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NYPD Blue is an American television police drama set in New York Citymarker, exploring the internal and external struggles of the fictional 15th precinct of Manhattanmarker.. Each episode typically covers a day and intertwines several plots involving an ensemble cast.

The show was created by Steven Bochco and David Milch and inspired by Milch's relationship with Bill Clark, a former member of the New York City Police Department who eventually became one of the show's producers. Its episodes were broadcast on the ABC network from its debut on September 21, 1993 to March 1, 2005.

Main cast

L-R,The cast of NYPD Blue at the beginning of season 11:Clapp, Gosselaar, Obradors, Beauvais-Nilon, Franz, Simmons, Ross, Brochtrup, Morales

Original cast from Season 1

Introduced in season 1

Introduced in season 2

Introduced in season 4

Introduced in season 6

Introduced in season 7

Introduced in season 8

Introduced in season 9

Introduced in season 12

Production and crew

Produced by 20th Century Fox and Steven Bochco Productions, film production primarily took place in the greater Los Angelesmarker area. The show did film in New York but only for exterior shots that used New York landmarks. In the final season the show was filmed only in Los Angeles to save money.

The show was initially a vehicle for David Caruso. In a departure from previous Bochco series, John Kelly was the main character and the first season revolved around him and his professional and personal lives (promo shots for the show depicted Caruso in the foreground and other first-season characters set off behind him). Season 2 saw the departure of John Kelly, and with his departure, the decision was made to return to a more ensemble series. Dennis Franz, as Andy Sipowicz, a veteran New York City Police detective, eventually evolved into the show's lead character, taking more and more of a mentorship role as the series progressed (to the point of finally being promoted to sergeant and running the detective squad at the end of the series finale). His principal co-stars included (Season 2 and beyond) Jimmy Smits as Det. Bobby Simone (1994-1998), Rick Schroder as Det. Danny Sorenson (1998-2001) and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as Det. John Clark Jr. (2001-2005). Each was paired with Franz's Sipowicz, providing a younger and more suave foil to the abrasive, tragedy-prone detective.


Season 1

John Kelly and Andy Sipowicz are detectives in the 15th squad. Sipowicz is the elder partner but is a drunk and a threat to the partnership lasting much longer. Kelly has a genuine affection for his partner but becomes increasingly exasperated by Sipowicz's behavior. In the pilot, Sipowicz is shot by a suspect that he had insulted in court. This leads to his decision to sober up and save his job.

Whilst his partner is recuperating, Kelly is teamed up by the squad's Lieutenant, Arthur Fancy, with a young cop from Anti-Crime, James Martinez. Kelly's personal life is no less frenetic as he is going through a divorce from his wife, Laura, and is embarking on an affair with a uniformed cop, Janice Licalsi. To complicate matters further, Licalsi has been ordered to do a 'hit' on Kelly by mob boss Angelo Marino, otherwise Marino would turn in Licalsi's father, who is on his payroll. Instead, Licalsi murders Marino and the repercussions come back to haunt both her and Kelly.

Sipowicz, meanwhile, sobers up and begins a relationship with A.D.A. Sylvia Costas whilst the other detective in the squad, Greg Medavoy, embarks on an affair of his own with the squad's new P.A.A., Donna Abandando.

Season 2

Licalsi is found guilty of the manslaughter of Marino and his driver and is given a two year sentence. Because of his involvement with Licalsi, and the belief that he withheld evidence that could have given her a longer sentence, Kelly is transferred out of the 15th and chooses to leave the department altogether. He is replaced by Bobby Simone, a widower whose previous job was that of driver for the Police Commissioner. This does not sit well with Sipowicz but in time he learns to accept his new partner and, as his relationship with Sylvia leads down the aisle, asks Simone to be his best man.

After an affair with a journalist who uses information that he gives her in an article, Simone begins a relationship with another new officer in the squad, Diane Russell. Sipowicz, still a recovering alcoholic, recognizes in Russell's behavior that she also has a problem and, after much prompting, she herself goes to AA. Elsewhere, due to his lack of self-belief that a woman like Donna could love him, Medavoy's relationship with her breaks down, due in no small part to Donna's visiting sister.

Season 3

Main Cast of Season 3

At the beginning of the season Sylvia is two weeks late and it transpires that she is pregnant with Andy's child. A baby boy, Theo, is born towards the end of the season. This is contrasted with the fate that awaits Sipowicz's older son, Andy Jr., who announces that he is to join the police force. Andy is finally bonding with his estranged son when he is gunned down, which leads the elder Sipowicz to fall off the wagon. Andy Jr's murderers are killed themselves by Simone in an act of self defense.

Bobby and Diane, whose relationship had been put on hold while she attended AA, restart their relationship only for Diane to begin drinking again when her abusive father beats her mother. Her father is eventually killed and her remaining parent becomes the prime suspect.

James Martinez and new detective Adrienne Lesniak begin an affair but only after Lesniak tells Medavoy that she is gay; Martinez later breaks up with her due to her controlling and unpleasant behavior, and Lesniak eventually leaves the squad. Medavoy himself leaves his wife, recognising that she is holding him back but it is too late to save his relationship with Donna who leaves to take up a job with Applemarker.

Later seasons

During the next two seasons, there are a few minor cast changes: Donna is replaced by several PAA's, most notably by Lourdes Benedicto, who plays Gina Colon, a character that eventually marries Martinez and is written out; and Andrea Thompson who plays Det. Jill Kirkendall and is partnered up with Russell. Sipowicz's battle with prostate cancer and the up-and-down Simone/Russell relationship, which included Russell's revelation that she had been sexually abused by her father. Also during this time, Franz would win four Emmy Awards, and both Delaney and Clapp would each win an Emmy for supporting roles.

Season 6 becomes a major turning point in the history of the series, as Smits decides not to renew his contract and leaves the show. His exit is explained as Simone becoming ill with an enlarged heart, shortly after marrying Russell in a civil ceremony, and his body's subsequent rejection of a heart transplant. Smits was replaced by Rick Schroder as Det. Danny Sorenson. Also during Season 6, two other critical incidents occur: the heroin overdose death of PAA Dolores Mayo (played by Lola Glaudini), and the shocking death of Costas, gunned down at the courthouse trial of the suspect accused in Mayo's death by her distraught father. Costas's final words of 'Take care of the baby' to Sipowicz leads to his total initial withdrawal from the squad. Yet, his keen perceptiveness allows him to gain a confession from the accused suspect, who tried to buy his way out of trouble. Furthermore, Sipowicz reaches a level of understanding with PAA John Irvin (portrayed by Bill Brochtrup), whose homosexuality was a foible for Sipowicz in their interactions to that point.

The next two seasons see the continuation of the Sipowicz/Sorenson relationship, along with more changes in the squad: departing during this time were Kirkendall, Martinez, Fancy as squad leader (through a promotion to write him out), and even Russell herself for a leave of absence to grieve the loss of Simone. Arriving to replace them would be Det. Baldwin Jones, played by Henry Simmons, Det. Connie McDowell played by Charlotte Ross, and Lt. Tony Rodriguez, played by Esai Morales. At the end of Season 8, Sorenson is approached by the owners of a strip club to work for them providing information and such. After reporting this to Lt. Rodriguez, Sorenson goes undercover, but then turns up missing after a stripper he was seeing turns up dead in his apartment (not by his doing as it turns out). The Sorenson character would be written out at the start of Season 9 at the request of Schroder, who wanted to spend more time with his family in Montana.

The fourth and final phase of the show would take place over the final four seasons. In addition to the 'Sorenson missing' storyline, Season 9 would also initially tie-in with the September 11 terrorist attacks. A suspect trades immunity for a robbery and shooting in exchange for information on a buried rug in Brooklyn that turns out to include Sorenson's dead body. Filling the void as partner for Sipowicz is newly promoted Det. John Clark, played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar. As with Simone and Sorenson, there is initial tension between Clark and Sipowicz, largely due to an old feud from years earlier involving Sipowicz and Clark's father, John Clark Sr. (played in guest spots by Joe Spano). Season 9 also sees the introduction of Det. Rita Ortiz played by Jacqueline Obradors.

The remaining four years would see a continuing focus on Sipowicz as the main character, as had been the case since Simone's death. Another unlikely romance would develop between Sipowicz and McDowell. This came about due to her ability to stand up to Sipowicz's gruffness, and her tender relationship with Theo (played by Austin Majors). They would eventually marry, and after adopting McDowell's sister's baby daughter (following the sister's murder by her husband, Connie's brother-in-law), they would have a child of their own as well. The McDowell character would eventually become an off-screen character only in the final two seasons, due to issues between Ross and show executives. Other departures and arrivals: Rodriguez would be written out following a dispute with an IAB captain who shot him in a drunken rage; replacing him initially as head of the squad was Sgt. Eddie Gibson, played by former actual NYPD officer John F. O'Donohue, who had previously served in the squad both on night watch and briefly on the 'day tour'; Gibson was then removed and replaced at the start of Season 12 by Lt. Thomas Bale, played by Currie Graham; arriving and then departing was ADA Valerie Haywood, played by Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon; and replacing McDowell was young Det. Laura Murphy, played by Bonnie Somerville. The final few episodes involve the impending retirement of Det. Medavoy, long the bumbling but well-meaning court jester in the show, and Sipowicz's attempts to take the Sergeants exam.


Fifty-seven of ABC's 225 affiliates preempted the first episode because of protests led by Rev. Donald Wildmon and his American Family Association (AFA). The shows content prompted the organization to take out full page ads in major newspapers, asking viewers to boycott the show and calling it a "soft-core porn" series. The preemptions were mostly in smaller markets, comprising 10-15% of potential viewers which limited the impact of the protest. The show's ratings success led most affiliates (and advertisers) to end their opposition. By the end of the first season the show was a Top 20 hit and protests by the AFA were countered by support from Viewers For Quality Television and recognition from Emmy and People's Choice Awards. The program earned Franz a best-actor Emmy for the first season (one of four he received for the role) and a best drama series Emmy for the show's second season.

In 2005, L. Brent Bozell III told Time that the nudity on the series influenced him to establish the Parents Television Council, in which he served as president from 1995 to 2006. The PTC has directly criticized several episodes of the show for perceived vulgarity and filed complaint with the FCC over the use of obscene language in several episodes aired in early 2003, at the last half of the tenth season of the show, associating the series with a perceived increase in profanity and violence on prime-time television from the late 1990s to early 2000s. The FCC ruled that the language in the episodes was indecent but decided not to fine ABC because the episodes aired before a 2004 ruling that obscenities would lead to an automatic fine. However, on January 25, 2008, Broadcasting & Cable reported that the FCC would propose a $1.4 million fine against ABC over the episode "Nude Awakening" that aired on February 25, 2003, due to scenes of "adult sexual nudity".

According to NYPD Blue: A Final Tribute, a retrospective broadcast on the same night as the last episode, the controversy wasn't limited to what was on the screen. David Milch, the show's co-creator and head writer, was a controversial figure on the set during the seven years he was with the show. His working style and tendency to procrastinate or make last-minute, on-set changes contributed to a frustrating working environment for some of the cast and crew. Smits left the show when his contract ended because of it. Milch cites his own alcoholism and other addictions as factors contributing to the difficult environment. In spite of the controversy, Milch is usually credited as a major creative force during the years he worked on the show; Milch won two Emmy Awards for his writing, shared another as executive producer and shared in a further ten nominations for his writing and production.

The final episode

The show's 261st and final episode, "Moving Day", aired on March 1, 2005, bringing an end to the show's 12 year run. Rather than have a controversial event or death of a character, the decision was made to have the final episode depict just another day on the job, with Sipowicz as the new squad room leader. In the final scene, previous squad leader Lieutenant Bale wishes Sipowicz good luck with his new position, looks around his old office and says "It's yours." After all the detectives come in, one by one, to wish Sipowicz goodnight, the last to say goodbye is John Clark with "Good night, Boss." Sipowicz surveys his new office, puts his reading glasses on, and begins to go through the paper work on his desk. The camera then moves out through the 15th precinct squad room and out the door. The final shot is the squad room sign over the door.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released the first 4 seasons of NYPD Blue on DVD in Region 1, 2 and 4. All of the sets contain the original masters recording, the original ABC broadcasts, and custom-made credits. It is unknown if the remaining 8 seasons will be released at some point.

DVD Name Ep # Release dates Extra features
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete 1st Season 22 March 18, 2003 May 19, 2003 June 17, 2003
  • Audio commentary on one episode on each disc
  • "The Making Of Season 1" featurette
  • "Love On NYPD Blue" featurette
  • "Cast Blotter" featurette
  • Script-to-screen comparison
  • Cast/Crew Biographies
The Complete 2nd Season 22 August 19, 2003 October 6, 2003 February 17, 2004
  • Audio Commentaries
  • "Season Two: A Season of Change" featurette
  • "Wedding Bell Blues" featurette
  • The Music of Mike Post featurette
  • Script to Screen Comparisons: "Sipowicz Meets Simone", "Sylvia Meets Simone" & "Simone and Sipowicz Bond"
The Complete 3rd Season 22 February 21, 2006 April 17, 2006 May 29, 2006
  • Audio Commentary on three episodes
  • Season Three Overview
  • "The 15th Precinct" Featurette
  • "Fathers and Sons" Featurette
  • "Women of NYPD Blue" Featurette
The Complete 4th Season 22 June 20, 2006 August 14, 2006 August 21, 2006
  • Audio Commentaries
  • "Through the Lens: The Look of Blue" featurette
  • "In With the New" featurette


See also

Color of the day


  2. Streible, Daniel G. NYPD Blue. Museum of Broadcast Communications
  3. Episode cited: "Nude Awakening"
  4. This review regarded the episode "It's to Die For".
  5. Episode cited: "Chatty Chatty Bang Bang
  6. "David Milch". Yahoo! TV.

External links

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