NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com

"Porn Free"
Season 11 Episode 4
10/14/03
Teleplay by Greg Plageman
Story by Bill Clark & Greg Plageman
Directed by Dennis Dugan

Oh, keep this up! The trial is over (whew!), and the show is really picking up. Loved almost all of this one.... Here's a summary, a review, and a whole lot of fun quick hits (almost as fun as your best 10 minutes with Thong Thing, boyz....) Do read on:

SUMMARY

DUMP JOB ONE:

Andy, John Jr., Greg and Baldwin catch the case of a woman named Janelle Woodruff whose body is found by a half-naked swimmer on the banks of the river. A canvas of her apartment building turns up a half-naked neighbor who, after dazzling the four detectives with her bikini-briefed bottom half, suggests they interview the DOA's son, Michael who hangs out in the park. When their every attempt at small talk to keep the girl in the doorway before them is exhausted, they simply stand and stare. When she finally breaks the silence to ask if she can go back inside, they roll up their tongues quickly to tell her yes. Seconds later, their tongues unfurl again as Miss Doorway turns around to reveal that her bikinis are a thong. The door shuts, the mouths stay open, and the case goes on.

Baldwin and Greg find Michael in the park. He's reluctant to talk and is holding every emotion about his mother's death inside. He manages to tell them about her half-wit, obese boyfriend Desmond who runs a car shop. Andy and John J. go there and find Desmond on the other end of a large, snarling pit bull's chain. Desmond calls Pixie the pugnacious pup off and goes to the station house with the boys. He tells them he had a fight with Janelle's ex-husband Craig a week earlier and is truly surprised to learn she's dead.

Baldwin and Greg get Michael to say his father, who just got out of jail, is hanging out with a new woman and even gives her address, but tries to convince them he didn't kill her. Baldwin has taken an interest in Michael and wants to help the kid. Craig is roused from the couch of his girlfriend Becky and interviewed. He feigns love for his son but won't give anything up on his ex-wife until they find out he was at her place the night of the murder. Andy gives him a chance to save his son from the pain of having to flip for him, but he won't do it. After a little run-in with Baldwin on how to handle the kid, Andy finally persuades him to talk about his father's visit. That done, Baldwin spends the evening trying to find a safe place for Michael. Michael finally lets go enough to cry over his mom's death.

DUMP JOB TWO:

Connie and Rita have a dump job of a different color: what appears to be an average suburban woman who wears WWJD jewelry. Eve's husband Dan screws up his alibi, which causes some concern, but a check of her phone records reveals something more interesting: a call to a friend of her who's a stripper. Norma is about as far away from Eve as you can get, but they share a past. Turns out Eve used to do flesh flicks when she lived in LA (doesn't everyone?), but she left that scene and turned her life completely around. Norma tells them Eve once complained about her past coming back to haunt her in the form of a guy named Tom who was interested in her movies.

At Rita's suggestion, Greg does a net search on Eve's porn name, Stella Starr, and turns up some strong interest in her flicks from a guy named Tom who lives in the city. Rita and Connie bring him in for a chat. In an intense interview, they get Tom to trip up his story a few times and finally spill it that he was with Eve. He then explains that he was only offering his love and friendship and that she rudely rejected him. So you raped her and killed her? they ask. Yes, he says, I killed her, but adds indignantly, I didn't rape her. She was already dead when we had sex.

THE TRIAL:

Greg and Andy are still at odds over discussions of the trial. Greg wants to comment; Andy wants to shut him up. Tony is a little on edge as well and tries to continue ignoring it, but he's not concentrating well, either. Eventually, he tells everyone to just relax about it and focus on the job. They do, but there's still tension. Finally, the verdict is in, and it's not what anyone expected: Fraker is off. He's acquitted on both charges, much to the dismay of Valerie. Tony and Rita are also concerned; they're worried that there will now be an internal investigation that will cause them both problems. Tony ends the day telling everyone that he's fine and doesn't anticipate anything awful, but it's clear he's waiting for the other shoe to drop. He goes for another walk by the water. Rita finds him there and offers a hand of support on his shoulder.

REVIEW

Some really super interview scenes, a few terrific light moments, lots of action outside the squad room and some pretty tight writing made this one stand out. If it hadn't been for the yawner of a trial sequence, this show would have really popped!

DUMP JOB ONE:

While I must admit that the big detective-takes-care-of-the-little-kid theme is as tired as I am driving to work at 3am after a Red Sox/Yankees game, the story overall was pretty solid. One thing that made it work: Andy and Baldwin squaring off over how to handle the interview with Michael. Baldwin clearly mistrusts Andy. He thinks the white old dinosaur won't treat this young black fairly, and he's got enough reason to believe that given Andy's past and his own experience in the Bias Unit and as a black man in NYC.

Andy is, naturally, offended by the questions and, naturally, focused on getting the job done. But he's also more concerned about the kid than Baldwin suspected. The scene in which he gives Craig a chance to be a stand-up Dad is really good. It reveals a lot about Andy that we haven't gotten see much of in a while. And when he interviews Michael, you can see he's keeping the kid's best interest at heart. It's up to your personal judgment as to whether he was too tough with the kid--telling him how his mother's body was found and making sure to say over and over how his father wouldn't stand up for him in return--but he gets it done. Pop that in the category of "things that make you go 'Hmmmm,'" and that's what Blue does best. There is no right answer. It was refreshing, though, to see Andy telling the kid like it is when it comes to his Dad, even if the kid isn't really hearing it. I loved that scene because I was pulling for Andy: I knew he was speaking the truth, telling Michael something you want him to hear so he can forgo spending the next 25 years of his life figuring it out the hard way.

Let's dish on this week's Corn Nuts scene: The half naked chick in the doorway, the Thong Thing -- it was top-notch. I'd forgotten how much fun these lighter moments are. That's because it's been ages since we've had more than a one-liner to make us chuckle. This scene was just so funny, if a little unrealistic (see Quick Hits).

I've certainly never answered my door in my undies, but I--like most women--have been in situations where men have fallen over themselves trying to talk to me, and from that slightly different perspective, I found these guys' reactions ringing true. Here's my take on the boyz: I loved how MPG had Clark cracking up while talking to her. That brought a really brilliant level of reality to his performance. Of course a guy in that situation would laugh--either he's nervous or he can't believe his luck--whatever, a guy like Clark would laugh. If I'm the actor, I'd have never thought to have the character do that, but it worked so perfectly well and kept the scene from being cheesy. (Admit it: in the hands of lesser actors, we'd have had a Starsky & Hutch moment here.) MPG may not be totally comfortable yet in the scenes of hot passion (ala Jimmy Smits), but he's got a natural flair for comedy and mixes it really well with Clark's more serious side. Nice to see him get to use it.

Clapp's Medavoy was also loads of fun to watch. He's *the other* kind of guy you run into from time to time. A total geek who is wholly unaware of his geekiness. His social barometer broke in the 5th grade. He pushes and pushes but has no idea how he comes off, and he's not laughing because he thinks he's so cool.

Andy was the perfect example of the guy who's a) embarrassed by his own reactions to beautiful women and b) got better than Thong Thing at home. He loves what he sees but wouldn't be caught dead letting anyone know that. And in his mind, that girl's got nothing on what lies next to him every night. With Connie between the sheets, Andy is free to enjoy the reactions of the other guys.

Baldwin is, as usual, the smoothest of the bunch. He takes a seriously honest look at her (from behind the other guys, of course) then stands coolly by soaking it all in. If he'd been the one talking to her, she'd have known he was impressed but *she* would have been the one doing the staring.

I'm curious how many times you guys out there watched the scene and in which rewind of it you actually picked up the information the girl conveyed. Or did you ever? ;)

DUMP JOB TWO:

One scene in this one towered above the rest: the interview Connie and Rita did with Tom. It was classic Blue, only with female cops. The style of the interview, the pace of it, the in-your-face of it was something akin to the way Simone and Sipowicz used to work people. I don't recall a more intense interrogation with the female detectives before, and I loved it. Charlotte Ross is so completely able to carry this off, but---surprise,surprise--Jackie Obradors nailed it just as solidly. They leaned in on him, double-teamed him and wouldn't let him up for air. They tore a page from Dr. Phil's (and Andy's) book and told him like it is: he got obsessed with this chick because he couldn't get laid in the real world. It was an outstanding scene. Well written, looked great, acted very well. Ding, ding, ding, Everyone Wins! Plus, that guy was ubercreepy with his blue-spazo eyes and his admission that "we had sex" after she was dead. I half-expected Connie to whip out the lethal injection and load him up right there in the coffee room.

Now, I don't want to take anything away from J-O's work here because I thought it was really good, but imagine how much more fun this one would have been with Connie and Andy. Oh, I do miss those days when Connie and Andy were cops together (all three of them).

DUMP JOB THREE:

This would be the potential thread through the above two stories that may have been murdered by the writers and dumped in the waste basket: how about drawing some link between the two dump jobs? I don't mean that they're committed by the same person, I mean the kind of link that weaves the two together in some sort of controversial or enlightening way. Seems to me there may have been an opportunity for another layer to these stories that might have illuminated the characters behind the cops a little more. All it would take is one person's perspective and a few little lines here and there to tell that kind of story.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN DUMP JOB FOUR or THE TRIAL:

Aside from being shocked--and not in a good way--that Fraker got off: Wow, did this story blow. So let's toss out my earlier suggestion of seeing the trial unfold on the TV news and try something else (I still think the TV news thing is a great idea, but that's probably why I'm not writing hit TV shows....) How about having it handled like this: The show we saw tonight is the season opener. The trial has been happening during the months we don't usually see (the summer, you know, when Tony and Fraker got healed, and Rita changed her mind about leaving, etc.) and this episode is fleshed out by dumping the Baldwin-Kid story and using those few minutes to bring us up to date on the trial we didn't see. I mean, it's not like we would have missed much.

We would have missed Daniel Benzali, but let's be real: His main attraction on this show was his interaction with Andy and we got--what-- 90 seconds of that? So dump it. We would have missed Valerie doing a pretty good opening statement, but let's be real: when is a riding ADA who's dating a detective in this squad, one she works with everyday, going to get to try a case like this? Dump it. We would have missed Devlin's testimony getting blown out of the water by her affair with Clark, but again: The bombshell that could have been was completely glossed over, it seems highly unlikely Valerie wouldn't have known about that and Valerie's re-direct on that was pretty lame. Dump it. Rita's testimony? We know what we she saw. Dump it. Olivera's and Acevedo's stories? The attempt at drama there failed so Dump and Dump. The whole thing with Tony's mother could have been brought up in a 30 second conversation with Valerie. The only thing we might have needed to see was Fraker charming the jury, and that could have been one scene, the final testimony before closings (which we don't need to see). The jury then comes back and we're done. That way, all we really would have missed is a lot of weak story that dragged through the rest of the last two episodes like a club foot.

Fraker's acquittal is certainly a surprise. (I really thought he'd go down and we'd get some good drama along the way but the opposite of both those things happened). But the surprised lacked adequate punch: I have no reason to be fearful or concerned that Fraker is a free man; I can't relate to Tony or Rita at all on this and that's a bad thing. I'd be happier had I been given a little more than one sentence from Rita on the potential fall out from this. She's worried the department will come down on her and Tony. OK, then. So? Seems to me Greg, at least--who hasn't missed an opportunity to yap about the trial---would be flapping his jaws incessantly at all the possibilities now. Silence. Guess we'll have to wait, but this show sure didn't put me on the edge of my seat over it.

Fraker can't work--he said so in the trial--so what do we do with the wonderful Casey Siemaszko? I guess he goes the way of Mike Roberts. I suppose that'll be OK. It's been too long since we've had a half-a-cop wandering around--poor Vince Gotelli is gone forever; where is Eddie Gibson when you need him?

And Rita and Tony down by the river....aiy....this brings me to:

QUICK HITS:

*I thought Rita was getting normal after her little freak out phase being jealous of Junior, but, what, is she a stalker now? I'm thinking it'd be hard to follow my boss around after hours no matter how bad his day might have been. Yeesh! There's another way to handle getting these two together if that's the way they're going: that would be throwing them together rather than forcing one upon the other. How about they both go their separate ways to deal with their ill-ease alone but end up at the same place by accident? Of course, it would have to be a place not already established as the prowl of choice for one of them, so the docks are out, but NYC is a great big place, you know.

*Is anyone else singing the title to this episode?

*Alright, wake up now. There's a beautiful girl in a thong answering the door to her apartment in a not-so-great NYC neighborhood where just last night her next door neighbor had a loud fight with a guy and ended up as dead as Dick Nixon's dog. You're a cop. After you pop your eyeballs back into their sockets, doesn't it occur to you----any of you, up to and including the 50-something guy who's seen it *all*--to kindly suggest to this chick from Philly that here in New York City we don't answer our doors in our not-so-great-neighborhoods half-naked *especially* the day after our neighbors are beaten to bloody pulps and dumped by the river. Seems like a natural public service kind of thing, to me; the kind of thing Mayor Guiliani would have insisted upon (after he copped a feel).

*John Jr. asking if the guy really swims in that river: good question, but didn't he ever watch Seinfeld?

*And another thing about that damn trial: how is it that no one ever played the race card? If you're going for even a little bit of reality, that's going to be an element here. Especially in the NYPD.

*What Would Jesus Drink? Wine, you maroon! I enjoyed the scene with that uniform. From his comment on the "black hole" that is most women's purses to the WWJD line. He was socially inappropriate, and I like that in a uniform cop. Nicely done.

*This was either something hatched in the devilishly goofy minds of the people who put this show together or I need to get out more, but Thong Thing's apartment number was 5F. There were five of them standing there, at least four of them with nothing but F-in' on their minds.

*I'd have to give Greg the edge in this week's dust up with Andy. I also think Greg will be the one who finally goes off the deep end and slips a twinkie in the fish tank killing Andy's Nemos. There's your Final Episode preview. You read it here first.

*I swear I've seen that blue garage door before. Have I been watching this show too long? You know, I don't really need you to answer that.

*Hank and Josh! Welcome back, fellas. Where's the adorable Officer Miller? Guess I'm stuck just dreaming about him.....

*I love it when they use animals. The rats are still my favorite: that was sooo creepy. Animals always add an interesting and real texture to things on this show. This pit bull was texture from tip to tail! He seemed really pissed off, too. I'm guessing MPG and Dennis Franz were glad the actor on the other end of the pit bull was a sufficient anchor for that thing, but imagine being that guy! I'd have been petrified to handle the snarling pooch. Sure, they're trained, but as your pal Roy can tell you now that he's off his ventilator for a few hours a day, animals are animals are animals are animals. Yikes!

*Stella Starr. El-chees-o! I guess those movies aren't going for a more sophisticated audience, huh? I thought her real name had potential: Eve Burleigh. The name you get at the end of your career in Burlesque. Also, it sounds like a dish....which I'm sure she must have been.

v *Eve was from Riverdale. I met a nice couple from Riverdale recently. Hello, you two!

*OK, the guys got to look at a pretty girl's butt cheeks and what do we women get? Wally the Frog Man adjusting himself in his 80's speedo which you just *know* smells like the East River. Boy, I miss Jimmy Smits.

*Did you note the fabulous cat collection Becky the Big White Woman had in and on her apartment? Talk about texture. That was fantastic stuff. Here's an example of how a character is made whole not just by the things the actor does but by the people around the actor who create spaces like that one. First, there is a kitty collage on the woman's door, then every square inch of her ratty little apartment is covered in kitty paraphernalia: ceramic kitties, stuffed kitties, kitty photos, kitty pillows; you imagine kitty curtains, kitty dishes, kitty flatware, kitty lines, a kitty cozy in the kitty kitchen. And standing in stark contrast to this, the woman of the house who purrs like a piranha. Plus, there's Craig lying on the couch like so many leftovers in the kitty litter. Man, what a beautiful scene. The kicker: the sign in the hallway on the way out reads: NO PETS.

CAST LEGACIES:

If you want to know more about any of these fine folks, let me suggest the incredible website www.imdb.com. I'd look them up for you, but I've got a bad case of Baseball fever and there's a game or two I've got to watch this afternoon.

Previously on NYPD Blue: Casey Siemaszko as Captain Fraker, Daniel Benzali as James Sinclair, William Dennis Hunt as Judge Byrns.

Michael Woodruff played by Andre Jamal Kinney; Craig Woodruff played by the incredible Cyrus Farmer (who was in the pilot of Brooklyn South); Marlissa Diaz aka Thong Thing played by Darlena Tejeiro; Desmond Carter played by the Very Brave Jeffrey V. Thompson (that's what the V. stands for); Carlotta played by Sarah Buxton; Jury Foreman played by Rachel Smith; Becky Larson played by Lynne Garbet; Dan Burleigh played by Wayne Duvall; Tom Grybowski played by Steve Cell; Freezepop played by David Sean Shaw; Uniform #2 played by Lou Picolli; Wall played by Brian Letscher, and Pixie as Her-snarling-damn-self.

LINES OF THE WEEK:

(We've got another glut!)

John, lusting after the Philly Thong: "I love her!"

John, feeling decidedly less horny over Pixie: "Everytime I see a pit bull like that, there's a needle dick on the other end of it."

Andy, after getting two eyes-full of Wally's backdoor: "Uncle!"

And my favorite, mostly for the delivery of it...
Craig, explaining his whereabouts on the night of the crime: "I was at Becky's having some Big White Woman sex."

NEXT WEEK:

Diane Russell shares a homicide investigation with the guys in the 15th squad and Andy catches her boozing it up. Kim Delaney's four episode arc begins with the promise of two story arcs. Plus, the story of Michael and Craig Woodruff (tonight's father and son) isn't quite over.

HEY! If you're reading this at Alan's site and want to join a lively, mostly very intelligent discussion of NYPD Blue, pop over to the usenet group alt.tv.nypd-blue. I'm there, and if you're a newbie, I promise not to let the big bad net people chew you up (too much). Seriously, it's fun, most everyone's got a great sense of humor, so read for a while and then jump in and join us. And if you're there already, don't forget to dro :p by Alan's site for a refresher on the FAQ and other fun stuff: Alan Sepinwall's NYPD Blue Homepage.

See you next week! In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line (just put some real obvious reference to the show in the subject header)


Amanda Wilson