NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka email@example.com
"Lie Like A Rug/Johnny Got His Gold"
Season 9 Episode 1
Teleplays by Matt Olmstead & Nicholas Wootton
Stories by Steven Bochco, Bill Clark, Matt Olmstead & Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Mark Tinker & Mark Piznarski
This show dedicated to the memory of NYC Police and Firefighters who died saving lives in the WTC attacks certainly does those heroes justice, even if references to the attacks were (had to be) spotty. Sept. 11 felt to all Americans like being sucker punched in the gut, and in the days and weeks following, it was hard not to feel that we were all New Yorkers. In an odd way, it's good to see our fictional heroes going on with their jobs. The dedication at the top of the show was a respectful, appropriate and nicely written (by Steven Bochco) piece. And speaking of Mr. Bochco, let us not question his casting choices, eh? MPG kicks ass. Now on to the usual format, which begins with a summary
FIVE DEAD (DANNY'S A DOA): We rejoin our friends at the 15 five months after we last saw them. Danny had gone missing after an undercover operation at a Mob strip club; his stripper girlfriend was found dead in his apartment. Five months later, life is moving on but everyone in the squad is on edge because of the WTC attack, the fact that Danny still hasn't been found and the fact that they're a little shorthanded in his absence. Andy is all over everyone, but Connie takes a minute to set him straight and remind him that he's not the only one feeling pain.
The squad is investigating the shooting deaths of four girls, sisters. A phone dump of their apartment shows a cell phone call from a girl named Maria Feliciano shortly before the murders. Maria is brought in. On her way up the stairs to the squad room, Maria is recognized by a narcotics officer named John Clark. Clark asks Andy about her and what they have her in for. Clark says he knows her boyfriend, Tino, who's a dealer. Andy barks at him and walks away.
Upstairs, Maria gives Andy and Connie nothing more than the feeling that she's a heartless bitch because she doesn't seem upset over the deaths of her friends. She's surprised when Andy mentions Tino, and she lies about the phone call, but they can't hold her for anything.
John of the Telephone tells Andy that John Clark wants to see him downstairs. Andy stops by on his way out the door to grab up Tino. He and Clark have another little set-to, but Clark mentions that Tino got held up for 50-grand in drug money he had stashed in his apartment. Andy takes JC with him and Connie to go find Tino. They bust into an apartment where Tino and his friends are interrupted in the midst of a little party. Tino is grabbed up but Andy's not acting very grateful towards JC.
Meanwhile, over at Bellevue, Greg and Baldwin interview Mike Graf, a guy who got shot in the shoulder while walking around the night before. After a series of lies and a trip back to the station house where Lt. Rodriguez has been working a solid tip, Greg and Baldwin approach Graf again. Baldwin takes a firm grip on his injured shoulder and asks him again where he was. Turns out the guy knows who shot him. He mentions the name Julian Pisano. He says Julian and another guy were running out of an apartment building (Tino's, as it turns out) and someone was shooting at them. They returned fired and hit poor Graf in the shoulder.
In the pokey room with Andy and Connie, Tino is not being too cooperative. He says he doesn't care about being ripped off for 50-grand, he needs to just lie down for a minute. The detectives keep asking him questions, but Tino keeps grabbing his gut. Finally, poor Tino begins to shout the name Ricky and then he heaves yesterday's eggs all over the floor. Apparently breakfasting on poached coke didn't agree with him. Tino goes into convulsions a second later and is carted off to the hospital half-dead.
Andy asks John Clark if he's every heard of a Ricky in connection with Tino. JC says he has and knows where to get him.
Next up is the dull, slovenly Julian. He's desperate to stay out of jail since his girlfriend just had twins. Greg and Baldwin have him over a barrel. He says he was just helping out a friend, Jimmy Giglio, who heard Tino kept a couple thousand dollars stashed in his crib. Jimmy apparently got this information from Tino's girlfriend, Maria, whom Jimmy was banging on the side. Greg and Baldwin start to lock Julian up so they can check out his story when Julian, desperate to get his nuts out of the grinder, pops out with the information that he knows where a body is buried. Greg and Baldwin sit down to listen.
Julian tells how five months ago he helped a mob guy, Max Lagazi, bury a body rolled up in a carpet. Andy comes to talk to Julian. Julian thinks he can make a deal to stay out of jail and pushes this idea with Andy to the point where Andy pushes his face into the two-way mirror of the pokey room (with everyone in the squad looking on) and threatens to kill him. Julian tells where the body is.
After a scene of mass confusion in the squad room, Tony takes control and tells everyone the plan. He and Andy are going to Brooklyn. Greg and Baldwin are to go get Jimmy G. and Connie is to take John Clark to go pick up Ricky.
In Brooklyn, a carpet is pulled out of the ground. Danny's badge is taken off the body and handed to Andy who wanders over the water's edge to stare into space.
Plans are made to have Julian wear a wire the next day and go visit Max Lagazi at the strip club.
Connie and JC go get Ricky. Once Ricky figures he's in a jam, he takes off. JC runs after him through a building and out into the street. Connie heads them off at the pass in her car and Ricky is caught. Ricky lawyers up right away, however.
Greg and Baldwin bring Jimmy G. in. He's a smart ass until Baldwin bears down on him with all the weight of an incredibly stressed out cop. Jimmy straightens up and tells how he got the information about the money from Maria, set up the robbery of Tino with her, took Julian along and got away with the cash.
Maria is the only one left now who can tell them anything. Connie goes at her with the story that Tino and Jimmy flipped on her. Maria tells how she set up the robbery but had no idea there was so much money involved or that Ricky would be involved. After Julian and Jimmy got away with the money, Ricky and Tino suspected her and pressed her for a name. They thought she might have told her friend Teresa and that Teresa might be in on it. She tells how she gave them Teresa, and then how they took her over to Teresa's apartment where Ricky shot Teresa and two of her sisters. Ricky then made Tino shoot the other sister.
At the end of this very long day, Andy heads to a bar. He's called Katie and asked her to watch Theo for a few days. Connie notes his hasty departure and worries. At the bar, Andy orders a shot from the mother hen bartender who knows he's been sober for a while. He takes the shot and gets it to his mouth when he hears Connie's voice over his shoulder. He looks up and she's standing there. She tells him that Diane sent her. She stops him from drinking by inviting him home with her.
Andy thanks Connie for saving him the night before. He tells her he got home sober.
The dull-witted Julian is all set to wear the wire on Lagazi. He asks for backup in the strip club and John Clark is sent in while Andy and the others are in the van listening. Julian approaches Lagazi about selling cocaine but rushes into a story about wanting someone killed. Lagazi makes him for a plant in about a minute and asks him to "talk" in the back room. Julian has no idea what's up but it's clear to Clark who alerts the others what's going on.
Clark rushes into the back room while his backup is on the way in. A guy shoots at him and he returns fire, killing the man. Lagazi takes off out the back door and the detectives chase him around the street and he shoots at them. Lagazi grabs a man out of a car and holds him hostage, still firing at the police. One of Lagazi's bullets, intended for Clark, hits a bystander. Clark grabs that woman and tries to pull her out of the line of fire when he takes a bullet himself. Seeing Clark down and without his weapon, Lagazi takes him as a better hostage and holds a gun to his head. Andy draws down on Lagazi. They all try to talk him into giving Clark up. Clark elbows Lagazi in the ribs and then ducks as he tries to fire. Andy shoots several times and Lagazi goes down.
Andy appears on TV a few times being hailed as a hero.
Greg and Baldwin catch a new murder investigation while Clark is at the hospital getting stitched up and Andy's off to see the department shrink. An NYU English professor has been shot dead while sitting by a window in a restaurant with his wife. No one saw the gunman. Later, a man is found dead in the street not far from the restaurant. Everyone saw him drop dead but no one heard a shot or saw anyone doing any shooting. No bullets are found at either scene, but the cops suspect a connection: the guy on the street was an NYU student. This weak link excites Greg a whole lot.
Mark Lerner's life is turned inside out and it's discovered that he's got a girlfriend. The girlfriend is brought in. She admits that Lerner broke off their relationship but swears up and down she's not a stalker. Andy and Connie tell her Lerner is dead and it's apparent from her reaction that she had no idea.
Toward the end of the day, Andy learns that there's been another shooting at a gas station near the other two shootings. Again, no one saw a shooter. This time, however, there were bullets found. Ballistics runs a few tests and it's discovered that the bullets are unique to a rare, historical type of rifle. This is right up Greg's alley, and he finds that there are only a few of these rifles around only one in the city. He also discovers that the owner of this rifle works at a building that's just about in the center of the area where all the shootings took place. He and Baldwin go off to the building, figuring the nut may still be on the roof. Sure enough, he's there. Nuttier than a fruitcake, Gerald has been up on the roof shooting people all day. He wants to be famous. Greg and Baldwin convince him he will be if he gives up, but not if they have to shoot him and kill him. Gerald likes this logic and puts down the gun, grinning ear to ear in anticipation of his TV news debut.
Lt. Rodriguez, who had been so involved in the earlier homicide case and the investigation into Danny's murder, is taken out of the squad for a while when a call comes in that his mother has been the victim of a push-in robbery. He goes to her apartment where a detective named Maria Olivera is working the case.
Tony's really hot under the collar and starts handing out bags of shit just as soon as he walks in the door. He's upset that no one called him to tell him his Mom had already gone to the hospital and that nothing much was happening yet with the investigation. While there, he meets Lt. Blount, head of the precinct in which his mother lives. Blount is a major blowhard and tries to run and old-boy's-network game on Tony, assuring him that he won't let the female detective screw things up. Tony is not impressed.
He goes to the hospital where he talks to his mother who tells him that the man who beat her up also tried to rape her. She managed to fight him off by scratching his face really good.
Back at the 15th, Olivera shows up. Tony chews her out again for showing up instead of calling if she had new information. She shoves a photo of a suspect in his face. It's a guy named Kiki that Tony put away eight years ago while working undercover in narcotics. Tony tells her he has no idea where Kiki lives, but Olivera knows better and tells him she's not going to let him take care of this himself. They go off and grab Kiki. Tony decides to bring him back to the 15th, but agrees to let Lt. Blount talk to him.
Blount and Olivera have Kiki in the pokey room with Tony looking through the mirror. Olivera gets the upper hand early by telling Kiki they found his fingerprints in the apartment. Kiki admits that he's done some plumbing work in that building and has been in several apartments. Then Olivera boxes him in by asking him to explain, then, how it is they found his fingerprints in the victim's blood. Kiki is caught, but tries to talk his way out. Blount steps in then and says something like, "Yeah, explain how we found a bloody fingerprint of yours right in the middle of the kitchen floor!" Of course, the attack didn't happen in the kitchen and we all know that. Kiki smiles and lawyers up. Blount has totally blown it. Tony is extremely pissed off but saves his anger for Kiki.
Olivera follows Tony to Kiki's apartment again. He's angry she's there, but lets her in on it anyway. They watch Kiki walk into his place and then break through his door. Tony takes a gun off him. Then Tony puts his gun to Kiki's neck and threatens to kill him if he doesn't confess. Kiki whines about how he trusted Tony, confided in him, and how Tony betrayed him. Tony reminds him he was just doing his job as an undercover cop and then threatens to kill him again. Kiki gives it up.
At the end of the day, Andy is summoned to the hospital for a press conference with John Clark. Clark's father (John Clark, Sr.), a homicide detective from the Bronx who has a history with Andy and, hence, a very bad opinion of Andy, is there. He's not pleased Andy worked with his son, but little John is happy to see Andy. Big John puts up with it for a minute then suggests Andy leave. Andy tells him he's been asked to be there by the Deputy Commissioner.
At the press conference, the DC speaks of heroism and mentions those who were killed saving lives at the WTC towers. He then presents JC with his gold shield, making him a detective third grade. He goes on to say that years of hard work and dedication on the job don't go unnoticed either, and he promotes Andy to first grade. Afterward, he asks JC where he'd like to be assigned, and without hesitation young John says he wants to work at the 1-5. Andy seems pleased and the DC says it's a done deal. Big John is not happy with this, though, and begins to berate his son for the choice. He fires a few barbs at Andy who takes them in stride and tells JC he'll be seeing him at work.
Andy spends the evening fishing with Theo. He explains to his son why he had to kill a man that day, and reassures him that no one is going to shoot him. Theo says he wants to be like his dad when he grows up and kill bad guys.
WTC REFERENCES: Let's start with the nod to the WTC attack. It was spotty, but unlike the folks at the New York Times, I don't think it was awkward. What was awkward were the times they didn't mention it: especially when we catch that little glimpse of the TV reporter doing a live shot from the scene of the shooting and showing the file video of Andy. That restaurant would certainly have had CNN or one of it's ilk on the TV if anything. What would have been great, of course, is if they'd have been able to mention it more. Our world changed so much after 9/11; those attacks are in every corner of our lives now. But the reality is that this show, and several after it, were all but in the can before the attacks happened. They did the best they could given that fact, and while more would have been better, what they did was fine.
I've been bitching for years about how they need to pepper the show with a bit of media (which they really hadn't done since Benita and the early Spanky the TV guy who was always out to get Kelly) to make it seem a little more realisitc. Too bad that when they finally do so, it doesn't work well because of what's really going on in the news. I think it can work well, and I hope they don't give up. I also hope they don't make every reporter an asshole, but that's probably asking too much.
DANNY WHO? Am I the only one who didn't even miss him? I'm surprised at how much I don't miss him. I started off not really liking Danny all that much, but grew to really like him. I think the character could have been developed a lot more, and God knows the many loose ends of his life needed to be sewn up, but I thought Rick ended up doing a really fine job with what he was given. My opinion on that point hasn't changed, but damn if I don't care one whit whether he's there or not. Go figure.
Maybe it's this New New New Guy, we'll just have to call him MPG. He hit the ground running. For real. I'm told that chase scene was his first day at work, it was in NYC in August and it was hotter'n hell. He ran all day and never complained once.
On the show, it's as if he's always been there. I know a lot of you out there are hung up on this child actor bullshit, but really, get over it. Granted, I never saw Saved By The Bell, but who cares? This guy is worth a chance from the audience. He's really good. He's young, yes, but he doesn't seem so young. He's good looking, but it's TV and there are plenty of guys on that show who are not beefcake, namely the main star (all due respect to Mr. F, whom I find completely adorable.) MPG's got the walk down, that's for sure. There's just no doubt he's a cop. (Unlike Vanessa Marcil's portrayal of Maria Olivera....yech!)
Sure, Bochco's made a few casting gaffes in his day, but the man's made tons of TV shows and when you stack up his good picks against his not-so-good picks his good-picks stack is much higher. This was a good choice.
And even better is SB's choice for Clark's father. Joe Spano is a Bochco alum. He's a fine actor, of course, and he makes the younger Clark's character more complete. Hey, finally, we have a new guy who's not such a mystery. We never found out much about Bobby Simone, we knew less about Danny (what the hell WAS his problem, anyway? Nevermind) but two-hours into this season and we've already got a good grip on JC. He doesn't need Andy as a father figure, does he? He's got Supercop for a dad. That's a solid idea.
ACTION: This was a bang up way to open the season, literally. I haven't seen the guys and gal/s from the 1-5 move this much in the last four seasons. Everyone was out of the house except PAA Irvin (wait, he went out to get Theo.)
I loved the way it moved. They've needed to get out more, and to move around more. The chase scenes were like watching a movie: exciting and fast-paced. The shootout scene looked especially good. I hope there's a lot more of this. A series this old needs a few good shots in the arm. Typically, however, they slow things down after a bang up scene like this. Andy was blasted away in the pilot, Simone jumps in on a shooting in the squad on his first day, and now JC gets winged on his. This time, let's hope they don't settle into the dust of the squad room too quickly.
GUEST ACTORS: This week's Best Guest awards go to Joe Spano (JC, Sr.) and Lenny Venito, who played Julian. His phone bit was outstanding.
The worst guest: Vanessa Marcil as Det. Olivera. It's not hard to see why she was erased off the payroll in a hurry. When you've got the kind of quality acting that's typical of this show, a clinker really stands out. She may have been fine running around with the likes of Tori Spelling, but up next to Dennis Franz, Esai Morales and everyone else, she sticks out like a sore thumb. You can see every seam in her performance. Most notable was when she was seated on the table in the pokey room trying to stare Kiki down. If I were asked to do that scene, that's about how I'd look: like I have no earthly idea what I'm doing. She was "acting", big time. The pros make it look real. If I were her, I'd take a few martial arts classes, drive 120 miles an hour a few times, break a horse or two and beat up some chick in a seedy bar before I tried to "act" tough. And before I leave this subject, I have to mention how she looked. Wow, was that the same beautiful girl who had a bit part in The Rock with Nicholas Cage? Hard to believe. She looks as if she's aged about 15 years since then.
ANDY & CONNIE: Again I'll say what a great team they make. I suspect that with the addition of MPG and the possible (note: I did not say probable) return of Kim Delaney, we won't see much more of this pairing. It's too bad, though. She is the female Andy in many ways, and the only one in the squad at the moment who's not intimidated by him in the least. I loved the scene where she gave him hell for being a prick. She was equally good stepping in to shut him up when he went after JC, and very good also when she came into the bar. She acts as if she belongs next to Andy as a cop and as a friend. There's nothing awkward or unrealistic about her with him. There's no tension, no baggage, no competition. That works.
VIOLINS: Lots of police brutality this week. Andy, Baldwin, Tony... those scenes do stand out, don't they. I have to remind myself that there were a lot of interviews during the course of the show where no one was threatened with death, however.
I do wonder about Tony's little scene with Kiki. That seems really, really dangerous. That guy could certainly claim his confession was coerced and he'd even have a witness to it. Olivera seems like such a by-the-book cop that she might even turn the good Lt. in herself. I suppose if they ever need a reason to remove Tony from the show they could have him bounced for that. Kiki's apparently vindictive enough to try it.
*A note about Andy gazing at the Manhattan skyline: That was not the area of the city where the WTC towers were. So for those of you who've read that they took the towers out of that scene, not true. They weren't in the scene to begin with.
*Andy is Job. Yeah, he's been through hell. Kind of funny that his new partner's initials are JC. I've been thinking that the best way to end this series (when the day comes) is to have Andy shot, too. His dreamy death scene can take place in a fish tank where Andy Jr., Simone, Sylvia and Danny can appear to him as fish. We can build in some story about how Kelly died of a sudden heart attack during a pickup basketball game at the Y and put him in the tank, too. That way everyone can come back for one final episode. Phone John (this has to be his new name) can adopt Theo and raise him as his own.
*Another John. Hence Phone John (since he's no longer upstairs, I think it's time we change his nickname again.) Nice nod to Bill Clark in the choice of JC's last name.
*Speaking of nice nods, I liked the reference to Diane. Wonder if they'll explain her absence at the funeral next week.
*Esai looks mighty fine sans facial hair. Good decision.
*While I'm on hair, Greg's looked great in the first hour. Even in the second hour, after he'd been running around, it looked real enough...as if he'd been running around. Looks like they got him a new blow-dry or something.
*The barfing was a good touch, gross as it was. It was executed very well, and realistic enough. I know lots of cops who've had drunked up/drugged up idiots puking in their squad cars. Not uncommon in the least.
*For the first time in ages I noticed the lighting a lot this show, especially in the first hour and especially in the pokey room. It looked very much like it was autumn outside.
*Loved Andy shoving Julian into the mirror. It was also cool to have Andy glance up at the mirror after he'd practically broken Julian's neck. He was looking at his squad mates, but from his side all he could see was himself.
*Esai was very good. His "shut up" command was perfect and it was a nice touch to have him touch Andy's arm afterward on the way out. That little move gave the whole scene balance.
*Kelly walks out and Simone comes in, what?, the next day? Simone dies and Danny's there in a few weeks. Danny gets rolled up in a remnant and it takes five months to get help? I don't get it.
*Did anyone feel surprised that the body was Danny? I didn't, and not because I already knew he was dead. It was because Julian used the words "five months ago." If those words hadn't been there, I think it would have been a little more jarring when Greg said, "It's about Danny."
*The opening credits have changed, but not much. They did remove the crumbling building and the towers, but other than that, it looks pretty much the same.
*Inconsequential scene with ADA Heywood. That's OK. She did well in her minute, though.
*I hope we don't have another season of not using Gordon Clapp to his fullest potential, and I don't mean having Greg blither more. They'd do well to tap this resource. One of the most powerful scenes I remember is when Greg loses it in the squad room.
*Tony's real first name is Antonio. I guess that means he IS A-Rod.
*Hankless all night.
Welcome Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Det. John Clark, Jr.): He's 27, a California native and most known for his work as Zack on Saved By The Bell. However, since then he's been in a no less than 16 other productions including two TV movies airing this year. He's got two more TV movies slated for next year. Some of his other TV work includes work on the shows D.C. and Hyperion Bay. He tried out for a role on Philly, and while he didn't get that, he did impress the producers enough to give him a call for a spot on NYPD Blue. He was hired, incidentally, before it was known that Rick Schroder was leaving. Mark-Paul was married in 1996 to actress Lisa Ann Russell.
Joe Spano (Det. John Clark, Sr.): A Bochco favorite. This fine actor has been in scads of productions including Murder One and Hill Street Blues (remember the lovable Henry?). He also appeared in LA Law once.
Lenny Venito (Julian): He was on Blue in 1997.
Vanessa Marcil (Maria Olivera): Originally thought of as a permanent part of the cast but no more. She played Gina on Beverly Hills 90210 and Brenda on General Hospital, and had a small part in the movie The Rock.
Lombardo Boyar (Tino): He's been on Blue twice, both times in 1997. He's also done ER and X-Files.
David Satrzyk (FBI Agent Boyd): He played this role last year. He was also on Days of Our Lives as either one doctor with three names or three doctors... who can tell with a soap? He's had quite a career as a guest actor.
Suzanne Whang (Dr. Kim): You may have seen her on House and Garden TV's House Hunters.
Andrew Sikking (ESU guy): He's been a uniform on Blue three times. His dad is the actor James B. Sikking formerly of Doogie Howser and Hill Street Blues.
Domenick Lombardozzi (Lagazi): He's Ralph Galino on Oz. He's been a guest on Law and Order.
Michelle Ruben (The stripper): I know some of you want to see her again, so go look up the Story of O. (I know, you already did...)
Jack Conely (Lt. Blount): He gave a fine performance. He was on Blue in 95 and he's also done Judging Amy. He's been in two of my favorite movies: Traffic and LA Confidential.
Julia Vera (Anna Rodriguez, Tony's sister): She was in Blow. She was also on General Hospital as Marta, and she's done X-Files.
Rebecca McFarland (Donna the adulteress): She was on Seinfeld once and was also on Total Security.
Robert LaSardo (Kiki): He's done Blue twice before and was also in Murder One. His long list of credits includes guest appearances on L&O and China Beach.
Austin Majors (Theo): You know little Theo! They need to work this kid into the opening credits...you know, all those serious scenes of busy, stressed out cops, and then a little shot of Theo sticking his tongue out at that guy in the van...ok, maybe not.
Rounding out the cast: Jessica Lugo as Maria Felciano; William Dennis Hurley as Mike Graf; Gary Wolf as Jimmy Gigilo; Servier Crespo, Matthew Frauman and John Mendozza as Tino's stonin' buddies; Marcus Perez as Ricky; Mike Sabatino as Martelli; Michael Echols as Officer Mike; Sandra Teres as Lucy Rodriguez, Tony's Mom; Ralph Garman (of LA's KROQ) as a uniform, and Johnny Spanish as Gerald The Nutty Roof Guy.
LINES OF THE WEEK:
Tony to Medavoy in the midst of a mind-numbing monologue: "How is actually getting the perp facilitated by you standing here talking to me? Go."
Donna the adulteress: "He runs over a nail and suddenly I'm Glen Close and I'm gonna boil his rabbit."
Donna the adulteress again (to Andy): "I don't know anyone with a gun or anyone who's capable of killing someone. I've never even met someone like that." (a beat) "Except you."
And the disgusting description of Last Night by Jimmy Giglio: "I got ahold of some bad clams. Ever had bad clams? It was like a volcano last night. You know, they could'a sacrificed a virgin on my ass."
NEXT WEEK: Danny's funeral.
Thanks to my friend Alan for letting me do this again. And thanks to all who helped; you know who you are (unless you're doing drugs or something...)