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Farewell to a friend

Tuesday night, NYPD Blue aired its final episode. And even though my alarm was set for 4:00 a.m., I decided to keep the VCR company and watch it live.

When NYPD Blue first came on the air, I was deeply resentful. I had been a huge fan of "Civil Wars," and ABC was dumping it (along with my dearly-lusted-after Mariel Hemingway) for this stupid cop show. But on the other hand, it promised naughty words and nekkid people, so I figured it might be worth a shot.

But while the sensationalism got me to watch, the compelling nature of the show got me to stay. For 12 years I never missed an episode. And it was almost entirely due to Dennis Franz.

Franz has literally made a career out of playing cops. Andy Sipowicz is, I think, the 29th cop Franz has played. And with his success, he may never have to play that 30th cop for the rest of his life.

One ironic twist is that Sipowicz, the only character from the pilot still with the show (Medavoy showed up in the second episode), was originally intended to be killed off as a shocker to the audience. But the creators were so impressed with Franz' performance, they kept him around. And they are still patting themselves on the back over that decision.

Andy Sipowicz has developed into a television icon. He has grown from a violent, bitter, vulgar, homophobic, drunken cop on the road to firing into a calm, mature, tolerant, loving father and teacher -- who will still "tune up a skell" when called for. (Sorry -- NYPD Blue developed its own language that's hard to avoid when discussing the show.)

In that infamous pilot, Sipowicz tells off a prosecutor who's just ripped him a new one by grabbing his crotch and shouting "ipsa this, you pissy little bitch!" and later gets shot in the ass while drunkenly boffing a hooker.

Over the course of the next twelve years, he goes sober (with a couple of slips), marries said prosecutor, has a son, sees both his older son and wife murdered, survives "prostrate" cancer, marries again, loses three partners (one to scandal, two to death), and ends up running the squad he was nearly drummed out of and helps guide some rookie detectives after they very nearly blow a case and cost him his job.

Tuesday nights will never be the same for me. For 12 years, I'd watched the show go through highs and lows (and some of those lows were truly wretched.) I watched it take a former child TV star pretty-boy and turn him into a believable, compelling adult actor with Ricky Schroeder. And when he left, they did it AGAIN with Mark Paul Gosselaar. I watched the characters come and go, with the unshakable core of Andy Sipowicz remaining the steady rock.

I'm going to miss NYPD Blue. It broke many boundaries, but the main ones were in quality. And I'm going to miss Andy Sipowicz, a tragically flawed man who nonetheless struggles to survive and make right.

But I'm going to especially miss Sipowicz for one reason: over 12 years, he married both Sharon Lawrence and Charlotte Ross. Let me repeat that: Sharon Lawrence and Charlotte Ross. (NSFW)

Dennis Franz gave hope to all us overweight, balding white men. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

J.


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Comments (9)

My biggest beef is with Cha... (Below threshold)

My biggest beef is with Charlotte Ross; I understand completely her desire to stay home with her baby (in real life) but due to 'personality conflicts' with the cast, she refused even comeo appearances. When Andy walked downstairs from the squad in his Seargent's uniform, 'Connie and kids' ought to have been there applauding him as well.

Other than that, I loved the show as well, and will miss it.

Jay, from the trailers I've... (Below threshold)

Jay, from the trailers I've watched I would encourage you to give NYPD's replacement show a try- It's called Blind Justice, and it airs next week (though you probably knew that).

From the advertisements I've seen, it looks like it has the makings of a great series.

Excellent take on my favori... (Below threshold)
Doug:

Excellent take on my favorite show. My Dad was on the force for 26 years. Not nearly as flawed as Andy, but with many of the same inner strengths and convictions.Maybe that is why I will miss this show so much. I am currently in the process of having a tee shirt printed saying,"Sipowicz Lives".

Great Piece, Jay Tea. As I... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

Great Piece, Jay Tea. As I was watching the retrospective before the last episode, I had to laugh at how much has changed over the years of the show. When it was first announced that there would be nudity, people were SHOCKED. by the end of the run, people just wondered who was gonna get nekkid next. The language was colorful and the people were real.

I think that's what made the show a success. The cases didn't matter. They were just another prop used to create interaction among the players and to bring out their personalities. The producers never tried to raise the public's conciousness about issues. They just tried to portray a bunch of people trying to do a job.

I got into it late and stop... (Below threshold)
julie:

I got into it late and stop watching the last two seasons. No time. I did rent the first season of The Shield. I thought it was great. Anyway, I hope Dennis Franz doesn't stay a stranger. Comforting to know that the guy isn't a hollywood dingbat in real life.

I don't watch many shows re... (Below threshold)
Palmateer:

I don't watch many shows regularly, but NYPD Blue was an exception. There were always enough plot twists to avoid getting stale over 12 years. Got so I felt I knew each regular as a friend. Really gonna miss it (except for the frequent cable re-runs)!

NYPD Blue never captured my... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

NYPD Blue never captured my attention much. Especialyl since the wife hates it.

But Tony Soprano, now THERE'S someone who REALLY gives us overweight bald guys a rep!

Jay,Being slightly... (Below threshold)
firstbrokenangel:

Jay,

Being slightly overweight, balding men are not a turnoff for many women. It's the personality that counts, not the looks. When someone loves you, they love you for whom you are, not what you look like.

You need to get out more.

Cindy

I think NYPD was the best c... (Below threshold)
Tish:

I think NYPD was the best cop show since Hill Street Blues. I was pretty young when that show went off but I'll never forget any of the NYPD episodes that I've watched.
Andy was the kind of character that gave all sinners hope for salvation. Great post.




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