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

Season 7, Episode 9
"Jackass" 2/29/00
Teleplay by Matt Olmstead
Story by David Milch & Bill Clark
Directed by Steven DePaul

Not one of my favorites.....

The reasons are below in the review; if you missed the show, start with the summary:


THE GRUESOME MURDER

The squad takes on the murder of a man found in an apartment a few days after he'd been shot. Ricky the DOA had been evicted from this apartment but was squatting there.

Painted on the wall of the apartment above Ricky's leaking head was a pentagram with the number 9 in the middle of it and the words "PR go home" scrawled nearby. Also scribbled, the initials NTG which D tells them stands for a gang called Nine Three Gangstas. D's background in the Bias unit makes him think right away that it's a fake gang symbol rather than a real one.

Running the case for Fancy, D relays this information. Fancy tells him to call his old boss Lt. Abner and inform him of the message anyway because that's procedure. (The rest of how this plot plays out below)

Meanwhile, they find out Ricky's girlfriend was there. They talk to her (she's a skel and a half) and she ends up giving up her son because her son had fought a lot with Ricky.

They bring the son in. Isaiah tells them how Ricky always stole his stuff and lied about it. D gets inside the kid's head, makes friends with him and gains his trust quickly. Isaiah tells D a little bit about Ricky made fun of him by calling him a jackass. He tells a little more, revealing that Ricky called him a jackass because Ricky told him it was a cross between a horse and a donkey and it's something no one wants. The kid is sensitive to this, he tells D, because he's half black have Puerto Rican. D draws him out more until the kid finally tells that Ricky called him jackass one time too many and he finally shot him.

ABNER, FANCY, JONES

The real heart of the story above is the involvement of Lt. Abner, who shows up while they're still looking for the kid. He can tell right away it's not a hate crime and blasts Fancy and Jones for calling him in and wasting his time. Fancy doesn't take this well. Abner leaves but on his way out takes some private time with Jones to jump on him again. Fancy breaks that up and he and Abner go behind closed doors to have it out.

Inside, Fancy finds out that Abner thinks of himself as a bitter old man and that part of the reason he transferred Jones out and to Fancy was to protect Jones from becoming the same kind of bitter old man. It ends up being a backhanded compliment to both Fancy and Jones, and hope on Abner's part that Jones doesn't become so jaded that his career and his life end up meaningless. He thinks Fancy will be good for Jones and tells him so.

Jones can't stand the suspense. Against the advice of his new squad mates, he goes and asks Fancy what happened. Art won't tell him much; he doesn't tell him what he really wants to know, but asks him a lot of questions about whether the dressing down was part of Abner's normal routine. D says it's not.

Abner comes back later to watch the interview D does with Isaiah. He's impressed almost beyond words at the remarkable way Jones handles the kid. Moved to tears, he tells Art that Jones did a good job. And he remarks that Jones is probably the first positive black male the kid has ever met. He speaks of how many are lost, wipes his tears and leaves.

Later, Art tells D that Abner was proud of him. Then Art gives a cryptic hypothetical to D, words to this effect: "Say you're worried someone's a danger to himself. If you call in intervention, you better know what you're doing." It suggests that Art is worried that Abner's got a few screws loose and he's not sure how he's going to handle it.

THE GRUESOME DATE

An old pal of Andy's named Eddie (a cop) has a niece coming into town. The guy he's set her up to go out with has bailed on the date, so he asks Andy to take this woman out. He describes his niece as a 38-year-old woman who's spent the last several years caring for her dying mother. Oh, and he adds that she's "plain."

Andy is shocked by the idea but at the same time intrigued enough to at least consider it. He spends most of the episode wrestling with the guilt he feels over considering a date. He's translated "plain" into "disfigured" and as he asks Danny for advice on the matter he continually refers to her this way. Danny seems unable to give advice until he can determine if the woman really is disfigured. Andy finally says she's not and Danny seems to understand that Andy's just blowing the whole thing up much bigger than it needs to be. He tells Andy he thinks it's OK if he goes out with her.

Andy stews more and finally asks John for advice. He'd earlier asked John for a haircut and his talk with John happens during the barber session. John's ability to cut hair isn't half as good as his ability to cut through the bullshit and put a name on things. He tells Andy he thinks the date is a good idea and adds, "I think she'd be glad." It's an obvious reference to Sylvia whose memory Andy seemed to be lugging around like a winter coat on a spring day.

Andy agrees to the dinner, with a few caveats and provisos (including a No Movie Clause), after he sets up a babysitter. The babysitter is his ex-wife Katie, who is none too happy when she finds out Andy's going on a date.

Andy meets Cynthia at the restaurant. He puts his foot in his mouth a few times (making us all wonder who the real jackass is) and then finally relaxes as much as Andy can on a date.

When he returns, Katie is waiting and unhappy. She tells him she doesn't like being misled. She also blurts out that she wishes he'd date her. Andy seems surprised by this but reacts tenderly.


REVIEW

THE GRUESOME HOMICIDE

This story just didn't do much for me, frankly. The crime itself was, of course, just a vehicle to showcase the story of Art, Jones and Abner. Everything else was secondary. Two episodes of this is OK but I'm done with it now. This story actually bored me--which surprised me considering that when I see the name Matt Olmstead after the words Teleplay By, I'm never bored. I guess everyone hits a pothole once in a while...in terms of story, this must be Matt's.

I do appreciate the art, however, and there was a ton of snappy dialogue, so it wasn't as if I hated this one.

And it wasn't as if I didn't get the point of the conflict: Abner's conflict is that he sees so many young black men at the end of the line, when they're already lost, and he's doing his one and only good deed by letting one (Jones) go work with Art, thereby saving Jones from a life of bitter joylessness (which all Abner has to offer) and perhaps saving a part of himself. That was done artfully---it really was---but I guess I just don't care about Abner's conflict and that's why I was bored.

Fancy, by the way, is more of saint than Kelly or Simone EVER were. After this man taunts and trashes him, acts disrespectfully time and again, Art ends up worried the guy's gonna hurt himself. That's just like Art--he's a stand up guy--to be worrying about this poor, bitter man. But me? I'm worried I'm gonna have to see another Abner episode.

I like it much better when Art's being Big Daddy to the squad folks--like he was with Jill.

Best scene of the story (and the show): D's interview with Isaiah. This was good writing. It was well-crafted and performed well by both actors. I was drawn in to the interview. Abner was impressed with Jones' skills; we ought to be impressed with Simmons'.

THE GRUESOME DATE

I wasn't all that excited by this story either, to tell the truth. I have no problem with Andy dating again--none at all. (I wasn't all that attached to Sylvia, to be honest, so let Andy move on!) But what ruined this for me totally was the very first scene with Eddie. I had to work to figure out just what the hell was going on. I know Andy did too, and that's a fine story-telling device, but this time, the audience was just as confused as Andy was. Let Andy be befuddled about Eddie's intent so that when it finally dawns on him that Eddie is talking about a date he's totally rattled, but don't leave us out of it! We need to know why Andy's befuddled so we can enjoy his fear.

There were a few nice points to this story: The idea of the friendly exchange with Danny was great. This is how Andy and Bobby became friends. And it didn't seem unnatural at all for Andy to be asking Danny for this kind of advice, which I credit to the way Schroder handled the words in the scene.

I only wish that Danny had gotten a little bit more to say and that Schroder had maybe pushed the affection thing a little more strongly. I think the idea is supposed to be that Danny's comfortable with affection between male friends but Andy's not. It's a fine idea, but it might work a little better if Danny seemed more confident when he puts his arm around Andy, or if he did it without seeming to be thinking about it. I don't know who to offer this suggestion to: Rick Schroder or the directors. Whomever...if that's the concept then they could sell it a little more, you know? (Am I making any sense at all?) It would make Andy's discomfort stand out more if Danny were comfortable. Now that I think about it, this dynamic is the reason that line in the first episode about how great Andy looked rang sourly with me. I like the idea of the line; the concept is good; but it wasn't sold well. I didn't believe that Danny believed it was cool to say such a thing. (OK, enough on THAT)

Where that scene was a little flawed, the scene with John was perfect. It was the best scene of this whole story, I think.

For a character with so few lines and so few things to do, John is perfectly defined by the writers and by Bill Brochtrup. They just sum it all up with him in one perfect written perfectly delivered line: "I think she'd be glad." I'll say it again (in case you skipped the summary): John's ability to cut hair isn't half as good as his ability to cut through the bullshit and put a name on things. What a perfect character.

Katie: I know she wants to date Andy, but I don't want her to! I'm glad he went with someone else. Katie, as good a soul as she is, just doesn't challenge Andy. Central to the show is Andy facing challenges. I don't think he needs another Sylvia, but he does need something totally outside his comfort zone and that's not Katie.

QUICK HITS

CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO

James Pickens, Jr. (Lt.Abner) returned this week as did John O'Donohue (Eddie).

New Faces:

Juli Donald (Cynthia Bunin): Juli's been on Chicago Hope, X-Files and Star Trek: Next Generation. She was also in the Trek flick "Borg."

David Michael did an outstanding job as Isaiah. Lisa Leguillo played Mimi. Maria Magana played the suspected Mimi. James Geralden was the building super.

LINES OF THE WEEK

Waaaay to many for little ol' me to pick out so I'll just do a few and you can fill in the rest:

Baldwin, after Andy notes the graffiti includes a Jewish star: "I don't think that's a Jewish star."
Andy: "That's a Jewish star."
Danny, almost coughing the correction: "Six points."
Andy: "All right, so we eliminate the Israelis." 

Andy describing to Fancy which gang the DOA may belong to: "The evicted Puerto Rican half assed pimpin' skel junkie bum set."

Medavoy at the crime scene: "The stench sure is trying to yank that Hollandaise sauce back up."

My Fave:

"I am cornered like an alley rat with the homely, stood up niece of Eddie Gibson. Wanna see a humiliating amount of sweat on a person forehead, you watch me dine with a stranger." --Andy explaining his date to John.

And all your choices!


NEXT WEEK

ah...another episode. Haven't seen it yet so I can't tease you...

What'd you think?

Amanda