So now we come to the fourth year of NYPD Blue. In the show’s ever-changing look this year was no exception. Most notable is the fact that a new camera operation crew toned down the jumpy camera moves a bit. Style was not sacrificed, but the series is now easier to watch. Smits and Franz are really starting to click now, and we begin to see the special relationship we know will evolve between their characters. This buildup is absolutely necessary for the coming payoff with Simone’s death in later years. Again, several characters came and went, most notably a couple of female detectives. I’ve heard the show described as testosterone heavy, but I can’t believe that could be said of year four.
Greg Metavoy gets a lot more to do starting this year, and I think you’ll find the results entertaining. This is the only character other than Sipowitz to survive the show’s entire run. He’s placed in some awkward moments in year 4. The Simone and Russell romance heats up, and while I tend to think these things cheapen a series, I found this one to be tolerable. It was also quite necessary for the eventual payoff mentioned earlier. As always, NYPD Blue is about Andy, and you won’t be disappointed. The character continues his wonderful growth in this season, mostly aided by the influence of Simone. There’s plenty for every Blue fan out there in this set.
Each episode of NYPD Blue is presented in its original full frame broadcast ratio. Yeah, it’s still grainy. Colors, however, stand out in stark contrast to the dark stories being told. The streets of New York (OK, mostly it’s not really New York) look crisp and sharply defined. Black levels are very nicely done. The art is in the details, and this transfer has it. All of this is enhanced by the smoother camera work.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 track delivers everything you’d expect it to. I must admit, that percussive theme song wears on me, but there’s no question its very nicely done here. Dialogue is everything in cop shows, and you won’t be disappointed here. You’ll hear every word all the time. Musical cues are bright, perhaps too bright at times.
There are some commentary tracks which include mostly production staff.
“In With The New” is a look at the five new characters to join the show this season:Lourdes Benedicto playes PDA Gina Colon; Debra Christofferson playes the PDA that sexually harasses Andy; Willie Coarson is the only male added to the cast, and serves as a thorn in Simone’s side; Andrea Thompson and Paige Turco join as new detectives in the squad. This feature spends about five minutes letting each tell you about their character and what the overall NYPD Blue experience was like.
“Through The Lens: The Look Of Blue” is a 20 minute look at the process that gives the show its unique look. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Blue is certainly one of the most copied looks on television. Here’s why and how they do it..
The word groundbreaking is vastly overused particularly among reviewers. I try not to abuse the phrase, but if it doesn’t apply to NYPD Blue, then it just shouldn’t be used at all. Truth be told, most of the successful formula Bochco uses here was developed on Hill Street Blues, a true masterpiece of its own. It seems that after years of slow season releases, Fox has begun to speed up the process. That can only be a good thing for you Blue fans out there. With five more to come, I would think that “You wanna get out in front of this thing now.”