pressing the play button on your remote, you can view how the actual scene plays out. There are four different scenes you can do comparisons with. Lastly, we are also treated to the usual "Cast & Crew Bios."
Okay math majors, let's break it down. 22 episodes, 6 commentaries, 90 minutes of featurettes, and a MSRP of $59.98... equals a must-have for ANY fan of "NYPD Blue", or cop shows in general. Sure, I wouldn't qualify "NYPD Blue" as excellent television, but I'd be hard pressed to say that it's not worth checking out. Fox continues to impress me with their recent television releases (good video/audio, extras, and a reasonable price tag), and "NYPD Blue – Season One" continues their streak. With all that in mind, I must "Highly Recommend" this DVD set.