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

"Ho Down"
Season 10 Episode 1
9/24/02
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Story by Bill Clark & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Mark Tinker

Age means nothing. Not to Connie, not to Andy, not to this show. A summary, a review, a look back at ten years and lots of other bullshit. Please, read on:

ANDY'S A MARK:

On the hottest day of the year, Andy's in a foul mood because his air conditioner is broken and every little thing in the world has conspired to piss him off. A guy named Lyle Dennison is wanted for a shooting last week, and accompanied by all the bitching, Andy & John go pick him up at a housing complex.

Upstairs 15 hot, stinky flights (the elevator is broken), Andy's day goes from bad to worse as they meet with some opposition in the hallway. A mouthy woman named Shalice Sterling is in Andy's face right away. He argues back with her. She calls him a pig and eventually spits on him. Andy shoves her hard and knocks her on her ass which seriously riles the rest of the spectators in the hallway.

John and the uniforms break it all up while John notices Lyle standing around trying to see what the commotion is. John grabs him, then Andy grabs him and uses him to open the stairway door as they walk out.

Back at the house they're not getting much out of Lyle on the shooting. Lyle wants instead to insult Andy and then tell him that the woman he shoved to the ground is the woman of one of the most powerful, violent dealers in the city: Money T. Lyle tells Andy that he's a walking dead man.

John suggests Andy report the death threat but Andy doesn't really want to. While they're trying to get the witness, Little Pete, in to ID Lyle, John lets it slip to Lt. Rodriguez about the threat. Tony suggest Andy sit tight until narcotics can find Money T, but Andy balks at the idea. The entire squad is concerned. Tony puts Connie and Rita on finding a way to find Money T.

They find out that narcotics has been trying to take him down but that everyone on the street is terrified of this guy. He murders easily and often, and he's got escape routes built into his drug houses.

Andy suggests that Lyle might give Money up if he can get a walk on his shooting. Turns out Little Pete has blown town and Andy and John have to play a game on him. They're under the gun because someone has shown up to bail him out.

They make Lyle think Pete is there. When Lyle asks if anyone's been there to get him, they tell him no. They set up the room for a line up, tell Lyle he's been stiffed and give him one final chance to talk.

Lyle decides to take it and he gives up the location of a card game Money T. has going. The cops go busting through the doors into that game and find nothing but a bunch of low-level dealers and a small amount of drugs. John gets puked on by a drug dealer.

Andy and John arrive back at the station house after the fruitless bust and are getting out of the car when the back window of the car explodes and seconds later the driver's side window crumbles a few inches behind Andy's head. Someone is shooting. A man in front of the precinct house door falls dead and everyone takes cover. Andy and John drag the shot man into the door and try to revive him.

The station house is in a frenzy as they try to find out who the shooter was. It was a sniper on a rooftop sent, they believe, by Money T to kill Andy.

Connie does her best to reign in her terror and informs Andy that Theo has been picked up from school. Andy races up the stairs to get what he can from Lyle, but John tries to stop him, telling him it wouldn't be good for him to go in there throwing punches in his state of mind. Andy and John nearly come to blows then, but John refuses to back down. They're nose to nose and about to throw down when Tony walks in and stops it. Andy cools off a tiny bit and says he can handle himself in the room with Lyle.

Andy and John both go in to talk to Lyle. Andy slams him into a wall. They tell him his earlier info was bullshit (my word; they use it later). Andy tells him he's gonna die because if he doesn't give up Money T Andy's going to put it out that he did it anyway and then cut him loose. They offer him witness protection. Lyle gives up the location and lays out the escape routes of the building.

Everyone gathers to get in the door. Connie and Rita are dressed as prostitutes to get past the first line of defense. They walk up and play like they're willing to do anything to get drugs, including a little lesbian action right there on the stoop. They have the wrong password but they explain they got locked up and didn't get today's password. For a little action in the doorway, the doorman is willing to let him in. Connie wraps her hand around his neck and then pulls her gun.

The rest of the cops come rushing in and bust through the door. They find Money T, walls full of millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Everywhere they look, there are enormous stacks of cash, 14 million in all. The case goes federal.

THE CLARKS:

Narcotics detective Paul Winslow shows up at the 15th to talk to John. His name came up in the murder of a prostitute named Cynthia Patterson. John's name was in her appointment book, and Winslow wants to know if John or his father are involved with her. John says she's one of his confidential informants (CIs) but that he hasn't registered her because she didn't want to be registered. Winslow wants John to explain because his name is going to come up with his boss and IAB will probably get it. John says he talked to her a few weeks ago but nothing came of it. Winslow says he'll try to keep John out of the paperwork.

A short time later, Martens from IAB shows up to talk to Clark. John gives him the same story he gave Winslow. He finds out, though, that he's being looked at for her murder.

Just after the meeting, John takes off but doesn't tell anyone where he's going. He shows up at the diner to meet his father, John Clark, Sr. He asks his dad about the prostitute and tells him about her murder. Dad finds out all the details of his son's story to IAB before he admits that he was banging the hooker. He lets his son's lie cover his involvement but says he's going to step if John gets into trouble beyond taking a rip for having an unregistered CI. Their cold meeting ends quickly.

Back at the house, Rita wants to know what John's been up to. She's noticed something's up with IAB and asks him. He tells her the same story about the prostitute that he told IAB. She knows he's lying and confronts him but he continues to lie. They have a tense conversation which is interrupted by Andy.

After a drug bust that doesn't go well, John and Andy return to the station. In the car in front of the building, John is now as pissed off at the world as Andy was at the top of the day. Andy won't let him out of the car, however, until he talks about what's going on. John is reluctant but finally gives up the story about what's going on with his father. He's been afraid to tell Andy because Andy doesn't like his dad, and he doesn't want to hear Andy preaching. But Andy instead tries to get John to look at his father as a man who isn't perfect. John's not having much of that, and Andy is a little pissed that Clark, Sr., let his son take a hit on the job to cover for him. Andy warns John that the rip from IAB isn't as much of a worry as the reputation he's likely to get from the whole mess.

At the end of the day, John tries to patch things up with Rita. He wants to see her. She tells him she's not going to spend time with him unless he's got something to say about what's going on. He lies to her again and she walks away.

That night, at John's apartment, Rita comes over after he calls her. She's not much into small talk and he coughs up the story about his dad. John tells her he's going to take the rip and hope it all goes away. She's not so sure it's going to end so cleanly and she's worried about him losing his job and about his reputation which will then rub off on her. He gets pissed and she says she's only trying to keep him from walking off a cliff. He tells her he doesn't want her opinions and she gets up to leave. He asks her why she's leaving, and, just before she shuts the door, she tells him she doesn't want her opinions to get in his way.

JOE:

Medavoy and Jones are on a home invasion case. And 80-year-old woman has been found duct-taped to a chair and beaten. The victim can't remember much about the guy who did it.

Her credit card is found, however, in the hands of a high school kid named Odalis. He used it but says it was given to him by a geeky kid named Joe who's new to school and is trying to get in with some crowd or another. Jones and Medavoy don't believe him at first but finally take his word for it and check it out.

A teacher tells them who Joe is and he's brought in. Joe is a meek geek who looks like he's flunked out of school a few hundred times. He's mild mannered and talks about chess club. He says he didn't give anyone a credit card.

While he's chatting, Baldwin goes through his book bag and finds some mail. He says he found it and was going to return it to the post office. Baldwin and Greg go to check it out, but he's not concerned they're doing that.

At the apartment of the woman whose mail was found, Baldwin and Greg find an open door. They walk in and find the woman, then, taped to a chair and beaten nearly to death. She's another elderly victim.

Back with Joe, now, they're pissed. They tell him about the lady they found. Greg is in his face and Baldwin scares the shit out of him by slamming his hand on the table. Finally Joe begins to uncork. He tells them how he's moved about a million times because of his dad's job and how his parents are divorced and his mother is all the way on the other side of the country with her new boyfriend and how his father travels all the time to God knows where and how he's left with no one but the housekeeper who doesn't speak English. As the story unfolds, Joe's temper rises. He tells how he walks and tries to calm down but really wishes someone would bump into him to he could just beat the shit out of someone. He walked that morning and looked up and saw through an old lady's apartment window how she was just sitting there watching her soap opera. He went up to her apartment, found her door open, and went in and just beat her senseless. He did it again a short time later.

It's clear how much the beatings gave him release, and when Greg mentions that his father is going to have come home early from his trip, it's clear how much Joe is looking forward to getting whatever attention he can from his old man, even if it's going to be very negative.

ANDY & CONNIE:

Connie has worked hard all day keeping her feelings about Andy nearly getting killed suppressed. She arrives at his apartment after work and tells him how scared she was.

She tells him she wants to stay the night. He's a little unsure whether Theo is ready for it and she suggests talking to him about it. Theo comes in and sits down and Andy explains to him that when two people are together awhile and care about each other, they want to sleep in the same bed. Theo asks why. Andy says so they can talk and hug. And, Theo adds, watch TV. Theo thinks it's like a sleepover party, and that sounds cool to him. He bounces away. Andy tells Connie he'll clear some closet space for her. She says she's fine out of her overnight bag. He walks into the bedroom, opens the closet and begins moving things around to make room for her.

REVIEW

ANDY'S A MARK:

The action makes this story a standout. The scene in the hallway where Andy knocks the chick over then opens a heavy metal door with Lyle's body was fast and powerful. (Gold star for whoever thought, "use his body to open the door.") So was the shooting scene which had a great element of surprise and was placed adjacent to that superbly intense conversation between John and Andy in the car.

We got two scenes where they're breaking down doors, and that's always visually fun (especially with a couple of chicks in impossibly high heels...). Medavoy was more focused than we've seen him in a long time, and even the guest actors had boatloads of anger to shove out our way.

Certainly the best scenes were the bit in the car followed by the shooting, and that tension was carried right into that great exchange in the hallway where Andy and John nearly come to blows. What stopped it dead in its tracks was Tony's approach. Usually very intense, I think he came on a little too casually there, and the argument which looked as if it was going to explode any second just sort of fizzled out without so much as a shitty word from Andy to Tony. I really expected Andy to bark at Tony at least as much as he'd barked at John and then have John step in to make it OK.

In fact, the whole story might have delivered a stronger punch if the pace had been that intense throughout. You know, maybe everyone's bothered by the heat and Jones and Medavoy aren't so good-natured meeting Andy and John outside the apartment building; maybe the scene with John and Winslow takes place somewhere other than the coffee room and with something else going on.

Andy's being bitchy at the top of the show harkens back to the Andy we used to know and sets him up well for the altercation with Shalice: the only thing missing was him yelling at a coworker (that would have been good) and he certainly had ample opportunity with Jones and Medavoy. A few little slow spots here and there kind of took the wind out of the sails and made it seem to start and stop rather than flow.

The story itself was fun: They're just looking into a run-of-the-mill shooting case which is about to fall completely apart on them (the witness leaving town, everyone being too terrified of Money T to say a word about anything) and they get this death threat on Andy. That ends up turning the whole case into something much bigger than they'd bargained for: they end up not only getting Lyle put away (in witness protection) but they end up nailing the biggest, scariest, richest dealer in the precinct. The scene where they keep finding all the money is stunning. Someone in the 15th ought to be getting some nice promotion out of that one.

THE CLARKS:

This story was fantastic, and here's one where every scene flowed perfectly. MPG was the standout regular in this show and this story is the reason.

It's such a great idea to have his Dad be so willing to let him get in trouble. All the crap last season from Dad comes perfectly into focus here: everything is all about him, isn't it. I think only these writers can flesh out a part-time character so well (they did it also with Eddie Gibson). We only see Dad a few times, yet we've got his number completely. He's wholly selfish: all his posturing last year to protect his son and have his son in the best precinct with the best partner rang false the minute we heard he was only ragged off because Andy witnessed his most embarrassing moment as a cop. Now we get more of that hollow soul when we hear him say, "If it goes past a rip from IAB, I'm stepping in." What an asshole. Hence, what a great character.

It gives a lot of depth to John Boy as well, and in that outstanding diner scene, you can see the whole mess affecting him physically. His gut reaction is that of any normal son: protect your father. But when he realizes that's not going to go both ways, his gut heaves. MPG actually made John look as if he were about to throw up from the conflict. Excellent.

And the father son conflict is beautifully mirrored in John's dealings with Rita. He does to her, essentially, what his father did to him. Four months into a relationship she thought she could trust, he lies to her repeatedly and then has the gall to get pissed off at her for questioning him.

When he finally tells her the truth, he adds that he doesn't want her opinions/protection and then has the balls to ask her why she's leaving. It was a perfect little reflection of his own father telling him "I didn't ask you to protect me," and then trying to make a little small talk as he was heading out the diner door.

As good as MPG was, Joe Spano and Jackie Obradors were right on the money, too. Obradors was stellar, in fact, and gave flesh to the bones of her character that I haven't seen before. She could use a little more help: One scene in which she laments (or breaks something over) the fact that she went through hell with the simpering, selfish, asshole Don and now has to deal with John excluding her would sew her own conflict up nicely. I have a feeling they'll mend things soon, but I hope it's not too easy for her.

In John's defense, he was only trying to protect his father. Now, his bag of crap is figuring out if that can be done without sacrificing himself and/or his relationship with Rita. Of course, being a liar is a shitty, immature course of action. John's learning how to be whole, and his dad doesn't provide much of a role model. Oh, the drama. It's all good.

JOE:

A poignant little note on the above comes from this story about a truly screwed up guy who only wants some attention from his father.

Gordon Clapp got a good bit more to do here, and that always works. The standout, though, was the guest actor Laurence Cohen. You could feel Joe's release as he described how he beat the women. And the best moment was when he summed the whole story up in one, small half-smile as he spoke of his father, "He's gonna freak out."

ANDY & CONNIE:

Have I mentioned in this space how much I don't like this pairing? I think maybe I have. Tonight shows me why: Connie was relegated to do-nothing status. All she did all night was dress up like a hooker and then worry and then worry more and then smile at the prospect of getting laid on a regular basis.

It bugs me because I know, you know, we all damn well know that Connie is a whole hell of a lot more than that. Remember the Connie who helped Andy take guys down? That's the Connie I liked. Tonight, however, her entire existence was based on Andy, and that's a waste.

That's just how I don't want it to go. I know many of you reading this like it, but do me a favor if you can and pull out the episodes featuring Connie when she and Andy were partnered up as cops. Tell me she's better now than she was then. (That's a rhetorical request, btw.) I'm trying to hang on to my faith, here.

TEN YEARS:

It's hard to believe NYPD Blue has been around this long, and naturally, people wonder if this "Season Legends Are Made Of" (ABC promo) might be the last. The hotbed of controversy NYPD Blue once was is now a distant memory. Seems sort of funny now, doesn't it, that preachers were once boycotting what seems a tame little lamb among the wolves of HBO shows. Walking through the channels these days, it's pretty easy to forget what a groundbreaker Blue was.

Some say her time has come. It's true the old girl has mellowed considerably in recent years; there was nary a butt to be seen in this 10th year launch, and barely one or two over the past couple of years. Even when we do see them, it's not so special anymore. Ditto the language. Tonight, NYPD Blue broke ground again with the use of the word "bullshit," but it didn't jump off the screen and shock anyone any more than the two or three uses of "asshole," "son of a bitch" or "dick." Fuck, in this day and age, they'd have to do something really big to shock audiences.

But you can't blame that on the creators of Blue. Or can you? They started it, after all, and other shows just picked it up. HBO gives many writers and producers a place to really run with the basic ideas that sprang from Steven Bochco and David Milch's heads, and we out here on the couches of America are just soaking it up like so much of our favorite confession-producing beverages.

I guess it's safe to say that there's not much we haven't seen on Blue (or somewhere else), but that doesn't have to mean this is the final season. Yeah, we bitch about things, we nitpick innane details, we wonder who was smoking what during the Elizabeth Berkely casting session, but we also know this show is legendary for a reason: the people who've worked to create it all these years are together one truly class act. The fact that they started it counts for a lot. Milch may be gone, Bochco may be working on other projects, but the legacy and the talent are still there. Blue may not shock anyone into boycotting cars and pain killers ever again, but if it does nothing more than take us by surprise now and then, or make us laugh or cry, or make us think about our own perspectives on the world out there or our own relationships, it's still worth doing. It's still reaching in that personal sort of way, much more so than the formula-silly Law and Order or CSI franchises, and on a much more meaningful level. And unlike The Sopranos or Six Feet Under, Blue doesn't need a quirky or unrelatable setting to hit that mark. So I guess you could say Blue is still breaking ground. To the people at NYPD Blue: Happy 10th year, happy 200th episode and may all your endeavors be so successful. Congratulations to all for a job well done. You keep asking "howzit goin'?" Pretty damn well, so keep it up.

QUICK HITS:

*Nice update on the opening credit sequence.

*Hotter than hell, was it? It was the days they shot in NYC. I guess almost getting killed is one way to forget about your broken A/C.

*Hank! Getting mowed down behind the door by Medavoy. Hank shows emotion....

*John Clark gets the Best Apartment Award. It's the most realistic I've seen on the show. It's small, dingy and not decorated very well. That seems perfectly real. (Unlike Baldwin's place.)

*Another small reality check: John was making spaghetti which is, as we all know, the single guy staple.

*The A story was a pick up on a case from "last week". So, again the world marches on without us. Nice touch.

*Connie & Rita are far too pretty to be street whores. One little thing that blew continuity a tad: Connie's hair was kind of stringy and wavy all day, like the hair of most working women who are not models or actresses, until she dolled up to be a streetwalker. Then it was stick straight and downright silky. What's up with that? She take the time to blow dry it out in the locker room? By the time she hit Andy's a short time later it was back to being comfortably messy. (It's more believable that she'd have spent a minute or two on it before she spoke, "I want to spend the night.")

*Speaking of hair, PAA John--who looks outstanding in red--let his grow quit a bit over the summer. Hope we get an update on Ray soon.

*This has nothing to do with the show tonight, but did anyone else notice that Henry Simmons got picked as something like the 9th sexiest TV man of all time? Congrats, Henry.

*ADA Heywood's title can now officially be changed to MIA.

*Also MIA, Josh! (Yeah, well...I'm trying to be fair, here.)

*A scene I didn't get: the thing with the Anit-Crime girl Maya and Jones. If this isn't a set up for a future scene or two with her, it was wasted time.

*It's nice how much they were out of the squad in this one. Hope that's a trend that continues. Also hope the action is a continuing trend. Those are the scenes that jump right out at you, but seem only--or mostly, at least--to appear in shows directed by EP Mark Tinker. The angle on Andy dragging the shot guy into the station house was great and keeps the show looking fresh. Another cool Tinker shot: looking down at Jones and Medavoy from the ceiling as they walked into the old lady's apartment. More, all season.

CAST LEGACIES:

Here are some tidbits of interest about some of the guest actors on the show: Tanya Wright (Maya Anderson)--She was Patty Brooks on 24. She's also been on The District.

Jamie McShane (Det. Winslow)--You may have seen him on X-Files, Crossing Jordan, Six Feet Under, The Division or CSI. He worked for Bochco before on Philly and was on NYPD Blue last year.

Lahmard Tate (Lyle Denison)--He worked for Bochco way back in 1987 on Hill Street Blues. He worked for Blue alum Paris Barclay in the won't-it-go-away movie Don't Be A Menace While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood. He was Jerome on Moesha and he's got two brothers, Larenz and Larron, who are also successful actors.

Sam Vance (Narcotics detective)--He's been on Blue twice before, both times playing a cheese eater.

Lamont Johnson (Money T)--He's a Bochco alum from City of Angels.He's done The Practice and was in the films Jerry Maguire and Waiting to Exhale. Rounding out the cast in fine style: Laurence Cohen as Joe, Lisa Tharps as Shalice Sterling, Dempsy Patton as Odalis Brooks, Tosh Ayers as dealer, Andre Marcellous as the Desk Sgt. and Lloyd C. Porter as Carlisle.

Previously on NYPD Blue: Austin Majors as Theo Sipowicz, Scott Allan Campbell as Martens, Joe Spano as John Clark, Sr. and Henry Murph as Hank.

SUMMARY/REVIEW LEGACIES:

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LINE OF THE WEEK:

Just because it's a first and because it was delivered as comfortably as an old pair of shoes:

John Clark explaining his angst to Andy: "It doesn't help, Rita's bullshit about that girl not being a CI."

NEXT WEEK:

The squad deals with terrorism again, the hot water gets deeper around John Clark, and PAA John gets something more than glances from his coworkers. Tuesday, October 1 at 10pm on ABC.

Hope you had a great summer! Don't be a stranger, Amanda Wilson