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NYPD Blue - The Complete Third Season

Fox // Unrated // February 21, 2006
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted February 18, 2006 | E-mail the Author
The Third Season

In March 2003 the first season of NYPD Blue was released on DVD and in August of the same year season two came out. However due to licensing related issues the third season was delayed for several years. Now almost three years after the first season release, the third season comes to DVD and fans of the series can re-live their favorite season three moments of NYPD Blue. Season three offers plenty of intense and well-developed drama to keep you hooked to the screen. It is an exciting experience you will not want to miss.

For those who are not familiar with the show, it comes from the mind of Steve Bochco. NYPD Blue is a show unlike any other. At the time it first aired on television in 1993, it was one of the roughest and grimmest productions to air with bits of brief nudity, vulgar language, and an abundance of violence. The series ran for twelve seasons and recently aired its final episode in early 2005.

The series is about the nitty-gritty lives of NYPD detectives from the 15th precinct. The show looks at their daily lives in respect to their cases and personal lives. The stories are traditionally heavy on the drama and tend to get emotionally powerful. This is done in such a way you will be glued to your seat wanting to see what happens next. The series' first season showcased two detectives in frontline, Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) and John Kelly (David Caruso, CSI: Miami). Franz and Caruso were great together on the screen. However in the beginning of season two Caruso left the show and was replaced with Jimmy Smits. Smits played Bobby Simone, the new second lead who brought a powerful character to play besides Franz. While Smits brought an entirely different character than Caruso, he fit in really well amongst the rest of the cast. For more details about the series please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one and season two.

The third season gets pretty dramatic with many changes and challenges for the detectives to deal with. In the beginning of the season Sipowicz helps Russell deal with her alcoholism while at the same time she rekindles her taboo office relationship with Simone. Also in the beginning of the season Martinez takes a bullet, but fortunately it is not fatal. Afterwards Martinez continues to pursue a romantic relationship with fellow detective Lesniak. Detective Medavoy continues to struggle with his broken marriage and romantic desires for the squad's P.A.A. Donna Abandando. Detective Russell deals with her unstable family. Sipowicz and A.D.A. Costas venture into their first year of marriage and top it off with their first child. All the while lieutenant Fancy keeps the squad intact and functioning like a well-oiled machine.

What really works for season three is similar to what made the first two seasons so enjoyable. The writing is topnotch and the stories deliver some truly dramatic content that is not over top, but solid stuff you can really sink your teeth into. Furthermore, the cast continues to give some outstanding performances which make it easy to feel the emotions the characters go through during their various situations.

For individual episodes, it is really hard to pick the good ones. Unlike the series from the Law & Order family, NYPD Blue focuses a lot of story-arcs and character development throughout multiple episodes. In that respect, all of the episodes tend to be strong because they are all an integral part to delivering this story arc or helping develop that aspect of a particular character. However some of the highlights include stories involving the Internal Affairs Bureau, who keep popping up at the 15th precinct for one reason or another. Additionally there are a couple of times when the FBI makes an appearance, and those episodes include some great stories. Another strong storyline includes guest star Giancarlo Esposito (Homicide: Life on the Street) as a confidential informant of Simone's who gets caught up in a messy situation that is surrounded with plenty of drama. It is stories like these that help make this season intense and a lot of fun to watch.

In the end while the content of NYPD Blue may seem grim and rough at times, it still a great drama that delivers some intense emotions through its stories and characters. After watching a few episodes you'll be hooked and wanting more. For intense and gripping drama, you cannot go wrong with NYPD Blue: Season Three.

Episode Guide
1. E.R.
2. Torah! Torah! Torah!
3. One Big Happy Family
4. Heavin' Can Wait
5. Dirty Laundry
6. Curt Russell
7. Aging Bull
8. Cold Heaters
9. Sorry, Wong Suspect
10. The Backboard Jungle
11. Burnin' Love
12. These Old Bones
13. A Tushful of Dollars
14. The Nutty Confessor
15. Head Case
16. Girl Talk
17. Hollie and the Blowfish
18. We Was Robbed
19. Auntie Maimed
20. A Death in the Family
21. Closing Time
22. He's Not Guilty, He's My Brother

Season three comes with twenty-two episodes which are spread across four double sided DVDs. The first three discs hold six episodes, with four episodes on side A and two episodes on side B. The final DVD has two episodes on sides A and B, with side B containing the season three extras. The DVDs are stored in two slim pack cases and they each hold two discs. The slim pack cases are housed in a cardboard box about the same size as a regular DVD case.

The menu system is different than the first two season releases. If you own either season one or two on DVD, than you know what a pain those menus can be. The menus were heavily animated and it could take several seconds to move from one episode selection to another. While a minor annoyance, I was still relieved to find season three lacked the heavy animation and you are able to toggle episode selections without the lengthy delay.

The video in this release is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality looks good. As found with the earlier season releases, there is a slight roughness, grain in the picture, and hints of edge enhancement. Overall it is a solid picture.

The audio track supplied with release is Dolby digital stereo surround and comes in English, Spanish, and French. The sound quality is good, the track is pretty clean and spoken dialogue is easily heard. Like most TV on DVD releases it is fairly flat and some use of the surround sound setup. This release also comes with subtitles in English and Spanish and supports closed captioning.

The first set of extras includes selected episode commentaries. The unfortunate part about the commentaries is the limited number of episodes included (only two episodes). The commentaries are for "Sorry, Wong Suspect" with director Michael M. Robin and "Head Case" with director Randall Zisk and actor Gordon Clapp. The season premiere would have been a perfect episode to cover and also the very intense last few episodes "A Death in the Family", "Closing Time", and "He's Not Guilty, He's My Brother" would have been even better. In this regard, I was disappointed there were not more commentaries and the strongest episodes of the season were not selected.

The next extras consists of three featurettes. The first featurette is "Life in the 15th Precinct" has creator Steve Bochco and actors Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, Kim Delany, Gordon Clapp, and Nicholas Turturro talking about the show, season three, and their characters. It lasts for nine and a half minutes. The next featurette is "Father and Son", which is seventeen minutes with Dennis Franz, Michael DeLuise, and Steve Bochco discussing the relationship between Andy and Andy Jr., as well as key developments in season three. The final featurette is "Women of NYPD Blue". It offers thirteen and a half minutes with Justine Miceli, Sharon Lawrence, and Steve Bochco talking about the female characters and their roles in the show.

The final item is a short teaser for The Shield. It runs for twenty-two second and offers a quick look into season five.

Final Thoughts:
Finally after several years of waiting, fans of NYPD Blue have a chance to relive all of the dramatic moments on season three. As for the content, season three continues to deliver intense and gripping stories to keep you hooked and wanting more. The show offers some great writing and well developed characters. Overall it is really hard not to appreciate season three. It comes highly recommended.

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Highly Recommended

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