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February 28, 2005

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Its going to be missed, definitely. With all the crud on TV today, its one of the last strong dramas. I can't believe people still watch that crap show called ER. And Law Order, is just old. The new "Trial by Jury" looks to be like a real bomb.

I was also a huge fan of Homicide and was miserable that it was pulled off the air, but I watched both Homicide and NYPD, happily. Got to say, got pretty bored with NYPD over the last 4 years and only this year when I heard it was ending did I follow it. Great season.

Oh well .. good bye Sipowicz!

I was always (and still remain) an enormous Law & Order fan. I just never got into NYPD Blue, partly because I love the courtroom drama part of Law & Order best. RIP, Jerry Orbach.

For a show to hook me it has to have strong female characters. Homicide did (Kay Howard - best female cop on TV, aside from Lucy Bates). That was one of the weak points of NYPD Blue for me. Their female characters were just "babes".

I do think the show had some good moments and I'm sorry to see how defeated Bochco feels by all this "moral values" crusading. He knows that a show like NYPD Blue would never get on the air today, just because of a bare ass.

NYPD Blue was better than most network TV, but I've just about stopped watching the networks altogether.

The cop/law genre is tired and needs a break. Medical genre has been tired. And the forensic genre jumped the shark when CSI found its way to NYC. Not to mention Without a Trace, Numb3rs and the countless other pretenders.

West Wing, while not as great as it was, has proven interesting with its alternate-week White House/campaign storylines.

Desperate Housewives is drek. I can't believe people find it compelling.

Queer Eye put some life into the "instant fix-it" reality sub-genre but has worn thin quickly.

Sitcon television hasn't produced quality since Seinfeld hung it up.

The best series TV shows are on HBO. Carnivale has taken us in directions I never would have seen. Deadwood is a bare-knuckles look at the West. Six Feet Under is brilliant, and I find myself appreciating Sex and the City more over time. Even Entourage is a clever "dramedy." And all hail The Sopranos.

But the best series on TV is, bar none, The Daily Show. Good for a minimum of two laugh out loud guffaws every night. Even the reruns are still clever. I suppose "real" reality is more interesting than "fake" reality!

David, I LOVED the first 5-6 seasons of L&O. The Max Greevey/Ben Stone/Mike Logan/Lennie years were superb, and they tackled so many topics, the characters were so human and so believable. You could relate to them, and they let the guest actors play such complex roles. When I mentioned assembly line, I meant the past 4-5 seasons of L&O, as well as Criminal Intent. The only L&O series I can take today is SVU.

NY what?

Seriously, I quit watching the Mouse Network after they cancelled Sports Night. I was already pissed at them for axing Nothing Sacred, and when they cut a second edgy, high-quality show and replaced it with total crap, I decided I'd had enough. The only thing I watch on ABC is Jeopardy! (only on ABC in the Chicago market) and the occasional hockey game, when the NHL is playing, anyway.

NHWhat?

James, I've been thinking the same thing, that NYPD seems to be slipping away with little attention. But then when I read this, I thought, how would I know how much attention it's getting? I don't watch anything else on ABC.

I mostly missed Homicide, as I went without a TV for years. It was only when I was temporarily laid off in 1998 that I finally bought one; I was on the treadmill at the gym when I heard a breaking story about Clinton getting caught in an affair, so I went and bought a TV and a VCR.

Instantly I got caught up on The Simpsons--11 episodes a week--X Files, Seinfeld and NYPD Blue, none of which I had ever seen (except about three episodes of The Simpsons).

Since then I've caught just about every episode of NYPD, and I think it's one of the finest shows ever. I think your criticisms are fair--as a friend who's a fellow fan put in a few years ago, "enough already with every person Sipowicz ever stood next to having to get killed. But it's one of the few shows I can think of--St. Elsewhere being the only other obvious example popping into my head--where I came to really care about the characters as human beings the way you usually only do in a novel. A film only lasts two hours--three if it's Oliver Stone--but a novel lasts hours and hours, and your reaction to the characters sticks in your head for a longer time. And I've thought about those characters enough to actually care about them.

I'm pleased that Medavoy, the awkward guy that makes us all cringe, find a woman who loves him in all his social clumsiness, and him finding happiness. They showed Diane a season or two ago, and she was doing OK. And while I know I'm maybe getting into dangerous territory here, John is one of my favorite characters on any show I've ever watched. That character is a true mensch.

And Sipowicz is definitely softer around the edges and a "good guy" like you say, but earlier there was some raw racial tension on that show like I can't remember seeing on any other show, Hill Street Blues included. The rage in that character could at times be truly terrifying. And having seen the character like that earlier on, I find it satisfying that he has calmed down. Plus, it's true to life. I know people like Sipowicz--got a lot of 'em in my family--and they've tended to mellow out.

The show had faded over the last few years, but this season has been very good. And we'll see tomorrow night how it will all end, but up to now, they've played it perfectly, and it's ending on, for me, the perfect emotional note.

I followed NYPD Blue avidly for just about all of its life. Agree that the quality slipped the last couple of seasons and that it was a bit too soap-opera-ish at times, but when it was good it was really, really good.

TV these days generally sucks. If it weren't for Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel, my TiVo would be sitting virtually empty.

As usual, JamesB3 offers thought-provoking material (as he did at dKos this past year) and a perspective I hadn't thought of till I read his post, and which makes me reconsider many things in my feelings about NYPD Blue (as he usually does with his posts).

Allow me to offer a different perspective from his and most of the others who have posted here. I'm a Hollywood writer, with both Feature and TV credits as a writer, producer and supervising producer. So I think I have some understanding of what NYPD Blue has put up with.

First and foremost, I am going to miss the show because it was a point of mutual interest between myself and several friends on "the other side of the aisle" poltically, that allowed us to discuss both our differences and our points of convergence politically and socially, and opened the way for some usefull discussions and arguments. Given the less and less communication between people at my position on the political spectrum and theirs, and I will miss that.

As a writer, let me tell you what a rare character Andy Sipowicz was. You will not see his kind again soon. He went through all his crap, and he had his ups and his downs (and leting him fall in love with and marry the women he did was a great way of communicating to other people dealing with the same crap that there is "hope" - yes it was "Hollywood hope" that they'll never see, but I'd like to think the point got made). Dennis Franz could never get hired to begin with nowadays, let alone become the Main Character of a major TV show. He was the working class everyman that the contemporary Hollywood writer - the little upper-class Ivy League shitheads who can spend however long it takes to "make it" paying someone to let them work as an "intern" - can't write because they wouldn't have a clue what someone who actually has to work for a living has to face. You'll never see his kind again (however unreal he might have been). Unfortunately, guys like me who love firing the little Generation Y-bother illiterates for their incompetence and inability to actually "write" are fewer and fewer every year as Hollywood becomes less and less watchable and we're supposed to worry more and more about drooling morons like "The Bachelor" and the "Bachelorette" and the fools who are stupid enough to volunteer their worthless existences for such pornography as "Fear Factor".

Thank god for DVDs and the reissue of "good stuff."

Andy Sipowicz: you're sober but I shall raise a glass of single-malt Scotch to you as you leave, never again to be seen.

And "Blind Justice" makes me want to puke just on the title, let alone the concept and any of the ads I have seen.

TCinLA

TC, thanks for discussing your professional struggles with us. If it's any consolation, The Bachelor franchise has divebombed so horribly in the ratings (and that atrocious/insulting Bachelorette finale tonight will only help that along) you probably won't have to worry about that much longer. But hey, they're getting the guy who killed "Sliders" so...cool beans. I thought a lot of people in Hollywood were becoming wary of reality TV since there are no new reality hits. Is that true?

DH, I should have pointed out that there were some good moments on the show and that they do deserve credit for their efforts to present sympathetic gay characters. John is just such a pearl-clutcher that I was never able to relate to him, or believe that he would ever be allowed to work in a police station.

I stopped watching scripted TV a few years back. Now I usually just watch a few reality shows. I know that's an awful thing to do, but scripted TV is such shit now (and if it isn't it will turn to shit within 2 seasons) that I'm too wounded to trust a scripted show again. I do watch L Word sometimes, mainly because I don't take any of it seriously and can't be disappointed.

It's nice to find another St. Elsewhere fan out there. That was my favorite TV show ever. Who were your favorite characters? My favorites were Fiscus, Jack Morrison, Lucy Papandrao, and Cathy Martin. I couldn't stand Westphall, Ellen Craig, or Phil Chandler.

First can I just say ditto on H:LOTS? Please rent the DVDs for The Wire if you have not done so.

To TC: is it possible that quality on network tv has ups and downs, for example the Mary Tyler Moore era was a high point, Love Boat a low?

And for Reality TV, Project Runway was surprisingly good.

TC: Nice to see you here; thanks for stopping by.

James: My favorite dynamic on St. Elsewhere was between Craig and Ehrlich. That was some brilliant TV. And I loved when Steve Allen (and who played his wife?) showed up as Ehrlich's parents/CIA agents. The episode where Fiscus has the after-death experience was great; I laughed my ass off when he figured out that he was in Purgatory because of all the referees (they never played the game). But my favorite thing about that show was the three-part history of the hospital they did, where Edward Herman played the priest who mentored Westphall as a kid. It was the only show up to that point--the X Files later did some of the same things--that placed what was happening in a given episode in a historical context. It was a great, great show.

Ah yes, the "Time Heals" episodes. My favorite story arc was the one about the Birdman who met a woman who thought she was a bird. She regained her sanity and left him. He decided to "fly" off the roof. There was a monologue in one episode where the bird woman (Laraine Newman) told him goodbye even though she knew he wouldn't try to understand her decision. It should have been so hokey, but instead it moved me to tears. I don't think anyone appreciates the hard work Brandon Falsey and the other guy did in that season.

The other one I never got over was the 14 year old girl whose boyfriend was a drug dealer and she gave birth to a stillborn baby. And that story arc which was just a blatant ripoff of the Kennedy family, but Dorothy Maguire was so brilliant she made the whole thing work.

Scripted TV doesn't bother with story arcs now, they think the audience is too stupid. The closest you get to a story arc (aside from something like the torture-r-us brigade at "24") is the drek of "Desperate Housewives" which seems to weave people in and out like Dickens. For someone who comes up with such refried, talky, faux-retro horse shit, Marc Cherry sure has a high-falutin view of how to write drama.

At least NYPD Blue did try to make some story arcs. And they also managed to replace popular characters time and time again. They did a much better jon in that regard than Homicide ever did, sad to say.

A Fish, I watched the first season of The Wire and just couldn't get into it. I think I burned out on scripted TV by then.

Good reality TV: Next Top Model, Amazing Race

Bad but I love it anyway: Apprentice, Survivor

Never again: American Idol, Bachelor/ette

Do any of you out there have kids? I was all for exposing anything but as my kids approach their teen years things change.

I have so little control over the media--what they hear, see and feel about it. My son loves alternative rock and I let him at it but the language and images are graphic. I am not suprised that parents are outraged and want some of this stuff of the tube. You would have to lock your kids down in order to keep them away from sex and violence.

People are fighting back, ala Janet Jackson, because they have so little control--it a backlash but an understanable one. And they are not just christian right. Its normal suburban moms who vote both parties.

Funny, reading Heather's comments - and no, I'm not going to attack anyone here, but as a amateur music historian, it's always facinating to watch the same things happen over and over.

In the 1950's it was Elvis's hips, that 'nigger rock and roll bob', and god forbid you knew what 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' meant.

60's it was them Stones, and 'Get Off Of My Cloud' (I say nothing about 'Live With Me', a MUCH more offensive song.) Every other song was a Dylan tune or a song with a drug reference in it.

70's? Disco, mindless sex, the Me Generation encapsulated in that four on the floor drum machine - and then at the end you had those punks - destroy your government, destroy your parents, kill your dog, etc. etc.

And now it's alternative, emo, nu-metal and hip hop that corrupt our innocent youths.

News flash, folks - you've ALWAYS had to lock down your kids to keep them away from sex and violence and bad music. It's still funny, though, when someone who knows all the words to 'Big Balls', 'Paranoid', and 'Light My Fire' worries about what their kids listen to. 8)

favorite moment, and forgive me if it's misremembered: medavoy having dinner with abby (?) and her lesbian partner. They've asked him to help them have a baby, and he is totally overwhelmed by the idea. He had thought abby liked him, and didn't know she was gay, and now she wants to have his baby (by artificial means), and he is touched but confused, and now he is meeting her partner and over at their house eating at their table trying to be normal... all this is swimming around... and he looks up over the table and there is a giant suggestive Georgia O'Keefe painting, and medavoy just blurts out, "excuse me, but I've just got to ask you, is that a vagina?" oh, medavoy. when will you learn.

Heather, the real problem your kids have is that they are going to grow up in a country which will not allow them to have any real financial security, any civil rights, or any choices. The current generation of children are probably going to be close to endentured servititude by the time they grow up.

All this horrible rock music or TV or whatever does nothing but cause kids to ask questions. It's easy to answer those questions and to make your kids see what is good and what is bad.

Maybe Heather has forgotten that when pedal-pushers and Elvis were in- and this was not popular with the elderly tut-tuts in turn- the police in Seattle were able to simply murder black people, and did. It's ironic that the Beatles were wearing suits at a time when Bull Connor's police dogs were attacking civil rights marchers- ironic, not a memory of a better time.

Television has been to the censorship laudromat so often that even the test patterns are almost bleached out. It may be that, after a good 60 years of experimenting, we'll just have to admit that broadcast television will never really be a practical success. The kind of television that everybody finds acceptable may just be unhealthy to watch.

James and DH - thanks.

Heather - as a parent who put up with kids who were in elementary school in the 70s and high school in the 80s (and how fought a big cocaine dependency in The Best Daugher Ever), I understand why you are upset and worried - and I'm one of the people who likes writing the stuff that should worry you. Actually, I don't write the stuff that should *really* worry you - the MTV crap that lets your kid think it's cool to be a brain-dead moron. I'd be in prison as a serial killer if I could get my hands on all the MTV executives who have gone on to pollute nearly every other cable channel you can watch, who I'd love to leave face down, bleeding out from a large-caliber exit wound, for their crimes against society.

But I want to leave you with some points to consider: in 1937-38, white kids in NYC discovered Chick Webb at the Savoy Ballroom and learned to dance, and in 1938 even more of them went there to see the "battle of the bands" between Benny Goodman (who lost) and Count Basie (who won) and in 1939 they discovered Webb's new discovery, Ella Fitzgerald - and in all that they discovered that black culture was cool. And when they did, segregation and "separate but equal" was on the ropes, whether it knew it or not.

And then 50 years ago - when I had to go see Elvis do his first time on Ed Sullivan in my best friend's basement across the street - and fell a lot more in love with Fats Domino doing "Blueberry Hill" and even moreso Ivory Joe Hunter doing "Since I Met You Baby," and began a lifelong love affair with the blues, well - that was where white participation in the civil rights movement began with me and a few others.

What I'm saying is, "revolutionary" cultural exposure to stuff my parents hated (on the day she died 12 years ago, my mother was convinced rock and roll was a "temporary phenomenon" and couldn't understand why kids didn't flock to classical) led directly to social and political changes that everyone here would call positive now.

You can't foretell the future. I hate rap (like Ray said, it's spelled with a "silent 'c'"), I think it's the least contribution to culture from Black America ever (even when I think how wrong Duke Ellington was to walk out of a Dizzy Gillespie performance in 1945, shaking his head from not understanding or liking what he heard). But kids I know (some of whom I work with politically) love it, and they are far further along the line in the area of social/racial tolerance than my generation at its best ever will be. And I can't fault that - I have to applaud it if I'm going to be true to what I've been fighting for ever since I heard Ivory Joe Hunter.

It's all further proof that being a parent is the hardest job on the planet, Heather. All you can do is give them as much as you know of what a "moral compass" is as you understand it, and hope for the best. When they get to their mid-30s you'll begin to get a clue whether you did it right or not. (Said as someone who had a whole lot of doubts 20 years ago and a lot of pride in the offspring nowadays)

Like Mark Twain said: "when I was 18 I couldn't understand how I had a father so stupid. When I was 30, I was amazed at how intelligent the old man had become."

Best,

TCinLA

why the hell do they keep cutting the reruns of nypd blue. that is the best show ever and all they can show is the closer, law and order , lost, and shows to this effect. nypd blue used to get alot of airtime on tnt and court tv but in the past few months they have really cut back to the point that i have to stay up until five a.m. on wednsday morning and have to record off of court tv every night. hen i just looked on the episode guide and it shows they are cutting it even more. why, it kicks all those other shows butts.

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