NYPD Blue, Season 3, Episode 6,
Curt Russell
Story by Bill Clark & Leonard Gardner
Teleplay by Leonard Gardner
Directed by Jim Charleston
To skip straight down to the review, click here.

PLOT ONE: HOLY COW, ANDY

Andy and Bobby's latest homicide investigation involves a dead East Indian woman found strangled, with bite marks on her hands, in her stalled-out car. Andy's not wild about the possibilities - the Hindu religion (particularly the sacred cow thing) baffles him, and he's convinced that the murder will have been caused by a curse placed on the family generations ago or something equally absurd.

The woman and her husband ran a fancy Indian restaurant with funds from a financier in Bombay. The husband (whose name is pronounced "Moot-oh-pod-yuh") doesn't have much useful information for Sipowicz, but their teenage daughter Asha reveals that her mother had been arguing with Jatine, their houseboy. It turns out that Jatine and Asha harbored romantic feelings for one another, and when the mother found a photo of Asha among Jatine's things, she was prepared to fire him and send him back to India. After Bobby threatens to get a court order to make a cast of Jatine's teeth to match with the bite marks on the victim, Jatine confesses.

PLOT TWO: SOMETHING IN COMMON

Russell and Lesniak catch a case involving a DOA found on the sidwalk outside Bellevue Hospital. The dead man, Cecil Green, apparently overdosed on heroin. Adrianne calls in the father, Crawford, who can't believe what happened; he claims that he got a call earlier in the day from a Leonard McKay, who shot up frequently with Cecil, and that McKay assured him that he would take Cecil to the hospital after Cecil's OD.

In an effort to get back at McKay, Mr. Green tells the detectives that Leonard's a big-time fence for a gangster named Jimmy Thibaldi. Fancy ok's a sting operation, with Russell going undercover to make a buy from McKay. Because all the detectives in the squad are out on cases, he sets up a backup from Anti-Crime. When Bobby complains loudly about the backup (see Plot Four), Greg and James volunteer to shelve their case (see Plot Three) temporarily to assist.

Diane gets dolled up in her best hooker-wear, and approaches McKay, who fences out of his van, about buying a handgun. After selling her a "clean" piece for a hundred bucks, the other detectives move in to make the bust.

Later that afternoon, Mr. Green comes back to the precincthouse, where Diane forces him to tell the truth - that he was in the room with Cecil and Leonard, shooting up with them. He wearily confesses, claiming that Cecil turned him on to drugs - "It was something we had in common." He couldn't go with McKay to Bellevue, because the last time he was there (after an OD of his own), he stole some pills. Diane tells him that he's not under arrest, and suggests that he get some help; he doesn't really see the point, now that his son's dead.

PLOT THREE: BETTER LIVING THROUGH PLASTIC

While fixing a flat on their car (it hit a pothole), James and Greg answer a call about a video store holdup a block away. The clerk reveals that the stick-up man ran out after she refused to give him any money, and, as she's giving a description to the detectives, she spots the perp running out of a Korean grocery across the street - he tried robbing that place, too. James and Greg nab him with little trouble, as he's apparently hopped up on some drug.

Marvin, the perp, is rather flaky - he claims he was "just goofing" when he tried to rob the two stores. Neither storeowner decides to press charges, but Greg's intrigued by the abundance of credit card receipts that Marvin was carrying when he was busted. After leaving him in the cage for a few hours to help out Lesniak and Russell, they return to find Marvin's much more coherent than before. He tells them that he buys credit card flimsies from various restaurants and stores in the neighborhood, then sells them to his friend Sergei, who's developed a system to take stolen credit cards and imprint them with new numbers. They bust Sergei, who's apparently in the middle of being serviced by a prostitute.

PLOT FOUR: WALKING ON EGGSHELLS

Bobby raises quite a scene in the squadroom while complaining about the "cowboys" from Anti-Crime who are supposed to back up the McKay bust, which upsets both Diane and Fancy. The Lieutenant chews out Bobby for questioning his assignments and tells him that if he gets so worked up about Diane putting herself at risk, then maybe one of them should transfer out. Meanwhile, Diane's ticked because Bobby made her look like a jerk in front of the rest of the squad.

At the end of the shift, Bobby attempts to apologize. After what happened to his wife, he just has a hard time seeing the woman he loves in dangerous situations. Diane tells him that she can't change the way she works just because Bobby's still obsessing about his wife's death, but she doesn't want to lose him. Bobby suggests that they take a night off from each other to think about things.

MISCELLANEOUS THREADS:

Donna is still taking some time off, apparently to do some computer training. Crew-cut, bull-shaped Evelyn Sachser, the temp replacement has neither Donna's looks nor John's charms, and manages to rub virtually the entire squad the wrong way in only one day.

After finally giving up on Adrianne, James has found himself a girlfriend: Anita, a dietician who's constantly watching what James eats. When Adrianne comments that she doesn't think he needs to lose weight, he dismisses her opinion, since Anita is a professional (and probably because he's not interested in any of Adrianne's opinions at the moment).

While doing the paperwork on the McKay bust, Adrianne and Diane discuss the difficulty of office relationships, which leads Adrianne to confess that, while she was only claiming to be a lesbian to get Greg and James off her back, she's starting to have real doubts about her sexuality. Diane suggests that she try one of John's meetings, in search of "the glove that fits."


Immediately after a friend and I finished watching "Curt Russell" (they have to give the guy who writes the titles a raise, btw), we got into a lengthy discussion about the show's tendency to wrap everything up by the end of an episode. "That's not the way they used to do it," he said. That's pretty much what everyone's been saying lately, myself included.

But, you know, I started to think about it for a while, and eventually realized that, aside from the ongoing Licalsi thread, the bulk of season one was a case of "resolve everything in an hour." Seriously. I defy anyone to name a case (not a personal subplot, as there were plenty of them then, as well as now) that wasn't either solved or at least resolved before the end credits rolled.

I think what's bugged me isn't so much that each story is self-contained, but that most of these self-contained stories weren't particularly interesting. When the writers either add some kind of emotional/moral depth (like both stories last week), or some bit of character development (like James' first few solo investigations), then I don't really notice or care that the perp confessed without asking for a lawyer. But when all we're given is: "Andy and Bobby investigate a murder, interview two witnesses, arrest a suspect, coax a confession and go home to have sex," as happened so often last year, it bothers me.

So what does all this have to do with the latest episode, you ask? Simple: even though all three crimes were, for the most part, by the numbers investigations, there was enough other trimmings to keep me entertained. "Curt Russell" isn't a standout, to be sure, but I enjoyed it.

For one thing, the writing was even wittier than usual - there were more good lines in the pre-credits teaser alone than there are in some episodes. And even though I didn't particularly care at all about the Indian houseboy (and, before anyone gets on my case, I'm sure I spelled everyone's name wrong), I was glad to see that Andy's prejudices haven't entirely been sweapt under the rug. I also found it interesting (and reassuring) that neither Bobby nor Fancy really stopped to give Andy a PC lecture here; they just laughed and, when it turned out all his fears about the case were unfounded, the Lieu made an off-hand comment poking fun at Andy. Then again, would they have been so casual about it if Andy was making stereotypical cracks about blacks? Hmm....

Of far more interest to me were the other two cases, as they gave more of a spotlight to the other detectives on the squad, particularly the new Russell/Lesniak partnership, of which I hope to see a lot more. This may be the first time that they've given all the detectives their own storyline in a single episode (it felt a bit like an episode of Homicide, in that respect); I hope we see a lot more of this in the future.

On the subject of Adrianne's lesbianism, the writers have apparently taken an approach that a few people here predicted, but that falls in between all the "is she lying or not?" speculation. It does remind me a bit of the Abby/C.J. plot from a few years back on "LA Law," in which one of the lawyers decided to experiment with being "flexible," but I think I have to question Adrianne's rationale here. I haven't had many extraordinarily successful relationships with women, but that hasn't made me start questioning my sexuality. Considering the skimpy outfit Diane was wearing while she was undercover, it might have been interesting for Adrianne to comment that, since she had that talk with Upstairs John, she's started looking at women differently, and that she felt a little strange watching Diane parade down the street.

Speaking of Diane, I do hope they find more opportunities for her to go undercover, and not because I happen to find Kim Delaney rather attractive. :-) Quite simply, the only time that I really buy her as a cop is when she's purposely not acting like one - I saw her talk to McKay here (or flirt with Curtis the bartender in her very first appearance), and I thought to myself, "She's good at what she does."

Bobby's over-protective behavior towards Diane was a bit cliche, but perfectly in character; I've been waiting for a comment about his wife for weeks. It was also a nice change of pace to see Saint Bobby be the one in the wrong, for once.

James and Greg's case was fun, if for no other reason than that I loved the actor playing Marvin. I do have to wonder, though, about the feasability of Marvin and Sergei's scheme. How many stores, hotels and restaurants still use those old-fashioned credit card receipt-makers? Even the local supermarket in my neighborhood (which could politely be referred to as run-down) has electronic card-readers which read the card's magnetic strip, which would make the numbers on the card meaningless. Am I missing something here?

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