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

"Meat Me In The Park"
Season 10 Episode 4
10/15/02
Written by Greg Plageman
Directed by Jesse Bochco

NYPD BLUE NEWS: Big news: this isn't the end! The show has been picked up for an 11th season. Congrats to all on staying employed!

Add another fast-paced show to what's shaping up as a great season so far. If you missed it, admit you're a bonehead and read the summary.

SUMMARY

MISSING GIRL:

The whole squad is in a frenzy trying to find 5-year-old Claire who went missing in the park. Her dad, Steven Barry, took her to the park to play. He left her with another little girl, Kaitlyn and Kaitlyn's nanny while he went to the bathroom. When he returned, the child was gone.

Everything is being done to find the girl. Tony explains this to the mother who shows up at the station house in a panic and starts accusing the cops of doing nothing.

The surly nanny, Elizabeth Garner, is questioned. She's lost her job with Kaitlyn now, and is freaking out over it. Once she gets past her own tragedy, she tells them she saw nothing but does remember an artist who talks to the kids in the park all the time. She remembers a time a little girl lifted her dress in front of him.

They meet Jeremy Shertzer in the park as he's drawing. He's reluctant to talk to Andy, who's being a little rough with him, but tells them he hasn't done anything. He admits talking to and sketching the girls, and says he remembers Claire and how her dad drops her off in the park from time to time.

Andy and John go talk to Kaitlyn. In between introducing John to her dollies, she's tells that Claire got up from their playing and went to get ice cream. Kaitlyn manages to tell that Claire goes by herself to get ice cream all the time but that sometimes a man gives her ice cream for free and lets her ring the bell on the truck.

Tony looks into ice cream vendors and patterns other investigations may have turned up.

John and Andy go back to the park to canvass. A chatty hotdog salesman doesn't have much to offer but while talking to him John notices some shady characters gathering around the men's room. One of them makes John for a cop and takes off. The rest scatter like roaches but they catch one who tells them its a hangout for gay men looking for anonymous quickies. They figure out why Claire's father takes her to the park every day and leaves her with strangers for periods of time.

Mr. and Mrs. Barry come to the squad. Tony distracts the Mrs. who is still freaking out about nothing being done, and John and Andy talk to Steven. The go at him with both barrels, pissed that he didn't tell them what he was really doing in the park. He says it's none of their business and has nothing to do with his daughter's disappearance. They ask if he made some guy mad who might want revenge, then Andy tells him it's his fault his daughter is gone; she'd have stayed safe if he weren't going off to "get his knees dirty." He gets very angry and tells Andy off. Rita comes in and tells them that there's been a hit on an ice cream truck: an unlicensed vendor is out there who is a registered sex offender. Steven Barry overhears this and throws a few verbal daggers at Andy.

Ken the ice cream vendor has been found by some uniforms. John and Andy arrive. Andy slams him into the truck, gloves on, and grabs him by the hair. He threatens to beat hell out of him if he doesn't give up what happened. The uniforms are keeping people away from the truck while this happening. Ken tells that he dropped the girl off with a guy he knows named Randy. They make Ken show them where Randy is.

They break down Randy's door and chase him down a few dark hallways and past a video editing room where there are scores of tapes. In an adjacent room where a small bed littered with stuffed animals and ropes is surrounded by a camera and lights they wrestle Randy into cuffs. Behind a shower curtain they find Claire unconscious in a bathtub and carry her out.

At the hospital, Claire is undergoing an exam while her mother takes Connie, Andy, John and Rita to task for allowing the abduction to happen. They take this quietly. Then she yells at them for hauling her husband in earlier in the day to grill him about their finances as if that had anything to do with the kidnapping. They don't take this so quietly.

John speaks up first, asking Steven in front of his wife if it was indeed finances they chatted about earlier. Steven goes white. Andy then suggests to Mrs. Barry that before she goes to the mayor's office she find out why her husband left their daughter alone in the park to go into the men's room to have his fun. They walk away after that leaving Mrs. Barry to question her husband which she does.

Later, as they're telling Tony that Mrs. Barry was a little miffed, Steven Barry shows up shouting how he's going to have Andy's job for what he did. Andy explains to Tony that Barry was "getting his temperature checked in the men's room." Barry shouts that Andy is a homophobe who was just seeking some kind of sick justice. But Barry makes the mistake of saying that about a foot-and-a-half away from PAA John who has clearly reached his limit with all of this. He shouts at Barry that it's really about him being a liar and putting his daughter in jeopardy because of it. He says he babysits Andy's son all the time, and tells Barry that if he can't thank the detectives, he ought to just count his blessings and shut up. Barry leaves.

PAA John is upset at his own outburst, perhaps at Andy's characterization of what went on the men's room, and sits down. Andy nods his appreciation and PJ nods back.

DRAGGED GIRL:

Greg and Baldwin catch the case of a teenage girl dragged by a car then shot. A witness tells how he heard the girl screaming as she was dragged and how he saw one man in the passenger side shoot the girl. He got three numbers off the license plate.

Turns out the girl was pregnant. The father is another high school kid, Larry Williams, a basketball prospect. Greg and Baldwin talk to Larry and find out that he and the girl have been broken up for a few months. He's aware she was pregnant but says he's not real sure the kid was his. He says he's sorry she's dead but isn't broken up about it. He says he'd have dealt with it if she'd have had his kid. He says he had nothing to do with her murder.

Rita turns up Larry's cell phone records and finds that there are hundreds of calls to a guy named Percy Davis, including two that morning which bookend the time of the murder. Percy is a wannabe agent who's been trying to look after Larry's budding basketball career.

Percy goes by the nickname Boo. He's pure slime: both gooey and transparent. He dresses like Herb Tarlek and talks like a used car salesman (or just a used salesman) and the detectives don't buy his line of shit. He says he was alone on the phone working for Larry at the time of the murder. He doesn't do much to explain the calls from Larry that morning.

The partial plate number turns up a car that belongs to an old lady whose grandson is a basketball player connected to Boo. Greg and Baldwin go to talk to the grandson, James Strickland.

He's a clean-cut kid with a future in the NBA and Baldwin knows his name. They tell him the dead girl's blood has been found on his grandmother's car. James begins to lie: he says he loaned the car out that morning. They tell him he's going to be playing ball in prison if he doesn't come clean, and they tell him they know about Boo. He begins to freak out a little and tells them that Boo asked him for a ride. He says they went to see the girl and Boo started fighting with her from the car about her having an abortion. Boo punched her and James got scared and hit the gas. She got tangled up in the seatbelt, so James stopped the car. Boo then pulled out a gun and shot her.

Boo is brought back in. His salesman routine ends pretty fast when he's told James rolled on him. He immediately blames James, then starts to stutter and blames Larry. He says Larry put him up to it, made him do it. He even says Larry put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him. He plays like he's terrified of Larry then admits Larry's at his house at that moment eating Frito's corn chips.

Greg and Baldwin have got Boo but now they want Larry. ADA Heywood tells them the only option is to get Larry to confess.

Larry denies telling Boo to kill the girl. He says Boo promised he'd take care of "it" not "her," meaning he'd get her to have an abortion. They don't have anything on Larry but Baldwin takes a moment to remind him he's not untouchable.

BEAT UP GIRL:

In the middle of the search for the missing child, Connie gets a call from a uniform detail that responded to a domestic dispute between her sister Michelle and Michelle's husband Frank.

Tony is pissed that this is interfering, but lets Connie go deal with it. At Michelle's apartment, Connie finds her sister locked in the bathroom. The uniforms are compelled by law to arrest Frank if she's been beat up, and she doesn't want anyone to see her face.

Connie talks her out of the bathroom and sure enough, she's been beat up. Frank is arrested even though Michelle protests.

Connie talks to her sister at the station house and tries to persuade her to press charges. Michelle is reluctant. Connie explains that they had to arrest Frank but now it's up to her regarding the prosecution. They argue. Connie ends up comforting her and telling her that the problem is not going to go away. Connie isn't sure Michelle understands and doesn't get an answer on whether she'll press charges. It seems that she won't.

Andy goes to visit Frank in his cell. He has a little conversation punctuated with several slaps to Frank's face. Andy tells him that after he gets out of jail, he's going to drive him to a bus station, buy him coffee and put him on a bus out of town. Andy then promises to put him in the hospital if he ever comes back.

Later at Connie's place, Michelle is icing her face. She realizes that she knows nothing about Connie's life and says she wants to know more. Connie tells her a little about Andy but the conversation soon turns back to Michelle's life. Connie gets up to make her some tea and considers sadly that Michelle will probably never change.

HAPPY BOYS:

Andy spends the evening with Theo who has built a castle out of blankets and living room furniture. He's shoved a pillow up the back of his shirt and is pretending to be the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Andy's role is to knock at the castle door, but he keeps getting interrupted by Theo who keeps stopping to make adjustments to the fort. Suddenly, Theo decides he wants to be Aladdin instead of the Hunchback and tells Andy to be the monkey. Andy protests at first, then agrees. As Theo runs off to get the monkey vest and hat for Andy to wear, Andy grabs him for a hug.


REVIEW

MISSING GIRL:

It may seem ripped from this summer's headlines but this story was written a year ago. It's put together well, with the urgency conveyed in Tony's foul mood and everyone's quick steps.

I love the fast-paced shows like this one. It's funny that the most compelling scene was in slow motion. It added a lot of by way of pacing and urgency. It was great not only because it looked different--which is always good on an old show--but because there was so much to see. The darkness added an appropriately sinister feel to the thing, but it wasn't so dark that you couldn't get a clean look at the creepy video library and the even more creepy little bed. All the sickness was right there to see and feel. Excellent.

Andy was pushing the envelope all night, too, and that made it interesting. It's been a while since we've seen him really do that. It's one thing to see him put the gloves on with Ken (though I have to say this scene was the best in a loooong time where Andy's threatening to pop someone), but the scene when he set up the husband at the hospital to get in trouble with his wife was aces. He didn't give a crap if it got him or the department in trouble, he just did it because he was pissed off and sick of all the crap heaped on cops.

PAA John put the icing on the cake by putting the guy in his place when he showed up at the station house to bitch at Andy. If it hadn't been for PJohn, the guy might have had something. Andy, while being OK with PJohn, is still not what I think most would consider sympathetic to gays. Nice job there by Bill Brochtrup. It's fun to see our usually happy guy go ballistic once in a while, especially when he's wearing a receiving blanket as a sweater.

Nice job also by Peter Appel who played the ice cream vendor. He had a small scene but made the most of it. It took about 5 seconds to get a complete grip on what that character was all about.

DRAGGED GIRL:

This story seemed to be all about social commentary on today's young athletes. If so, I think it sort of missed the mark. Neither of the up and coming stars got nailed in a satisfying way. James was barely involved, and Larry got to go back home to his Frito's. It'd have been more fun if we'd gotten to pretend one of them was, say, Randy Moss and he was guilty and going away for a long time.

You could see from the get-go that Boo was involved--he was so transparent--and that made me want to see one of those kids more involved and getting hammered in the system. That said, I thought Boo was a well-written character played very nicely by Keith Diamond. He was just so full of himself, the way those agents frequently are, and so sure that the world revolves around athletes.

I do wonder what the Heywood scene and the final scene with Larry were all about. These two scenes could have fallen on the floor and not have been missed. Baldwin's line about the kid being untouchable was fluff considering that the kid was indeed untouchable in that particular instance. Makes me think something else in this story got hacked out for one reason or another.

BEAT UP GIRL:

I have a feeling Connie's going to end up a mom soon, and I'm not liking the idea much. (I still hold out hope that these fine TV writers will make this work for me....) But, if Michelle is a classic abused woman--and it seems she is--then it seems clear she's going to head back to Frank for more soon. Who in class can't see that coming?

This could be interesting if Connie can find a way to intervene and make a difference for her sister rather than having her sister just get mowed down by the guy. Maybe that'll happen.....but I doubt it. I'm thinking it's a way to get Connie the kid she so desperately wants without brining her own daughter back on the show and without making her Theo's mom too fast (which would be OK with me, I mean, if you *have* to make her a mom, which you don't, but I digress.)

I like the way the scenes with Ross and LaNasa work. They seem very much like sisters to me. The best moments were Connie's horrified and tearful reaction to seeing her sister's freshly beaten face and the final scene with them where Connie realizes her sister is pathologically selfish.

Andy's time with Frank was good, too. I remember Andy making a similar threat to another guy who beat up his wife back in the first or second season (or third or fourth...I can't remember that stuff...), and so it all seemed consistent. Andy, who used to smack Katie around when he was drunk, now exorcises his own demons by smacking the abusers. I wonder if this is obvious to everyone out here in TV land, or if it would be a good idea to have Andy remember what a dick he was when he was drunk.

HAPPY BOYS:

This is good Theo time. Nicely written with Theo interrupting the game. It was fun to watch. Dare I say, though, that the pattern is getting a bit tired? Andy is brutal at work then playful with Theo. There, I said it. Maybe instead the point can be made another way: Theo is a holy terror and Andy instructs him on how to pick his battles? I dunno....something.

QUICK HITS:

*Loved Tony's bad mood. It added dimension to the squad room scenes which, without all the people who used to rush around in the background in the early seasons, is quite welcome.

*The bad boy dissing Medavoy was great. If only that kid could have seen Donna, huh? (Even the perps know Medavoy needs a woman, so c'mon! Give him one!)

*Nice to hear Tony's rundown of all the things they were doing on the missing kid case. Lets us know there's more going on than we saw.

*Medavoy stuttered! Great! It's been too long. It wasn't a major stutter, but I've missed the quirks that made him so interesting (sneezes, rashes, stutters). More of that, please.

*Even though I found the scene useless/a leftover from something else cut, I thought Garcelle B-N did a fine job as Valerie tonight. She seemed so much more relaxed. And I like her new hair, too.

*Speaking of Val, did we miss something on this pregnancy/abortion story and what it might have meant to Val and Baldy personally? Maybe that's what was chopped out? (Not that I *want* to see more on that, you understand...)

*Great wardrobe job on Boo. Loud and U-G-L-Y, a perfect reflection of his personality.

*How many Disney films does Theo know, anyway? I'm sure he wasn't acting out the *books*..... (Ok, sure, every kid knows Disney movies, but...)

*Tonight's episode title is particularly twisted, no? Heh.Heh.

*A note about tonight's director, Jesse Bochco. Yeah, he's the boss's kid, but he's got the stuff. I got to watch part of this episode being shot and saw him do his thing. As difficult as it is to make a name for yourself in that industry, I think it's probably at least as difficult (maybe more so) to overcome a name that's already been made. While his father's success has certainly opened doors for him, Jesse is now saddled with the task of keeping them open and putting his own weight behind the Bochco name. And you can bet that there are some petty, jealous folks out there just waiting to see a lucky guy like him flop. I don't think that's going to happen, though. It seems like he's off to a great start in making his own way (he worked on Philly and is now a producer on Blue--a couple of great places to cut your teeth). Dad wasn't hanging around looking over his shoulder; JB called all the shots I saw.

CAST LEGACIES:

Michael Countryman (Steven Barry): He's been on Law & Order and a few of its offspring.
Sarah-Jane Potts (the nanny): She was Molly on Felicity.
Keith Diamond (Percy "Boo" Davis): He was on Blue in 97 and was also on SB's City of Angels once. He was also Greg on the Drew Carey Show. He's done ER and L&O among other shows.
Peter Appel (Ken the ice cream man): He did Blue in 93, and was in Milch's The Big Apple. He's also done L&O a few times.

Previously on NYPD Blue: Austin Majors as Theo, Katherine LaNasa as Michelle, Nicholas Lea as Frank, Ralph Garman as Officer Gruden. Rounding out the cast: Alison Martin as Tess Barry, Sue Goodman as Mrs. Foster, Aynsley Lemon as Kaitlyn Foster, Maurice "Mo" McRae as Larry Williams, Elimu Nelson as James Strickland, Steven Marcus as Jeremy Shertzer, Glenn Kubota as Mr. Lu, Lou Picolli as Uniform 4, Marty Nadler as hot dog vendor and Bryan Callen as the guy from the bathroom.

LINE OF THE WEEK:

Larry, explaining his life: I don't have nothing to do with violence. I play ball. I stay clean.
Medavoy: Keeping your dick in your pants, that's another story.
Larry: I get it thrown at me. You wouldn't understand that.

NEXT WEEK:

Michelle's problems reach critical mass; Medavoy handles the case of a kid stabbed for his bike. Tuesday 10pm on ABC.

Have a great week-- Amanda Wilson