Steven Bochco is no stranger to innovative television. Hill Street Blues is arguably the best cop show ever made. Even his failures are praised for their innovativeness and freshness. Remember Cop Rock? NYPD Blue didn’t just push the prime time envelope. It tore the envelope to pieces and blew it away with hurricane force winds. George Carlin made a career out of his “7 words you can’t say on television”. Along comes NYPD Blue and Carlin just might need a new act. Language and nudity made this the first R-Rated primetime program. The pilot arrived with a flutter of controversy. Morality groups were vocal and sponsors were scarce. Twenty percent of ABC’s affiliates refused to show the pilot at all. When you watch these DVDs it’s hard to understand what all the noise was about. Today this stuff is the norm, and once again Bochco changed TV forever.
NYPD Blue has a modest Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Although there’s nothing spectacular here, it is a solid mix for a TV show. The aggressive percussion soundtrack is impressive. Dialogue is nearly always clear.
NYPD Blue is presented in the “full screen” format. Expect a pretty standard TV picture here. Colors and tints reflect the gritty nature of the show. Blacks are deep enough. The shaky film style that has become the show’s trademark doesn’t take away from an otherwise sharp and clean image.
This is a six disc set with all of the season one episodes. There is one episode on each disc that contains a commentary track by one of the production staff members. These tracks are only for the big fans. I found them mostly dry and unengaging. Mostly technical details and production information to be found here.
I like that the menu allows you to skip the “previously on NYPD Blue” segments and go right to the episode. Extras on this set include:
“The Making of Season One”
is a good one hour documentary on how the show got off the ground. It features too much “talking heads” but the information is quite interesting and surprisingly candid. Topics like network fears and the problems with David Caruso are addressed openly here.
“Cast Blotters” and “Love on NYPD Blue” are 11 minute features on cast members and their relationships. It’s nice to see attention paid here to the many exceptional guests such as Dan Hedeya.
I do have a complaint about the menu system. It takes too long to load, and every time you make a selection you are forced to wait until the scene plays out for it to take. I understand the desire to be creative, but some of us just don’t have that kind of patience.
If you’re a cop show lover, this is a must-have for your DVD collection, at least while we wait for Hill Street Blues or The Rockford Files. The problem is, these first season episodes are still rerun quite frequently on cable. For me it’s worth having them on DVD. No commercials and about as clean a print as is out there. Dennis Franz steals the show as far as I’m concerned. My first impression was I never really missed Caruso after the first season. The set has its flaws, but like Andy himself, “nothing’s perfect”.
Special Features List
- One-hour “Making of Season One” documentary with never-before-seen footage
- All-new “Love on NYPD Blue” and “Cast Blotter” featurettes
- Selected episode commentaries
- Script-to-screen comparison