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

"Andy Appleseed"
Season 11 Episode 6
10/28/03
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Jake Paltrow

Two fabulous shows in a row! 11 seasons, do I hear 12? 13? 14 going once... Here's your summary and then a review, quick hits & other fun stuff:

SUMMARY

SERIAL KILLER

Another victim of the serial killer is discovered in her apartment. Like last time, though, Andy wants to wait for more tests to be sure they're connected, but this girl is raped, strangled and hit on the head. And there's a matchbox in her purse. It's from another bar owned by the same guy who owns The Time Bar where the other victims had been.

Andy and Diane meet with the owner, Carlin, again, and he's still a total jerk. Connie finds the DOA's ex-boyfriend, Ron Hanler. He looks like the perfect candidate until he starts bawling in a very un-sociopathic way.

Andy and Junior meet up with the super of the girl's building who also looks like a great candidate until they find out he's gay and has an alibi at the library where he's a volunteer.

Back at the drawing board, they get the test results Andy wanted. Turns out this victim was not shot up with Ketamine like the others. And they also find out the super's alibi doesn't hold up.

They take off to the DOA's apartment to find the super. They find cleaning supplies in the house where he's been mopping up blood, but the place is eerily quiet. They draw guns and look around. In her bedroom, they notice her clothes have been taken out and strewn all over the room. Another door is closed and they suspect someone is in there. After a few orders to come out, a meek voice responds he'd like to get dressed first. The door cracks open and out walks the super, hands up, jeans around one leg and a black bra and red panties on.

Back at the house, the super tells the cops he just likes to wear women's clothes. They press him and find out he killed the girl because he liked her, told her so, and she rejected him. They ask him about the other murders and he confesses to those, too, and asked to be nicknamed "Lady Killer." But when asked what color the cord was he used to strangle them he said, "Yellow?" Of course, it was blue. He's a copy cat.

The day ends with word that another woman has been murdered and this one really looks like it's connected to the serial killer.

MOMZILLA V. THE GUN

Greg and Baldwin catch the murder of last week's sock 'er Mom, Mrs. Ackerman. She's the one who told her son to lie about the arson fire he started and then beat hell out of him in front of the cops when she got arrested. Now she's dead on the floor, her son was beaten up and knocked out next to her and her daughter is sitting on the couch telling the cops a robber broke in, shot her mother, beat up her brother and then ran when she got home.

Greg isn't buying a word of it and lets her know so. She tries to convince him the story is true, but he tells her she needs to come off it and spill the beans. She stands by her story and her lie becomes even more apparent. At the hospital, they interview Kurt. He tells the same story his sister did, except they have different descriptions of the robber, and the lie is even bigger. The kids tell the cops their dad is away at business meeting in Hartford, but that also turns out to be a lie. The gun is found outside a window of the apartment, and it turns out Dad bought it a few weeks earlier. So now it's unclear who did the killing. Hearing her brother is suspect number one, Alison confesses to the crime. Hearing his sister confessed, Kurt also confesses. Meanwhile, Dad can't believe either one of them did it. Finally, all three are put into a room together with Greg and Baldwin, and the story falls apart. It turns out Alison did indeed do it, but she explains that her Dad bought the gun and told them both he had something in the closet they weren't supposed to even look at or go near. Of course, they did. Greg and Baldwin believe the Dad did this on purpose to lure his kids into killing her, and then left town for a while to see if they'd do it. He went into hiding in Jersey City and waited for a phone call.

Valerie says the girl will probably get off, given the history of abuse, but that there's no way to prosecute Dad.

THE DEVLIN WENT DOWN TO GRAMERCY

The day after Clark rejects the doc's idea of videotaping themselves having sex, he arrives at work to find PJohn holding a red card. It reeks of Jen's perfume and it says only, "Noon." Later, another card arrives with the words, "Gramercy Park." Others in the squad are starting to notice and Junior is starting to get a little pissed off. A third note arrives just before lunchtime that gives the name of a hotel and a room number. Since he's about to do an interview, he waits. When he finally shows up at the hotel, Jen answers the door about half-dressed. Candles are lit all over the room, and as she drapes herself over him she tells him what a naughty girl she's been and how she needs to be interrogate and, gasp, maybe even handcuffed. Junior scowls through the whole thing and finally tells her he can't do this kind of thing with her. He adds that getting to Gramercy Park takes 20 minutes one way, and that it's not practical. She freaks out, kicks him out and tells him she never wants to see him again. He turns to say something and she slams the door in his face.

Later, she shows up in the squad room. Junior takes her in the coffee room and she confesses this time for real. She tells him she's a manic depressive and that she was real vigilant about taking her medicine through college, med school and her residency, but that it kills her libido. She says she went off it when she met him, used uppers instead, and that's why she's acting so weird. She promises to get back on the meds. He holds her and tells her they'll just take it all one step at a time.'

DIANE'S HANGOVER & CONNIE'S BAD CLAM

Connie and Andy are woken up with news of the most recent murder, and though Andy tries to talk to her again about Diane, she won't hear it unless it's something new. He backs off and goes to take a shower. She throws up.

Later, Connie is present when the bar owner Carlin accuses Diane of being drunk the night before at the undercover gig and of being hungover that morning. He's right, but Andy doesn't take it well. Diane leaves and Connie asks Andy why he wouldn't tell her something as simple as Diane is drinking again. Andy tells her to drop it.

Back at the house, Diane is being a bitch with a capital C to just about everyone, including poor, unsuspecting Rita who may be on to a really big lead in the case. Connie follows Diane back to the coffee room and confronts her old friend. Diane tells her it's personal and that if she starts talking about it, she'll lose it. Seeing she's about to lose it anyway, Connie backs down and tells Diane she'll be there if she needs a friend. Diane thanks her.

Connie apologizes to Andy and tells she's sorry if she seemed jealous. Then, she barfs again. Tony and PJohn hear it through the locker room door, and when she comes out Tony asks if she's OK. She says she needs a little lost time to go see the doc. She thinks she had some bad shellfish. But the doc tells her the only little shrimp in her belly is a live one who's going to be born in thirty or so weeks. Connie tells him that's not possible; she was told as a 15-year-old that her fallopian tubes were occluded. He shakes his head and tells her they weren't occluded enough to prevent this pregnancy. She sits there dazed.

Back at work later, Andy asks how she's feeling. She says it's just something she ate.

REVIEW

This episode harkens back to the roots of what made NYPD Blue such a standout: a solid story that reveals as much about the case at hand as it does about the cops who are investigating it. That's been Blue's winning formula all these years (shaky cam, naked butts, "bullshits" and "dickfists" aside), and what sets it apart from other cop shows. After recent seasons of delving a bit too much into the characters and not enough into their work, it's refreshing to have them coming unglued or coming together under the umbrella of an intense mystery. The only thing more we could ask for in this one is a little more tension coming at them from outside: This week, Tony had no pressure from the brass and no reporters calling. It just would have added another layer to have had a boss coming down snooping around--especially since Tony may be feeling shaky after his trial--and to have a few reporters corralled down by the Sergeant's desk. Phones ringing, people milling around: all that is good.

Also good: the underlying tension between Diane and Connie, and Diane and Rita. Having Diane on edge, hungover and in general pissed at the world is just so much great texture to this story. Like her or not, she's making things interesting. She's got everyone off balance and she's totally upset the normal workings of things with both her stumbles and her triumphs. Obviously, having her snappish with Rita is a stumble. (It's great for Rita's character, though; in the eyes of the audience, who comes out the winner? Rita, the regular character. She's pounced on for no reason while she's the one getting the goods on the guy who did it! Good move getting us back in her corner. Hope we can stay there!) And having Diane pissy with Connie is another stumble for her. But she rocks so totally in the interview with the super that it's clear she's still got the goods when it comes to being a cop. She steals the interview from Andy, who just pissed the guy off, and leaves Junior just sitting there. Diane got that one and took it home.

So did Kim Delaney, who played the perfect woman on the edge throughout. Here's what I saw in her portrayal of Diane this week: Delaney makes me think that just about all Diane has left is to be a fighter. She fought through her family, through her alcoholism, through the loss of her baby, and through Bobby's death. Now she's facing something she's afraid she can't beat, so all she can think to do is put on the mask of a fighter again and hope it's enough. It's not, of course, but she fights anything that crosses her path anyway. Deep down, she knows she can't fight breast cancer that way, so she hits the sauce again because she just doesn't know what else to do.

Other highlights of this arc for me included the set up of the copycat killing. Having Andy hold back on the murder last week and then do it again this week was a brilliant way to keep from giving this story away at the top of the show. Also brilliant was having the guy begrudgingly admit he's gay. Of course, he's not, but we didn't know that up front. I bought it just like Andy and Junior did (though I didn't feel compelled to offer the guy painting tips...) I didn't ever think it was the boyfriend, but I was real impressed with the way the writers had him falling apart in his final interview. He was such a pussy that just knew he could never be a serial killer.

And I loved the ending. Having another case start right away like that was a move I don't think I've ever seen on Blue, and I think it worked really well. It was a welcome break from the usual personal endings that seem to be one of Steven Bochco's trademarks (remember all those scenes with Joyce and Pizza Man in the bathtub at the end of Hill Street Blues? Gracie and her gorilla man on LA Law? Not to mention everyone on this show.) It wasn't exactly a cliffhanger since, given the fact that they didn't get their man, we're not shocked to learn the serial killings will continue. It was more like a powerful punctuation mark. Nicely done.

MOMZILLA V. THE GUN

Another story arc, albeit shorter, that was fun to follow. This one not so much because we got a deeper look into Greg and Baldwin (though it's a shame we didn't) but because we got to see more of this twisted little family. Really fine performances from the guest actors here.

I loved the theme under this story: just how aggressive some truly passive people are. People like this father fool most folks into feeling sorry for them. They play the victim perfectly. But it's really all about selfishness. He chooses to be a victim by not stepping up to the plate for his kids, and by running away to blow off steam when he should be uncorking it full blast onto his bitch of a wife. Then, when he finally decides it's time to do something, he uses his own kids to get it done. What's worse, he gets away with it. And even worse than that, people who don't get the whole passive aggressive psyche will still feel sorry for him and say he's not to blame. Great story. It left me pissed off because they didn't really get the bad guy.

I saw some potential in this story for both Greg and Baldwin to take this one a little more personally. In light of Baldwin's efforts where Michael is concerned, a little mention of family and damaged kids wouldn't have been out of line. And from Greg this week, I was getting the distinct impression that he was pretty well fed up with the, as he put it, bullshit all the way around. I've never seen so much disbelief in Greg's face before: here's Gordon Clapp saying a million words with one glance at Alison in that first scene with her. It was perfect. And he did it again with Kurt and with the father. Hell, maybe he didn't any more to say consider what his face said. Still, it would have been cool to have him relate it in some way to his own annoying ex-wife and his own two normal kids. Or maybe Greg could have mentioned the children of the woman he's seeing...oh wait...5-million episodes after Donna and he's still alone...what's up with that? Get that man a woman! (Apparently, I haven't written that loudly enough.)

THE DEVLIN

So freaky girl is freaky for a reason. I'm not buying this one. I admit I know very little about manic depression, but I have my doubts someone with a problem like that could make it through college, med school and a residency in an emergency department in NYC with it. I could be wrong, but....hell, I'm just not buying her as an ER doc at all, anyway. She just doesn't seem smart enough. Years ago, I knew a doc (who had, coincidentally, done his residency in an NYC ED), and while he was a fun guy, he was also damn serious about what he was doing. The pressure is enormous, the hours are ridiculous.

Maybe it's because every time we've seen this chick for more than thirty seconds she's either been naked, acting freaky (or both) or getting caught with her pants down on the witness stand. We've never really gotten to see her act smart or capable. At first, that was cool because Junior seemed to be going for it totally based on her outstanding looks. But now, he seems to be in it for a little more than that (calling her pet names, saying things like "this isn't you, Jen."). The problem is that we, the audience, don't have a clue what else it is he sees in her. It's easy to understand a guy going for the beauty; we can see that, after all. But having him involved with her on a more emotional level? If that's the case, we've been left in the dust on that one.

That's a two-pronged problem. First, it shows a lack of character development. Second, it points out the difficulty in having Our Heroes screwing non-squad people; you either spend a few minutes beefing up these outside folks (which takes minutes away from the inside folks), or you end up with a thin character we couldn't care less about. The bottom line is that we're in it to see how Junior handles his life, but if she's going to be part of it, his story will only be made better by adding little depth to hers. (This was done quite successfully with Danny and Mary, you may recall. But, she was a cop, so it all fit nicely into the show.)

By the way, as much I don't care for the Devlin character's development, I think the actress playing her does a great job. She's totally scary.

CONNIE'S BAD CLAM

I know a bunch of you have been bellyaching (no pun intended, I swear) about how they're going to have Connie pregnant when she said she was infertile. And some of you negative Nellie's have even gone so far as to write and say you thought-- and I quote-- "knowing the writers," they'd just ignore it. Well, you don't know the writers. When have they ever left something that huge unexplained? C'mon! Get a grip on yourselves!

I was pleased to see a very plausible and totally believable explanation. Connie was told when she was a teenager that her tubes were occluded. She's in her 30s now, and hey, the docs 20 years ago when she hadn't even finished growing yet turned out be wrong about her chances of getting pregnant. Doctors so frequently are, especially when it comes to women's bodies. (Until very recently, nearly every scrap of medical research ever done has been done on the male body. That's why it was big news a few years back that the famous heart attack symptoms we're trained to recognize are often completely different or completely non-existent when women are having heart attacks.) Anyway, I had no trouble believing this. And I've been told that men who have prostate surgery are not necessarily infertile.

The only thing I had a hard time buying was the fact that Connie was surprised by the news. Not because of her missed periods--she explained that just fine --but because when they draw blood for a pregnancy test, the usually do the test right there in the office. When they draw blood for other tests, they usually have to send it out for days on end. Unless her doctor told her she was going to get blood work immediately (and I mean really fast considering she left work, went in on an emergency, waited however long the wait was, got the test done and results back and then made it back to work...), she had to have know he was testing her for pregnancy, right? Has anyone gotten blood work back for anything else that fast outside of a hospital emergency room? And when they run a pregnancy test, they usually tell you that's what they're doing. Having her surprised is fine, but it would have been a better sell to me if she's dropped her jaw as he was saying something like "Why Connie, I think you're pregnant little darlin'! Let's draw some blood and see..." Also, they don't usually tell you how far along you are without an internal. He could have been waaaay off. Well, hell, I'm not a doctor. I'll just shut up about that now.

I'll add only that I'm glad she didn't tell Andy at work. Poor guy is 57, after all.

QUICK HITS

*Charlotte Ross not only nails every one of Connie's emotions with perfect pitch week after week, she's a damn good barfer. She's probably had some practice lately, but maybe I should give the credit to the sound guys. I'm thinking that splat we heard when she hurled into the garbage can was something they generated. At least I hope so.

*On barfing in the movies and TV: why do the actors always cough when they do a fake hurl? Not that I throw up all that often, but who coughs in the middle of it? After, maybe, but coughing usually involves inhaling rather deeply first and that's just about the last thing you can manage when your stomach is turning itself inside out. The barf sound is something different entirely, and I've yet to hear an actor actually do it.

*Jennifer Devlin may have the fakest looking boobs since Baldwin's first girlfriend. They're the kid of boobs that when you lie down, they're still standing at attention. The kind that when she reaches the graceful old age of 80 will still be pointing toward the big dipper while the rest of her is resting comfortably around her ankles where it belongs. They're like cartoons. Honestly, I don't get the attraction.

*That super should be ashamed of himself! Wearing a black lace bra with red panties so 80s Club Slut.

*Which reminds me: Once again, the boys are the winners in the eye candy department. They get the lovely, if not entirely real, Dr. Devlin slinking around in that see through Thong Thing and what do we get? Hairy man boobs in a black lace Emma from Victoria's Secret.

*More from the wardrobe department: I think everyone except Connie and Diane was wearing blue or purple tonight. Or is something wrong with my TV?

*I thought the interview with Ray (Kurt's little firebug friend) was really cool because they set it in a playground. There was a nice poignancy to that. It showed that the kid is, after all, just a kid. He was on the swingset listening to his walkman. How much of a tough guy can he be? And then they had him sitting on that camel for the interview. I really loved all that.

*An astute contributor to the weekly NYPD Blue discussion pointed out to me last week that on the mantle in the Ackerman's home sits the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. I think I saw them this week. Another nice touch.

*Who but PJohn, and perhaps I when I'm writing, uses the word "missive?" This is an example of great economy in character. One word says so much about the guy. Excellent choice, beloved writers. (See, there I go again..."beloved"...who talks like that?)

*Another thing that puts the whole Dr. Devlin relationship into the realm of the unbelievable for me: every sex scene these two do looks like it was ripped from the letters column in a skin magazine. "I was in the midst of a grisly murder investigation, but I could smell that vixen's perfume in the squad room. She sent me a red letter three times that day, and when I walked into the candle-lit hotel room...." All that's missing is a twin sister. Also, I think that hotel room idea was used on Hill Street once, although with a totally different ending. (It was one of the funniest scenes on that show, and one of about two I remember clearly.)

*That boyfriend with the fish sticks? That killed me! What a hoot. No wonder she dumped the bozo. I think I'd write a letter to Cosmo if a guy ever sent me fish sticks to make a point, just so every other woman in the world could laugh at him too! That was really funny stuff. Too bad his name wasn't Gorton.

*That guy spitting in his final interview was really gross. I know sometimes when actors get going, the spit do fly, especially if they've recently eaten, but that was some serious overflow. *That* guy should have been sitting on the camel instead of Ray! I got a kick out of the quick little shot of Diane after that wiping her face, and I wondered if it was planned.

*Before you write and ask me, no, I don't know what the sign said in the stock footage at the top of the show. It went too fast for my little peepers and I can't pause a good picture on my VCR.

*I'll finish up by saying I really hope Diane and Connie can be pals again before Diane leaves in two more episodes.

CAST LEGACIES

I refer you to the great Internet Movie Database if you'd like to look one of these folks up and find out where you've seen him or her before:

Chandra West as Jennifer Devlin, Philip Angelotti as uniform no. 1, Michael Reillly Burke as James Carlin, Billy Kay as Kurt Ackerman, Molly Hagan as Nancy Ackerman, Jim Abele as Howard Ackerman, Rheagan Wallace as Alison Ackerman, Michael Patrick McGill as uniform no. 2, Michael Cavalieri as Ron Hanler, Nick Offerman as Steven Debrees, Harry Danner as Dr. Appell, Joe Sabatino as uniform no. 3 and John Gallagher Jr as Ray Spier.

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Friends, 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 drop by Alan's site for a refresher on the FAQ and other fun stuff: Alan Sepinwall's NYPD Blue Homepage

LINES OF THE WEEK

PJohn to JohnC: "Another missive!"
Andy: "What is this, junior high?"

And the one that struck me as totally hilarious was Andy who asked the super with such gravity: "What were doing in the dead girl's panties?"

NEXT WEEK:

The manhunt for the murderer continues; Diane has her biopsy; Connie Junior continues to adjust to her new home.

It's always great to hear from you, so drop me a line if you feel like it. Remember to make the subject header obvious because I'm a spam-deletin' fool.

Have a safe & happy Halloween. Boo, etc.,
Amanda Wilson