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On Sept. 21, 1993, ABC unveiled Steve Bochco and David Milch’s NYPD Blue to TV audiences during the 10 p.m. hour. The police procedural went on to have a 12-season run at the network. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review is below:
Only those not counted among the living could be ignorant of NYPD Blue, the Steve Bochco show that is supposed to be to realism as fire is to the firefly an intense, ultra-true portrayal of how things are on and off the police beat.
And in NYPD‘s maiden screening, the series does broker in a sort of deepened reality, a heightened TV rendering of the law enforcement officer’s life. Yet the “enhanced” grittiness, the enlarged sense of serrated truthfulness through violence and sex (the network is planning to run an on screen warning stating, “This police drama contains adult language and scenes with partial nudity. Viewer discretion is advised”) is such a pronounced feature of the program it often feels synthetic, simply a way to make the show different from cop shows that came before.
In NYPD‘s opener, the cast of central characters is brought out for our inspection nose-to-the grindstone detective John Kelly (David Caruso); his partner, volatile detective Andy Sipowicz; and foursquare lieutenant Arthur Francy Games McDaniel).
NYPD‘s start-up essentially showcases these and other core players who are placed within a story having to do with Kelly investigating a savage, potentially fatal mob hit on partner Sipowicz, who before the attempted rub-out had been going through a rough time on the job and had been disciplined by the department for questionable behavior.
While the roar of publicity preceding NYPD has undoubtedly raised expectations or at least curiosity about the production, as the debut would have it it is largely a video study of technique (e.g. rakish camera angles associated with reality-based TV and Levi Strauss commercials, purposefully blunt language and swatches of skin) versus a sobering inquiry into the nature and nuance of cop work.
And while the music of Mike Post makes its insistent point, complementing Franz’s fine crafting of a hyper-real portrait of a public servant that’s effective in a heightened way, NYPD‘s overall impact is all too self-consciously wrought to engender quieter, deeper aspects that would truly flesh out the fictional lives assayed here. — Miles Beller, originally published Sept. 21, 1993.
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