NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Copywrite 2004. All rights reserved.

"Old Yeller"
Season 11, Episode 15
3/23/04
Story by Bill Clark and Nicholas Wootton
Teleplay by Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Mark Tinker

What a fun show to come back to. First, my thanks to all of you who sent such kind, comforting and inspiring words on the passing of my father. I'll find solace in them for months and years to come. Now, a little review therapy, Blue therapy, beginning with the usual summary:

SUMMARY

THE DUNGEON

Andy, Junior and their smarmy new pal Hatcher are looking into a suicide. The dead woman left a note detailing how she'd been kidnapped several months ago, kept in a basement dungeon, beaten, raped and fed only through a slot in the door. She tells how she was drugged and how she saw a partial license plate number. Hatcher, who is supposed to be starting anew, pisses Andy off by interviewing a witness at the scene and letting him go. Andy calls him on the carpet for it.

The partial plate turns up a dry cleaner named Paul Grady. He swears he knows nothing about the dead woman, but when pushed a little more, admits that she is the one who showed up at his house a few months ago beaten and bedraggled and asking for water. He and his wife thought she was crazy. Andy and John keep Grady around while they check a few things out.

Hatcher turns up a young woman named Gina who reported that the same thing had happened to her a while back. Andy and John J. talk to her, but she's so far into denial over the whole thing that she barely says what happened. They gently remind her of things in the police report, like the fact that there was evidence of rape and the fact that she was found wandering naked, but she downplays the details. The detectives hesitate to push her in hopes they'll find the guy, get a confession and not have to make her relive it all. She looks at pictures of people, including Grady, but doesn't say she recognizes anyone.

Andy sets Hatcher to looking up similar cases in New Jersey and Connecticut and he finds one in Jersey City. A woman there says she was kidnapped while in Manhattan and kept for several weeks. The place she describes is similar to the place the DOA wrote of her suicide note. When shown a photo of Grady, she falls to pieces in recognition.

Andy and Junior confront Grady with this identification. He denies it, but they toss him in the cage and go search his house. There, they find the torture chamber in the basement complete with the slot in the door. Hatcher is dispatched to pick up Grady's wife who earlier backed his story about Gina showing up at the house several months ago.

When Andy and Junior return to the 1-5, they find Grady in the cage completely naked and very pissed off. He's crouched on the floor demanding to see his lawyer. Andy knows he's been a victim of Hatcher's temper. He takes Hatcher into the locker room and blasts him for screwing up the case by forcing Grady to lawyer up. Hatcher tells the story of how his wife was murdered by drug dealers he was chasing 8 years ago. They were trying to kill him with a car bomb, but his wife took his car to go to the market and she got blown up. He says he feels a ton of guilt over it and overreacts when he works cases where women are victims.

Andy and Junior work Grady's wife. They cannot believe she didn't know what was happening in her basement. She starts off by telling them her husband is a deprogrammer for the government who works with brainwash victims. Andy blows that BS out the window fast, and she insists that's what he told her. She also adds that he beat hell out of her when she tried to go into the basement once, so she never did it again.

Now forced into a trial where they need all the witnesses they can get, Andy and Junior go back to talk to Gina. She's still in her shroud of painful denial. They explain to her that with her help, this man can go to prison forever and never hurt anyone else. Slowly, the details of her story spill out along with her tears. She says she recognized him from the picture, and she adds this gem: his wife was in on it and did everything he did.

Back at Mrs. Grady, Andy and Junior try to force her into a confession. She won't budge. She sticks to her battered wife story, and they can't go anywhere with it.

ADA Heywood tells them the wife stands a good chance at getting off on that defense even though everyone believes Gina's story. Hatcher realizes and says aloud how much he screwed things up by not giving Andy and Junior the chance to get Grady to talk about his wife's involvement.

Andy tells Hatcher he also lost a wife to a murderer and says he learned it's best to keep your anger and emotion out of cases because it only ends up hurting the victims more.

THIS DIAMOND RING

Veronica Lewis arrives at the 15th to report that her 15-thousand dollar heirloom diamond ring has been pinched from her bedroom jewelry box. Veronica is a lanky woman in her late 60s who gives you the thought that she may have spent some quality time with the flower children back in the day, or at least wished she had. She has long, gray hair, warm eyes and a broad inviting smile. A really inviting smile, in fact.

She suspects her young nephew Tim may have taken the ring. He's a former drug addict staying with her while he tries to find work in NYC, but she explains that he hasn't been able to find work and that she's not so sure how "former" his status as a junkie actually is. She doesn't, however, want to offend him with a police investigation so do the lovely detectives have any suggestions? Greg, who has the tiniest little twinkle in his eye, is Johnny on the spot with the idea that they'll approach Tim and tell him it's just routine stuff the insurance company needs them to do. Veronica is very pleased.

Tim, despite being able-bodied, is pretty much a load. He denies taking the ring and offers his Auntie V's personal sexual history up to the detectives as evidence that she's a bit off her rocker and that there may have been others with access to the ring. Since her husband's death, Veronica has apparently reinvented herself as a completely modern woman with no inhibitions and a real zest for life. She took out a personal add inviting men to join her in sexual adventures. Tim says at least 50 had taken her up on it so far.

When Greg asks her about it, she doesn't deny it at all. She's proud to be exploring her sexuality and enjoying life to the fullest and says so. She adds that if she thought any of those men had taken the ring, she'd have said so. And she gives the names of the 50 or so men she's seen.

Greg and Baldwin check out the ones with criminal histories. One of them, a guy in his 20s, describes the sex with Veronica as the best he's ever had. He tosses out words like "Tantric" and "Kamsutric bending" and leaves Greg with his mouth hanging open.

Another guy thinks Veronica herself might be scamming the insurance company. He says so because his credit card and some cash were stolen from his coat when he slept over at her house not long ago.

On that lead, Greg and Baldwin find the credit card was used by a guy who looked just like Tim. Tim is brought in and finally confesses that he pawned the ring for drugs.

Greg returns the ring to a grateful Veronica who tells him Tim is going back to California to go into rehab. She then asks Greg if he wants anything else from her. He smiles and shakes his head but his eyes are saying yes. She touches his face, tells him he's sweet and reminds him that he has her number.

Later, Greg is playing with a spoon in a coffee shop. Veronica walks in and sits down saying she's glad he called her. Greg stammers and stumbles as he tries to say he called her to ask her out so he could ask her out. Veronica smiles confidently and speaks freely: they're both adults. Yes, says Greg. They're both consenting adults. Yes. There's no need for games. No. They can say what they want to say. Yes. So, she asks, do you want to have sex detective? Greg's mouth flies open again.

Veronica and Greg take their less-than-Hollywood bodies and put them to as good a use as Bobby and Diane ever did and for at least as long, if not longer. There's bending, there's rocking, there's probably even chanting, though you can't hear it over the fabulous background music. When it's all over, Greg is in a state of bliss and happy confusion. Veronica tries to put his mind at ease as she puts his body to work again.

JUNIOR'S NEW RESCUE

Janet Grafton from last week is back, and she's working in the 15th now. She's the uniform cop who's boyfriend got shot accidentally by a kid in the park who looked one hell of a lot like Frodo Baggins. Anyway, her husband, also a uniform, beat the crap out of her. She credits Junior for saving her life because he'd called in the shrinks who took her husband's guns away from her.

She shows up at the squad with her cap set for John J. on the premise that she wants to make sure it's OK with him that she's been transferred to the squad. She says she's afraid there's been a lot of talk already. He tells her it's cool and welcomes her.

BYE BYE BIRDIE

Another mouth falls agape as The Colonel spews "douchebag, douchebag" when Eddie walks into his office in the morning. With barely time to react, Eddie has to pick up the phone to talk to a boss about a DOA and try to explain that the squawking of "douchebag" in the background is really nothing. Andy takes a moment to suggest to Eddie that perhaps a parrot doesn't belong in the workplace. Eddie promises he'll fix the bird and sends Andy out on the DOA. Eddie also remarks how eerily similar the bird's accent is to Andy's.

Eddie later takes a moment to inform everyone that The Colonel has calmed down and is moving out of his "douchebag" phase. He says it's important that everyone just say "naughty bird" if they catch the parrot saying it again. Just them, Veronica arrives and introduces herself. The Colonel calls her a "douchebag," and Eddie runs into his office to chastise the bird.

Throughout the day, as the detectives are discussing various aspects of their cases, Eddie can be heard trying to teach the bird to say "pretty bird" by repeating it several million times.

By the end of the day, however, The Colonel doesn't seem to be fixed and Eddie decides it's time to take him home. Andy tells him it's for the best because The Colonel has learned how to mimic the way the phone rings, among other things, and it's distracting. Eddie says he was just trying to make his first enclosed work space a little more homey. Andy suggests he get TARU to put the words "pretty bird" on a loop so he can get The Colonel to say that instead. Eddie, who is a detective underneath it all, wonders with mock awe how Andy came up with that idea.

REVIEW

THE DUNGEON

I liked this story, and the contrast in victims, but I think I'll focus on Hatcher here since the story was mostly about showcasing this guy's foibles.

First, let me say how damn glad I am he's in the squad. It's fabulous to have a fall guy around, someone to shake things up. It adds a great deal to the story to give our heroes a less-than-heroic guy to play off of.

I have a lot of questions about Hatcher, naturally, and I'm not really getting any easy answers from the writing. Maybe that's by design. I'll go with the idea that is it, because the alternative is that it's just bad writing.

Hatcher seems to me to be a smarmy, slimy guy with little or no conscience. He plays at being human and is, more than anything else, concerned with selling himself as the real deal. He tells people what they want to hear and will stop at nothing to try to make a name. Where Andy is genuinely trying to work a case, Hatcher fakes concern for a case and is really all about one-upping someone. Where John Junior is genuinely trying to be a good man, Hatcher fakes goodness and is really all about making people think he's got a heart. Evidence of this is Hatcher jumping in on the interview last week and sending away one of Andy's witnesses this week. Anything he can do to get credit, he'll do. More evidence is the thick layer of crap he laid on the Jersey City woman who spends her time working for victims while ignoring the meat of the case, which was to find a way to get her to go behind her veil of strength and look at photo of the man who tortured her for so long.

Because he's a loose cannon who can't keep up the facade for long, his true colors have come out. Rita saw the ugliness last week. Andy and Junior saw it this week. And his defense so far is the story of how his wife got blown up in a car bomb.

Now, unless this is the world's worst written show and this fella is the world's worst actor (two things I refuse to believe), I think that story is a load of bullshit. It just didn't ring true at all. First off, Andy kept saying how he remembered the guy's name for some reason. Was it the bombing? Seems to me that would have stuck in his mind. Or at least in the minds of all the cops Connie was calling around talking to last week. Wouldn't someone have recalled that? Of course. My gut reaction was that it was lie. And my second reaction was that if it's true, he's the one who killed her. There's way more to Hatcher than meets the eye.

I like the mystery here, I like the game. I like the contrast he provides to our good detectives. It's something that harkens back to the Mike Roberts days, the early Medavoy days and even the early Gibson moments. It's not totally original, but it's solid stuff and I'm enjoying it a lot. I hope it's an arc that lasts a good while and then has a really powerful ending.

I will add just this wish to the list where Hatcher is concerned: since he's a contrast to our detectives, it'd be great to see more of that highlighted through Andy and Junior. Last week, we got a bit of Junior in his reaction to Hatcher's gang hand shake with Baldwin. This week, we got a bit of Andy in how he --the man who flies off the handle at the drop of a feather -- lost his own wife to a murderer but didn't feel the need to draw blood from suspects and strip them naked. That's the kind of stuff that makes this thing tick, and I'd like to see lots more if it, especially from John Clark. Hatcher has things in common with both Andy and Clark, but much more with Clark, so let's see some real contrast.

THIS DIAMOND RING

I think the best part of this story is going to be next week when Greg shows up for work freshly laid.

It's just so damn good to see Greg involved in a romance after all this time. My God, Gordon Clapp is one of the best actors on the show. It's way past time for him to have a little something else to do besides canvass yet another neighborhood.

In this, we're finally seeing the better side of Greg. He *is* sweet under all his false starts and long explanations. He may be a bore, or at times a boor, but he's got a heart of gold and we haven't really gotten to see it since Donna blew town. I'm thrilled to see the depth in this character explored again. I know there isn't time to go deeply into everyone every week, but a little dip now and then into each of these people is just so necessary to keeping them vital to the show and keeping things knitted up nicely. It's much more interesting to see people react to things when you really know who they are, and we can't know that unless we get to look at them from time to time. It's been YEARS since we've seen anything much of Greg outside that squadroom. That was wrong.

Now, we get to see nervous Greg approaching this woman, funny Greg with a silly smile in the middle of his sexcapade, and sweet Greg lying happily next to her in her bed. I love it. And it's a fun twist on a May-December romance, and what a departure from Greg and Donna. I liked Greg and Donna because it was quirky in that they were so different and because Donna made Greg even more nervous and jittery than he normally was.

But this is so good because it's quirky in a totally unexpected way. If Greg and Donna were opposite sides of a coin, then Veronica makes it a three-sided coin. She's calm and confident where Greg is not. She's open, he's closed. She's free, he's bound by phobias and allergies.

I congratulate the producers of the show for not being afraid to show a sex scene between two people who are not in their 20s. Even though that seems to be en vogue at the moment, it's still a pretty bold step on a show where you've got the likes of Jacqueline Obradors, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon, Henry Simmons and Mark-Paul Gosselaar sitting around with truly lovely bodies under those cop clothes. And I congratulate director Mark Tinker for making this scene look just as it should have: funny, sensual, and sweet. There wasn't much skin, which aside from missing Gordon's butt (a major disappointment to all, probably including him), was OK. It seemed real. I like to imagine that people over 50 are way beyond visual hangups in the bedroom and can get down to the more enjoyable physical aspects of being naked together (would that it were so for all of us, no?). It seemed so in this scene, and that's just tremendous. (The version I saw broadcast here on the East coast was just the same as what I saw in the screening copy, so it looks as if ABC left this one alone. There wasn't anything to cut.)

Now, I think Greg is going to fall in love with her. I hope it lasts for a little while before she breaks his sweet little heart.

JUNIOR'S NEW RESCUE

I call it that because this guy can't seem to stay away from damaged goods. What's up with that? How about the poor guy having a healthy relationship with a woman who hasn't been beaten to a bloody pulp or condemned to a life of therapy and psych drugs?

BYE, BYE BIRDIE

Since I missed my chance to welcome Eddie Gibson to the cast full-time a few weeks ago, I'll do so now. I know there was a lot of bellyaching and doomsaying when it was leaked that Eddie would be the new squad boss, but it seems to me that all those complaints came from the same passel of folks who are constantly complaining that Blue follows a formula too closely. Well, guess what, here's one aspect of your formula flying right out the window.

Eddie is decidedly not Arthur Fancy. He's not Tony Rodriguez. He's not the calm voice of reason, the wise man behind the glass, the go-to guy for problems, everyone's protector. He's wildly *not* any of that, and I think that's terrific. The fact that he couldn't be more different from those guys is NOT a bad thing at all. He's going to make these characters react differently, the stories are going to take different turns, the whole cadence of the day will be something we're not used to seeing. I like that.

Already, we've got back that little layer of humor that used to make a more routine appearance in the show. The whole business with the bird was aces. I can't wait to see what's next.

And it like it that it's John O' Donohue. He's a great guy with a great story. He had a whole career in the real NYPD and while doing that, he took a dream of being an actor and made it come true. What's not to admire about that? All his hard work has paid off nicely, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

I was thrilled to see him in the opening credits. Welcome!

QUICK HITS

*I watched the last two episodes and tonight's all in a row, so I have a few QH's that relate back. Sorry if they've been covered already; I haven't caught up on things yet. The first one is how wonderful it was to see MPG doing a little more last week. Clark finally mentioned his dad! About time! More of this fine actor's work along those lines would be welcome.

*Did anyone note last week that Junior was NOT jealous of Rita and Tony at Tony's racket? More evidence that he's normal and she, as written, is not.

*I loved last week's little shout out to Providence. Hey right back at ya! We got your guns, baby, and we're a only a couple hours' drive from the 15th.

*Something was missing this week....what was it....what was...it was something like a ...piece of furniture..no.... more like a bag of laundry...yes, wasn't there a big bag of laundry sitting in the squad room for the past several weeks that's gone now? Oh, WAIT. It was Connie! Yes, of course. I didn't miss her one bit. I got finished missing Connie after the disastrous decision to have her fall in love with Andy. That will stand as this show's biggest mistake. Bigger even than Elizabeth Berkeley. (Woah, did I just say that?). I miss the old Connie. The married, mommy Connie can sit in that apartment and eat bon bons till she turns into a cow at home for all I care. I do wonder how they're going to deal with Andy next season, and I have to say a big fat "I told you so" to everyone who thought marrying them was a good idea because now we're going to end up with Andy hamstrung in his personal life since Charlotte Ross is no longer a part of our world.

*OK, so Junior is going to start dating a chick who cheated on her husband? I know, she said she was separated when she started boffing that married guy. But still, he was married. Also, if she was separated, why then in the end of last week's show did she say she was "packing up" when her abusive husband "came home?" Things that make ya go hmmmm.

*Hank!

*I thought the actress who played Mrs. Grady looked way to clean cut for that role. Mr. Grady looked pretty sleazy, but she looked to put together to be hiding such a big, nasty life.

*Tinker Moment: Very cool how Andy was reading the suicide note at the scene, you hear his voice and then see him reading it at his desk. I'm sure there's a fancy word for that but I have no idea what it is. It's just one of the little things that makes the show jump out at you a bit in a nice way.

*So was the title of the episode a reference to the bird or to Veronica? Things that make ya go ......

*Where in God's name does a man like Andy pick up the word "tchotchke"? I mean, come on. Are we supposed to think he's watching the Christopher Lowell show with PJohn or something? Andy is, without a doubt, a "knick knack" man.

*Didn't we see those fireplace monkeys in an episode a few weeks ago? The one where the woman was beating the crap out of her family and none of them would talk? I refuse to believe this was a prop continuity issue and prefer instead to think they hawk those things on the streets in NYC. I was there not long ago and got offered handbags, earrings, watches and scarves, but no See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys....still, I was in Midtown and the West Side, so....

*Did I mention the music behind the Greg sex scene was perfect? Great choice.

*Brace yourselves for a fun one in the cast legacies....

CAST LEGACIES

I don't have JL's fine list this week, probably due to my own confusion, and I don't have time to look folks up, but I wanted to mention this one:

Ellen Geer who played Veronica is Grandpa Walton's kid. The daughter of the late Will Geer. Seems the family has a knack for aging well.

LINES OF THE WEEK

"You're huggable as a porcupine, Sipowicz, but you have an admirable work ethic." --Eddie patting his new employee on the back.

"Douchebag, douchebag, douchebag." --The Colonel.

NEXT WEEK

Hatcher gets in another jam.

Thanks again, everyone.

See you next week-- Jim's Daughter