Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
about NYPD Blue

by Alan Sepinwall
Last updated: February 21, 2006

Welcome to the long version of the NYPD Blue FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list! This document should contain answers to virtually all your questions about the best damn show on TV. If you have a question that's not here, send me e-mail at sepinwal@stwing.org and I'll try to find the answer and include it.

Some props before we get to the questions. This list was originally created and maintained by Dave Chapman in the UK, who, alas, is no longer on the Net. I took it over a decade or so ago and have, with some help from Jeff Knapp (director@gti.net) kept it up to date.

This document is Copyright, Dave Chapman, 1994, Alan Sepinwall, 1995-2005.


Contents of FAQ

1. THE SHOW

What exactly is NYPD Blue?

Why did the show end?

2. THE CHARACTERS

Who were the regular characters on the show?

Who were the recurring characters on the show?

3. PLOT/CHARACTER QUESTIONS

What was Simone's ethnic background?

Is Andy Diane's AA sponsor? Is she his?

Whose hands were those in the bathroom in the third season finale?

Who shot Joey Salvo?

What was Greg doing in the mirror in "Seminal Thinking"?

Shouldn't The Job have frowned on Bobby and Diane's marriage? What about all the current squad romances?

What were Bobby and Diane's wedding vows?

Where'd Martinez go for most of the fifth season?

What are those pins everyone's been wearing on their lapels?

Why do the detectives sometimes wear their shields upside down?

How could Martinez and Sipowicz get "promoted" to sergeant? Don't detectives outrank sergeants?

What's the deal with Danny and those paperclips?

What happened to Bobby and Diane's baby?

Why do they call Lt. Fancy "Lou"? I thought his name was Arthur.

4. THE ACTORS

Why did Charlotte Ross leave the show?

Why did Esai Morales leave the show?

Why did Kim Delaney leave the show?

Why did Jimmy Smits leave the show?

Why did David Caruso leave the show?

Why did Sherry Stringfield leave the show?

Why did Amy Brenneman leave the show?

Why did Gail O'Grady leave the show? What's with all the PAAs since?

Why did Sharon Lawrence keep leaving the show?

Why did Nicholas Turturro leave the show?

Why did Justine Miceli leave the show? What happened to Lesniak?

Why did Andrea Thompson leave the show?

Why did James McDaniel leave the show?

Why did Rick Schroder leave the show?

Isn't Gordon Clapp an original castmember?

What happened to John O'Donohue, Garcelle Beauvais and Jessalyn Gilsig?

What films/TV series has XXXX been in?

Who played XXXX in episode YYYY? Didn't I see XXXX in episode ZZZZ, too?

Who is Nicholas Turturro related to?

Which actors have appeared nude on the show?

Are Kim Delaney and Dana Delany related?

Did Ross from Friends used to be on NYPD Blue?

5. BLUE ON THE INTERNET

Is there a WWW site?

Now that the show's over, what happens to your website?

So can I still e-mail you?

Will you or Amanda be reviewing other shows?

Why did you and Amanda do this in the first place?

What is the name of the NYPD Blue newsgroup?

Is there a mailing list?

Is there a drinking game?

Are there any scanned pictures?

Help! I missed an episode and want to see the tape! What do I do?

6. NYPD BLUE VS. THE REAL NYPD

How realistic is the show?

How come nobody ever asks for a lawyer?

Where is the 15th Precinct?

Why does Andy still carry a .38 pistol?

What the heck does "skel" mean? How about "PAA"?

7. STUFF TO BUY

Are there any books about the show?

Is there a soundtrack CD?

What about other merchandise?

Can I buy copies of the show on tape or DVD?

8. BEHIND THE SCENES

What is "Milch-speak"?

Was the show filmed in NY or LA?

Do the cast and crew know about us?

I really love XX and I want to send him/her a letter! What's the address?

9. MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

Where can I find reruns of the show?

When will new episodes air in my country?

Why is the camera always shaking?

Where do you get the episode titles?

What's the violin music playing at the end of every episode?


1. The Show

What exactly is NYPD Blue?

NYPD Blue is one of the best dramas to ever air on television. It ran from September of 1993 through March of 2005. Created by David Milch and Steven Bochco, the show focused on the personal and professional lives of the members of the detective's squad in the New York Police Department's 15th Precinct.

Before it premiered in the fall of 1993, the series got a lot of publicity because of its daring use of nudity and profanity -- men's buttocks, women's breasts, and the word "asshole" all appeared for the first time in an American prime-time series on NYPD Blue. However, people who actually bothered to watch the show (and not protest it blindly) discovered that there was a lot more to it than just tits, ass, and swear words. It was a dark, moving series about trying to hold onto your morals and ideals in a corrupt and evil world.

Why did the show end?

Twelve years is an awfully long time for any TV show to stay on the air, even an all-time great like this one. The ratings had been trending steadily downward since the end of Rick Schroder's first season and the budget kept going up. For the last year or two, the only thing keeping Blue on the ABC schedule was the fact that every new drama the network premiered flopped miserably. Once Lost and Desperate Housewives became huge hits, ABC finally had the security to retire Blue once and for all.

2. The Characters

Who were the regular characters on the show?

Over the course of the 12-season run, there were 24 regular characters. Starting with the eight regulars from the final season, they were:

SGT. ANDY SIPOWICZ (Dennis Franz): A hulking, mustachioed, walking contradiction, Sipowicz was a recovering alcoholic, a hot-tempered bully and a crude bigot. He was also a dedicated, brilliant cop, a fiercely loyal friend, and a sensitive soul who, in the last few years, learned to ignore his prejudices, if not forget them. A Vietnam veteran who joined the police force after leaving the infantry, he spent the better part of his police career and his first marriage living inside a bottle, driving away wife Katie and son Andy Jr. After a near-fatal shooting by mobster Alfonse Giardella, he quit drinking and began the painful process of reassembling his life. Things were great for a while, as he reconciled with Andy Jr., courted and wed beautiful ADA Sylvia Costas, fathered a new son, Theo, and became good, good friends with new partner Bobby Simone. But then life on the job for Andy became the life of Job. Andy Jr. was killed trying to stop a robbery. Simone died of heart failure. Sylvia died in a courthouse shooting. Even Danny Sorenson, Simone's replacement and Andy's surrogate for Andy Jr., was murdered during an undercover investigation. Andy fell off the wagon a few times, almost drank a few other times, and briefly shut out the world. But he slowly learned that you have to live your life and try to do some good with it, and he eventually ascended to the role of boss of the 15th squad. His constant need for babysitters for Theo caused him to get closer to Det. Connie McDowell, a friendship that eventually led to marriage and the addition of two new kids to Sipowicz's life: Connie's niece Michelle, plus Matthew, a baby that Andy and Connie had together.

DET. JOHN CLARK (Mark-Paul Gosselaar): A confident youngster who spent the last few years in Narcotics, Clark received the NYPD equivalent of a battlefield commission, earning his gold detective shield after heroic action during an undercover operation gone awry. When offered his choice of commands, he picked the 15th Precinct. That decision drove a wedge between John and his father, John Clark Sr., a by-the-book veteran (now deceased) who didn't want his son spending time in that "hellhole" -- or learning how to be a thug like Sipowicz, whom Sr. loathed from past experience. Despite some early screw-ups, John's on-the-job training went quickly; he's now good enough in the interview room that the "Junior" nickname Andy slapped on him doesn't sound condescending, but affectionate. However, with that growth has come tragedy. John's dad committed suicide after an IAB scandal, and so did John's bipolar ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jennifer Devlin.

DET. GREG MEDAVOY (Gordon Clapp): Medavoy was a walking bundle of neuroses disguised as a police detective. Cursed with a sometimes uncontrollable stammer, an abundance of allergies and a knack for putting his foot in his mouth, Greg often irritated the hell out of his co-workers. However, he was also a pretty good investigator, and you would not find a more compassionate cop on the force. Greg left his shrewish wife Marie to have an affair with Donna Abandando, but when she broke things off for good (due mostly to Greg's immaturity), he tried going back to his loveless marriage for the sake of his daughters. That didn't work; neither did a pursuit of attractive co-worker Abby Sullivan, who turned out to be a lesbian. Greg wound up fathering Abby's baby by artificial insemination, however, but becoming a father a third time didn't improve his disposition much. Working with the dynamic and friendly Baldwin Jones, on the other hand, did. Greg retired at the end of the series to puruse a career in real estate.

DET. BALDWIN JONES (Henry Simmons): Jones, whose mother named him after the writer James Baldwin, transferred into the 15th squad from a bias crimes unit to replace the departed James Martinez. Despite the colossal difference in their size, appearance and demeanor, he and Medavoy became fast friends and solid partners. Baldwin and ADA Valerie Haywood had an off-again, on-again relationship, and he later took in troubled teenager Michael Woodruff after investigating the murder of Michael's mother by his father, Craig.

JOHN IRVIN (Bill Brochtrup): Openly gay, extremely efficient and blessed with a heart the size of Manhattan, John Irvin made such a favorable impression on Lt. Fancy during a temporary stint as a Police Administrative Aide that he wound up with a permanent job in the precinct's Anti-Crime unit -- which earned him the nickname "Upstairs John" from members of the second-floor detective's squad. Though his kind spirit endeared John to all in the precinct, he eventually transferred out, first to One Police Plaza, then to a mercifully brief stint with a Public Morals squad. After a failed attempt to start his own computer graphics business, John returned to life as a civilian aide, spending time in both Anti-Crime and the detective squad, then took over the squad PAA slot permanently after Dolores Mayo died. Despite Sipowicz's rampant homphobia, John and Andy became friends, and John not only cut Andy's hair from time to time, but frequently babysat for Theo.

DET. RITA ORTIZ (Jaqueline Obradors): One of the later additions to the 15th squad came, like Diane Russell before her, from Vice. Unlike Diane, Rita left Vice not because she wanted to, but because her husband, ADA Don Harrison, was too disturbed by the idea of his wife dressing up as a hooker and walking the streets undercover. The new assignment was supposed to be a panacea in her troubled marriage with Don, but his paranoid fantasies that she was cheating on him turned out to be a cover for the fact that he was cheating on her -- an affair that led to Don being murdered by his mistress' angry husband. Rita didn't take long to get over the whole catastrophic end of her marriage; she began dating John Clark Jr. only a few months later, but it didn't work out.

LT. THOMAS BALE (Currie Graham): When NYPD brass decided that the 15th squad was spiraling out of control under the successive commands of Tony Rodriguez and Eddie Gibson, they transferred in a firmer hand. Bale came out of Internal Affairs and insisted on following Department protocol to the letter, micromanaging his detectives to the point where he almost had a mutiny on his hands. After Andy discovered that Bale was a closeted gay man and declined to reveal it to anyone, Bale began easing up on the reins and learned to trust his detectives. Ironically, his departure from official procedure led to him being wounded in the line of duty when he chose not to invite Emergency Services along on a raid of a murder suspect's home. Faced with permanent nerve damage and a medical retirement, Bale recommended his onetime nemesis Sipowicz to replace him.

DET. LAURA MURPHY (Bonnie Somerville): The one girl in a large family of firefighting brothers, Laura chose to go into the NYPD instead of the FDNY. She worked her way up to a detective's shield by putting in a stint in Applicant Investigations, a low-pressure unit that does background checks on people applying to join the Department. Laura partners with Rita Ortiz, who didn't respond well to Laura's tendency to flirt with her male co-workers; the two eventually reached a detente on the subject.

DET. BOBBY SIMONE (Jimmy Smits): Bobby had a lot of pain in his life. He grew up in Brooklyn with a distant father, and his two best companions were an punch-drunk ex-fighter and a teenaged wiseguy wannabe. He grew up, got married, and joined the police force, and for a while was living a very happy existence until his wife Mary came home and told him that she had breast cancer. He spent a while chauffeuring the police commissioner around to have more time to spend with his wife, and later, to grieve her death. His assignment at the One-Five was the first detective tour he had after Mary's death, but Bobby the introvert and Andy the loudmouth somehow became the best of friends. Bobby also met his second wife, Diane Russell, during his time at the One-Five, but they were only married a few months when he was hospitalized with a bad heart infection. A transplant was performed, but the new heart failed, and Bobby rejoined his late wife in the big precinct in the sky.

DET. DANNY SORENSON (Rick Schroder): A gold-shield detective at only 28, Sorenson was an obvious up-and-comer in the NYPD when he arrived at the 15th squad at the worst possible time: replacing the recently-deceased and much-loved Bobby Simone. Despite some initial resentment, Danny won over his co-workers, but often got distracted from casework because of his own emotional issues. Always harboring some deep, dark secret about his own childhood -- which involved Danny raising his two younger sisters after their parents split -- he had a constant fear of "getting stirred up," and in fact spent much of his time at the 15th doing just that. He finally seemed to be finding some inner peace when he was murdered during an undercover operation at a strip club.

DET. JOHN KELLY (David Caruso): John's father, John Kelly Sr., was a heavily decorated detective back in the days when the Irish still ran the department, but he was killed in the line of duty when John Jr. was only 11. John spent much of the rest of his life trying to meet the approval of his late father, joining the force and holding himself to an almost impossibly high standard. Unfortunately, while John's tightly-wound nature made him a great detective, it also distanced himself from the people he loved, including his ex-wife Laura, who divorced him because he didn't give her enough space. Shortly after the divorce, John got involved with Officer Janice Licalsi, but his efforts to clean up after a murder she committed eventually led to him getting drummed off the force. When last mentioned, John was making a living as a professional bodyguard and security expert.

DET. DIANE RUSSELL (Kim Delaney): Diane comes from an extremely dysfunctional family, including an alcoholic father who used to molest her. That warped upbringing, along with too many years spent working as an undercover cop, led to a lot of screwed up values on her part and may have caused her drinking problem. While working a case in tandem with Bobby Simone, they realized an attraction for one another and became lovers -- a situation that became complicated when she got transferred to the 15th squad. Bobby broke up with her after realizing the extent of her alcoholism. After she spent several months in AA, she and Bobby resumed their romance, but roadblocks kept cropping up, particularly the emotional wallop Diane received after her mother shot and killed her abusive father. She and Bobby conceived a child, but she miscarried. After a few months to recover from yet another emotional setback, Diane finally married Bobby, only to get the biggest one yet when Bobby died mere months later. Diane quickly returned to work, but that proved to be a mistake. A lengthy flirtation and brief romance with Danny Sorenson was a disaster -- she wasn't ready to see any man, much less the one who replaced Bobby in the squad -- and after struggling to deal with guilt over"cheating" on Bobby, she decided to take a leave of absence from the department to work out her personal issues. When she returned to active duty, it was with the NYPD's Special Victims (or sex crimes) unit.

ADA SYLVIA COSTAS (Sharon Lawrence): An elegant, beautiful assistant District Attorney and a balding, overweight, slovenly cop getting married? It wasn't an obvious match, to be sure, but Sylvia saw the decent, caring human being underneath Andy's gruff exterior and fell in love with him. She was very supportive of his attempts to stay sober, which probably has something to do with the fact that half her family members appear to be alcoholics. She was very confident on the job, and was known to wield an acid tongue when cops' procedural errors blow her cases. Sylvia was raped back in law school, which made her (and Andy, once he found out) especially sensitive about rape cases. She took some time off from work to care for her newborn son Theo, but had returned to the job when she was killed in a courthouse shooting incident.

CAPT. ARTHUR FANCY (James McDaniel): Fancy rose through the department ranks very rapidly, either (depending upon whom you ask) because or in spite of his being an African American. He and Sipowicz frequently clashed in their early days before developing a grudging admiration for one another's talents -- Fancy once said that if someone he loved was ever murdered, he'd want Andy to catch the case. After serving a superb nine-year stint as the lieutenant in charge of the 15th squad, Art was promoted to captain and moved on to his next assignment. He has a wife, two daughters, one son, and a kid brother named Reggie who's also on the job -- and who doesn't get along with Art.

DET. JAMES MARTINEZ (Nicholas Turturro): Originally assigned to the detective's squad as a temporary fill-in after Sipowicz was shot a few years ago, Martinez demonstrated great enthusiasm for the job and willingness to learn, and quickly earned his detective's gold shield. His tenure on the job hasn't always been fun; he witnessed the OD death of his junkie brother, and watched his idol John Kelly get driven off the force. James was never the brightest nor the most charismatic detective in the 15th squad, but he made up for his occasional lack of savvy with a lot of heart and hard work. He transferred out of the squad after receiving a promotion to sergeant.

DET. JILL KIRKENDALL (Andrea Thompson): For most of her tenure in the 15th squad, Jill served as the emotional rock to Diane's tower of Jell-O, as well as the most competent and confident cop in the precinct not named Sipowicz, Simone or Sorenson. But her irrational attachment to her ex-husband Don, who manipulated her by threatening to embarrass, and, eventually, kill their two sons Kyle and Frank, led Jill to throw her career away. When last we saw them, Jill and the boys were on the run from Internal Affairs investigators.

DONNA ABANDANDO (Gail O'Grady): The first thing you needed to know about the lovely Miss Abandando is that she holds a special place in her heart for the NY Rangers, which means she loves lost causes (which the Rangers were until they finally won the Stanley Cup in 1994 after a 50-year curse). That also explains why she agreed to take a relatively thankless job as the receptionist (or, in NYPD parlance, "PAA") for the 15th detective's squad, and why she fell for nebbishy Greg Medavoy. Their affair was complicated by his marriage, her trampy sister Dana, and an old flame of Donna's who used to play for the Rangers. Eventually, the stress of it all proved too much, and she broke things off with Greg. A year or so later, she received a job offer from Apple Computer that was too good to pass up, and the Queens gal moved out to Silicon Valley.

DET. JANICE LICALSI (Amy Brenneman): Licalsi was a uniformed cop who had barely been at the 15th Precinct for a week before she was approached by Mafia kingpin Angelo Marino, who ordered her to murder John Kelly -- or else he would turn in Licalsi's policeman father, who had been on Marino's payroll for years. Janice reluctantly agreed, but as she got close to John, she fell in love with him, and instead of killing him, she killed Marino and his chauffeur. The guilt of her crime ate away at her until she finally confessed to it months later. Kelly hired her a slick mob lawyer, and Janice got off with only a 2-year sentence for manslaughter.

LAURA KELLY (Sherry Stringfield): The match between Laura, a high-powered yuppie attorney, and John, a blue-collar cop, didn't last very long once Laura realized what an incredible control freak John could be. She bounced around several jobs after her divorce, eventually settling in with the Manhattan DA's office. She worked as a riding DA in the 15th Precinct for a while before transferring out, probably to put some distance between herself and John.

DET. ADRIENNE LESNIAK (Justine Miceli): A beautiful but no-nonsense detective, Lesniak was transferred to the 15 after an office romance in a Bronx precinct went public. That experience -- and her ex-lover's subsequent descent into stalker territory -- soured her on relationships with fellow detectives, so when Martinez expressed interest, she politely brushed him off. After he was shot, she expressed quite a bit of maternal concern, which James and Greg mistook for romantic interest. Eventually, their badgering of her got to the point where Adrienne claimed to be a lesbian -- a lie which, on further consideration, had her questioning her own sexuality. She eventually realized that she isn't gay, but all her previous failed relationships made her unable to deal with the notion that James was a decent guy, and she turned into a bitchy, over-possessive shrew. James had to break things off with her, leading Adrienne to feel more depressed than ever over the prospect of finding happiness. Lesniak apparently transferred out of the 15th precinct several years ago.

LT. TONY RODRIGUEZ (Esai Morales): Rodriguez wasn't supposed to be in charge of the 15th squad, but after the detectives all neared mutiny over the ball-busting Lt. Dalto, Capt. Fancy called in one last favor for his old squad and had Dalto transferred out and Rodriguez transferred in. A former Narcotics cop from the Bronx who spent much of his career working deep undercover, Rodriguez is more hands-on than Fancy, and has a gentle sense of humor so deadpan that many people often don't get the joke. Though his tenure as 15th squad boss was mostly successful, Tony realized his career had hit a glass ceiling after a shooting incident involving disgraced IAB Capt. Fraker and decided to retire and make more money in private security.

DET. CONNIE MCDOWELL (Charlotte Ross): After spending some time as a temp detective whom Borough Command would assign to different precincts as needed, McDowell has finally found a permanent home in the 15th squad. Connie has police work in her blood, since her late father was a cop in Saratoga Springs, NY. When she was 16, Connie got pregnant, and her parents forced her to give the baby, a girl, up for adoption. Recent attempts to contact her daughter Jennifer, now 15, turned out disastrously, but they did inspire her to get in on the Theo babysitting action, which in turn brought her closer emotionally to Andy. Despite the vast difference in their age and beauty, the two gave romance a go and recently married. Connie recently took in her sister Michelle's baby daughter after Michelle was beaten to death by her abusive husband Frank. Shortly after that, Connie was stunned to learn that she could still get pregnant, and she and Andy had a son, Matthew Nicholas Sipowicz. Connie left the job, at least temporarily, to look after her rapidly-growing family.

ADA VALERIE HAYWOOD (Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon): After Leo Cohen left the District Attorney's office to go into private practice, Haywood became the 15th precinct's new riding DA. More by-the-book than either Cohen or Sylvia Costas, she has a low tolerance for detectives who think outside the box -- and the law -- like Sipowicz. Struggling to appear professional in a field where too many women are just viewed as sex objects, she was hesitant to respond to the romantic overtures of the very interested Det. Jones, but eventually she fell for the very handsome, very decent detective. They've had an on-again, off-again relationship for several years. Valerie recently was replaced as the 15th Precinc's resident ADA by Laurie Munson.

SGT. EDDIE GIBSON (John O'Donohue): Like a lot of detectives close to retirement, Eddie was living the easy life on the night tour of the 15th squad, shuffling papers and leaving the big investigations to Sipowicz and company. He got a sympathy promotion to first grade pay when he was about to go on medical leave to battle cancer, but when he returned to active duty, Eddie decided to start taking his career seriously again. He passed the sergeant's exam, and when Lt. Rodriguez decided to retire, Eddie used his friendship with the head of department personnel to take Tony's place as boss of the 15th squad. Eddie's not very bright, but he was at least smart enough to recognize that his charges know what they're doing, and he adopted a hands-off approach to command. Apparenly, this was too hands-off for department brass, who decided that he was running a rogue squad, and replaced him wih by-the-book Lt. Bale. It's unclear where Eddie is working these days. In his spare time, Eddie and his wife take in foster kids to give back to the community.

Who are the recurring characters on the show?

In addition to the regular cast members, the show featured a number of other actors who appear on a semi-regular basis. In fact, Greg Medavoy, Sylvia Costas and Donna Abandando were all recurring characters in the first season who got added to the main cast in the second, just as Adrienne Lesniak and Diane Russell became regulars after several guest shots in season two. Jill Kirkendall and John Irvin made the leap from feature to regular cast as well.

This isn't a complete list; just the characters who either stuck around the longest or made the biggest impression.

THEO SIPOWICZ (Austin Majors): The surprising product of the union between middle-aged Andy Sipowicz and the late Sylvia Costas, Theo was mercifully young enough to not quite realize the impact of his mother's murder. He's not much of a talker, but his daddy sure loves him.

JOSH & HANK (Ray LaTulipe and Henry Murph): Their positions in the 15th precinct hierarchy are kind of nebulous, but Josh Astrachan and N.D. "Hank" Harold seemed to spend most of their time lurking in the hallways around the detectives' squadroom, waiting to babysit suspects and witnesses. They also wound up with some of the more unpleasant tasks, like cleaning up the messes made by junkies and, in one memorably gruesome incident, collecting a drug mule's balloons.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS SGT. MARTENS (Scott Allan Campbell): Martens was no dummy; he knew that most cops (including the ones at the One-Five) couldn't stand him and the rest of "The Rat Squad." But he also couldn't help but get frustrated when he tried to do his best to keep a cop from getting into trouble and still got ripped for it. Though his job required him to bust dirty cops, he let some of the more questionable activities of our heroes slide by in the name of a greater good. As cheese-eaters go, he wasn't a bad sort.

JULIAN PISANO (Lenny Venito): Andy's final snitch was also his most unlikely, considering the circumstances under which he and Julian met: when Julian confessed that he had unwittingly helped dispose of Danny Sorenson's body. Most of the time, Julian's information was designed to help himself more than the cops, and he tended to jerk Andy and John around virtually all of the time, but in the end he could usually be bullied into being useful.

CAPT. CLIFFORD BASS (Larry Joshua) & INSPECTOR AIELLO (Andy Romano): When a case was big enough to require supervision from someone higher-ranking than Lt. Fancy, either Bass or Aiello (and sometimes both) would step in. Bass was Fancy's immediate superior, and was also the man to whom Arthur turned on personnel matters. Aiello was more likely to get involved if a case required cooperation between the NYPD and other agencies, or between different divisions of the Department.

OFFICER MIKE SHANNON (James McBride) & OFFICER MILLER (Billy Concha): Shannon and Miller were the two uniform cops most likely to be in charge of crime scenes when Sipowicz, Clark or any of the other detectives arrived. Shannon was also the union delegate for the precinct's uniform cops.

DA MAURY ABRAMS ( Charles Levin): The Manhattan District Attorney, Abrams generally only handled cases that he hopes will boost his would-be political career.

DETECTIVE STU MORRISSEY (Conor O'Farrell): Stu worked the 4 to 12 shift in the 15th detective's squad, and occasionally wound up turning to the day tour detectives for assistance on his cases.

VINCE GOTELLI (Carmine Caridi): Vince used to work the 4 to 12 with Morrissey, but after the 50-something cop suffered some heart difficulty, he had a mini-breakdown and stole a city bus. Fancy managed to cover up the incident on the condition that Vince, who was never much of a detective to begin with, take early retirement. He later worked as an investigator for an insurance company, and his path occasionally crossed his old co-workers'.

JOHN CLARK SR. (Joe Spano): Clark's father was a cop for nearly 30 years, but not a good one in the eyes of Andy. Nicknamed "Dutch Boy" due to an unfortunate incident involving a paint store ad display when he was a rookie, Clark Sr. had always expected to work with his son -- and went ballistic when the young man chose to work with Sipowicz instead. His involvement with a murdered prostitute led to him being snared by IAB; Junior managed to get him out of the jackpot, but not before Senior gave some information to IAB that led disgruntled cop Ed Laughlin to frame Junior for heroin trafficking. Andy managed to save John, but Senior couldn't live with the shame and ate his gun.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS CAPT. FRAKER Casey Siemaszko): Unlike Martens, a decent guy trying to handle a tough job, Fraker was a weasel stuck in Internal Affairs because he had no place else to go. He held a massive grudge against the 15th squad in general and Rodriguez in particular because years ago, Tony ratted out a cop -- who happened to be Fraker's partner -- who was riding shotgun for some drug dealers. The ensuing scandal got Fraker bounced to IAB for good. He tried on several occasions to entrap Rodriguez, Clark and other members of the squad, but eventually went off the deep end and tried to kill Tony -- at which point he was shot by Rita Ortiz. He survived, and thanks to the slick legal work of attorney James Sinclair (see below), was set free by arguing self-defense. He was fired from the NYPD after the shooting and became a bartender while pursuing a civil suit against Rodriguez and the department.

OFFICER ED LAUGHLIN (Anthony Mangano): A career patrolman with big muscles and a bigger mouth, Laughlin first ran into trouble with John Clark when he challenged the detective to a boxing match at the precint smoker -- and lost. He was later pressured by John and Andy to resign from the job for sleeping with an underage auxiliary cop, and even after he was reinstated, he held a grudge and framed Clark for drug trafficking. He would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling Officer Shannon, who turned in his crooked partner at the last minute.

MARY FRANCO (Sheeri Rappaport): Mary met Danny while she was still a uniform cop in the 15th precinct. Though they clashed over a case, they also developed a quick mutual attraction and started dating, but it didn't last, given Danny's emotional problems and fixation on Diane. Mary was later promoted to a plainclothes slot in the precinct's Anti-Crime unit.

ADA LEO COHEN (Michael Buchman Silver): The young-looking Cohen wasn't particularly popular with the 15th squad, in part because he was in charge of the aborted murder prosecution of Diane's mother, and in part because he tended to smirk on every third word. Tensions between Leo and the squad temporarily eased while he was having an affair with Kirkendall, but when that ended, so did Andy's good graces. Cohen left the DA's office and entered private practice.

DET. HARRY DENBY (Scott Cohen): Denby was absolutely the last cop Diane should have gotten to know while trying to rescue Jill Kirkendall from the mess Jill's ex-husband got them both into. Why? Because Denby, like Diane, was a drunk -- and not a recovering drunk like her. He wanted to get to know Diane better -- preferably over a lot of drinks -- but she wisely resisted every one of this sleazebag's advances -- and after he went bad and took a cop hostage, she shot and killed him.

ANDY SIPOWICZ JR. (Michael DeLuise): Andy Sr. and Jr. were estranged for years, mainly because Sr. was a raging alcoholic for most of Jr.'s youth. Their paths crossed again shortly after Sr. got off the wagon, and after some initial coldness, the two began to bond, to the point where Jr. decided to become a cop (in Hackensack, NJ) to emulate his dad. Unfortunately, despite many lessons in police work from the old man, Jr. still wasn't good enough to take on two armed crooks by himself, and was shot and killed breaking up a robbery while off-duty.

KATIE SIPOWICZ (Debra Monk): Andy and Katie's marriage was never a happy one, since he was drunk for virtually all of it. They remained estranged long after the divorce, and only came together after the death of Andy Jr. got Katie drinking -- which forced the now-sober Andy to steer her towards AA. After Sylvia's death, Katie helped Andy raise Theo for a while, but the arrangement became awkward when she started viewing their makeshift family as a recreation of the real family she had with Andy and Andy Jr. When it became obvious that Andy didn't share her romantic interest, she cut back on her time with both him and Theo.

MIKE ROBERTS (Michael Harney): Roberts was a veteran of the 15th squad in the early days of the show, but was forced by Fancy to resign after one of his snitches overdosed -- a snitch, it turned out, who'd been sleeping with Roberts. He made a quick transition into private security work, and despite a complete lack of ability in that area -- and a blatantly sleazy personality -- kept getting clients, until one of them (Malcolm Cullinan) killed him for talking with the police about his criminal activities. Post-mortem, it was discovered that Mike had been working on a bad detective novel based on his "adventures" over the years.

DOC MONDZAC (Titus Welliver): A trauma surgeon at the Bellevue Hospital emergency room, Dr. Mondzac has treated detectives from the 15 on a number of occasions. He was the doctor on duty when the body of Andy Sipowicz Jr. has brought in, and the tragedy has created something of a bond between Mondzac and Andy Sr.; during Andy's cancer crisis, Mondzac was the only doctor whose presence kept the cop feeling secure.

DET. NICK SAVINO (Steven Antin): Formerly a detective in Narcotics, Savino later worked as a Homicide cop in Brooklyn. He first crossed paths with our heroes when he mistakenly arrested Andy Jr. for drug dealing, but he and Andy managed to rectify the situation. Later, he got Andy's help in solving a murder case at a candy store where Sipowicz had worked as a kid. He also investigated several murders at the apartment building Bobby Simone owned. There is no truth to the rumor that Savino only worked on days when acquaintances of the 15th squad were being arrested or killed.

SGT. BILL DORNAN (Richard Gant): The desk sergeant at a neighboring precinct, Dornan's path crossed with Andy's a few times over the years, but the two gruff, alcoholic veteran cops didn't really get to know each other until Dornan helped Andy and Sylvia re-open an old case. Shortly afterwards, his drinking grew so problematic that he was demoted back to detective, and both Andy and Fancy set about trying to rehabilitate Dornan.

ABBY SULLIVAN (Paige Turco): Abby was the subject of Greg Medavoy's desires ever since she peeked in on him while he was working out... at least she was until she revealed that she is gay. After introducing Greg to her lover, Abby asked Greg to be a sperm donor so they could have a baby. After much chest-beating, Greg agreed. What resulted was possibly one of the worst storylines the show has ever tackled. Abby's lover was later murdered, and she gave birth off-camera.

GERI TURNER (Debra Christofferson): One of the earliest squad PAAs in the long shuffle between the exit of Donna Abandando and the return of John Irvin, Geri quickly developed an attraction towards the married Sipowicz -- and wasn't shy about displaying it, in a virtual textbook case of sexual harassment. Finally, Lt. Fancy got fed up with her shenanigans and had Geri swap places with Gina Colon from Anti-Crime. The last we saw of Geri, one of her lovers had accidentally died during a S&M bondage game.

GINA COLON (Lourdes Benedicto): The lovely Ms. Colon came over from Borough Command to replace Upstairs John in Anti-Crime a few years ago, and quickly began flirting with Det. Martinez. Shortly after they started dating, she was swapped with Geri Turner. After James got Gina in a family way, they married, but her pregnancy was so rough that she had to leave her job to care for their baby. It was her idea for James to take the promotion to sergeant.

NAOMI REYNOLDS (Gabrielle Fitzpatrick): When Gina left the squad, relentlessly polite Naomi was brought in to replace her. It turned out that Naomi was actually an illegal immigrant from Australia, posing as a Southerner so she could realize her dream of becoming an American cop. INS found her out, and she left her job, but apparently things worked out well enough that she was able to get a job in private security -- at least she got to wear a uniform.

DOLORES MAYO (Lola Glaudini): After Naomi quit, the PAA shuffle continued with Dolores, a quiet would-be dancer with a major self-esteem problem who made money on the side as both a stripper and a hooker. It was the latter job that killed her, as she overdosed on drugs given her by one of her clients, Malcolm Cullinan.

OFFICER REGGIE FANCY (Michael Jai White): Imagine Arthur Fancy without the incredible self-restraint and you have his kid brother Reggie, a uniformed cop with a world-class chip on his shoulder. He was a loudmouth who saw racism in every white man he worked with, whether it was there or not. Reggie was often right (his sergeant, for example, was a major bigot), but his bluster and hot temper usually made him look like the bad guy. Though he and Art didn't get along too well, Fancy still looked out for him.

MARIE MEDAVOY (Deborah Taylor): The shrewish, crass Marie would be hard to get along with for just about anyone -- Greg probably only stayed with her for that long out of some sense of masochism. She was just as responsible for the break-up as him, because while Greg was sleeping with Donna, Marie was cheating on him herself.

SERGEANT VINNIE AGOSTINI (Vincent Guastaferro): Formerly the desk sergeant on the dayshift at the One-Five, Agostini later went to work for the Police Commissioner.

VINNIE GRECO (Joe Pantoliano): As slick a hustler as you could find, Vinnie's snitching relationship with Lt. Fancy went way back to before Art was even a detective; in fact, it was a tip from Vinnie that earned Art his gold shield.

STEVE RICHARDS (Paul Ben-Victor): Far more dim-witted -- and annoying -- than Vinnie, Steve had more of a propensity to stop by the 15th squad looking to make some bucks with a tip. Usually, either Steve was offering bum information or his brain-dead self-interest screwed up any chance he had of making a big score.

HENRY COFFIELD (Willie Garson): A twitchy little jerk with coke-bottle glasses and a persecution complex, Henry was the most troublesome tenant in the building Bobby owned until his death, but he and Simone developed an odd friendship over the years. Bobby's will asked Henry to look after his beloved homing pigeons -- and, by implication, asked Diane to look after Henry.

J.B. MURPHY(Jeff Cahill): Danny's premiere snitch from his days as a Narcotics cop, J.B. always talked about getting out of the life and fronting his own doo-wop group, but he could never kick his drug habit, and eventually died of it.

CAPT. HAVERILL (James Handy): Haverill, Bass' predecessor, never liked Fancy, in part because he wanted one of his own hand-picked buddies running the 15th squad, in part because he didn't like seeing a black man in a position of power. He frequently harassed Art over the years, but was finally undone when he underestimated Vinnie Greco's loyalty and tried to recruit him to frame Fancy in an illegal scheme.

ALFONSE GIARDELLA (Robert Costanzo): No one ever quite understood why Sipowicz had such a mad-on for Giardella, an uncouth, toupee-wearing mobster, but Andy waged a half-assed vendetta against his dark mirror image for years. The drunker Andy got, the worse the stunts got, until he finally pissed off Alfonse so much that Giardella shot him six times -- and somehow failed to kill him. Giardella cut a deal with the district attorney to avoid jail time, but he was gunned down by some of the men he was preparing to testify against.

JAMES SINCLAIR: (Daniel Benzali): One of the smartest, toughest and coldest criminal defense attorneys working, Sinclair first crossed our heroes' path as the mouthpiece for Alfonse Giardella, but he came in handy when Janice Licalsi turned herself in for the murder of Giardella's boss Angelo Marino. Sinclair got Janice six months in jail instead of life, then disappeared from the show's radar until he reappeared as the lawyer for Malcolm Cullinan, a millionaire whose murderous sexual appetites caused the death of Dolores Mayo, Mike Roberts and, inadvertently, Sylvia Costas.


3. Plot/Character Questions

What was Simone's ethnic background?

The late Robert Simone was French-Portuguese, revealed when he invited Sipowicz to "kiss my French-Portuguese ass" during the second season episode "Double Abandando." The fifth season's "Prostrate Before the Law" established that his parents met in Belize.

Is Andy Diane's AA sponsor? Is she his?

In "Heavin' Can Wait," the episode about the fall-out from Diane's fall off the wagon, Andy gets upset because Diane called Bobby instead of him. He tells Bobby, "I'm her sponsor." This turned into a fairly hot topic for discussion among fans for a while. Some claim that AA frowns in the extreme on opposite gender sponsors, as well as sponsoring someone that you work with. Others say that while sponsor/sponsee arrangements like this aren't the norm, they do exist, and can be very successful. However, when Diane and Andy discussed her leave of absence, the subject of AA never came up, suggesting that either their sponsorship relationship no longer exists, or that Diane no longer attends meetings.

Whether Andy ever took on a new sponsor after Dan Breen was killed in season two is unknown, but it's pretty clear that Andy has grown tired with the AA routine. When he started going to meetings with Katie, he said he hadn't been in a long time, and acted very annoyed to be there.

Whose hands were those in the bathroom in the fourth season finale?

A lot of people seemed to think that there was a mysterious third person in the bathroom when Bobby and Diane had sex near the end of the fourth season finale "A Draining Experience." For the confused, those mystery hands peeking over the stall actually belonged to Diane; various folks have dissected the scene enough in slo-mo to assume that for her hands to be in that position, Bobby would have to be making a rear entry of some kind. I'll leave the rest up to your imaginations. :)

Who shot Joey Salvo?

The fifth season opener revealed that Lt. Shannon of IAB gunned down Salvo.

From Alan's summary review of the season five opener:

Having Shannon be the shooter makes perfect sense and explains his motivation for suspending Bobby: he realized that someone was on to his extracurricular activities, and the only way to cover his tracks was to 1) Suspend Simone (which any clean IAB cop would do if a cop refused to cooperate to the extent Bobby did), and 2) Take out Salvo so he couldn't cut a deal at a later date to give away Shannon. Shannon later tried to cover his tracks by trying to lure Andy alone with a phony phone tip so he could whack him in solitude (a cough-and-you'll-miss-it line during the Gerald/Frankie bust that seemed to have been added in postproduction), and when that didn't work, he panicked and made the dumb move Simone and Sipowicz were hoping for.

As for why Andy behaved so strangely during the cliffhanger at the end of season four, try not to think about it so hard; some might say the writers didn't. :)

What was Greg doing in the mirror in "Seminal Thinking"?

One of the most fiercely-debated moments on the show in fandom history was a scene towards the end of "Seminal Thinking," the next-to-last episode of the fifth season. As you may remember, a subplot of the show involved Medavoy impressing everyone with his skillful bluffs in interrogation of a perverted murderer. After receiving kudos from everyone in the squad and the mention of a possible commendation from Lt. Fancy, Greg went into the locker room and started studying himself in the mirror. He also started doing some sort of odd gesture with his sleeve, which was interpreted by Internet fans as either A)Pinching himself to see if this was all real; B)Imagining what his uniform sleeve would look like with the commendation; or C)Touching himself to see if he was hot (James had joked earlier that he was afraid to touch Greg, because he was so hot in interrogation).

The official answer is A), according to Gordon Clapp, who ought to know -- he plays Medavoy. He also admits that they did a number of takes of that scene, and that the one used in the episode was not the most clear.

Shouldn't The Job have frowned on Bobby and Diane's marriage?
What about all the current squad romances?

While romantic relationships between cops who work in the same precinct are taboo, the show has always danced back and forth over that official line. Lesniak, for instance, was transferred into the One-Five after an intersquad romance went sour, but it was always implied that Fancy knew about Bobby and Diane's relationship but chose not to do anything about it. The first time the show directly addressed the question of what Fancy did and didn't know, ironically, was in the first episode after Bobby's death, when Danny Sorenson asked Fancy why Bobby and Diane were allowed to work together; "The Job was never officially notified," was Fancy's simple response.

When Andy started openly dating Connie at the same time John was openly dating Rita, the writers apparently decided that good bosses like Fancy and Rodriguez only enforce that particular rule when it starts stirring up trouble with the job. You could look at Lesniak's transfer, for instance, as the result not of her relationship with a squadmate, but the ugly breakup of it. So long as Andy and Connie didn't start having arguments in front of the fishtank or compromising their work in the field, Rodriguez let it slide.

But that kind of latitude is an unofficial thing. Late in the 10th season, Andy and Connie investigated the possibility of getting married and staying in the same squad and realized they would have to keep the marriage a secret or face at least one transfer.

This, of course, means that you have to ignore the many incidents where Bobby blatantly acted overprotective about Diane in front of Fancy, but these are the kinds of sacrifices that have to be made while doing a combined police/romance show.

Speaking of Bobby and Diane's marriage...

What were Bobby and Diane's wedding vows?

Click here for a copy of the vows Bobby and Diane recited during their civil ceremony.

Where'd Martinez go for most of the fifth season?

Nick Turturro was given an offer he couldn't refuse to join the mob, when NBC cast him as noted mob snitch Sammy "The Bull" Gravano in a miniseries. To play the part, he had to take a considerable amount of time off from NYPD Blue, but since not much had been done with his character before the sabbatical, he -- and we -- probably didn't miss out on much. Martinez's temporary absence on the show was explained by having him throw out his back.

What are those pins everyone's been wearing on their lapels?

At the start of the sixth season, all the regulars began wearing identical pins on their lapel. One intrepid fan called up Blue producer (and former NYPD detective) Bill Clark, who explained that they're "DB" (for "Detective Bureau") pins, given out by the Chief of Detectives.

Why do the detectives sometimes wear their shields upside down?

Some eagle-eyed viewers have noted that certain scenes feature our heroes wearing their shields upside down, which would seem to be in direct contradiction to the uniform code. Once again, we go straight to Bill Clark for the answer. According to Bill, the shields are only upside-down during outdoor cold weather scenes. The badgeholder is designed to fit into a suit jacket or shirt-pocket lapel so that it appears right side up, but with an overcoat it's trickier. Instead, you have to clip it onto the outside of the coat, and the clip, for whatever reason, is designed in such a way that the shield hangs upside down. No disrespect intended; that's the way they're made.

How could Martinez and Sipowicz get "promoted" to sergeant? Don't detectives outrank sergeants?

Actually, Sergeants outrank Detectives in the NYPD hierarchy, which is how Sgt. Dornan could get demoted to Detective in the sixth season. Here's how it works: everyone starts out as a uniformed Officer. Cops get to be Detectives through appointments, either for good work or because a particular boss takes a liking to them. Both uniform cops and plainclothes cops can take the Sergeant's exam, which is a straight written exam; each time the exam is given, the department decides that a certain percentage of the testees will be promoted (when James took it, his score was 67th on the list, and the department was promoting the people with the top 100 scores). As a sergeant, James goes back in uniform, but he works regular hours, makes more money and outranks his old pals (except for Fancy).

One side note to the question of rank: while Sergeants technically outrank Detectives, a Detective First-Grade has a bigger salary than a Sergeant. It's unclear whether Andy's paycheck went down after his promotion.

What's the deal with Danny and those paperclips?

During Rick Schroder's first few episodes on the show, the writers introduced the idea that when Danny gets emotionally "stirred up," he deals with it in part by grabbing office supplies -- usually paperclips -- and sticking them in his shirt pocket. And on one occasion, after getting a particular problem off his chest, we actually saw him take the clips out of his pocket and put them back in their caddy on his desk. At least one therapist who watches the show says this means that Danny had Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is a more mild version of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

What happened to Bobby and Diane's baby?

The baby that Bobby and Diane conceived during season five's "It Takes a Village" didn't last long; Diane miscarried eight episodes later, in "Weaver of Hate." What sometimes confuses people is the scene at the end of Bobby's farewell episode, where the "ghost" of Patsy Ferrare offered to let Bobby see his son, which was followed by Bobby's fantasy image holding the hand of a small but not infant boy. All that dream imagery could get complicated, especially since we didn't even know if Patsy had died since the last time we saw him, but the implication seemed to be that the baby that Diane had miscarried was living on -- and growing up -- in Heaven, where Bobby was headed.

Why do they call Lt. Fancy "Lou"? I thought his name was Arthur.

"Lou" isn't a nickname; it's cop shorthand for "Lieutenant."


4. The Actors

Why did Charlotte Ross leave the show?

Between Charlotte Ross' desire to stay home with her own new baby, the lower budget for this season and some other professional issues between Charlotte and the rest of the cast and crew, she won't be coming back at any point. So Connie is home with the kids, or out of the room when we see Andy at home with Theo. They're still married; we just don't see her anymore.

Why did Esai Morales leave the show?

Like James McDaniel before him, Esai eventually grew frustrated with the limitations of playing the boss on a show about detectives and asked out of his contract.

"My management and I decided, if I'm going to be off the market for features and other shows, I should have a more substantial part," he said. "I'm going to be off the market, let me make some Dennis Franz money or get that kind of screen time."

Why did Kim Delaney leave the show?

When Kim Delaney left NYPD Blue after the eighth season to star in Philly -- a series specifically created for her by Steven Bochco, who felt that Blue couldn't showcase her talents enough -- it was with the agreement that Kim could return to Blue if the new show was canceled quickly.

It later turned out that Kim's contract defined "quickly" as "in 13 episodes or less." Since Philly essentially ran for a full season, Bochco was no longer bound by that agreement. According to Bochco, he realized that Diane no longer fit in with the other characters and decided not to bring Kim back, at which point she took a job as David Caruso's partner on CSI: Miami. According to Kim, the CSI offer came very shortly after Philly was canceled, and that she didn't have a chance to discuss a Blue return with Bochco.

Kim was essentially fired from CSI: Miami after only ten episodes, and she returned to Blue for an episode near the end of the 10th season. The guest appearance was originally planned as a one-shot deal, but it was so well-received that she returned for a four-episode arc early in the 11th season.

Why did Jimmy Smits leave the show?

Smits came in as a last-minute replacement for David Caruso, and signed a four-year contract in doing so. When the end of that contract was nearing, he decided it was "time to move on." He remained mum on what exactly that meant for several years, but finally confessed that he had problems adjusting to the improvisatory work habits of writer/co-creator David Milch, who would sometimes turn in script pages only minutes before the scene in question was to be shot Jimmy graciously stuck around for five more episodes the following year so Milch could give him an on-screen exit. Jimmy's currently working on a few movies, and has a deal to do another series at ABC in the not-too-distant future.

Why did David Caruso leave the show?

Caruso asked for a major-league raise in pay for the second season, asking for $100,000 an episode (as opposed to the $20,000 per episode he was paid in the first season). The producers refused to go higher than $80,000 for fear of upsetting the rest of the cast, and eventually, a compromise was worked out: Caruso would appear in the first four episodes of the second season to allow the writers to give John Kelly a graceful exit, at which point he would be freed from his contract to do films.

Caruso's decision was not a particularly wise one, at least at first. His first film as a leading man, Kiss of Death, received good reviews for his performance, but did lousy at the box office. His second film, Jade, didn't even get the good reviews. Add that to his reportedly difficult behavior, and he quickly found the well of leading roles dry. He was offered a role on a new legal drama in development for CBS, but had to plead with Steven Bochco to let him out of the agreement he signed when he quit Blue which said he couldn't work in television until his original contract ran out. That show, Michael Hayes, was canceled by CBS after only one season.

On the plus side for Caruso, his mostly humble behavior on and off the set of the show went a long way towards rehabilitating his image within the industry, and recent conciliatory comments from both Caruso and Milch suggest the two men might work together again someday. And Caruso's second comeback vehicle, CSI: Miami, is one of the biggest hits on television.

As for the comments from certain fans that they'd like to see Caruso come back, it was never, ever, going to happen for two reasons: 1) Storywise, Kelly quit the force in disgrace and would not be allowed to simply return at his former rank and position; and more importantly, 2) Bochco has said, over and over and over again, that he would never bring Caruso back under any circumstances.

Why did Sherry Stringfield leave the show?

According to a section of True Blue, Milch's book about the early seasons of the show, the writers quickly ran out of room for the character of Laura Kelly, especially once they realized the chemistry between Dennis Franz and Sharon Lawrence and began writing more scenes for Sylvia Costas.

Sherry was a good sport about it, and went to Bochco and Milch with the suggestion that letting her out of her contract might be the best for everyone. They did so, and Sherry got a job as Dr. Susan Lewis on NBC's mega-hit ER.

Sherry left Blue because she didn't have enough to do; two and a half years later, she would leave ER because she had too much to do, and wanted to settle down and have a normal life again -- only to decide that wasn't for her, either, at which point she re-upped with ER.

Why did Amy Brenneman leave the show?

A quote from an interview with Amy in the December, 1995 issue of GQ:

"I'd like to say I planned [to quit], but I was fired. My character demanded so much attention, and without David Caruso what was I? They tried putting Janice behind a desk. But she's a mobchick. So they wrote me off the show."

However, since then she's found success in her old timeslot, as the star of CBS' Judging Amy.

Why did Gail O'Grady leave the show? What's with all the PAAs since?

There's not a lot you can write about the squad secretary, and once Greg and Donna broke up, Gail's role on the show shrank so much that sometimes weeks would go by without her saying anything. Fox offered her own sitcom -- she made a pilot, but it didn't get picked up -- and she decided it was time to move on. She's been working in movies lately, and even returned to Blue for a brief cameo in the sixth season episode "Mister Roberts." She's part of the ensemble for NBC's family drama American Dreams.

While some thought was given to bringing back Bill Brochtrup to reprise his "Upstairs John" character (Brochtrup having filled in while O'Grady was filming a TV-movie in season two), Milch wanted to try out a variety of characters in that setting. Meanwhile, Bochco first put Brochtrup on his short-lived Public Morals sitcom, then his slightly-less short-lived Total Security drama. In the interim, a string of actresses sat in the PAA chair -- most of them coming to bad endings -- and Brochtrup came back for good.

Why did Sharon Lawrence keep leaving the show?

The death of Sylvia in a courtroom shooting at the end of the sixth season actually marked Sharon Lawrence's third exit from the show, though this one should be permanent. Never satisfied by the size of her role -- and very vocal about it, to both producers and reporters -- Sharon left after the fourth season to star in a sitcom on NBC. She had agreed to return to Blue whenever needed as a condition of getting out of her contract, but she was actually only available once during the time when "Fired Up" was on the air. When NBC canceled it, Sharon returned to Blue on a semi-regular basis from the middle of season five through the middle of season six. But she was still displeased about the quantity and quality of her storylines, and decided she'd had enough, making a point to show up at a reception ABC was holding for reporters to get the word out that she wouldn't return without significantly better material. Eventually, Sharon and the producers reached enough of an accord to bring her back for a two-episode stint at the end of the sixth season so Sylvia could be written out for good. Sharon has since landed supporting roles on Ladies Man, a CBS sitcom, and Wolf Lake, a CBS drama.

Why did Nicholas Turturro leave the show?

Though he was one of only three castmembers who'd been with the show from the beginning (Dennis Franz and James McDaniel are the other two), Nick really hadn't been given a whole lot to do since David Caruso -- who played Martinez's mentor John Kelly -- left at the start of season two. He's tried to develop several sitcoms, without much luck getting them on the air.

Why did Justine Miceli leave the show? What happened to Lesniak?

No one has said anything publicly, but it's not hard to extrapolate that Justine wasn't happy with the mess that was made of her character in the third season. Some rumors have floated that she was difficult to work with; others claim the producers just wanted to rid themselves of a character they'd written into a corner. Whatever the truth may be, Lesniak's departure remains equally mysterious, with no on-screen mention of her departure (and only one overall reference in the years since, to her feigned lesbianism). As Justine Miceli puts it, "I went out for coffee one day and never came back!"

As for Justine herself, she's been working as a TV guest star since, most notably as George's girlfriend in the backwards-moving episode of Seinfeld. She's also done a number of commercials, including one for shampoo, and another for nicotine gum.

Why did Andrea Thompson leave the show?

Andrea quit in part because she was couldn't take the stress of the last-minute pace of the show, as well as the amount of time it kept her away from her family. But the main reason she's gone is because, at 40, she wanted out of the acting business to pursue a career in TV journalism. After a one-year stint as a reporter for a local station in New Mexico, she had a controversial, widely-panned stint as an anchorwoman for CNN's Headline News, which she left after seven months. She's now working for Court TV.

Why did James McDaniel leave the show?

After seven seasons of sitting in Lt. Fancy's office feeling frustrated over the size of his role, James McDaniel decided it was time to go. The producers, eager to add as many new faces as possible to their aging show, agreed to let McDaniel leave midway through season eight, replacing him with Esai Morales as the new squad boss.

Why did Rick Schroder leave the show?

After nearly three seasons on the show, Rick declared that he wasn't happy spending so much time in Los Angeles away from his wife and kids and the family ranch. Bochco agreed to let Rick out of his contract.

This was true to a point, but only half the story. As Rick recently revealed, his wife had a late-term miscarriage during his third season on the show, and he decided he needed to be home for a while to help her get over the trauma.

Isn't Gordon Clapp an original castmember?

Technically, no. In every other way, yes. Medavoy didn't appear until the third episode, which makes Dennis Franz the only original castmember to make it all the way through from the pilot to the finale. But 12 years later, I'm thinking those first two episodes shouldn't be held against Gordon. So I'm changing my answer to yes.

What happened to John O'Donohue, Garcelle Beauvais and Jessalyn Gilsig?

Going into the final season, the producers had a mandate to both trim the budget and freshen up the show. All three were dropped (Jessalyn after only appearing in six episodes) because the writers felt the characters (Eddie Gibson, Valerie Haywood and Kelly Ronson, respectively) weren't really clicking.

What films/TV series has XXXX been in?

There used to be a list of credits for the cast, but that became unwieldy. If you're reading the HTML version of this FAQ, simply scroll to the character biography section and click on the names of the actors to get to their bios on the Internet Movie Database.

Who played XXXX in episode YYYY? Didn't I see XXXX in episode ZZZZ, too?

Please refer to the episode guide for full cast listings for each episode. You will also notice, while you're checking the episode guide, that some actors keep turning up in various roles. That's because the casting people at Bochco Productions have certain personal favorites, who they like to bring back from time to time, hoping that the year or two that's passed since their last role will mean most fans won't notice the recycling.

If you don't like this practice, bear in mind that without it, Dennis Franz never would've played Norm Buntz on Hill Street Blues (he'd played another character several years before), and therefore likely never would have been cast as Sipowicz. Ditto Charlotte Ross as Connie, since she played a cop's wife a few seasons earlier.

Who is Nicholas Turturro related to?

His brother is John Turturro. John co-starred with John Goodman in Barton Fink, and has appeared in many other films, including his recent turn as Herb Stempel in Quiz Show. John and Nick appeared together in Spike Lee's Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever, as well as Men of Respect, the TV movie Monday Night Mayhem and the John Turturro-directed Mac.

Their cousin Aida also acts, and is currently playing Janice Soprano on HBO's The Sopranos. She and Nicholas both appeared in 1994's independent film Men Lie.

Which actors have appeared nude on the show?

A better question might be, which haven't? Here's the rundown of regulars and semi-regulars who have appeared in the buff at least once: David Caruso, Sherry Stringfield, Amy Brenneman, Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, Sharon Lawrence, Gail O'Grady, Kim Delaney, Justine Miceli, Andrea Thompson, Rick Schroder, Henry Simmons, Jacqueline Obradors, Charlotte Ross and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. James McDaniel, Nicholas Turturro, Gordon Clapp and Garcelle Beauvais have all appeared topless or in very revealing underwear, making Bill Brochtrup the only longtime regular to always appear fully-clothed. (Clapp actually shot a full nude scene, but it got cut in the wake of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl.) Guest stars who have appeared naked include Debrah Farentino, Melina Kanakeredes, Sheeri Rappaport, Chandra West and John Wesley Shipp.

Are Kim Delaney and Dana Delany related?

Well, the fact that their last names are spelled differently ought to be all the answer you need. No, they are not related, though people occasionally confuse the two because of the similar last name and the fact that both appeared on TV shows about Vietnam at roughly the same time (Kim on Tour of Duty and Dana on China Beach).

Did Ross from Friends used to be on NYPD Blue?

Sort of. David Schwimmer, who plays the neurotic Ross, appeared on the first four episodes of NYPD Blue's first season as Josh "4B" Goldstein, a lawyer with a crush on Laura Kelly who attempted to become a vigilante after he was mugged in his building's laundry room. 4B was shot and killed while attempting to break up a mugging on the subway.


5. Blue on the Internet

Is there a WWW site?

There are several. Alan maintains the one where this FAQ was born.

In addition to the FAQ, it also contains links to all the other websites, plus the episode guide, as well as summaries and/or reviews of nearly every episode since the first season, some written by me, some written by Amanda Wilson.

For a list of others, click here.

Now that the show's over, what happens to your website?

Absolutely nothing, both positively and negatively. The site is not going anywhere, but odds are that it won't be updated again, with one exception: if there is ever any news about future DVD sets, I'll post it here.

Beyond that, there really won't be anything else to do. (I suppose if the rerun schedule on TNT and Court TV changes, I could probably be motivated to change that in the FAQ), but beyond that, that's all, folks. I've devoted 11 years to this website, and I'm a bit tired. The show is over, and while a few sections of this website are still uncomplete -- the season one reviews, biographies of a few of the later actors and characters -- I feel comfortable leaving things be.

So can I still e-mail you?

Sure. If you have a question that isn't here or in the long version of the FAQ, or if you just want to send along a comment, feel free. If I know the answer and/or have the time and energy, I'll write back.

Will you or Amanda be reviewing other shows?

Sorry, but no. Our lives are both much busier than they were when we each began this job, and the last few years, we've been barely able to squeeze in some reviewing time out of loyalty and a desire to finish what we started. In an ideal world, Amanda would move on to reviewing "Deadwood" and I'd be writing up "The Wire" (or vice versa), but jobs and families have to take precedence now.

Why did you and Amanda do this in the first place?

Long story short: we really loved the show and wanted to write about it. Long story longer: I wrote about the origin of the website and these reviews in my review of the final season premiere. Amanda wrote something similar in her review of the series finale.

What is the name of the NYPD Blue newsgroup?

It is called alt.tv.nypd-blue and was created on Feb. 9, 1994. Note however, that many sites don't carry the full range of alt.* newsgroups, so you may be unlucky and not be able to receive it. If you can't access it, you could try politely asking the person in charge of news at your site to try and get it. If that doesn't work, you can also access discussion by going to groups.google.com

There is also a small amount of NYPD Blue discussion on rec.arts.tv.

Is there a mailing list?

There is now a mailing list devoted to NYPD Blue. You can subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to: nypd-blue-subscribe@makelist.com . You can unsubscribe by sending a blank e-mail to nypd-blue-unsubscribe@makelist.com. There is also an archive of every single post to the list since its inception.

Is there a drinking game?

Yes. With suggestions from a lot of people on alt.tv.nypd-blue and rec.arts.tv, Alan Sepinwall came up with the NYPD Blue Drinking Game, which is now up to the not-so-new version 3.1 To check it out and make contributions, try here.

Are there any scanned pictures?

Yes, mostly to be found at ABC's official site and at nypdblue.org

The latter website also features a gallery of screen captures from the first five seasons.

Help! I missed an episode and want to see the tape! What do I do?

Post a message to the newsgroup asking if someone has the tape and is willing to loan it to you. Shipping costs, even with Priority mail, is only $3 each way.

Please do not e-mail Alan or Amanda; while we all have nearly complete collections, we don't have the time to either loan out tapes or make copies of them. I will delete any requests without responding.


6. NYPD Blue vs. The Real NYPD

How realistic is the show?

The aforementioned Bill Clark, a retired NYPD detective, has served as a technical advisor since the start, making sure that Bochco & Co. get things right. (He's now an executive producer.) If you ever see Clark's name in the "Story by" credits of a given episode (a more or less regular occurrence these days), then one or more of the cases in that show are based on a real-life event.

While Clark is a real stickler for detail, he also understands the demands of TV storytelling, which is why the events on the show often seem time-compressed. Cases that are solved in the traditional two-day span of an episode often took weeks or months to play out in reality, even if all the incidents portrayed in the show happened in real life. (For example, the story about James getting shot in the third season premiere actually happened, with Clark in the Bobby role as the man who blew the whistle on the DA's deal with the shooter, but the whole thing took place over several months.)

How come nobody ever asks for a lawyer?

This one comes up a lot, though, ironically, it's Steven Bochco's own fault that viewers complain so much about it. On Hill Street Blues, every single suspect brought into the station was quickly rushed into the protection of noble public defender Joyce Davenport, leading all TV cop show fans to assume that all suspects automatically made use of their Miranda rights to counsel.

According to NYPD Blue producer and former real-life NYPD homicide detective Bill Clark (see above), in real life, suspects understand their rights, but often choose not to exercise them out of naive optimism. They figure that if they ask for a lawyer, they'll be stuck in the legal system (and therefore in lock-up) for at least 48 hours, and if they weren't being looked at hard as a suspect before, the cops are really going to bear down on them now. If, on the other hand, they try to speak for themselves, they figure maybe they can come up with some kind of plausible excuse/alibi and get away scot free.

Whether Clark is exaggerating the truth a bit in order to make the show seem more plausible is unknown, but that's their story and they're sticking to it.

Where is the 15th Precinct?

NYPD Blue is set (of course) in New York City, New York, U.S.A. The detectives work in the (fictional) 15th precinct, which covers an area larger than your average real NYPD precinct, including parts of Chinatown, Little Italy, the East Village and Alphabet City (for the non-New Yorkers, all these neighborhoods are on the lower east side of Manhattan).

The NYPD stationhouse exterior for the 15th Precinct is really the 9th Precinct house at 321 East 5th St. between 1st & 2nd Ave., which is the same one that was used on the 70s cop series Kojak and was a real precinct house in New York City. The 9th Precinct was recently moved to a location further east, and the familiar building went empty for a few years before the city finally demolished it.

Why does Andy still carry a .38 pistol?

While most cops in the NYPD, as well as every other major American law-enforcement agency, have shifted over to more modern semi-automatic weapons that fire more shots, with greater range and accuracy, Andy still clings to his old-fashioned police special. That's because the NYPD has a grandfather clause allowing veteran cops to continue using the older, smaller weapon if they so choose. I don't know how many real-life cops actually choose to take advantage of that, but for the show, the use of the .38 special is one of many signifiers that Sipowicz is an old-school cop in almost every way.

What the heck does "skel" mean? How about "PAA"?

The show features a lot of police slang and terminology that may be confusing to the average citizen. So, to make your viewing experience easier and more informative, here's a brief glossary of police slang. Some of it was compiled by me, but the bulk of it (everything from "Boss" on) comes from the book NYPD: On the streets with the New York City Police Department's Emergency Services Unit, by Samuel L. Katz. (ISBN 0-7603-0186-7, Motorbooks International, Osceola, Wisconsin. $19.95) NOTE: Some of these terms haven't showed up yet on the show, but I'm including them in case they do.

Skel: 1. Short-hand for "skeleton"; i.e., what most drug-users wind up looking like. A derogatory term used to describe low-life junkies. Also refers to homeless vagrants. 2. From the book The City in Slang, New York Life and Popular Speech, by Irving Lewis Allen (1993): The New York police today call the most vagrant of the male homeless skels. William Safire informs us that "it is a shortening of skellum meaning a rascal or thief, akin to a skelder, 'to beg on the streets,' first us ed in print by Ben Jonson in 1599, just after the playwright got out of jail for killing a man in a duel; it is possible he picked up the word from cellmate's argot." The word popped up about 1935 in the short form skell, suggesting that skellum/skell had underground oral use for centuries. Skell is now in popular speech to denote the homeless that are so visible throughout the city.

PAA: Principal Administrative Assistant; also Police Administrative Assistant

IAB: Internal Affairs Bureau, the branch of the police that investigates other cops

DOA: Traditionally means "dead on arrival"; here it's used to refer to just about any dead person, murdered or otherwise

BCI: Bureau of Criminal Information; the place where fingerprints are checked against criminal records.

Hump: 1. Your ass; "He's gotta bust my hump over this petty crap?"; 2. A moron; "That stupid hump scratched my car!"

Juice: Influence; i.e., veteran cops like Sipowicz and Simone have lots of juice at other precincts when their friends get in trouble

Reaching Out: Can mean anything from just contacting someone to trying to convince them to help the cops to seeing if they need help

Radio Car: Stemming from RMP (Radio Mobile Patrol) and a derivation from the term: "sector car." The word radio car was founded in the 60's when NYC and Metro NJ Police departments welcomed Motorola Two-way Radios inside the police car. RMP is the "official" term used to name a police car, while most patrolman affectionately nicknamed the cars: radio cars.

Lawyering Up: A suspect's decision to stop answering questions and ask for legal counsel.

The House: Shorthand term for the stationhouse

Up/Catching: Baseball metaphors used to describe the system by which cases are assigned; e.g., Simone caught that murder in Chinatown because he was up

Riding DA: The Assistant District Attorney assigned to a particular precinct; Sylvia is usually the Riding DA at the 15, but her pregnancy has caused her to cut back on her work, and ADA Cohen has filled in on occasion.

Boss: Term for senior officers, from lieutenant (in certain units) to captain, deputy inspector, inspector and commissioner.

Bus: ambulance

CCRB: Civilian Complaint Review Board

Central: Central Dispatch

CSU: Crime Scene Unit

Dee Wee: Phonetic for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).

DT: Street slang for a Detective.

EDP: Emotionally Disturbed Person, the politically-correct way to what was once referred as a "psycho".

EMS: Emergency Medical Services, which technicians, often overworked, underpaid and unappreciated sometimes dub "Every Minute Sucks".

ESU: Emergency Services Unit; the NYPD SWAT team.

FAT: NYPD's Fugitive Apprehension Team.

Five-O: Street slang for police (obviously influenced by a now-defunct TV cop show).

Flying; to fly: Leaving the confines of one's usual precinct in order to fill in for a shortage of manpower in another precinct or location.

Go down, to: Getting arrested.

Good people: All-purpose NYPD compliment meaning 'kosher', nice, reliable, etc., irrespective of race, religion or sexual orientation.

Gun run: Search for a weapon reported sighted in the hands of a "perp".

Hit: Tactical assault on a criminal location.

Job: Service in the NYPD, as in "I've been on the job five years."

Lou, Loo, Lieu: Affectionate slang for 'lieutenant'

MOS: Member of the Service (police officer); used on the radio.

Mope: Unauthorized term for "perp".

Mutt: Unauthorized term for "perp".

OC: Organized Crime

One PP: One Police Plaza, NYPD Headquarters in downtown Manhattan.

Open carrier: Police officer or vehicle with an open radio. -

Package: Escorted prisoner or VIP.

Paying the rent: For police officers, the handing out of a certain number of traffic summonses and moving violations.

Perp: Perpetrator, criminal

Puzzle Palace: Police Officer's term for One Police Plaza.

Rabbi: An individual's guide and guardian angel in the department.

Rat squad: Officers and detectives assigned to Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).

Red Menace: Unofficial term for members of the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY), also known as "Rubbermen", a term of affection and respect for those members.

Rip: Loss in pay due to a disciplinary infraction, such as unauthorized moonlighting.

RMP: Radio Mobile Patrol, the NYPD Blue and white 'sector' car

Sector: Subdivision within a precinct, which covers several blocks. A sector car is assigned to patrol the area (see RMP above).

SNAG: Special Narcotics and Guns Unit.

SNEU: Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit.

SOD: Special Operations Division.

Squad: Short for 'detective squad', attached to the specific precinct.

TARU: Technical Assistance and Response Unit

Tunnel Rats: NYPD Transit Bureau (the subway cops).

White Shirts: Term for lieutenants and above, who wear white uniform shirts.


7. Stuff to Buy

Are there any books about the show?

There have been three books written about Blue -- one non-fiction, two fiction.

True Blue: the Real Stories Behind NYPD Blue is a non-fiction book written by NYPD Blue co-creator David Milch. He shares author's credit with Bill Clark, a former NYPD detective who now serves as an executive producer on the show. The book essentially tells two different stories: 1)The history of the show, including the initial controversy over the nudity and language, the difficulty of working with David Caruso, etc., and 2)Bill Clark's career as a detective, including lengthy descriptions (told in his voice) about the cases he worked, most of which were turned into plotlines on NYPD Blue.

It's a good read if you're a true crime fan or a fan of the show, though it helps to be both.

The ISBN number for the softcover edition, which contains extra material not found in the original hardcover (including Bill Clark's thoughts on the O.J. Simpson case, plus Milch's thoughts on the death of Andy Jr. arc), is 0-380-72505-3.

NYPD Blue: Blue Beginning, on the other hand, is a novel by noted mystery author Max Allan Collins. A prequel to the series, it essentially functions as "the episode before the first episode," following Kelly and Sipowicz around in the weeks before the first episode of the series took place. It also features Laura in a far more prominent role than any episode of the show ever did, and has brief appearances by Fancy, Martinez, and Medavoy.

It's very entertaining -- Collins has the characters down pat, so much so that you'll be able to hear Dennis Franz's voice every time Sipowicz utters one of his pithy comebacks. But, let the buyer beware: the book assumes the reader is familiar with the events of the early episodes of the first season, and doesn't end with much closure, so if you don't know the final fate of Angelo Marino, Alphonse Giardello, John & Laura's marriage, etc., you'll probably feel rather disappointed until you see those episodes.

The ISBN number for Blue Beginning is 0-451-18391-6

Collins second Blue novel, Blue Blood; was published in September of 1997. It was originally going to feature Simone and Kelly meeting, but is now a solely Andy and Bobby affair, set shortly after Andy's wedding.

The ISBN for Blue Blood (according to amazon.com) is 0-451-18392-4.

Sales on both Collins novels were poor, and there are no current plans to produce more.

Is there a soundtrack CD?

Yes. The CD is entitled Inventions from the Blue Line, it's by Mike Post and is published by American Gramaphone, 9130 Mormon Bridge Road, Omaha, NE 68152. The catalog number is AGCD 450 for the CD, and AGC 450 for the cassette.

It contains the NYPD Blue theme, 5 other NYPD Blue tracks and 4 other Mike Post themes -- Law & Order, Silk Stalkings, Renegade and Cop Files.

In the US it should be available at any large record store. It has probably now got a UK distributor as it has been spotted for sale in various large stores in London without an "Import" sticker on it.

Any large record shop anywhere in the world (or on the Web) should be able to order it for you from the US if you give them the above information.

What about other merchandise?

Websites to search for NYPD Blue-related merchandise include: emerchandise.com.

Can I buy copies of the show on tape or DVD?

I always used to say that Blue isn't the type of show to get an elaborate home video release, that it doesn't have the kind of rabid fanbase (ala Star Trek or The Simpsons) that would buy tape after tape after tape.

But the DVD revolution has changed what kinds of shows get collected, with the success of more mainstream series on DVD like The Sopranos and Friends. In keeping with that trend, 20th Century Fox's home video division released the first season of NYPD Blue as a DVD set in March of 2003. A second season set came out in August of the same year, and then after a long delay, the third season came out in February of 06.

The first two sets are well-packed with extra features, including one commentary on every disc, featurettes and script-to-screen comparisons and have a list price of about 60 dollars, though you can order both for much cheaper if you comparison shop at various web-based DVD retailers.

The first season set features commentaries by co-creator David Milch on "True Confessions," director Bradley Silberling on "Personal Foul" and "Oscar, Meyer, Wiener," actress Sharon Lawrence on "Steroid Roy," technical advisor/producer Bill Clark on "Black Men Can Jump" and director Michael Robin on "Guns 'N Rosaries." There's also a one-hour featurette about the making of the first season, plus shorter ones about the romantic storylines and the cast, and several script-to-screen comparisons.

For the season two set, longtime director/producer Mark Tinker comments on "Cop Suey," his first episode on the show and one of Caruso's last. Milch handles Smits' introduction with "Simone Says." Robin comments on "Vishy-Vashy-Vinny," one of the episodes with the Webster serial killer. Technical Clark discusses "Bombs Away" and "Boxer Rebellion," while Tinker returns for the final disc to examine the season finale, "ADA Sipowicz."

That last disc also includes an hour-long featurette on the changes to the show in year two, plus two short ones on the wedding of Andy and Sylvia and the music of composer Mike Post. There will also be three script-to-screen comparisons, all showing Simone fitting in at his new assignment.

Season three was delayed for so long because the first two sets didn't sell well, and Fox was unsure whether to bother continuing the series at all. The resulting collection was clearly done with a lower budget: dual-sided discs, only two commentaries and three short documentaries. But it's the best or second best season the show ever did, depending on your feelings about Caruso; if there was a season that could stand up without extras, it's this one.

A fourth season set is already in the works and could come out as early as this May or June, but if 3 and 4 don't sell well, that could be the ballgame, so vote with your wallet.


8. Behind the Scenes

What is "Milch-speak"?

Over the years, NYPD Blue co-creator David Milch developed an idiosyncratic dialogue style for the show, which eventually came to be known as "Milch-speak." Originally employed only by Sipowicz and Medavoy, Milch-speak eventually came into use by every character on the show: cops, crooks, lawyers, victims, and pretty much everyone short of little Theo Sipowicz.

Milch, like his good friend playwright David Mamet, firmly believes in the power of sentence construction. He feels a line like "Did the Russians mention anything about a girl getting whacked at their club last night?" isn't half as evocative as "They mention anything about a girl getting whacked at their club last night, the Russians?" He loves cop lingo, and would rather have a character say that someone "came in lawyered up" instead of "came in with his lawyer."

For the first seven seasons of the show, Milch either wrote or rewrote nearly every line of dialogue in every episode. While the names on the scripts changed from week to week, the only writer whose names really mattered were Milch and Bill Clark, who helped him cook up story ideas each week. After one of the staffers put together a few early drafts, Milch would rewrite -- often extensively, sometimes completely -- the script until it satisfied him. Sometimes, that satisfaction took a while to come. He's been known to often give actors their lines moments before a scene was being filmed and, on at least one occasion, "wrote" an entire episode without actually putting any of the script down on paper. (The seventh season finale.)

For seven years, many observers were convinced that Milch was the show. Sipowicz, originally based on certain aspects of Milch's father, eventually become an alter ego for Milch himself, and some writers from the show, past and present, said Milch was the only one who knew how to write for Andy.

But Milch's desire to succeed away from the shadow of Steven Bochco led him to leave the show after season seven and create the CBS drama Big Apple. In the meantime, Bochco and the writing staff have had to find their own voice on the show, and that voice usually doesn't use Milch-speak. To the relief of many, the characters began talking in plain, easily-understood English once Milch left.

Was the show filmed in NY or LA?

The bulk of the filming was done in Los Angeles, but in the early years, the cast and crew flew out to the Big Apple a few times a season to shoot some exterior shots. As time went on, the trip was cut down to once a year, and in the final season, no trip was made.

While the exterior of the 15th stationhouse was actually a real building, a mock-up of it was built in LA. For many years, virtually all the exterior scenes were either filmed during the aforementioned New York trip or on the studio backlot. The last few seasons saw the producers trying to cheat a little by filming on the streets of Los Angeles, keeping the camera tight enough to hide the palm trees and smog.

Because the New York trip took place in August when only a handful of scripts have been written, generally any exterior scene in an episode past the first five or six was either shot at the studio or in LA.

Do the cast and crew know about us?

Some do, and some don't. Alan and Amanda have both visited the set of the show several times, and some actors have more familiarity with the Internet than others (Gordon Clapp is apparently the biggest net-surfer among the cast). Several of the show's writers and producers (though not Steven Bochco or David Milch) scan the net from time to time to get audience feedback.

David Mills, a former writer on the show ("The Backboard Jungle", "Twilight's Last Gleaming") has delurked on occasion and Paris Barclay, a former director/producer on the show, has also delurked.

I really love XX and I want to send him/her a letter! What's the address?

With the show over and done with, I don't know. I suppose you could keep writing to Bochco Productions and hope someone will forward your message along, but I have no way of knowing whether that'll happen. Anyway, that address is:

Cast Member's Name
c/o Steven Bochco Productions
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035.


9. Miscellaneous Questions

Where can I find reruns of the show?

The cable channels Court TV and TNT will be sharing the NYPD rerun rights for the foreseeable future.

Both channels recently shuffled their schedules, so here are the new timeslots for the repeats: Court TV airs the show from Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m. and airs back to back episodes at noon on Saturdays and Sundays. TNT, meanwhile, airs the show at 2 p.m. on all weekdays, in addition to a latenight bloc of shows that airs every Monday (technically early Tuesday morning) from midnight to 5 a.m.

When will new episodes air in my country?

Unfortunately, the only information I have about scheduling is for here in the United States.

Why is the camera always shaking?

A lot of the show is shot with handheld cameras in an attempt to simulate a detective's point of view and to give episodes a cinema verite feel. Some people love it and some hate it, but it's a long-established element of the show's visual style, and it ain't gonna change.

Where do you get the episode titles?

Every episodic television script has its own title, but only a few shows actually show those titles on-screen (ER, to name just one). However, there are a number of other sources for fans who want to know what each episode is called.

Some newspapers do print the episode titles in their TV listings, but a more reliable source is going on-line, either to ABC's official site or any of the numerous WWW TV listing sites (like, for instance, gist.com). Also, the NYPD Blue episode guide, at epguides.com has the titles of every single episode.

What's the violin music playing at the end of every episode?

It's an excerpt from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, and it's being played by Steven Bochco's father Rudolph.


Alan Sepinwall sepinwal@stwing.org

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