Saturday, September 21, 2013
Incredible as this may seem to the program’s numerous fans, it was a full 20 years ago today--at 10 p.m. on September 21, 1993 (then a Tuesday)--that the ABC-TV crime drama NYPD Blue premiered.
Not to be confused with Jack Warden’s 1967-1969 cop series, N.Y.P.D., the hour-long Blue was co-created by Steven Bochco (whose credits also included Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law) and David Milch (later best known for giving viewers the Western drama Deadwood). It focused on an ensemble of weary cops working out of Manhattan’s 15th Precinct, most prominently Detective John Kelly (played by David Caruso), Sergeant Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz), Kelly’s lovely ex-wife, Assistant District Attorney Laura Michaels (Sherry Springfield), and Captain Arthur Fancy (James McDaniel). TV Guide, in its 1993 Fall Preview write-up (see below), voiced concern that Blue was “another cop show--and TV has had so many, they do start to sound the same.” At the same time, though, the mag applauded the series’ “killer cast” and opined that it “is one of those rare shows that think we, the audience members, are smart.”
Between its debut and the airing of its final, 261st episode, “Moving Day,” on March 1, 2005, NYPD Blue lost some notable cast members, among them Caruso (later to resurface on CSI: Miami, Stringfield (who moved to ER), and subsequently Jimmy Smits (who’d played Detective Bobby Simone) and Kim Delaney (who had done a long stint as Detective Diane Russell). It also incited controversies with its occasional, modest nudity and its sometimes course language.
Yet the series carried on, blending often tense criminal encounters with close looks inside the personal travails confronting its lead characters--on and off the job. As was obvious by the number of awards it received, NYPD Blue maintained a high quality throughout its 12-year run, confirming what TV Guide had said way back in 1993, that “This show is a Bochco classic all around.”
Above: NYPD Blue’s write-up in the September 18-24, 1993, edition of TV Guide. Of the series that debuted with it that fall--from seaQuest DSV and The Nanny to The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Saved by the Bell: The College Years--only two, The X Files (which went off the air in 2002) and Frasier (which was cancelled in 2004), remained on the air nearly as long as Blue. Right-click on the image above for a more readable enlargement.
READ MORE: “The Groundbreaking NYPD Blue,” by Teri Duerr