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

Season 8 Episode 1
"Daveless In New York"  1/9/01
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead & Jody Worth
Story by Bill Clark, Jody Worth & Matt Olmstead
Directed by Mark Tinker

Welcome back!  Let me say first that if you hated the Danny & Diane pairing, I'm with you. And let me add that it's no reason to tune out forever: it won't last.  More on that in the review. But first, the summary:

BURGER MURDER

The whole squad's working a multiple murder and robbery at Zips, your favorite downtown burger joint. Three of the teenage grease vendors have been executed; one (Derrick) lived with just a bullet scratch on his head.  For a change, our heroes get absolutely no where on canvas and come up short with a supposed witness: a poor dumpster diver who has fried every brain cell except the one that tells him what time the Zips boys take out the trash in the morning.

Their only hope is that Derrick, dazed from his wound and upset over the deaths of co-workers but otherwise okay, will recognize someone from the mug books.

Officer Shannon to the rescue: He brings in a run-of-the-mill crack head (Corey) who botched his first robbery.  Danny, Diane and Andy talk to him.  Corey has all the markers of a junkie. He's bouncing off the walls, talking really fast, desperate to get out, trying anything to make them let him go.  He offers to tell them a story that might give him some slack on the robbery and get him out of there faster.  The story is that he drove a couple of guys over to Zips the night before so they could do a robbery. And he adds that he heard a few rounds popping while he was waiting. He took off at the sound of the shots.  He gives up the name of one of the guys: Johnny D. and says he and the "other clown" (Tyree James) had a guy inside that was going to help, a guy named  Derrick.

This news is passed on to Baldwin, who up to this point has been a source of great comfort to the grieving Derrick. Baldwin's attitude changes drastically, however, and you might say he becomes a source of some discomfort to Derrick.  Derrick eventually folds under Baldwin's impressive stance, reminders that he'll feel guilt the rest of his life over the deaths, and the news that if he doesn't help out he's going to end up going down for all three murders alone.  It's decided that Derrick will be taken along to scout the areas where Johnny D and his friend Tyree hang out.

Meanwhile, Corey, who's been left to sit tight in the pokey while his information is checked out, is doing anything but sitting tight.  He's coming unglued. Danny goes in to calm him down and finds that the reason he's wigging out is that he owes five-thousand dollars to a drug dealer named Tico and that Tico has Corey's 5-year-old daughter as collateral.  

Now with a kidnapping to deal with, Danny, Diane and Andy go in search of the child.  Corey has given them an address. Since they're all tied up and since Greg is busy with Internal Affairs, Lt. Fancy decides to hit the streets with Baldwin and Derrick.  Derrick finds Johnny and Tyree, and Baldwin and Fancy grab them up without incident.

The raid to recover the child is not as successful.   Andy, Danny and Diane return to the house empty handed.  They chat again with Corey who this time says words to the effect of, "Hey, you could just page Tico..."  Andy is incredulous that this freak had the pager number all the time and didn't tell them.  They page, the get an address and they find the girl. Tico, of course, denies kidnapping her. He does this while holding her against his chest and pointing a large knife at her skull. All ends well, though, when the cops convince him that his story is perfectly believable and that maybe Corey is the one who's lying.

RAT SQUAD

The entire squad is under scrutiny over the Kirkendall affair. We learn that in the months after they took down Denby and Don Kirkendall, Jill told IAB that she confided to some of her co-workers how her "asshole, dope-slinging ex-husband Don" took little Frank hostage. That's why they went after him and Denby. Case closed until some new information came to light. Near as they can figure, Don, who is about to go on trial, told IAB that it was Jill,  not he, who was running the drug ring and that her friends in the 1-5 were in on the operation, too.  IAB is checking this out.  

Representing the members of the squad is one Leo Cohen, former ADA who's gone into private practice now and was recommended to them by their union. Andy's not too happy about it, but goes along.

  Greg is the first one to get grilled by the cheese-eaters. He's brilliantly befuddled and gives Sgt. Martens virtually nothing. Martens, still a good guy-bad guy, turns off the tape and tells Medavoy that if the squad wants to back up its story about the kidnapping of Frank, they need to find Denby's girlfriend who was holding the child hostage upstate.

   Diane decides she's the only one who can get Denby to help.  She's heard that he's not helping Don.  He's been suspended from the PD pending an investigation into his evil doings and is working as a truck driver for the city.  He's also apparently had a little AA training and, some months back, wrote Diane an amends letter.  She never read it.  She explains this to Danny who wants to go after Denby himself. Diane realizes that he won't help Danny, but that she may have a shot at him. She meets him and finds that he's the same sleazy jerk she knew and hated before. After several cheap and slimy attempts to get laid, he agrees to find his old girlfriend, Lauren.  The catch is that Diane must meet him tomorrow to find out where Lauren is.     

THEO'S ILLNESS

Theo's doctors said it would take six months before they could tell for sure if  his illness was leukemia or just a bad reaction to drugs or some other less-serious condition.  The six month mark is five days away, and Andy is frantic. He's looking for any sign that Theo is better.  Katie won't make him feel better by agreeing the boy looks healthy, and Andy spends most every spare minute of the day on the phone with the doctor's office trying to get them to give Theo the test early.   Andy says he can't stand the wait any longer.

Finally, he just takes Theo down to the office and asks in person if they could squeeze him in for the test. The doctor comes out.  She says she can't see any difference in Theo's color, and she tells Andy that if the test is not good news today, he must promise to have Theo ready for chemotherapy beginning tomorrow. Katie urges him to wait the five days. Andy says no, and takes Theo back with the doctor to have the final blood test.

DIANE AND DANNY

In the six months since we last saw them, they've been spending a lot more time together.   Andy's been preoccupied with Theo and/or gone a lot, and these two have worked many more cases together.  The familiarity is evident right away as Diane reaches into his pocket for a pen (and perhaps a paper clip) at the murder scene.  Later, they're laughing together as they walk up the stairs.  

Mary, still working upstairs in Anti-Crime, sees this as she approaches Danny to arrange a date.  They settle on tomorrow night, but Danny seems reluctant.  Mary seems wise that  his affections might be directed toward Diane.

Diane asks him about Mary. He says it's not going well. She suggests he take Mary to Vermont for a long weekend. He suggests that he take her to Vermont instead. Wham. Flirt over. Diane tells him that made her uncomfortable.

Later, Danny apologizes saying he wouldn't want to do anything to hurt their friendship.  He says he probably misread signals from her. She says he didn't misread signals, but that under the circumstances, it's best left platonic.  He's disappointed but he'll live.  

More eyeballing and such continues throughout the work of the day until he insists that he meet with Denby. She skates around that and goes herself. He's clearly concerned (and jealous, most likely), knowing that Denby has not been the perfect gentleman with Diane.

Dinner time and Diane gets a knock on the door. Danny's there with a pizza pretending he's the delivery boy who made a mistake. She laughs and invites him in. She catches him up on Denby and he takes her hand to comfort her at her distress over the situation. This hand-holding leads to Diane suggesting he leave. He agrees, but in the middle of his explanation about why he agrees, she begins to kiss him. They take a roll in the hay. (Yeah, huh. Bobby's hay.)


  

REVIEW

Usually, I break this all up into the various sections of the show, and do them in order, but I think I'll go sort of backward this time.

First, I think it's too early to tell that David Milch is gone from the day-to-day operation of the show. He has a new credit (Executive Consultant), but this episode is very Milch-like to me.  Maybe it'll seem different on down the road as we see shows where his involvement was even smaller.  

My main thought is that this is not a great way to start off the new season.   I loved the IAB stuff; the murder story was twisty and interesting, but let me get to all that later.  What you really want to talk/read about is Danny and Diane.

OK, so, Danny and Diane....hated it. Those of you who read this space often know that I've been, unlike may of you, ready for this pairing. In a lot of ways, I thought it made sense to put them together. But not this way.

For me, what's wrong with the Danny/Diane romance is not any of the things people have been typically complaining about: I'm not bothered by the age difference;  I don't care that they work together; it doesn't even matter to me that he's in Bobby's desk, locker, now wife (just leave those pigeons alone, man).

The big problem here is that there was no build up to this at all. None. And that's just bad storytelling.

I know, I know, six months has gone by and this show has always gone along in real time, but I think it's a mistake to expect the audience to pick up in a totally new place when it comes to an intimate relationship.  We can go along with Andy spending those months worried over Theo, or Don cooking up a nasty new story to tease IAB with, or Leo leaving the ADA's office, but when it comes to seeing two of our main characters sharing what are supposed to be soft and intimate horizontal moments, we need a little.... well, foreplay, dammit.  

Last time we saw Danny and Diane kiss, they jumped away from each other as if hit by cattle prods. Now, they're lip locked and all's supposed to be well. I'm not buying it, but done the right way, I could have.

As it is, it's so untrue to the Diane character that it makes me mad. I have loved the way they've developed her character over the years, especially since Bobby died. And then, wham, we get this cheap little romp that is totally out of the blue (should have been out of the Blue.)

Add to that the fact that these two have a chemistry rating somewhere in the negative numbers, and you've got a painful thing to watch.

The good news is that it's not going to last. I don't ususally do the spoiler thing, but in the interest of keeping people from turning away in droves, I'm spilling that one. I have it on the best authority that the relationship is doomed. As it should be. The sooner the better. ;)

All I will say about Andy and Theo is please, put us all out of our misery, especially Andy.  I am so done with this.  I realize we need to wrap things up, but could we do it without endless heavy breathing and hand wringing from Andy? You'd think a guy who's spent his entire career as a street cop in NYC and then been a single dad for a while would have learned to calm down a little in the face of a crisis. Yes, I know it's his son, and yes, extreme worry seems normal, BUT it's been six months. If he'd been that freaky the entire time, he'd have stroked out probably mid-October.  

And the positioning of those weary, desperate phone calls next to him being brilliantly funny on the phone with Tico didn't work for me.  It seems to me that people who are that intensely worried can't turn around quite that quickly and be "on."  It made Andy seem less real to me.  Maybe if he'd done something after he hung up, like some small bit of business that let us know it took an enormous effort for him to pull that off in his current state of mind....

  On to what was cool and good and what makes Blue still tick for me, and thank God there was some of that.

   I wish more time had been spent on the IAB arc and far, far less on Danny, Diane and Theo.  This has some potential.  It's a story about their work, but it can also combine their personalities and friendships with each other in a very unique way.  There wasn't really enough of it to tell if that's going to be the case.  I hope so.  

    Gordon Clapp, who's nothing if not consistent, was fantastic in the IAB scene. You know I love Medavoy, and this kind of scene is why.  It's hands-down the best few minutes of the show. The whole thing looked great, from the first view from behind the rats' heads.  Medavoy hitting the microphone was a big highlight and perfectly executed. It added to the overall nervy feel of the scene.

     I was very happy to see Leo Cohen. I've always loved that guy, too. Such a nudge, that Leo, but fun.  He always puts Andy in his place, but still manages to look like a dork doing it.  That can't be an easy bit of acting (or writing).  Leo's a fine character all around.  I don't know what Michael Silver is up to on ER these days (talk about your old, dried up formulas), but I hope it's over and that he'll be part of Blue for a long time.       

    Just a few words about the triple-murder story.  From time to time--frequently, actually--I see efforts being made to make the stories more real by not having them wrap up so easily for the cops.  This has to be hard to do given that it's a hour-long show (as opposed to a movie) and that one of the things they set out to do is have the good guys win all the time.  This story was one of those efforts.

   There was no incredible detective work here; it was luck, as it is so often in the real world. Perhaps a little convenient, having Corey cough up only one thing to try to get out from under his pile of shit and that one thing is just the triple-homicide they're working, but it wasn't a huge stretch for me because Corey really needed money and we knew why. He didn't get it from Johnny D. because he took off after hearing the shots.  He had to try a robbery himself to get the money he needed to get his daughter back.  And yeah, that'd all happen in the same precinct and on the same day.  

   The best part of the story, of course, was seeing Fancy out of his office.  He did fine. He fits in on the street.  I don't have near enough real knowledge of the NYPD to say if that happens often, but it would have been nice to see Fancy doing more on cases than answering phones and saying, "Go pick that guy up."   I liked it that he just spoke and the bad guy when down on his knees.  Baldy had to rough his guy up a bit. ( Though, really, if you were going to run from either of those guys--which would seem ill-advised--wouldn't you run from the older one?) Anyway, it gave Fancy an extra air of authority, didn't it? Just in time for him to...well, we don't know. Maybe get some huge promotion and leave? Maybe get work with Senator Clinton? (I can't wait to hear what Andy will say about her...he has to say something about her...)

Diane & Denby? Wonderfully creepy, as usually. Denby is so incredibly sickening that it's hard not to like seeing him all the time. I'd have changed only one thing: When he says to Diane (and, yeah, I wrote this down) "You're a woman in your prime with strong unmet needs, and I'm graciously offering my services." She comes back with a totally lame-o line like, "I hate you." Now that's a missed chance for a line of the week if I ever I saw one. "I hate you" is what a 12-year-old girl says to her big brother when he flips mashed potatoes off his fork into her face at the dinner table. Diane's a smart woman. I want her to win! She's supposed to have the last great word, not him! How about something like: Denby: "You're a woman in your prime with strong unmet needs, and I'm graciously offering my services." Diane: "Thing is, Denby, I'd need a man for that." Or something equally ouchy.

QUICK HITS

No disrespect to Mr. Schroder intended (or to Mrs. Schroder, for that matter) but do the initials P.W.A. mean anything to anyone but me? Get a tan, Stan! You're on national TV!

Not only were they in Bobby's bed, but Diane was wearing her wedding ring. Meow!

OK, who went after my beloved Bill Brochtrup with the Flo-Bee?? Oh hell, he's cute anyway.

Hank! Double Hank! What a doll.

In fact, we saw lots of our usuals: Shannon (still trying to impress Danny), Josh (still an asshole), and a one-second glimpse of Officer Miller (still....um....wearing a hat.)

Another favorite scene: Derrick popping up and down in the back seat of the car with Fancy and Baldwin.

When Shannon shows up with a run-of-the-mill robbery (Corey), do three detectives usually go in to interview the guy? Especially after Shannon makes it a point to tell Danny he didn't even have to talk to the guy at all? They all went in before they knew it was anything other than a botched stick-up.

Baldwin...let that man lift a few more tables.

No wonder Andy left Katie. She couldn't even humor the poor man for one second by saying something like, "Yeah, you know, Theo does look better now that you mention it." What's the harm in calming down a frantic parent? So what if it turns out bad in the end. You can just be there then, too.

Diane old enough to be Danny's mother? Hardly. In real life, she's 9 or 10 years older. In show life, I dunno, probably the same. But after 30, that kind of time is usually meaningless, especially for men. Besides, she's not going to say that to a guy, least of all one she's been signaling. Words like that should be a major turn off.

From the I Pay Too Much Damn Attention Department: I was annoyed a bit in the beginning of the scene with Denby and Diane when they were switching back and forth between shots from behind Diane and shots from behind Denby, because Diane had her arms crossed in one shot, then down in the next, then crossed again, then down. Either that kind of thing doesn't usually happen, or I've just never noticed it before, but that stood out a lot to me for some reason. Oh, Amanda. Get a life, child.

Danny and Diane sure were risking a lot having that little post-Vermont discussion there at the water fountain in the hallway. I mean, Mary could have dumped a pan of lasagna on their heads from the landing upstairs at any moment!

Speaking of Mary, I know many of you are going to want her little quip to be line of the week, but I can't bring myself to do it. After she and Danny arranged their date for tomorrow night (which ought to be real interesting in light of who he's with tonight), she says "I'll make lasagna. Pretend you deserve it." I can't make it the line because I HATE women who say things like that. Women who use lines like that, who beat men over the head with shit like that, give all women a bad name. Does he deserve her lasagna? What the hell does that mean? Here's how healthy people interact: She makes it for him because she wants to, end of story. The way it is now, it's a killer relationship, and if Danny were my friend, I'd suggest he get the hell out of it this weekend instead of taking her manipulative, passive-aggressive ass to Vermont. Now, wanna know how I really feel? :)

CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO

Previously On NYPD Blue: Sheeri Rappaport (Mary); Debra Monk (Katie); Michael B. Silver (previously Michael Buchman Silver) (Leo Cohen); James McBride (Shannon); Hank Murph (Hank!); Scott Alan Campbell (Martens); Gwynyth Walsh (Dr. Timmons); Scott Cohen (Harry Denby); Austin Majors (Theo Sipowicz) and...

Mike Tinker (Det. Taylor, the IAB guy who can't spell): His brother, Executive Producer Mark Tinker, directed this episode. When he's not helping his brother out on NYPD Blue, Mike is an LAPD detective. For more on the two Tinkers, search today's LA Times Entertainment section. There's a terrific and warm little article on them there.

Tom Cappadona (Dwight the Dumpster Diver): He's been on L&O several times and had a gig on The Sopranos. Darnell Williams (Corey): He's done ER and Chicago Hope and was on White Shadow back in the day (another Tinker venture). Rounding out the cast: Perry Moore (Derrick); Darris Love, Deon Gregory & Kiva Dawson (the three burnouts in the first raid); Gregory Norma Cruz (Tico); Cynthia Yantis (Nurse Joyce); Steven Hack (Phil); Joselyn Reyes (Florez); Marjorie Johnson (Bernice Calloway).

LINES OF THE WEEK

Corey, after every sentence he utters: "Know what I'm sayin'?"

Andy: Hey, nitwit, when we don't know what you're saying, we'll flag you down."

 

Corey, shouting after Andy to let him out of the cage: "Dude! Dude! Dude! Sir?"

 

Denby to Diane after getting shut down several times: "I love you!" (that one was all in the delivery)

and my favorite:

Medavoy, explaining the whereabouts of Frank Kirkendall: "....in Canandaigua.

Det. Taylor: "How do you spell that?"

Medavoy: "C-A-N....day-gwa."

What did I miss?

 

Thanks!

Amanda Wilson