The second season of the gritty cop show turned out to be an important test: could the seriessurvive the departure of important cast members? In particular, could it survive the departureof David Caruso? As it turned out, it survived without him much better than he without it. This season includes such turning points as the trial of Amy Brennerman and attendant consequences(i.e. bye-bye Caruso), the wedding of Dennis Franz, and the arrival (and his gradual acceptance of) his new partner (hello Jimmy Smits).
The sound is 4.0, and has a nice, wide, big feel to it. The music is particularly strong, and the dialogue is clear, but of special note are the sound effects. On most TV products I’ve looked at,the music is so omnipresent that it has a virtual monopoly on the rear speakers. Not so here. The sound effects are generally low key, but certainly present, and there are moments, particularly in the precinct station scenes, with excellent environmental effects. Sometimes, the surround is alittle exaggerated (a surround clonk every time someone takes a step on a hardwood floor,and at least one instance of a wraparound voice), but generally a very respectable job.
The picture is 1.33:1 fullscreen (naturally). There is no grain (which I have seen far too often,for some reason, in TV transfers), and the colours are very strong. There is no edge enhancement difficulty to speak of. The flesh tones are sweatily accurate, the picture is sharp, and the blacks are deep. On the subject of black, however, I do have one reservation. The inserted blackouts where ads would once have been are jarring and awkward. A jump cut might have been the better way to go.
Commentaries are scattered throughout the set. Unavailable for review are those by David Milch on “Simone Says,” Michael Rob on “Vishy-Vashy,” and technical advisor Bill Clark on“Bombs Away” and “Boxer Rebellion.” Those by director Mark Tinker (on “Cop Suey” and“ADA Sipowicz”) have some good behind-the-scenes stuff, but you have to wade through longs silences and lots of yammering about nothing to get to that. The other special features are all on Disc 6. There are three documentaries. Two are (“Wedding Bell Blues” and “The Music of MikePost”) are minor featurettes, about 7 minutes long, focusing on specific elements of the series(the former examining the relationship and marriage of Sipowicz and Sylvia). “A Season of Change” is a much more substantial (1 hour) look back at the season, with interviews with the cast and creators. It is interesting to note the edge that comes into some of the voices when David Caruso is mentioned. Finally, there are script-to-screen comparisons of three scenes from the“Simone Says” episode (where Smits is introduced). Here you read the screenplay, then see the scene. The menu’s main page is animated and scored, as are the intro and the transitions.Navigating the main page is annoyingly slow: the cursor takes the form of an animated horizontal bar, and it takes forever to move from one selection to another.
Very much the turning point in the series’ history, when it proved that it was more than thesum of its parts, and this is reflected in the extras as well.