NYPD Blue, Season 4, Episode 1
Moby Greg
Story by Bill Clark & David Milch
Teleplay by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Mark Tinker

PLOT ONE: FUMBLE RECOVERY

The 15th squad detectives get a murder case literally dumped into their laps. Detectives from the neighboring 13th squad discover a dead body in a steamer trunk on the edge of their precinct, and, to avoid being stuck with a stone whodunnit, quickly drag the trunk a few yards across the street, making the corpse a problem for Andy, Bobby, and company.

As luck would have it, a busdriver going along his route that morning actually witnessed the trunk being placed in a van for transport, and later dumped on the border between the two precincts. As Andy and Bobby start to canvas the area where the driver saw the body being loaded into the van, a street tough makes them for cops, pulls out a gun, and starts running down the street. Sipowicz and Simone give chase into an apartment building, where their fleeing suspect takes a few wayward shots at Andy, who despite being unharmed, freezes up and can't help Bobby and the other detectives continue their pursuit.

A canvas of the neighborhood gets the detectives an ID on their murder victim -- a Vietnam vet named Afro -- as well as a possible suspect: a young man named Arthur whom one neighbor surreptitiously tells Andy was involved in disposing of Afro's body. In interrogation at the station, Arthur quickly caves and explains to Bobby that Afro, a junkie, was flashing around a wad of cash while shooting up with a nasty pair of hoods named Hector and Rodney, and brought the two up to his room. When Arthur came by later, the two were standing over Afro's corpse, and offered Arthur some crack to help them move the body.

Rodney gets picked up on a drug posession beef, and gives up Hector as the shooter to avoid the death penalty. The detectives eventually find Hector -- the same punk who shot at Andy earlier -- hiding out in the basement of a tenement, and bust him before he can go for his gun.

Hector tries to act tough in interrogation, needling Andy for panicking under fire, and suggesting that if uncuffed, he could stomp both of them. Andy hands his own gun to Bobby and asks him to wait outside, then takes off Hector's cuffs, unlocks the interview room window, and invites Hector to try to go through him to get to that window and escape. Hector, despite his words earlier, doesn't even get out of the chair, but continues his trash talk, accusing Andy of being afraid during their earlier confrontation. Andy admits that he was afraid, but because he finally has something left to lose besides his life: his family. Hector declines one final invitation to get past Andy, and decides to lawyer up. Andy figures it doesn't matter, since they have the murder weapon and statements from two eyewitnesses, and chides Hector for being all talk and no action.

"You just remember this, sweetheart," Andy sneers, "you got your cuffs off like you wanted, and you folded, and this 'bitch' never even touched you."

PLOT TWO: SICKBOY

Part of Andy's angst stems not from getting shot at, but from the health of baby Theo, who's had seven colds in the last six months. Though Sylvia apparently doesn't think it's a big deal, she takes Theo for some tests to appease Andy, and begs him to stop worrying, which is just making her crazy.

After several delays, Theo's pediatrician tells the worried parents that there's nothing wrong with Theo's immune system, and suggests that Andy is becoming overprotective because of Andy Jr's death. "Happy children grow up in an atmosphere of trust," he admonishes, "which includes believing in the future, even though there are no guarantees."

Andy takes the doctor's words to heart, and is in much better spirits that night, and more than willing to indulge Sylvia's desire to make love.

PLOT THREE: A MODEST PROPOSAL

Bobby's attempt to take his relationship with Diane to the next level doesn't go quite as he had planned. After a romantic dinner, he offers her an engagement ring and asks her to marry him. Diane, taken completely by surprise, asks for some time to think about it.

Bobby, who expected a 'yes,' can't even take time away to get over his disappointment, because he and Diane work together, though Diane goes out of her way to work with Greg and James instead of Bobby and Andy whenever the chance arises.

Diane has good reasons for not wanting to get hitched -- her parents' own dysfunctional and eventually fatal marriage, for starters, not to mention the fact that she still doesn't feel in control of her alocholism -- but a frustrated Bobby doesn't seem content to accept her compromise idea of an "open-ended engagement."

PLOT FOUR: A GUTTY PERFORMANCE

Greg, who's pushing the scales at nearly 200 pounds despite his modest stature, has vowed to go on a diet, but his plan to get Andy to diet with him for "peer reinforcement" goes awry when Andy, anxious over Theo's condition, keeps postponing the start of their competition. Once Theo's medical problems are resolved, Andy agrees to start the next day, with the "loser" (the one who loses the least pounds per month) having to put money in the college fund for the winner's kid. Medavoy decides to check out some recently confiscated excercise equipment that the precinct has been using as a makeshift gym, and finds himself tongue-tied by beautiful Officer Abby Sullivan, who offers him some words of encouragement about his weight-loss plan.

MISCELLANEOUS THREADS:

Though he isn't likely to have a new bride anytime soon, Bobby's life is impacted by his old one. Theresa Coffield, the aunt of his late wife Maria, has recently passed away, and left the apartment building she owned to Bobby, who used to clean it on the weekends when he was younger. Mrs. Coffield's son Henry, who had been counting on inheriting the building for his future income, demands that Bobby "do the right thing" and give the title over to him. Bobby decides to look into the matter further before doing anything.

When it looks like Andy isn't going to join in the diet competition, Greg asks James to help, but Martinez has plans to run for union delegate, and talking with his fellow cops over doughnuts is the easiest way to campaign.

The new PAAs for both the detective's squad and the Anti-Crime squad finally arrive to replace Lucy Kinley and Upstairs John, and to James' dismay, Anti-Crime gets attractive Gina Colon, while the detectives' new assistant is the competent but plump Geri Turner.


Welcome back, everybody! I'm ecstatic to see new episodes on again, if for no other reason than the hope that we'll get more posts about the show, and less about penis enlargement. :)

Fortunately, "Moby Greg" didn't disappoint; while not as action-packed as last year's season premiere, it was a welcome reinvitation into the lives of the 15th squad, with several outstanding moments.

Let's start with the material involving Sipowicz, by far the episode's strongest point. I'm glad to see that, though Andy's still on the wagon, it looks like Andy Jr's death will continue to send ripples through his life, so that every moment Andy shares with Theo is a chance to make up for only being there for his other son for such a brief time.

The actual murder case was pretty pedestrian, but that didn't matter, because it was just the tool used to open up Andy and see how he's doing. Andy getting shot at and panicking is the best sign we've been given about how far he's come in the past three years. The alcoholic Andy of the series' early days practically had a deathwish, and even in recent years was pretty fearless; now, he's dead serious about meeting his responsibilities to everyone in his life, which means he can't leave a margin for error when it comes to looking after himself. That certainly makes him a better human being, but it could make him a worse cop. For now, he seems to have found a safe middle ground, but, like Mr. Miyagi said, "Walk middle road... SPLAT! Crushed like grape!" :) We'll see.

The brief scene where Andy volunteered to go through the door to bust Hector was a great silent piece of acting by Franz, and is also exactly the kind of thing we should have seen last year with James (who actually got shot) after he returned to duty. Better late than never, I always say.

And in the interrogation with Hector, when Andy handed his gun to Bobby (universal cop sign language for "I'm gonna kick somebody's ass now"), I held my breath, fearing what has by now become the cliche of Andy getting rough with a suspect. But Theresa Rebeck (and, I suppose, David Milch) managed to surprise me by leaving Hector completely untouched. I'm glad that the show is willing to be realistic and acknowledge that cops will manhandle perps, but sometimes the punches, slaps, and chokeholds seem like the writers' shorthand method of creating dramatic tension in a scene. Here, Andy may as well have kept his hands in his pockets, yet this was one of the tensest interrogation scenes in some time. Food for thought.

The Bobby and Diane story didn't work quite as well for me, but that's largely because tonight's episode was just setting things in motion for what looks to be the inevitable breakup in future episodes. But it was perfectly in character for Bobby to want a deeper commitment -- and heart- warming to hear him say that he's learned there's more to life than loss -- and also for Diane to fear it.

To be honest, though, the Bobby subplot that has me more intrigued is the inheritance story. This could either open up a wealth of storytelling possibilities, or it could turn into an ongoing embarrassment, like the bar subplot from "Homicide" a couple of years ago that ground to a halt every episode in which it appeared. From what I've read on the wire at work about future episodes (and, no, I can't share, so don't ask :-)), I have very good reason for optimism.

Though we've been promised more background info on Fancy this year, tonight he was just Lt. Plot Device, so I'll move on to the other putzes -- er, detectives -- in the squad, Greg and James. With Donna and Marie (hey, weren't they a Mormon singing duo? :)) out of his life for good, Greg needs something new to drive him nuts, and I suppose his weight is as good a subject as any, though I have to say that Nick Turturro actually looked chunkier than Gordon Clapp tonight.

I'm not sure how I feel about the apparent possibility of James getting involved with Gina Colon and Greg with Abby Sullivan. As I've moved into the adult world, I've quickly discovered that it's tough to meet people outside of work if you have a job with long hours, so I'm less opposed to the concept of office romance than I used to be, but I just wish for once a female character could be introduced without being automatically set up as a love interest for one of the guys. But to confuse my feelings on the subject, I find myself wishing that Geri Turner get involved with someone, just to override the stereotype that a woman has to be anorexic to be considered desirable. So for now, I'll keep my mouth shut on the matter, and leave it to y'all to give your opinions about this.

I will say that I'm looking forward much more to James' run for union delegate, which is supposed to get a lot more play in upcoming episodes (and, since Vince "Tit-Cup" Gotelli currently holds the job, will give some screen time to Carmine Caridi).

In all, "Moby Greg" was nothing earth-shattering, but season premieres rarely are, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, anyway. Here's hoping for another season of greatness to follow.

What did everybody else think?

Shorter takes:

Couple of housekeeping notes. First, for anybody who actually cares, I am, as I alluded to earlier, fully employed these days, as a TV/feature writer at the Star-Ledger, the biggest paper in my home state of New Jersey. If you're (un)fortunate enough to live in the Garden State, pick up a copy -- we can always use new readers. :)

Also, the reason this review is so early and so long is because I got a tape of it from ABC a week ago -- job perk -- and had plenty of time to do it. However, I generally won't be getting advance copies of episodes, and I actually need to get to bed at a reasonable hour on Tuesday nights, so one of two things has to happen: 1)I make the summary and the review much shorter; or 2)I don't finish the thing until the weekend. I'd appreciate some feedback on this, particularly in terms of what people read. Do you care more about the summary or the review? Can you stand to wait a few extra days if it'll mean they're longer? That kind of thing. Post, e-mail, send smoke signals, whatever.

And finally, I noticed in the last year that, even during the season, discussion was way down from previous years; there'd be my review, a couple of follow-ups to that, and a few assorted other threads, but not much when you consider how popular the show is and how rabid and vocal the fandom was in earlier years.

So, in the interest of getting more posts, I'll let y'all in on a little secret (which I already gave away in the FAQ, but who the hell has time to read that behemoth?): several of the writers lurk on this newsgroup, and actually relish the audience feedback. I'm not even a "real viewer" anymore, since I now get paid to watch TV, and since I now have met a number of people involved with the show and therefore go into episodes with more knowledge than the average fan would, so my opinions are less useful to them than everyone else's, since you represent the large bulk of the audience who watches the show. So here's your chance to be heard, by posting and saying what you liked and didn't like about a particular episode, where you'd like to see a character go in the future, etc. The Internet can be really interactive if you let it.

See ya in the funny papers....


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