NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Season 7, Episode 1
"Loogie Nights" 1/11/00
After too long, Blue's finally back! Those skels at ABC really oughta have a sit-down with Sipowicz...but that's another story. Here's the story on this season's opener, put together by one of our favorite directors:
THE A STORY
The mighty-slimmed down Andy Sipowicz and his partner of one year Danny Sorenson catch an assault case. They arrive at the hospital where the victim, Poodle Head Mikey, has a thin grasp on life after taking a beating in an alley.
Sorenson is somewhat surprised to see that one of the two uniforms on the case is the trigger-happy Officer Neil Baker. We first met Baker in the episode "Raging Bulls" last year when he'd accidentally shot Officer Szymasnki (the cop who's had a run-in or two with Lt. Fancy). We met Baker again in the episode "I Have A Dream" after he'd fired a few into a drug dealer who, as it turned out, might have lost the weapon Baker swore he saw. Danny helped Baker out of both of those jams, but told him the second time that he wasn't sure Baker should be a cop.
Baker introduces Sorenson and Sipowicz to his partner, Joe Bradshaw who greets them with a handshake and an iron face. Baker begins telling Andy and Danny how he and Bradshaw had to break up a fight between Poodle Head Mikey and a guy named Jerry. They sent Jerry on his way when Mikey hacked up a loogie and spit it out in Baker's face. Baker tells them he gave Mikey a "minor tune up," and then left. Andy latches on to that to make sure it was only a minor tune up. Baker swears it was. His partner's face gets even more tense, but he backs up what Baker has said and goes on to say they think Jerry came back and beat Mikey's Poodle Head half off.
Danny and Andy leave, but both are disturbed by the fact that the uniforms told them about the "minor tune up." Andy refers to the information as a bag of crap they've just been handed. Danny calls it "over-communication." They don't want to know that information because if it turns out Jerry wasn't really there, they'll have to look at the uniforms for the assault.
Danny then gets paged 911 by his informant JB who has called Danny to their "crisis coffee shop." Danny takes off but not before taking a moment to tell Andy what a fine looking man he is. Danny says he's not sure if it's weight-loss or what, but damn, Andy's looking very good. Andy takes the compliment with a suspicious scowl (sort of like he takes everything, when you think about it).
Down at the cafe de crisis, JB is telling Danny that he needs help getting out of a potential jam with some uniforms. Turns out JB witnessed the beating of poor Poodle Head the night before and he knows at least one of the cops saw him. He makes sure Danny knows that he'll go along with whatever the cops want him to say.
Andy, meanwhile, has picked up Jerry and brought him to the house. Jerry admits to arguing with Mikey about some money he's owed. He and Mike take it to the alley where Jerry's ready to kick his ass, but Baker and Bradshaw break it up and send Jerry on his way. Before Jerry leaves, he sees Mikey hacking up a wad and spitting it at Baker. Jerry says he returned home to the comforting arms of his girlfriend and adds that she's sure to remember it because he "gave her a little love reminder (pumps fist for emphasis) and midway, she woke up."
Danny and Andy discuss what JB saw and the fact that Jerry likely has an alibi, and they figure that JB's presence is what led Baker and Bradshaw to mention the minor tune up. Then they get word that Poodle Head has lost his battle for life and they decide to go back to canvas the alley since the case is now a homicide.
In the alley, they're trying to figure out how Baker and Bradshaw got so out of control when the day sector car rolls up. The day uniforms get out and introduce themselves: Mary Franco and Ed Laughlin. Ed begins right away defending Bradshaw's word, saying how the two of them went to the academy together. Andy is not impressed. Mary knows a woman who lives in an apartment overlooking the alley. This woman, Sarah, is peeping out her window when Mary whistles up loudly to catch her attention. Danny cracks wise about the whistle and Mary sarcastically apologizes and says she wouldn't want to get him "stirred up." Danny's shocked, asks "What?" She responds only, "What?" Sarah comes down. She's a speed freak and totally wigged out. They take her in.
Back at the house, as Andy, Danny, Mary & Ed are arriving with Sarah, Baker and Bradshaw are there vouchering Poodle Head's effects. They ask about Sarah, who is quite obviously terrified of them, and they ask about how far things went with Jerry. Andy puts them off, not answering any questions. Bradshaw gets a little feisty but Andy puts him down. He's worried, though, that Ed might talk too much about Sarah being a witness, so he takes Ed by the hand and leads him upstairs. Baker tags along after Danny and tries to get more information out of him but Danny won't give. Baker and Bradshaw are left downstairs.
In the pokey room, the four cops begin talking to Sarah, Mary taking the lead since she's the only one the freaky Sarah isn't afraid of. Sarah tells how she's scared because the two cops she saw downstairs are the same two who beat the guy up in the alley last night. She says she saw them beat Mikey and then leave for an hour. She says they came back just before the ambulance got there. Danny gets a little loud with her about whether she saw anyone else in the alley during the hour the cops were gone. She freaks out, begins to cry and says she's sorry she didn't call 911 sooner.
Back in the hallway, Andy and Danny explain to Ed why he has to keep his mouth shut. They tell him Jerry's alibi checked out and that they've got no choice but to look at the cops for the killing. Ed's not happy about it. Danny tells him that yeah, you're supposed to watch out for the guys you work with, but this is going too far. They suggest Ed sneak out the back to avoid Baker and Bradshaw. Ed leaves saying, "Don't thank me for jamming up cops."
Just then, Baker comes upstairs and asks about how things went with Sarah. It's an awkward situation as Andy and Danny try to tell him she said nothing, she's too spaced out to know what's what. Baker, desperate to believe it and be relieved, makes a few jokes as Bradshaw comes up. He tells Bradshaw it's all OK and can't keep from smiling nervously. Bradshaw is much less convinced but nods coolly. He asks again about Jerry but gets no where with Andy. As they leave, Bradshaw turns to give Andy a tough-guy glance.
Andy and Danny meet next with IAB Sgt. Martens. Andy is highly pissed off at having to have this conversation where he's turning in other cops. Martens remains calm and gets the whole story, after which he asks who the cops are. Danny tells him, and Martens reacts rather strongly to hearing the name Baker. He reminds Danny that Danny helped clear him about eight months ago. Then he tells Danny and Andy that they'll have to get statements from Baker and Bradshaw. Both are angry at this news and demand to know why. Martens explains that if he talks to them it means right away that Baker and Bradshaw are on the hook for murder. If Danny and Andy do it first, the two might either say more about the case and/or have a chance to handle themselves better when they eventually have to talk to IAB. Andy agrees but tells Martens he can't watch. Andy refuses to lie to the cops and tell them no one is watching. Martens agrees.
Danny meets with Baker, who seems happy to have Danny to talk to again. He walks into the room, as he's done twice before, to find the same cop who's helped him out of two jams already. His smile disappears pretty quickly, though, when he realizes Danny's pissed off and playing hard. Danny slams his hand on the table, which seems to scare Baker nearly to point of wetting his pants, and tells him this is the last time he'll get a chance to talk to a cop who's not IAB. Baker cracks fast and tells Danny that Bradshaw beat hell out of Poodle Head after the loogie landed and told Baker the whole time that he was a pussy and should be doing this beating himself. Bradshaw made fun of him, told him he'd never make it on the streets if he let skels treat him that way.
Meeting with Andy, Bradshaw denies they did the beating and tries to make Andy feel guilty for turning in cops. Andy blows up and asks Bradshaw if he really thinks Baker's in the next room "digging in his shoulder and holding up that big blue wall." Bradshaw shrinks a little, knowing that the man he'd earlier called a pussy wouldn't last two minutes with Sorenson. Andy's disgusted and complains that he's lied for cops on minor things for 30 years so that Bradshaw can go out and commit murder. Bradshaw, knowing he's caught, turns on Baker and tells how he wanted to take Poodle Head to the hospital but Baker ran away because JB had seen them. Andy reminds him that while Baker's a coward for running, he's still the one who beat the man to death. Bradshaw tries one last appeal to the cop in Andy, reminding him that "these are our streets." Andy just looks at him with a mix of rage, disappointment and shame.
Later, Fancy comes into the squad room to tell Andy and Danny they might get into a little trouble (take a rib) with IAB for not reporting the case to them sooner. They complain, but aren't too concerned because they figure they'll only lose a few vacation days. Andy gets up to go home and make dinner for Theo but doesn't leave without dispensing a bit of his "do I say not as I do" advice to Danny, who is sitting at his desk rattling his paper clip holder.
He tells Danny he had a cousin who used to let cases like this put him in the mood to go out and beat people up. Danny snaps at him, "Did your cousin also get a lot of advice he didn't ask for?" Andy's unaffected but snaps back, "When he'd get into a head up ass mood, he'd look for people to tune up. That's how he developed such an enormous career potential and wide circle of friendship." Danny backs off. Andy leaves. Diane asks Danny if he wants to go out to eat. He turns her down politely. She then asks him if he's met Andy's cousin, Mr. Hyde.
Andy goes home to Theo now and is fixing him meatloaf and mashed potatoes for dinner while Theo sits in a chair and reads out loud the way a three-year old reads: looks at the pictures and makes up the story. Andy interrupts him to try his advice out on someone he hopes will be a more receptive audience than Danny proved to be. Theo listens and, when Andy stops talking, admires the mashed potatoes. They sit down at the table together. Andy tries again, telling Theo that his mother in heaven helped people and so did his brother, and that he helps people in his job also. Theo thinks he can finally understand something here and chimes in "I help you." Andy nods but remembers Theo's only three, can't really understand, and gives him a little admonition about keeping his food on his plate. Then Theo gives Andy a kiss and says again, "I help you." Andy finally warms. The kid is helping him.
Danny is off to a bar where he runs into Officer Shannon. He makes a joke about Shannon's crush on his sister, Lori. Shannon gives him a small bit of shit over the fact that he helped bust two cops. Danny's not concerned and Shannon's not too pissed off. Mary then walks in with a date, another cop. Danny walks over to her and says he wants to talk. Her cop date gives him considerably more shit than Shannon did and Danny sends him away with his tail between his legs.
He sits down with Mary and says he knows she's pissed off at him for being rough on Sarah. She says she's not pissed off at him. He's still looking for a fight and asks her who told her about him getting "stirred up." She says she knows another cop he dated a few times, and that in addition to the stirred up comment this other cop said nice things about him. He wants to know, then why she hates him. She says she doesn't, and that she is, in fact, interested in him.
Danny's awkward here, but asks her to go home with him. She's awkward too, but agrees. Next thing you know, they're half-dressed and clinging to each other rather awkwardly. In the middle of it, she blurts out that she's not comfortable and wants to stop. Surprised, he lets her go. She begins to dress quickly, but begins to cry. He puts his arms around her. She apologizes and explains that she doesn't know what she's doing. He offers to just hold her. She agrees to that. He makes her laugh a little as they lie down together and he puts his arms around her. He tells her he went out that night looking for a fight but ended up just wanting company. She says she wants company too. He tells her holding her is just what he wanted to do.
THE B STORY
Jill approaches Diane in the squad room and asks her for her honest advice on something, not what Diane thinks she wants to hear. Diane agrees to be honest, and Jill tells Diane that she's been thinking of getting back together with her ex-husband Don. One of Don and Jill's two sons, Kyle, is about to make his first communion. Don's been more involved with the boys of late because of this event, and Jill tells Diane she's been impressed with his behavior. Diane gives her a questioning look. Jill, slightly defensive, tells Diane that Don is "evidently working," which gets a raised eyebrow from Diane. Jill stammers through her explanation that Don is a partial partner in a distributorship and that he has income, and that, no, she hasn't asked for details.
Diane makes it clear that she doesn't approve when Jill asks, "I just want to know if you think I should.." and Diane finishes her sentence, "Give him a sixth chance?" Jill admits that she probably didn't really want an honest answer, but explains that Don is the only man she's ever met who makes her feel special. Diane tells her she understands that need.
Later, Don arrives at the 1-5 but won't go upstairs to meet Jill, afraid he's not got a lot of friends up there. He's stopped by to ask Jill if it's OK if he buys Kyle the more expensive suit for his first communion, since it's the one Kyle wants. Jill says that'd be OK and thanks him. Don says he's just glad he can afford it now. While their mouths are performing this polite conversation, their bodies are communicating about a completely different subject, and finally Don asks if he can stop by for another "secret visit" after the kids go to bed. Jill appears to want that but tells him it was a one-time only thing. He leaves, he says, before he gets a firm no. Jill looks after him, torn over the fact that she took Diane's advice.
Later, we see Jill get an excited phone call from Kyle who's just gotten the new, expensive suit from Don.
THE A STORY
This is a great story about cops and the increasing pressure put on the "big blue wall" Andy referred to. Anyone with half an interest in the world knows that police brutality is a huge topic right now, especially in America's biggest cities: New York and LA.
Reminiscent of the very fine "Upstairs Downstairs" episode which featured the friction between the cops in uniform and cops in plainclothes, this show takes it a jump further by exploring the growing rift the brutality issue has forced between good cops and cops who are something more akin to the criminals they hunt. It's a very real issue in police departments as these guys who've banded together against the world for good or bad for decades are having now to decide just how far they'll take that (all the way to murder? Think Abner Louima)
In the real world, they've not only got IAB asking them to make the choice, but they've got the ever-present and incredibly bright spotlight of the public (in the form of the media) shining in their faces. Our episode touched on this issue, but not too deeply. First, there was no media. (I suspect that aspect of things may be a bit too complicated or deemed too off topic to work into Blue, though as a reporter, I always think of it and think it would certainly add to the realism of the show.) Having a small media element in this case might have served to heighten the pressure felt by Andy, Danny and Baker. And it would have also put Andy in a new kind of quandary: he loathes the media; hates reporters wholly and yet, in this case, he would have had to agree with them to a point.
Also, there wasn't much of an aftermath for Andy and Danny, who you might expect would be getting a whole lot more shit from fellow officers who would rank them damn near "them cheese-eatin' IAB rats." I can go along with all of that, though, because they've only got an hour, and the moments when this issue came up were done extremely well. The best moment was the scene between Andy and Bradshaw in the interview room. Andy was confronted with choosing between the extreme loyalty to his fellow officers that's bred in nearly every cop and the sense of professional pride he has in being a detective. Andy, of course, chooses the right way, but he doesn't get out of it without Bradshaw first making him feel uncomfortable about it. Second best, is the scene with Martens where Andy is doing what his job demands, but inside himself, he can't believe he's actually in league with someone from IAB.
The scene with Sorenson and Baker is also outstanding. Here, Rick Schroder was completely convincing (something I can't always say about him, frankly.) The scene ended with Sorenson voicing his incredulity at how he's the one who put Baker back on the streets twice before. I wish there'd been a little more of this--a little more reaching back to the past events. Maybe Sorenson could have talked to Sipowicz about it, or Martens could have made a bigger deal out of it.
Another scene that played very well was in the hallway after Sipowicz and Sorenson persuaded Ed to keep his mouth shut. (Ed was a fine example himself of a cop being torn over catching a killer and turning in one of his own.) But Baker, then showing up and acting like the groupie who just can't get in but thinks he already is was outstanding. Baker's scared, but he's fucked up before and someone (Danny) has always given him a hand up. He thinks he's pals with the big boys and that it's not so bad. This dope is so blind, so desperate to believe, that he buys even the most obviously dressed up bag of horse manure and immediately tries to share it with his partner like it's prime rib. It's so pathetic that if he hadn't been party to a murder, you'd like to feel sorry for him. That only serves to add to the discomfort Andy and Danny feel about turning him in.
Can you tell I liked this story? I did, indeed. But I have to wonder if, in the end, the ball wasn't dropped a little bit. I'm referring to the part where Andy doles out his "fatherly" advice to Danny. I think the words were there, Dennis Franz was there, whoever decided Danny should be playing his with his paper clips was there, but I felt a little bit was lacking in Rick Schroder's delivery, perhaps. I hesitate to make that observation because I may be missing the point entirely, but try this on with me:
If Danny had been more visibly upset about this case, more pissed off, more annoyed, more uncomfortable, yes, more "stirred up" about what he'd just had to do, then:
1) Andy suddenly popping out with his cousin story would have made more sense to me. You know, Andy notices Danny's about to pop and so tells him to be cool.
2) Danny ignoring Andy's advice and going out looking for a fight anyway would have been more believable. He said later that's what he was doing, looking for a fight. I didn't know that until he said it.
3) His refusal of Diane might have had more context. (Maybe that's the reason he turned down Diane? Who knows?)
4) Danny accosting Mary in the bar would have also made a bit more sense. It would have also provided a little more contrast to what she said to him (some really incredibly good lines there). He was arguing with her over how he thinks she hates him; she's denying it, but he's not hearing her. Why? I think if he'd seemed a little more "stirred up" it would have been pretty clear.
Those two scenes are the only ones I can find fault with.
On to the scene with Mary and Danny, which I liked considerably more. OK, to me, this Mary is nearly as much of a freak as Sarah. Am I the only one who thinks so? There is virtually nothing attractive about this person on the surface. She's crass, awkward, a complete oddball. My first reaction to their impending romance (I could see it a mile away during that fantastic "stirred up" scene in the alley) was "ewwwww" not her!
After seeing them tripping over each other naked, however, I've completely changed my mind. I still find Mary an unattractive oddball type, but I think maybe that's why I like her with Sorenson. After all, she's got nothing on him in the quirk department. (Wonder how many paper clips he needs to have sex?)
Their "sex" scene was orchestrated perfectly. It was anything but smooth, which is just exactly what you might expect out of two hopelessly "confused" people, and I found that endearing. She said, "I'm not comfortable." Well, no kidding! He practically strangled her with her bra, then nearly smashed her "girls" flat as he twisted her around to hook one of her legs over his hip. All of this standing up. But their physical connection was just the outward show of what was going on inside--and when she broke down into tears, that point came home.
This might be one of my favorite Blue sex scenes, actually, because it was one of those that conveyed a whole lot about the characters in it. Mary's not any more sure what she's doing in her life than Danny is. It's nice they found each other, nice that he was able to make her laugh a little, nice they were able to comfort each other. As Jill said, "We don't get that
many times at bat." Ain't that the truth.
Loved seeing Andy as a single dad. It was nothing for him to say he's gotta go home to make dinner (my, how he's changed). He's coping with Sylvia's death as best any parent can, by focusing on his child. I think also in this world of "absent fathers" and all the bashing men get over that, it's nice to see all that solid parenting by a man. He tried out his advice on Theo, since Danny didn't seem to hear it, and was met with mashed potatoes. It only takes a little time with Theo for Andy to see that life just isn't that damn complex.
THE B STORY
This is the start of what promises to be a strong story arc this season.
I've already seen next week's episode, so I don't want to give anything away about how this develops, but look for more really good storytelling in the lives of these women who are cops and friends.
Didn't some critic or another complain a while ago that Blue didn't portray women well? If that was ever the case (I dispute it, by the way), it's certainly not true now. The friendship between Jill and Diane seems very real to me. Diane didn't hesitate to give Jill the honest opinion she asked for, but also made it clear that she understands Jill's desire.
Tack on to that the fact that for all the years Jill has been on the show, we've seen very little of her personal life. I think that's a good thing because this character has been established as a professional who can handle her job. Most of the time, women are on a show like Blue for the sole purpose of being someone's girlfriend or wife. Jill didn't start out that way (despite the little "date" with Bobby which could have doomed her and Diane to that "jealous female" bullshit--let us take a moment to thank God that didn't happen), and now, as we get to know a more vulnerable side of her, she seems much more complete, just the way a real person does. We see now a longing in her--one all of us humans share--but it's not all we know of her.
Diane, on the other hand, was Bobby's girl for most of her time on the show. Now she's getting to be a whole lot more. It's a credit to David Milch that he's not shoved her into the background following Bobby's death and that he's not centered her entire existence on grieving for her husband. Her interaction with Jill is solid, and the stories to come are worth sticking around for.
CAST LEGACIES & SUNDRY INFO
Reprising roles on Blue this week: Jeff Cahill (JB); Scott Allan Campbell (Sgt. Martens); Austin Majors (Theo Sipowicz); Kevin Dillon (Officer Baker).
Dillon was outstanding as Baker, as usual. I hope Baker getting caught up in all this Poodle Head nonsense doesn't mean we've seen the last of him. And if you like Baker, make sure you catch Dillon in the movie "Platoon."
You've seen 'em before, but may not know it: Anthony Mangano (Officer Ed Laughlin). He played Officer Gage in "Danny Boy" last season and also played a uniform in one of the two Lost Israels. He's also been on two eps of "Seinfeld" and two eps of "Law & Order."
Newbies: Sheeri Rappaport (Mary Franco)--This actress appeared in a couple of episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess" in 1995. She's also been on "Beverly Hills 90210" and appeared in the movie "Little Witches." Her biggest claim to fame before her stint on Blue may be that she was named #48 in Sci Fi's Sexy 50 by Femme Fatale Magazine in 1997. (I have no idea what that means, sorry.)
Erich Anderson (Don Kirkendall)--you may have seen in one of several movies or TV shows over the years. He's been on "ER" and "Felicity" to name a couple. If I didn't mention it earlier, he makes an outstanding slimy ex-husband. (That was a compliment.)
LINES OF THE WEEK
(oh, so many ...)
Mary to Danny after he makes a smart remark about how loud she whistles: "Wouldn't wanna get you stirred up."
Baker to Danny after seeing Sarah the speed freak: "Get that girl a candy bar."
Danny: "We're gonna get her a Mars bar."
Ed to Andy as Andy makes him join the interview of Sarah: "What am I supposed to do?"
Andy: "You sit there and play with the fingerprint materials."
Andy describing Jerry's alibi to Martens: "He throws a hump into his girlfriend so massive he actually wakes her up."
Fancy to Andy & Danny: "You may take a rip for not telling IAB sooner"
Andy: "What kinda rip you figure? They gonna send me back to Vietnam?"
Mary to Danny after he missed the fact that she's not mad at him: "Are you usually this far off in what's on people's minds? 'Cause I can see it slowing down your detective work."
Danny to Mary after their awkward attempt at lovemaking fails: "Take off your pants. Strictly for holding purposes only."
NEXT WEEK: No spoilers here, but it's outstanding!
It's good to have Blue back!
Amanda Wilson aka firstname.lastname@example.org