Shout! Factory // 1997 // 960 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // February 2nd, 2014
"Say you're rehabilitated again, I'm breakin' your jaw." -- Det. Sipowicz (Dennis Franz, Blowout).
Cue the drums. Unsteady the cameras. Downtown -- Quick! Cut! Next shot. Movement: subway car, street traffic, so fast that it blurs -- always movement! Boom. Boom. Bochco! NYPD Blue: Season Five starts now.
There are twenty-two ride-alongs. Here's the rap sheet:
* "This Bud's For You"
* "All's Wells That Ends Well"
* "Three Girls And A Baby"
* "The Truth Is Out There"
* "It Takes A Village"
* "Dead Man Talking"
* "Sheedy Dealings"
* "Lost Israel-Parts 1 and 2"
* "Remembrance Of Humps Past"
* "You're Under A Rasta"
* "A Box Of Wendy "
* "Twin Petes"
* "Weaver Of Hate"
* "Don't Kill The Messenger"
* "The One That Got Away"
* "Speak For Yourself, Bruce Clayton"
* "I Don't Wanna Dye"
* "Prostrate Before The Law"
* "Hammer Time"
* "Seminal Thinking"
Considering all that he's been through (male-pattern baldness, alcoholism, a murdered son -- to name a few), you might think ol' Andy Sipowicz might be in line to get a break, but no, year five finds the hardworking police detective coming down with Prostate cancer.
Here's the doctor's pre-op pep talk: "We'll give you your anesthetic, you'll go to sleep, and then I'll do your operation. When you wake up, you're gonna hurt like hell." So he's got that to look forward to.
Ironically, real bad luck makes for real good drama, and season cinco has trouble to spare. Andy's partner, Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits, Sons of Anarchy) makes his entrance in a double-boiler: Fighting "dirty cop" allegations that led to his suspension and an investigation by Internal Affairs. Adding injury to insult, Bobby's participation in an undercover FBI sting makes him the prime suspect when things go deadly wrong.
On the bright side, Sipowicz and Simone have the love and support of two strong women, Assistant D.A. Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence, Rizzoli and Isles) and Detective Diane Russell (Kim Delaney, Army Wives), respectively. One of the most impressive aspects of the show is how equally distributed the fine writing is among all the characters. You won't find any "his girl," or "the other guy" among the regulars, and as a testament, supporting actor Gordon Clapp (Eight Men Out) snared an Emmy this year for his masterful portrayal of enigmatic detective Greg Medavoy.
Clapp's acceptance speech might have made a nifty bonus feature, but alas, there are none this time around. There have been some changes made in the seven years since the series' last release on disc. Shout! Factory has taken over distribution duties from Fox, and while they've maintained the same top-notch picture and sound quality, they've otherwise scaled the package to its bare bones, dropping not only extra features, but also the optional (English) subtitles and alternate (Spanish and French) audio tracks.
I missed NYPD Blue back in the day. My night life was in full-swing then, and though I heard about how good it was, I figured the last thing I needed to weigh me down was another cop show, even one where they got to call each other "pricks" and "ace-holes," and every episode was pregnant with the possibility of delivering a bare-assed Dennis Franz into the comfort of your living room. Oh well, it wasn't the only bad judgment call I made during the '90s.
The advent of the original Law And Order was revelatory to me: A cop show that remained strictly procedural! What a refreshing change from all those hour-long dramas that wasted time on scenes where the gang hung out at "Danny's," or something like, blowing off steam. And what about the love interests that would occasionally crowd in, ultimately to turn up either villainous, murdered, or both? Phooey!
NYPD Blue: Season Five doesn't break the mold. On the contrary; it fixes the mold by perfectly balancing the action between the hours devoted to both on and off-the-clock matters. A perfect example occurs in the episode "Prostrate Before The Law." In the middle of grilling a particularly hard-case bunch of ex-army buddies, three of the six detectives stay on the suspects while the other three leave the interrogation to make phone calls home. I'll grant you that describing the scene on paper doesn't do it justice, but I'll guarantee you that when you watch the scene in question, you'll agree with me that here is TV at its finest.
Or maybe you won't agree with me, but that's your problem, ace-hole.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 960 Minutes
Release Year: 1997
MPAA Rating: Not Rated