Wednesday, March 02, 2005



This BLOG is all about PREVIEWS, so usually I do not write about something that is over. NYPD BLUE just presented its last show last night.

But that last show was an interesting one. Unlike CHEERS, for example, in which the last show ended by closing down the tavern, NYPD BLUE (or Nipid as I like to call it) ended by presenting what could have been the preview of the next season. More precisely, it was the preview of what could have been the next season.

The last episode featured the first day of Sipowicz' life in his new job of squad commander. His new job is not battling the low life on the street, but the high life in business, politics, and on the force. He has a new set of responsibilities.

He has grown and changed over the years, as was so well portrayed in the one hour retrospective Special which preceded the final episode.

Also highlighted in that Special was the way the program and the environment for television programming have changed since NYPD first came on the air.

In the final episode, there was talk about sex, prostitutes, S&M, infidelity, and threesomes... But it was all once removed. Nothing was shown. Nothing sexual was dramatized or lived. It was very tame. Politics was dramatized; Sipowicz' conflicts were dramatized; the results of violence, but not the action itself were shown.

NYPD BLUE, of course, was the show that tried to bring a more realistic dramatization of personal sexual relationships, language, and dramatic action to the network television screen. Times have changed. The FCC has put a damper on this whole area of realism. The "wardrobe malfunction" was not the provocation, it was simply the excuse and opportunity for the FCC to publicize its chilling doctrine.

24 and Alias, two of the edgiest shows on network television, seem tamer this year. Catastrophes are there, more than ever, but they are more talked about than lived or dramatized.

So that seems to be the preview of network television for the moment: More politics, more talk, less personal and sexual dramatic action.

There is likely to be some change in direction at the FCC as Powell leaves. It remains to be seen what the direction of that change will be.

In the Special, it was pointed out that co-creator David Milch wrote many of his own demons into the character of Sipowicz, so it is not a stretch to suspect that the subject of the final episode, the moral conflict between Sipowicz' pursuit of the truth and the interference of the bureaucracy, bears more than a coincidental relationship to the conflict between the FCC and network on the one hand and, on the other, the pursuit of creative dramatic "truth" and freedom by the creators of NYPD BLUE.

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