NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.


"My Dinner With Andy"
Season 12, Episode 7
11/16/04
Teleplay by Tom Szentgyorgyi
Story by Bill Clark and Tom Szentgyorgyi
Directed by Kevin Hooks

SUMMARY

ST. JOHN

Clark begins his long climb back up the ladder to decency after an emotional dinner with Andy. It's the dinner Andy invited him to after Andy's vision of Bobby Simone. Clark tries to explain his behavior, but Andy ends up putting words to it: he drinks, screws around, gets into fights all because he's trying so hard not to feel anything. Andy also tells him that's not going to work for long. Clark admits he wishes he'd done more with his father and with Jen. He thinks he could have saved them, and, just as Bobby said he was, he says he's terrified he'll lose someone else. Andy tells him there's no way to prevent that, but assures him they can stick it out together day by day.

Clark begins trying to make amends elsewhere by offering a great deal of help to a frightened woman who's been beaten in an alley. Lucy tells the cops she has no idea who beat her up or why. Then, ADA Munson comes along and tells them Lucy is a witness in a murder case. Lucy's boss is on trial, and Munson says it could be the boss who hired someone to try to scare her off testifying. Apparently, it worked. Lucy is nowhere to be found.

Rita and Murph do their best to find Lucy and end up tracking her down as she waits on line to hop a bus to her sister's house in Jersey. They take her to the station house where Lt. Bale scares the crap out of her further. Lucy is a rabbit, and Bale comes on like the big bad wolf and makes the situation even more difficult. Clark steps in and calms her down, but she's not convinced she can testify. Clark tells her he'll be there, she can look at him for support, and she agrees to do it.

Clark and Andy are also investigating who beat up Lucy. She tells them it was a guy who used to hang around the office from time to time, a guy named Lou DaSilva. Lou denies he did anything until Andy and Clark threaten to test his clothes for blood. Then he tells them he can't roll over on the boss, Simon Kerensky, but it'll be the end of him.

Lucy's testimony ends up taking more than one day. Clark offers to stay the night parked outside her house. Bale won't approve the overtime, so he volunteers. Bale approves that as long as Clark agrees to also work his full tour the next day. Clark and Andy take Lucy home and check out her house. Clark answers her phone for her. It's a hang up, but he pretends to be talking to a salesman so Lucy won't be scared. He spends the night in his car outside her window. She peers at him through the curtains from time to time for reassurance.

BLACK-EYED BOUNCER

Greg shows up at work with a black eye. He tells Baldwin and Murph that he was ushering a pain in the ass out of the bar when this guy's five-foot-nothing girlfriend laid a left hook into his eye. Baldwin jabs him mildly; Murph offers all kinds of sympathy, including an offer to give him make up.

When Eagle Eyes Bale arrives, he notes the black eye immediately but says nothing at first. He keeps glancing at Greg while getting an update on Andy's case. As he heads into his office, he asks about Greg's eye. Greg tells him he got it when he slipped in the tub. Bale asks how that equals a black eye. Greg says he hit his eye on the faucet when he went down. Bale might have believed him more if he'd have said a unicorn rammed his face in the parking lot. Andy points out to Greg how stupid the story sounds.

Later, Greg is at his desk trying to keep a low profile when he sees the owner of the bar he works at come in. McGowan says nothing to him, but goes into Bale's office. Bale tries to get McGowan to tell him Greg works at the bar, but McGowan won't. He says Greg is just a friend who hangs out there, and that last night, he helped settle down a scuffle. Bale moves in for the kill. He tells McGowan he used to be IAB, he knows when people are lying and that if McGowan lies again he'll have his place shut down.

Greg spends a fair amount of time squirming after McGowan leaves. Bale lets him stew. Later in the day, he calls Greg in to the office and literally reads him chapter and verse. He tells Greg he's going to turn the case over to IAB and that he'll have to face departmental charges. Greg tries to ask for some slack, explaining that hundreds of guys on the job do the same thing all the time. Bale won't hear it. He says he laid down the law when he arrived, Greg chose to ignore it, and now must face the consequences.

Greg is shattered. Andy follows him into the locker room to offer comfort and support. Greg ends up questioning if the job is really worth fighting for. Andy tells him if he wants to retire, he's certainly earned it.

Later, Greg has dinner with his delegate. He explains that Bale is out to move all the old guys out of the squad. He wonders aloud if he should just retire. The delegate tells him he'll get half pay if he gets out with 24 years, but also tells him he can get three-quarters pay if he's got a disability. The delegate then explains the brass ring theory: if Greg can get a doctor to say he needs a stent in his heart, that qualifies as a disability and he gets his three-quarters pay. He calls the stent "a brass ring," and says he knows of two guys who did it already. Greg seems hopeful.

MICHAEL WOODRUFF JONES

Bobbi Kingston, the case worker who's taking care of Baldwin and his foster son Michael comes to see Baldwin at the squad. She tells him Craig Woodruff, Michael's father, is petitioning the court for visitation. Michael testified that Craig likely killed his mother, but Craig was acquitted of the crime. His violent past still stands, but no one is sure that'll be much of a factor in this case because Craig is in AA now, has been sober for 7 months, has joined a church and acknowledges his horrible past (with the exception of the murder of his wife).

Baldwin goes to see Craig. Their previous encounters have been on the edge of homicide, but this time, things are much different. Craig is apologetic, sincere and appears to be making a go of his life. He thanks Baldwin for everything he's done for Michael and says he hopes Baldwin can understand that he wants to make amends.

Michael, however, doesn't want any of that. He tells Baldwin he doesn't want to see Craig. Baldwin promises him he'll never have to live with his father.

In court, the judge rules that since there is no evidence of recent violence, Craig can have one supervised hour a week with Michael. Bobbi is present during their first meeting.

REVIEW

CLARK

The opening scene with Andy and Clark at dinner was easily one of the two best in the show. The performances and dialogue were just right. After that, however, the story sort of fell apart for me. I wasn't buying Clark's redemption through the fragile Lucy, and I think it's because for as much depth as Clark displayed in the opening scene, the rest of the story unfolded in a one-dimensional fashion. There wasn't much in the story that drew on all the things he talked about in the opening. He spent the night trying to make amends for being a thoughtless jerk, doing penance for his bad behavior, but he was aiming all his efforts at an easy target. How hard is it to be nice to a frightened mouse? One could argue that's his job description. As I read it from the opening scene, the main theme of his distress was that he was afraid to feel things, terrified of loss and all the accompanying bad feelings that brings, terrified of letting people down, terrified of failing those he cares most about. So the story might have been better served had he had to struggle with emotion in the face of a difficult situation, a situation that forces him to have bad feelings and deal with them. Instead of giving him a simple situation that anyone could have taken up, put him in a situation that forces him into the same difficult emotional choices he's failed at recently and vowed to make better. God knows I like John Clark, but after seeing what a stupid freak he's been lately, I didn't feel one ounce of sympathy for his martyr routine with Lucy. I didn't feel proud of him for volunteering to stay up all night and take care of her. I don't feel any of that--though I suspect I am supposed to--because the situation doesn't in any way compare with the difficult circumstances which pushed him down the wrong road in the first place. Give him a real challenge, have him act like a stand-up guy, and then I'll feel proud of him. This story wasn't worthy of that terrific opening scene, or of the work MPG has done on this character in that scene and many scenes before it.

This weak story is part of the reason I groan when I see ADA Munson and where they're heading with her (which is, if you haven't noticed--and I don't know how you couldn't have--straight to a romance with Clark). At the moment, I don't buy her character at all. First, she's furious with Clark for screwing up that murder case by sleeping with the witness (who may have been an accomplice). That I get. But what makes no sense is that she covers for him by taking the hit with her boss. Huh? So now she's still pissed off and doesn't trust him, and that's OK, but then she goes all soft and squishy when she seems him volunteering to stay up all night to protect Lucy. I suppose that might impress someone who's generally more easily impressed than I am, but that's not who I want for Clark. I want a woman who will stand up to him for real, call him out when he's being a jerk, tell him that doing something any good cop with a good heart would do does not erase what he did in that murder case. In my perfect NYPD Blue world, Clark's girlfriend will make him work a little harder for her respect, especially in light of what he did. Otherwise, it's just not real to me at all. Where's the challenge? Where's the tension? If she's a pushover, it'll really suck.

I haven't seen previews of next week, so maybe Lucy will get whacked, and Clark will then be forced into dealing with his emotions again, with letting someone down. It would have to be done in a such a way where Clark is truly blameless, but struggles with self-imposed guilt (as with his Dad and Jen). He wins that struggle in some demonstrative way, wins Munson's heart fair and square, and that might be better drama.

MEDAVOY

Here's a great twist. And thanks be to Writers for using Gordon Clapp in a decent storyline. He's not letting us down.

I had the feeling after the locker room scene with Andy (the other of the two best scenes), that Medavoy was going to end up eating his gun. Here's a man who's gotten little or no respect over the course of his career but who has faithfully done his job and never lost his cheer. Now he's getting wrung up by The Evil Wind that blows from the Lt.'s office, and his good-natured, jovial and somewhat naive approach to life in the 1-5 is turning cloudy. It got really dark in the locker room, in fact. Medavoy is questioning his life on the job, and since he's not got much of a life outside the job that we've seen, it doesn't bode well. By the end of the show, I was no longer thinking he'd kill himself, but consider his desperation: here's a man thinking of having something shoved into his perfectly healthy heart in order to get out from under what he sees as a crushing defeat in his career. That's pretty f-ing serious, don't you think?

A great touch in the final scene was having Greg's younger, fatter, less serious and far less complex delegate sitting there drawing a stark contrast between the Greg we thought we knew and that Greg that emerged in this situation. It was always Greg who thought first and foremost of food, who didn't take things as seriously as he might have, who offered up hair-brained ideas, who was a little obtuse when it came to finer points of the world at hand. In that scene, the delegate assumed all of those characteristics and it was Greg who was annoyed by them. (Having to restate his years of service, for example.) Really good writing here, and really good performances all around from Clapp, Graham, Franz and the guy who played the delegate.

Let me take a moment to praise Graham again. He's just fan-flippin'-tastic, isn't he? He delivered a truly withering glance at Greg after the bartender walked out of his office. It was pure evil, complete destruction. No words, just eyes. Chilling. If Greg had seen it, he'd have pulled out his weapon right then and there and blown himself to bits. You get the feeling that even though he didn't see it, he felt it. That was a really powerful moment. Excellent work!

BALDWIN

I'm glad Michael hasn't faded off into the background. The highlights of this story are the performances from Henry Simmons, Cyrus Farmer (Craig) and Salli Richardson Whitfield (Bobbi).

Cyrus Farmer is outstanding, and his work warrants this continuing storyline. The contrast he's managed between murderous Craig and redeemed Craig is remarkable. Instinct tells you not to buy Craig's new lifestyle, but his demeanor now as compared with last season is starkly different and convincing. What's great about this story is that it forces Baldwin into a situation where maybe he's not 100 percent right about Michael's future. It's all well and good to get self-righteous on behalf of a child when you're faced with evil, but what if Craig really isn't evil? What if he didn't do it, after all? It's an interesting and difficult situation for Baldwin.

I do wonder about the reality of the situation: would a judge really grant visitation to man in Craig's position, with Craig's history? And why didn't the lawyer state Michael's wishes? I know very little about these kinds of things, so I can't speculate about how real it is. It's a knee-jerk reaction for me to say a judge would never do that. I really don't know.

On the whole, I'm not personally moved by this story, but I think it's crafted pretty well and I am really blown away by Cyrus Farmer.

QUICK HITS

*Junior & ADA Munson. Does Munson have a first name? She needs one. And a new hairstyle. What's with the duck flips on that girl's head? She's too pretty for that. Plus, it reminds me that at one moment she's mad as hell at Clark; two seconds later, she's taking a hit for him; two weeks later, she doesn't trust him; two hours after that, she's gone all gushy for him. Blech.

*Bobbi & Baldy. Looking forward to this one. Salli Richardson Whitfield has really hit the ground running. She's completely convincing as the smart, well-grounded, likable Bobbi Kingston. A perfect match for our caring, emotional Baldwin.

*I liked that New York moment at the bus station where the guy accosts Rita and Murph as they haul Lucy down the street. Even in New York, even after 9/11, cops only get so much respect.

*I know they were unable to shoot in NYC this year, but I hadn't really thought much about it until this show. There were a couple of scenes that seemed too LA and not enough NYC. The bus station scene was one of them--the street seemed too open to me. The church was another. It just seemed like something you'd see on the West coast and not in New York. Maybe that's just me...

*I don't think it was smart of Baldwin to promise Michael they'd break the law if a judge gave custody to Craig.

*Is Bale just going to blow up at some point? He's so tightly wound, I wonder how he can get out of his clothes at night. I also wonder if there isn't something the squad can do as a unit to trip him up. You'd think the uniforms downstairs would be freaking out, too. Maybe Bale will be the thing that binds the uniforms and the detectives together in some giant protest of some sort. Blue Flu or something. Seems like Andy and Greg may be on to something with age discrimination: he picks on them the most, and gives Baldwin & Clark a slightly easier time.

*The little scene with Bale and PJohn was very nice, excellent economy. There were only a few lines, but PJ explaining why the phone message wasn't annotated and cross-referenced said a lot about both characters.

*A couple of things I didn't care for: the scene where Michael goes in to see Craig. The blinds are closed on Baldwin. Then Baldwin cries. Both good things, but the transition was jarring. Maybe the solution was to have left one of them out? Also, the scene with Lucy's sister was way too long. Clearly, she was there to support the fact that Lucy is meek. It probably could have been done in a lot less time.

*Lots of great, albeit short, performances from guest actors. The man who played Kerensky, Kerensky's lawyer, Baldwin's lawyer, the judge, the sister and others. All add to the solid infrastructure. Check out the who's who below.

CAST LEGACIES

by June Lockhart Garner (please don't email me with additions; we have to leave some things out to save space).

Previously on NYPD Blue...Cyrus Farmer as Craig Woodruff, Andre Jamal Kinney as Michael Woodruff, Richard Herd as Jimmy McGowan the bartender, Lisa Lackey as ADA Munson, and Joe Sabatino as Officer Mackey

Previously on NYPD Blue as someone else...
--Barry Shabaka Henley (Archie Day, Baldwin's lawyer) -- was in Season 3's "Heavin' Can Wait." Since then, he was a cast member on "Robbery Homicide Division," and appeared in the films "Collateral," "The Terminal," and "Ali"

--Jude Ciccolella (Simon Kerensky, the bad guy in prison) -- appeared in Season 5's "It Takes a Village." More recently, he played Mike Novick during the first two seasons of "24," and appeared in movies like "Daredevil," "Star Trek: Nemesis," and the "Manchurian Candidate" remake

--Michael Olifiers (Carl Melon) -- played a uniform cop in Season 10's "Healthy McDowell Movement." According to his IMDb profile, Olifiers is a decorated member of the NYPD who got into acting after taking early retirement due to a serious injury. You've also seen him in "Bruce Almighty" and on "The Guardian"

--Victor Raider Wexler (Judge Kolisch) -- he was in Season 4's "Alice Doesn't Fit Here Anymore." He's also been on episodes of "Boston Legal," "Crossing Jordan," "West Wing," "King of Queens," "Judging Amy," and "Seinfeld"

Not previously on NYPD Blue...
--Clare Wren (Lucy Welker, the mouse) -- she was a cast member on "The Young Riders," and has done guest appearances on "Nash Bridges," "ER," "L&O," "L.A. Law," and "Brisco County, Jr."

--Kathryn Meisle (Janet Welker, the mouse's sister) -- past roles include appearances on "The Guardian," "Without a Trace," "Judging Amy," and "Oz"

--Salli Richardson Whitfield (Bobbi Kingston) -- was part of the cast of "Family Law," as well as doing guest roles on "CSI: Miami," "Line of Fire," "Stargate SG-1," and "Deep Space Nine," and the movies "Antwone Fisher," "Biker Boyz," and "Anacondas: Hunt for the Blood Orchid"

--Larry Poindexter (Barrett Gooden) -- you've seen him on episodes of "Lois & Clark," "JAG," "CSI," and "Nip/Tuck," as well as last year's movie remake of the show "S.W.A.T." and HBO's "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge"

--Kate Mulligan (Emily Friedman) -- she's been on "The Practice," "ER," and "Seinfeld"

--Christopher Amitrano (Lou DaSilva) -- his credits include a number of short films and indie projects.

--Matt Gottleib (bystander) -- he's appeared on "Boston Public," "The Practice," "JAG," and "ER"

LINES OF THE WEEK

Andy, after hearing Greg's excuse for the black eye: "When you slipped, was there a guy lying in the tub with his fist cocked?"

Clark to Lou DaSilva: "Take your clothes off."
DaSilva: "You gonna violate me?"
Clark: "No such luck."

NEXT WEEK

Clark continues his quest for Sainthood and Andy goes for a promotion while Greg is headed in the other direction, an unexpected twist with Baldwin and Michael.

Hope to see you then!

Amanda Wilson