Koch Vision // 2004 // 294 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 16th, 2005
An inside look at New York's finest.
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
In 2002, ABC News approached the NYPD with a proposition. The alphabet channel requested full access to the department for 16 months, with cameras following beat cops and detectives through their daily routines. Filmmaker Terrence Wrong was tapped to produce the special. Despite some hesitation from senior police officials, Commissioner Ray Kelly approved the unheard-of access, hoping to grant the public a more intimate view into the lives of the officers and perhaps improve the department's image.
So the filming commenced, and the end product is this seven-episode series (divided into two discs for the DVD release) titled NYPD 24/7. Each episode runs a TV hour (read: about 45 minutes) and focuses on specific cops and the cases they're working. Dennis Franz of ABC's now-retired NYPD Blue hosts and narrates each episode.
So is NYPD 24/7 just a beefed-up version of COPS? That's a question you might be asking yourself now. I'll admit I was wondering the same thing getting into it. Simply put, each of these episodes is produced as either straight narratives or profiles, neither of which Fox's real-life cops show delves into. Plus, there's far less trailer trash in NYPD 24/7, which may immediately turn some people off.
Let's just launch into a closer look at what awaits you on this disc:
* "Shawna Kunkel Stabbing"
A top-shelf homicide squad looks for a man who stabbed an unsuspecting businesswoman in her apartment. This procedural episode has the team running into countless dead ends, faulty witnesses, and a little bit of luck during their manhunt.
This is a good episode to kick off the series, and falls into the "narrative" category. The details of a homicide investigation are interesting, and the fact that this stuff is a lot harder than it looks on TV is illuminating. These are often long slogs through tedium to track down these scumbags, and are rarely resolved within a day. Good stuff.
* "Vic and Nicole"
Lt. Vic Hollifield is in charge of the first-response Emergency Service Unit, and Nicole Papamichael is an undercover detective taxed with the unsavory job of pulling off prostitution stings. The camera follows each officer on a typically atypical day.
Here we have two profiles of interesting characters. Hollifield is a no-nonsense badass whose trademark is pulling over bad drivers and throwing their keys. He is forthcoming about the effects of the job, and particularly, the effects of 9/11 (which had happened just one year before this was filmed). His comments are raw and moving; the next episode, which features him again, gets deeper. Papamichael is another interesting character, a saucy brunette who enjoys busting prostitution-seeking clowns. She can't hide her glee when she brings down a couple of BMW-driving preppies who tried to negotiate fees with her.
* "Vic and Alison"
This episode is similar to the previous one. Again Lt. Vic Hollifield is spotlighted, but his story is much more compelling this time around and ends in a very bittersweet way. September 11 plays a meatier role in this episode as well. We meet another kick-ass female cop, Alison Esposito. With her gravelly voice and brawling maneuvers -- which we see in quite jarring detail -- she is someone that could send me to Never-Never Land with ease. It's Vic's episode, though.
* "Romona Moore Murder"
The brutal rape and murder of a young black girl named Romona Moore, a case that made headlines, collides with the NYPD's most decorated officer, Detective Mike Hinrichs, who admits that this slaying is the worst crime scene of his career. Hinrichs and his colleague pursue the demented bastards while the surrounding community accuses the police of not trying hard enough to find Moore when her disappearance was reported. This episode offers a balanced look at the cops and the enraged community members, with each telling their own version.
This is the richest episode of the series, and the best. The investigators go to Albany and Atlanta to find their perp, run into endless roadblocks, combat fatigue, and must reconcile with the angry community. It blends the finest of the profile and the narrative, and offers the most compelling and revealing look into what these detectives face.
* "Orchard Street Murder"
An unlucky guy is killed after night of partying, and his best friend, who was with him, is one of the prime suspects. Detectives try to unravel the case despite contradictory testimonies and witness reports.
This is the lesser of the procedural installments, and it's anticlimactic. But again, there's value in seeing this: Not all investigations are wild successes.
* "Manhole Death and Crime Scene Unit"
Detectives find a bizarre crime scene: A man has fallen into an open manhole and has boiled to death. Witness testimony conflicts -- was it accidental or malicious? Meanwhile, the Crime Scene Unit jumps from case to case to determine if odd deaths are results of suicides or homicides.
This is the weakest of the bunch. The manhole death does little to intrigue, and the Crime Scene Unit, while populated by interesting detectives, just doesn't offer the fertile storytelling that other episodes have. Not to knock what these folks do, but after 16 months of nonstop filming, I'm surprised this made it to the top seven.
* "From the Boss to the Beat"
Ray Kelly, the police commissioner, gets the lens treatment this go-round, as New York City is engulfed in a heightened state of terrorism tension. The warning level is up, and people are still anxious from 9/11.
This is captivating stuff. This episode really brings back that feeling of unease and vulnerability that I, at least, felt. Watching the cops cordon off an entire city intersection to investigate a suspicious backpack is eye-opening. After hours of preparation and crowd control, and after suiting up in bulky bomb gear, it's revealed -- of course -- that the bag is harmless.
Overall, I'd say this series is a mixed bag. Some episodes just didn't strike me as deserving to be part of the final culmination of a year and half of filming, but the good stuff far outweighs the ho-hum. These detectives are crushingly human, can make mistakes, work themselves silly, risk their lives daily, and, unlike in the fictional world, do not always solve the case.
Cops aren't superheroes. But they are heroes.
On the technical end, NYPD 24/7 is serviceable. It's presented in the original full-frame aspect ratio, with decent quality coming through. Sound is an average mix of Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Extra are lamentable. A photo gallery and some profiles are it, a shame considering the wealth of footage and anecdotes that must have been produced.
For an intimate look into a non-sensationalized police department, NYPD 24/7 is top dog. Yeah, some episodes are downers, but I suppose that might be the point. But the extras? There's nothing to see here.
The accused is released, but Sipowicz is keeping an eye on you.
Review content copyright © 2005 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Koch Vision
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 294 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery
* Officer Profiles