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

Season 8, Episode 17

"Dying To Testify" 5/1/01

Teleplay by Matt Olmstead

Story by Bill Clark & Matt Olmstead

Directed by Dennis White

Summary

(FYI: I wrote this once and my computer ate it. After crying for a while, I rewrote it, but it's a lot shorter and it sucks.)

MURDER: Andy, Danny, Greg and Baldwin investigate the murder of a man in clothing store.  There have been several similar crimes reported, and in each one of them, the store clerk is threatened with death if he or she talks.

  Molly, the store clerk in this case, is terrified.  After spending several hours tracking down the suspect: they found a name on a receipt, that name led to an off-the-cuff story that led to a friend of the suspect which led to the suspect.

   When they finally get Jay, the suspect, in the house, he refuses to confess. They try several tactics, a few of them involving Molly returning to the house to ID him. Andy tries very hard to keep her from having to testify, but fails since he can't get a confession. Now her hopes hang on a plea after indictment.

WITNESS: Already humorless, ADA Heywood arrives at the 15th with a big problem: her investigators have messed up and lost a key witness for a murder trial that is slated for 9am the next day.  Connie and Diane find the woman, Tisha, and spend the night keeping an eye on her. The next day, Tisha goes to the courthouse with Valerie.  The defense attorney is stricken by food poisoning, however, and the case is continued.  In the course of working that out, Tisha slips away back into the wind. She indulges her former drug habit and ends up lying in a pool of blood.

DIANE & DANNY:  Danny confesses to Andy that he was parked outside Diane's last night. Andy admits that's not good. Danny says he thought he was over her, but can't deal with her dating someone. He tells Andy he wants to transfer before he does something stupid. Andy thinks that's OK, but doesn't want to see his partner leave.

   Diane, meanwhile, ends up in a girl chat session in her apartment with Connie and Tisha while they're watching Tisha.  Tisha finds a photo of Bobby and gets the story on him, then gives Diane some hard-core stranger advice: keep your dead in a photo album and get up and get out of his apartment.

  Diane takes that to heart and puts in for a transfer. Danny does too, and that's when he finds out about hers. He apologizes to her. She tells him it's her not him. Later, Connie tries to persuade her to take a hardship leave instead of a transfer. That way she can come back easily.

CONNIE: In her talks with Diane, we learn that Connie's dad died five years ago. He was a police chief in Saratoga Springs, NY. They didn't get along because Connie got pregnant at age 16. They put the baby (girl) up for adoption. She's 15 now, and Connie knows where she is but has not tried to contact her.

BALDY & VAL: After her  horrible day, Baldwin goes to visit Valerie at her house. He tells her to loosen up and let him care for her. She says no. He asks again. She says no. This goes on for a long time. Finally, she beats herself up about not being able to anticipate that the defense attorney was going to get food poisoning, and Baldwin insists on taking her out. She says no to that too. She does loosen up a bit with him, however, and lets him cuddle her on the couch.

Review

MURDER: For something different, the detectives spend most of the time finding the bad guy but get no confession.  Sadly, there's not much substance to this one.

  I think one of the points they were trying to get at is how terrorized a person feels when he or she becomes the victim of a crime, and how bad the cops feels when they have to prolong the terror long beyond the actual crime by not getting a confession and wrapping it all up in a neat package.  Any kind of depth on that point was lost, though, in all the goose chasing.

   I wanted to have that feeling from Andy that I had when he chased down the guy who stole that kid years past and reunited the kid with her parents. The caring he felt for Molly seemed transparent this time.  I think it's because not enough time was spent on it. There was nothing to relate Molly to Andy in a more personal way (as in the case of the kidnapped girl, Andy was spending time with his son buying a car).

    I thought the scene with Chas was really good. And I liked the scam Baldwin and Greg ran on Webber. But that birthday party was awful.  It just plain didn't work. It may even be shark-jumping: Are they making Andy and Danny into the James and Greg of days gone by?  I hope that gets reigned in fast.   Seeing them blow up balloons during a murder investigation was just so far out of character for either one of them, it's unreal. (Just a few weeks ago, Andy was rude as hell to the poor guy who bought a hot necklace. Now that was Andy.)  This scene might-- I stress might-- have worked had we seen how they got into that situation (charmed by the woman, or a kid, etc.), but I doubt it.

    I think this story had some real solid potential, but fell a chunk shy of the mark.

WITNESS: Same for this one, though it was closer. I think this witness angle is a good one. Most of us watching have a far better shot of relating personally to it than to any other aspect of a police show.   This fear could feel very real.  I think the depth that was missing here was that it wasn't connected in any meaningful way to the other witness case, and it could have been.  Even one scene with Heywood would have done it. Maybe she's in the room when Molly IDs the guy from the robbery and draws some link to this girl's terror and Tisha's.  (That could have been a scene where Heywood would have been more than decoration, for sure.)  

  Another way would have been to have Tisha stay with her fear a little longer. She went from being really scared to happily munching popcorn and girl-talking pretty fast.

  I certainly can't fault the actors here, though.  I think the actress who played Tisha did a great job with her part. And I thought Charlotte Ross and Kim Delaney were right on the money as well. (I think Ross is a great addition).  Even Garcelle was doing better. She wasn't great, but she was much better (right up until the end...but more on that later.)  

DANNY DIANE:  I didn't think Danny was really stalking Diane, and it seems he's not. For now, anyway.  I think some caution needs to be taken here that one of the main characters is not irreparably damaged.  This show will probably be in it's last season next year, so there's just no sense doing something really stupid right now and making Danny some kind of total nutjob.

   He seemed compassionate with Diane, a little scared with Andy, just like any normal person who's life is about to go spinning out of control. As long as that going out of control is not going too far, then it should be OK.

    I am not sure about Rick's future with the show, which is part of why I'm hammering this point.  If he's thinking of leaving, it would be a mistake for Steven B to let him go.  If they don't like him for some reason, maybe they can just put that aside for the greater good. I say this without knowing anything, which is dangerous because there may very well be things in play that are none of our business, but given the givens, I see it this way: He's doing a great job with Danny Sorenson (better than anyone outside the show probably expected), the ratings are fine, he's not causing anyone heart attacks, he's not throwing garbage cans at Dennis Franz, so maybe just leave it alone. More than likely, it's only one more season.

 So, now we know how Diane leaves. It's a good ending with lots of room to come home. Is it bad to wish a flop on someone? Yes, I'm kidding. Sheesh! But I think she can do both shows, can't she?

The two best scenes in the show, I think, were the one with Danny and Tony when Danny is asking for the transfer. Rick is fantastic in that few minutes. And then when Danny and Diane are talking. Kim Delaney takes that scene. You can tell her tears came easily.

BALDY & VAL: This is where it falls apart. This is where it always falls apart.  Why must this continue?  They've dropped story lines cold many times before. If ever we needed one of those no-explanation-it's-over-goodbye-Lesniak kind of moments, it's now.  

  Can anyone explain to me why this poor girl, who is already struggling enough with the role, is given this line: "Food poisoning! How could I have not anticipated that?"  

  Oh. My. God.

CONNIE: We couldn't wait to find out her past. The wait is finally over. It's..it's... a soap opera? All My Kids I Had As A Teen.  A long lost daughter. No, no no no nooooooo... please, no long lost kids turning up as prostitutes, dead bodies, junkies, abuse victims. How about we just forget she has one and leave it at that?  This is just trashy.  It's like Jerry Springer's Big Book Of Plots.  

    It makes me wonder what the audience demographics are saying about those who watch NYPD Blue. My email reflects a much more sophisticated audience. I'm really shocked by this development. 

QUICK HITS:

CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO:

Previously On NYPD Blue: Hank! That's Hank Murph, playing the brooding figure of Hank seen in about one half-second of the show tonight.

Director Dennis White: He's one of Blue's regular assistant directors. He had some fine shots in this one.

Previously on a Bochco show:

Gary Anthony Williams (Chas): He did an ep of City of Angels.

Robert Gallo (MTA man): He was on Murder One.

Previously:

Adina Porter (Tisha): She did three eps of Law & Order. She was on Judging Amy, too.

Heather McComb (Molly): She was Maggie on Party of Five and has been in a lot of movies. She's also done XFiles and Chicago Hope.

Jim Grollman (Webber): He's done L&O and H:LOTS.

Kyme (Kara Lowell): She played a reporter on Chicago Hope five times (hey, maybe she can work for CNN!). She also did ep of Judging Amy.

Cleo King (the bus driver): She was in the fine film Dude, Where's My Car? She was also in Magnolia and Six Degrees of Separation. She was on ER, and she worked with The Other Guy on Michael Hayes.

LINE OF THE WEEK:

My pick, besides the nasty grammatical error, is:

Connie: "A witness we're delivering tomorrow... me and Diane are keeping her stashed tonight at Diane's apartment."

Andy: "Break out the Jiffy-Pop."

Connie: "Yeah. Drop by. We'll French-braid each other's hair."

REMINDER: Dennis Franz will be on Biography May 2nd on A&E at 8pm and Midnight.

 

Thanks,

Amanda Wilson - puedo01@aol.com