The NYPD Blue Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) List, Short
By Alan Sepinwall
Last modified February 21, 2006
There are a lot of frequently asked questions about "NYPD Blue," but if
you're in a hurry, these are the ones that get asked the most. To learn
lots more about the show, try the full version of the FAQ, which can be
found at http://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~sepinwal/faq.html
Now that the show's over, what happens to the 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.
What about the actors' next projects?
At the moment I'm writing this, a couple of them have things lined up
(Gordon Clapp is doing a "Glengarry Glen Ross" revival on Broadway,
Mark-Paul Gosselaar is doing a pilot for Fox), but I don't have time to
keep track of everyone's extracurricular projects now. If you want to know
what someone's up to, go to IMDb.
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.
(NOTE: Amanda has since e-mailed me to say that she could be talked
into reviewing another show -- again, "Deadwood" is her fave -- but it'd
have to be a paying gig at this point in her life.)
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
Help!!!! I missed the finale! How can I get a tape? Will
ABC rerun it?
Try asking on the alt.tv.nypd-blue newsgroup. If you can't access Usenet
directly, you can go to it via Google.
I've made it a policy for years not to respond to request for tapes, as
has Amanda, so please don't e-mail us about this.
As of now, there are no plans for any Blue episodes to ever air
again on ABC, though there's a slim chance some could turn up on the
schedule. So you may have to wait till fall to catch it on TNT or Court
Will there be more DVD sets?
Well, the third season finally came out on Feb. 21, 2006, more than two
years after season two hit stores, and a fourth one is in the works, and
could come out as early as May or June. Season three was done on a lower
(dual-sided discs, fewer commentaries), but if that's the compromise
required to keep the series going on DVD -- and this one needs to sell
better than the others for that to happen -- than we have to go with that.
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.
Where can I find cable reruns of the show?
The cable channels Court TV and TNT will be sharing the "NYPD" rerun
rights for the forseeable 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.
What's the address for fan mail?
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
Cast Member's Name (or Producer/Writer/Gaffer/Best Boy's name, if you
c/o Steven Bochco Productions
10201 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
What the heck does "skell" mean?
"NYPD Blue" makes use of a lot of official and unofficial cop lingo.
There's a semi-complete dictionary as part of the larger version of the
FAQ, but since the question of "skell" pops up a lot, here are two
Skell: 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.
(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 skells. 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 used in print by Ben Johnson 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.)
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 old 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." The real 9th
Precinct moved to a new location further east, while the original
building was recently demolished. Fortunately, a mock-up of the precinct
facade existed on a Los Angeles backlot, so the show didn't need to use
the old building in the later years.
Why did XXX leave? Why didn't they ever bring XXX back?
"NYPD Blue" had a relatively high rate of cast turnover over its
years on the air. Here's a quick rundown of who left before the end, why,
doing now, and what happened to their character:
- David Caruso (Det. John Kelly): Caruso asked for a 500% pay
raise after the first season, along with several other demands (rumored to
be 1)More time off to do movies, and 2)More emphasis on Kelly and less on
Sipowicz). Negotiations dragged on until mid-August, at which point Steven
Bochco decided enough was enough and the show had to move on. Caruso's
film career never amounted to much and his "Michael Hayes" was canceled by
CBS after only one season (ironically, in the same year Bochco & Milch's
"Brooklyn South" suffered a similar one-and-done fate). Caruso recently
returned to crime-busting as the lead in CBS' "CSI" hugely popular
spin-off "CSI: Miami."
As for Det. Kelly, he quit the force instead of riding out a corruption
investigation and is now working private security for rich folks. While
fans often clamored for his return, it was never, ever going to happen,
because Caruso's prima donna behavior during that first year endeared him
to no one (he kicked a trash can at Dennis Franz's head at one point, and
David Milch wrote in a book that he personally blames Caruso for at least
one of his heart attacks) and because the character had been away from
the police force for far too long to bring back credibly.
- Jimmy Smits (Det. Bobby Simone): Smits came in as a last-minute
replacement for 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 (Bobby died of heart failure), and even
returned for a one-shot appearance in the final season as the friendly
ghost of Bobby Simone, back to offer some advice to his old partner. Jimmy
is also appearaing on "The West Wing" as a leading presidential
candidate; so he'll either become the star of the show next season once
Martin Sheen finishes his term, or he'll move on to a lucrative
development deal he signed with ABC.
- Rick Schroder (Det. Danny Sorenson): After nearly three seasons
on the show, Rick left, claiming he needed to spend more time with his
wife and kids on their family ranch. That was true, but only half the
story. As Rick himself recently admitted, he really left the show to help
his wife get over the trauma from a late-term miscarriage. As for poor,
tortured Danny, he was murdered while working an undercover investigation
at a strip club.
- Kim Delaney (Det. Diane Russell): Steven Bochco has always
been a huge fan of Kim's, but realized that with "NYPD" being a showcase
for Dennis Franz above all else, she'd never really get to show what she
could do. So he created another series for her: "Philly," a legal drama
set, naturally, in Philadelphia. Despite decent ratings and the fact that
ABC was in awful shape at the moment, "Philly" wasn't renewed for a second
season. Rather than return to "Blue," Delaney jumped to CBS to work with
Caruso on "CSI: Miami," but after a few weeks the producers realized that
she wasn't fitting in and negotiated themselves out of her contract. Kim
made a couple of return visits to "Blue," where we saw that Diane had
returned from bereavement leave and was working in the NYPD's sex crimes
unit (aka Special Victims).
- James McDaniel (Lt. Arthur Fancy): 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, promoting Fancy to captain and bringing
in Esai Morales' Lt. Rodriguez to run the 15th squad.
- Amy Brenneman (Det. Janice Licalsi): With Caruso leaving,
there was really nothing to do with Brenneman's character, since she was
so closely linked to Kelly and no one else, so she was written out by
having Janice confess to murdering Angelo Marino. Amy worked in movies for
a while (notably "Heat") before finding her niche in her old Tuesday
timeslot as the star of CBS' "Judging Amy," which for much of its run has
drawn more viewers than "Blue" (though "Blue" has a much younger -- and
therefore profitable -- audience).
- Sherry Stringfield (ADA Laura Michaels Kelly): The writers ran
out of material to give her character midway through the first season, and
Sherry asked to be let out of her contract to make everybody happy. She
quickly got cast as Dr. Susan Lewis on "ER," but the higher-profile role
didn't make her any happier, and she quit in order to lead a "normal
life." (That wasn't too swell, either, and Sherry has returned to "ER.")
Laura was never formally written out; she just stopped appearing after the
episode "Zeppo Marks Brothers."
- Gail O'Grady (Donna Abandando): With the role of the squad
secretary inherently limited, Gail started seeking extra-curricular work
in TV-movies and other fare to challenge her. When the Fox network offered
her her own sitcom (which wound up never airing), she accepted. Donna got
a job with Apple Computer and moved out to Silicon Valley. She briefly
reappeared during a fantasy sequence in season six's "Mister Roberts,"
then returned to the small screen as part of the NBC family drama
- Justine Miceli (Det. Adrianne Lesniak): There was never any
public explanation given as to why Justine left the show, but considering
the mess that was made of her character in the third season, it's not hard
to guess. She hasn't exactly been a hot commodity since her exit, getting
occasional work in commercials and as a series guest star, but nothing
remotely as prominent as her "Blue" part. Like Laura, Lesniak was never
formally written out, though, presumably, she just transferred to another
- Sharon Lawrence (ADA Sylvia Costas): 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 was very 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 actually
only appeared 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 had regular and recurring roles on other shows, most recently
as the neighborhood dominatrix on "Desperate Housewives."
- Nicholas Turturro (James Martinez): Like Janice Licalsi,
Martinez was a character who was really only there to show us a side of
Caruso's John Kelly, but unlike Amy Brenneman, Nick Turturro stuck around
the show for years after Caruso quit. Between lack of material to play,
budgetary concerns of the producers, and a sitcom development deal for
Nick from the WB (which never materialized into anything), it was decided
by all parties to part amicably. Martinez got a promotion to sergeant --
which, in the NYPD hierarchy, is a uniformed position but outranks
detective -- and transferred to another precinct.
- Andrea Thompson (Jill Kirkendall): With her 40th birthday
approaching, Andrea decided she'd had enough of the acting game -- and
especially the stressful job of being an actor on "NYPD Blue" -- and
wanted to pursue her childhood love: journalism. After a stint as a
reporter for a local New Mexico TV station, Andrea became a very
controversial hire as a new anchorwoman for CNN's Headline News, a
position she left after only seven months. She had a recurring role last
year on "24." As for Jill Kirkendall, she left the force and went on the
run with her sons, Kyle and Frank, after her slimy ex-husband Don dragged
her career and name through the mud.
- Esai Morales (Tony Rodriguez): Like James McDaniel before him,
Esai figured out that the role of squad boss isn't the most demanding or
exciting, and he decided that he didn't want to be tied down to a series
in such a small part. He has a development deal with ABC, and will be
continuing his role on PBS' "American Family" (if/when that show
continues) in addition to whatever else he does. Tony Rodriguez quit the
force to take a private security job once he realized that he was never
going to get another promotion after the Fraker trial verdict went the
- Charlotte Ross (Connie McDowell): Charlotte's pregnancy, ABC's
decision to lower the final season budget and professional friction
between Charlotte and various members of the cast and crew led to a
parting of the ways near the end of the 11th season. Bochco says he tried
to get Charlotte to come back for an episode or two in the final season,
just to tie up Andy's family life, but she declined.
- Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon (Valerie Haywood): The budget had to
be trimmed for the final season, and Garcelle, whose character was never
well-integrated into the show, became one of the casualties. Valerie
Haywood just isn't the local ADA for the 15th precinct anymore, and she
and Baldwin don't seem to be dating anymore.
- John O'Donohue (Eddie Gibson): Though he'd been hanging around
the show for years, O'Donohue wound up with the shortest tenure of any
regular castmember, only a half-season. Essentially, the producers decided
that the Gibson-as-boss idea wasn't really bearing fruit, so they replaced
O'Donohue with Currie Graham. As Lt. Bale told the detectives at the end
of the final season premiere, Eddie was replaced as 15th squad commander
because NYPD brass felt the squad was out of control.
I want to know more about the show. Where can I go?
I maintain a website at
that features all manner of material about the show, including episode
reviews, pictures, cast biographies, and a much longer version of this