NYPD Blue: Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com
Season 8 Episode 7
"Russellmania" 2/27/01
Teleplay by Jody Worth
Story by Bill Clark &  Jody Worth
Directed by Karen Gaviola


This one's a grand slam.  If you missed it, take 50 laps, smack yourself around and then read this witty summary.  The review follows.

Summary:
DIANE, DENBY & DRUGS:  After a dressing down about their very public display of dissatisfaction with one another (see Danny story below), Danny and Diane are no longer working the Ruiz case (apparent murder suicide) together.
   Lt. Fancy tells Diane to partner with Andy on the matter.  Diane suspects there's more to the death of Yvonne Ruiz and her husband and has already learned that former cop/continual slimeball Harry Denby was banging Yvonne with whom he worked in dispatch at CitiWide Courier service.  Diane had Yvonne's computer sent over to TAR (Technical Assistance and Response Unit) for a good going over after finding Denby's email address in it.
    Tech geek Detective Brett Gilmore from TARU arrives after Diane fills Andy in. He's a skinny little thing who looks like he spends most of his days reading binary codes and running away from scary 4th graders. As if he needs to solidify his status as a boob, Gilmore asks Andy to call him Crow after Brandon Lee in the movie The Crow which he thinks is just the coolest shit, giggle giggle.    Andy, who clearly needed no further evidence that the guy is a loser, is offended by the fact that he has a shield. After several minutes of giving him shit over getting promoted to detective for saving the department from the nonexistent Y2K bug, they get down to business.
  The Crow reveals in a whisper that Yvonne had a secret file in which she kept information on a clandestine distribution service the purpose of which baffles The Crow. The Crow also hands out copies of a perverted email from Denby and a list of names and dates. The Crow feels good.
   Andy and Diane decide to check out the list of names, figuring correctly that they are CitiWide employees who are involved in the distribution of drugs.  While at CitiWide, Diane is spotted by a surprised Denby who jogs over to see her.  He seems a bit nervous as he asks her what she's doing and tries to convince her that Yvonne's husband shot her because he was jealous of her and Denby.
   Strongly suspecting Denby's involvement in the murders and distribution ring, Diane plays with him. Without offering anything, she makes it clear that she's no longer seeing Danny. She opts not to spar with Denby over his advances.  This sudden change throws Denby so much that he can't even flirt with her. Too busy to stand around and jaw, she leaves.
     Andy and Diane bring one of the CitiWide employees from the list, Leroy, back to the station house.  Under threat of jail time, Leroy, a small cog in a big machine who admittedly can't tell his dick from a hole in his head, gives up how Yvonne orchestrated the smack distribution ring, paying everyone and avoiding "random" sniffs from the DEA drug dogs.  He says now that Yvonne is dead, Harry Denby has taken over.
    Meanwhile, an old narcotics unit buddy of Danny's shows up. Det. Ray Olivo has stopped by off the record to let Danny know he's been stepping into a joint task force investigation into Colombian drug distribution. Ray explains how they know Yvonne at CitiWide was running the drugs and that Denby was somehow involved. Their hope is to flip Denby--off him being a former cop who would see his way to helping out--and make him testify against the Colombians.  Ray says a tail saw Denby talking to Danny outside the house (last episode) and that's why he's come to see Danny.
   Danny tells him he'll have to talk to his partner, Andy.  Ray's a little wary because his bosses don't know he's there. Danny assures him Andy's OK.  When Danny goes to tell Andy what's up, Diane over hears and gets a little pissed that Danny is running her case (she's lead detective on it) right past her and over to Andy. Danny gets in her face a little bit but when Andy sticks up for her, Danny backs down.
   Ray is told that they think Denby is a major player in the drug ring and that he killed Yvonne and her husband.  Ray tells Andy and Diane that surveillance picked Denby up going in and out of Yvonne's apartment the day she and her husband died.  They agree to exchange evidence, and Diane and Andy go with the drug agents to stakeout the warehouse where the latest drug shipment sits. They're expecting someone from CitiWide to pick it up.
    An undercover agent, Officer Manuel, is in the warehouse with one of the drug dealers waiting.  Diane, Andy and the other drug officers, including Lt. Gomez, are outside in a van where they can see on three monitors what hidden cameras inside are recording.
   Denby arrives.  He walks into the warehouse with another man surprising Manuel and the dealer.  They ask him why he's so early.  As he beings his bullshit response to the question, Denby draws his gun and shoots everyone in the room. He kills two and wounds Manuel who immediately begins shouting that he's a cop and there are 60 more surrounding the place.
  Denby begins to come unglued. He shouts out his cell phone number while holding the gun to the bleeding Manuel.  Gomez calls him and begins to negotiate. Denby is spooked and begins to ramble. He can't decide what to ask for.
   Soon, ESU begins trying to cut through the warehouse door. This sends Denby into a frenzy, and he begins waving his gun at Manuel again and threatening to kill him. Gomez stops the cutting and Denby then demands to see Diane.  
  Inside the van, Gomez looks to Diane. She begins to put on a vest as Andy protests. He tells Gomez he can't send her in there. Diane volunteers again to go and tells Andy if she doesn't go in, Manuel dies. She walks out of the van with Andy following asking to trade places.  
   Diane continues inside the warehouse where Denby has his gun drawn on Manuel. Diane talks to Manuel and tries to calm him.  She then tries to get Denby to give up.  He begins to ramble more and confesses running the drug ring, killing Yvonne and her husband  to shut them up, and going to the warehouse today to steal the shipment from the Colombians and sell it to the Chinese.
    Diane tells him he can testify against the Colombians, but Denby knows he's done. He grabs Manuel by the neck and puts the gun to the agent's head. Diane draws her weapon and tells Denby he'll die if he does it.  He tells her that's the only way to stop him, so without any hesitation, she puts three into him and he drops like a stale biscuit.  Ever the coward, he chose suicide by cop.
    Diane, who's fine after the shooting, is the toast of the 1-5. Capt. Bass tells Fancy she's a slam dunk for a medal of honor for saving Manuel. And, in a completely tasteless reference to Diane's late husband, he adds that she'll get bumped to 2nd grade detective legit without having to drive the commissioner around.
Fortunately (for Bass?), Diane didn't hear that comment. She only heard Bass tell her she'd get a commendation.

DANNY & THE SUBWAY SLASHER:  Danny's day goes from bad to worse. It begins with Lt. Fancy ordering him and Diane into his office to get a few verbal smacks.  Fancy tells them he never wants to see another display like they one they put on the previous evening. They assure him he won't.  He tells Diane to work her case with Andy. Expressing much more displeasure with Danny, tells him that if he's lucky he might get to work a case with Greg and Baldwin.
    Danny sulks out to his desk, and a few minutes later a call comes in that a man has been stabbed at the Astor Place subway station.  Fancy sends Greg and Baldwin and, after a beat, adds sardonically, "Take Sorenson with you."  
     They arrive outside the subway station to find cops and the media both swarming. An Italian man is lying in a pool of blood on the pavement slashed to death.  One witness, a skinny little guy named Brendan, tells how the killer tried to steal his Walkman from him and how the Italian guy stood up for him.   He said the killer sat still after that until the train stopped, and then chased the Italian guy out of the station slashing at him with a knife until the man fell over dead.  Brendan gives a good description of the killer: a thin, short black man with a Dennis Rodman hairdo (in D.R.'s blonde phase).
    Another witness, a young woman named Louise, also saw the killing and gives the same description.  Just as they're arranging an interview with her, a uniform arrives to say another subway patron has been stabbed at Union Square by a guy fitting the description. Danny goes off to investigate.
    At the station, Louise is set up with a sketch artist while Brendan looks at mug books. Danny returns from the Union Square incident with nothing.  A call has come in, however, that Anti-Crime picked up a kid sleeping on a park bench who looks like the suspect.
   Capt. Bass arrives to put some pressure on Fancy regarding the subway slashings, and at about the same time, ADA Heywood arrives to sit on the case.      Just then, Anit-Crime shows up with Sid. Sid's a skinny little black guy with bleached blonde hair whom Theo could take down snot-flyin' drunk with one hand tied behind his back and his mind on a good game of Car Crash Pile-Up.
     Something is wrong with Sid. Something is making Sid tic and mumble, and by the time he gets into the pokey room, he's incomprehensible.  Baldwin, Greg and Danny all give it a go anyway but get no where with him.  Danny pulls the boys aside and tells them that he's seen guys like this before when he worked narcotics. The only way to get to guys on PCP is to invade their personal space, stare them down.
     Baldwin listens to this then takes his 6-4 frame over and pulls Skinny Sid's chair around to face him. He then leans his huge body over Sid and gets nose to nose. Sid doesn't like this one bit. His eyes jump, and he tics and bucks and finally tells Baldwin to back off because he's not his girlfriend.  Baldwin doesn't move.  Sid calms slightly and then is able to follow Baldwin's prompts: he killed the Italian guy in self-defense.
    Greg wants Sid to write this down but Sid refuses. Finally, they work it out so the cops will write the statement and Sid will sign it.  Later, however, when they return to the pokey room with the written statement they find their suspect back on Planet Sid. He has no idea what they're talking about, denies ever confessing and refuses to sign anything.  Danny, fresh off his brief in-your-face encounter with Diane, is in no mood for Sid's bullshit.
   During Sid's refusal to sign, Danny has been staring at Sid's shoes.  He reaches out and gives Sid a pretty heft smack on the face and orders him to take his clothes off.  Sid is horrified and immediately begins hollering how he's not going to let Danny do anything perverted up his butt.  Danny smacks him again, this time hard enough to nearly knock him out of his chair.  Baldwin and Greg react this time, both hesitating a little, knowing they have to support Danny in front of the suspect but knowing also that Danny has gone too far.  They also order Sid to take off his clothes.
   Sid rights himself in his chair and is bleeding profusely from the mouth. Again he refuses to get naked and give up his butt. He gets up and cowers near a wall. Danny marches over, grabs one of Sid's legs and, in one smooth move, flips Sid upside down, rips off his shoe and lets him drop the floor.  He bends down and shoves the shoe in Sid's face pointing out an old blood stain.  Danny tells him that small stain is going to get him the death penalty.
   Baldwin and Greg exchange a glance as Sid lies bleeding on the floor. They know this isn't right.
    Later, it's time for the lineup.  Lt. Fancy, ADA Heywood and the witness Brendan, all file into the little viewing room with Baldwin, Greg and Danny. The shade is drawn over the two-way mirror as Fancy explains to Brendan how the lineup works.  Brendan nods understanding, and while Fancy lifts the shade he simultaneously drops his jaw as he gets a look at Sid. Dressed like all the others, Sid bears a strong resemblance to the fellows filling out the lineup except for one thing: his face looks like ground beef.  ADA Heywood is as visibly shocked as Fancy, and even Brendan can't escape noticing.  In fact, Brendan begins to hesitate a bit.
   His hesitation is made worse by the fact that a few seconds later Sid can be heard shouting through the wall that he's been beaten by perverts, that he's the victim of police brutality. Brendan is clearly confused and scared.  Sid ices the kid's cake by shouting the names Louima and Diallo, and Brendan, who gave the initial perfect description of Sid, says now he can't tell who did it.
    Brendan is led out. Baldwin pops in on Sid and tells him that if he doesn't shut up, he'll be unconscious for the next lineup.  Sid shuts up.  Louise is brought in and identifies the now-quiet Sid without hesitation.
     But her identification isn't going to help. ADA Heywood demands to see everyone in a private location.  She tells them in no uncertain terms that she knows this is a tune-up. She saw Sid when he first came in and he wasn't injured at all. They explain how Sid confessed but wouldn't sign. She tells them that there's no way they can prove he confessed before he got beaten up.  Greg tries to make the best of things by suggesting they just testify to the original confession and use the blood stain. Heywood said the beating makes the blood stain ill-gotten evidence too. Finally, Danny asks if they can just wait a few days until Sid's swelling goes down.
   Ms. Heywood is completely shocked at this suggestion.  She tells Danny that even if she were inclined to cover this up, which clearly she's not, there are too many witnesses.  She tells them that unless they get better evidence, the DA is not taking this case. She storms out.
    Fancy explodes the second she leaves. Caught, Danny steps up right away and tells that he alone beat Sid.  Fancy begins to give him another dressing down but Danny refuses to hear it. He interrupts and tells the Lt. that he's going to go down to the warehouse where Diane and Andy are sitting on the drug case. Fancy tells him he's not going anywhere. Danny balks again and tells Fancy he can be dealt with later,  he's going. Fancy booms, "Danny. Sit down at your desk."  Danny leaves Fancy's office and sits down.
    When Captain Bass arrives with congratulations for Diane he's got bad news for Danny.  Danny is called back into Fancy's office and ordered to give up his shield and weapons.  Bass puts him on suspension for an indefinite period of time. Danny is told the chief may give him a desk assignment, and that he needs to talk to his union rep to work things out. He's also told the IAB will be calling.
    As Danny walks from Fancy's office to the locker room to get his off-duty weapon, Diane and Andy return. Danny asks if they're OK, obviously relieved to see Diane not shot.  He tells them he's suspended.
    After Andy makes certain Diane is going to be dealing with her shooting OK, he goes into the locker room to see Danny.  Danny is sitting on a bench looking for all the world like the kid who fucked up the play at first and lost the little league championship.  
   Andy tells it to him straight: He's not going to be dragged down into whatever self-destructive whirlpool Danny has created for himself.  He tells Danny that he's lost a son, nearly lost his other son, lost his wife and a partner and that he's just not going to take another one on. If Danny wants to flame out, he's going to have to do it alone.
   Andy walks out. Danny sits by himself in silence.

Review:

DIANE, DENBY, DRUGS:  A fitting ending to the slimeball Denby; it's poetic, even. He's a coward--we've always known that--and he chooses the ultimate coward's way out: forcing a cop to kill him.  Great idea Jody Worth & Bill Clark.
       Kim Delaney and Scott Cohen carried this story up to the rafters. They were both just outstanding.  
   And my respect for episode director Karen Gaviola (whose shows always seem to stand out) and executive producer Mark Tinker (who leads by example when it comes to stellar directing) only increases from watching the way these stand off scenes were shot and put together.  It was like watching a movie.  When they had to break for commercials during the action, I was on the edge of my couch.  Thank God they came back to the same scene!   
     There were two outstanding shots in this part of the show:  the hand-held camera look at the three black-and-white monitors as things were getting dicey inside the warehouse and the close-up of Diane as she squeezed off the fatal shots.   The fact that there was no pause whatsomotherfuckingever between the time Denby choked up on Manuel's neck and Diane pounded him with lead made that scene work perfectly. Every pitch was building up to that grand slam.  Excellent!  Oh you there, a round of Emmys for our friends.

DANNY & THE SUBWAY SLAHSER: What a powerful story this is, kinda risky, kinda edgy.  One of Our Own guilty of police brutality.  Hope it develops into a longer arc (longer than one more episode, I mean).  
   No one will ever accuse Danny of sainthood. He is indeed lucky not to be going to jail.   
    And before we pass those Emmys out, let's not overlook Rick Schroder who really kicked ass tonight, and I'm not talking about what he did to Mr. Mad TV.  
    If you read this often, you might know I'm not the biggest Rick Schroder fan. I think it's that he's just not consistently good, not consistently at the same level as Franz, Clapp,  Delaney or McDaniel.   But, when he is good, he's really, really good.  His performance in this episode was certainly Emmy quality and as good or better than anyone else's.
   His highlights are many. They included his attempt to take a deep breath when Andy told him to. Looking at him, you could just feel that he couldn't get enough air in.   Another was when he got so vicious with Diane over her talking to Olivo. Again, when he stepped up to take the blame for beating Sid.
    The scene where he beat Sid is also outstanding and some of that credit goes to the way it was choreographed.   Beating on the guy is one thing: we've seen smacks before. But the Unexpected Flipping of Sid was a great moment for the sheer surprise of it.
    Another "oh wow" moment came when Fancy lifted the shade and saw Sid's face.   
    The best of all was the final shot of Rick sitting there alone in the locker room after Andy left him.  The fade out with no music made that shot even more powerful.
    
   There is only one little clink in our symphony here, and that is the sub-par performance from Garcelle Beauvais.  This episode would have perfect without her in that scene in Fancy's office. Keep her gaping at the bleeding Sid, but when it comes down to brass tacks, it would have been better to have Fancy shooting down all their theories and then saying he'd talk to the DA's office. She seemed awkward with the language, and that dragged things down a bit.  

QUICK HITS:
*I have no doubt Kim Delaney can carry her own show. She's gotten so much better in the last few years, especially since Bobby kicked it.  

*I really outta have blasted this show for calling the media "bottom feeders."  What a cheap cliche. What a low-life thing to do. What a rotten, stinking, dirty, nasty trick of a thing to slide into a script in a high class show like this. Bottomfeeders...what the...hang on a minute, my newsroom phone is ringing...

*Lt. Gomez was fantastic!  Hope we see that guy again.

*Wonder if we'll see Diane in dress blues for her promotion ceremony.

*I miss Hank.

*I'll take a spot here to remind you that David Milch's new show, Big Apple, starts this Thursday night at 10pm. I think it's on CBS, but check your local listings, bla bla bla.  Not only am I excited to see Milch's latest, but I'm even more thrilled to see that one of my all-time favorite actors, David Strathairn, is in the cast. He's so talented. I could watch him sitting still.  His career got off to a good start alongside that of his friend Gordon Clapp.  

CAST LEGACIES AND SUNDRY INFO:
First, let me apologize for doing this cheap tonight. Life has been getting in my way in a most unpleasant fashion all fucking day, and I just don't have time to look everyone up. I hit only some of the major folks....:
Previously on NYPD Blue: Garcelle Beauvais (Valerie Heywood); Larry Joshua (Capt. Bass); Scott Cohen (Harry Denby); Ray LaTulipe (Josh); Michael "Ohio" Echols (Uniform #1); Christopher Breslin (Uniform #2)

Phil LaMarr (Sid): He's everywhere! He's been on Mad TV, he's been on Who's Line Is It Anyway and many, many other things. Look for him in a new show this year called Da Mob in which he plays a character called Sir Hamsta Booty. I wrote that so you could say aloud "Sir Hamsta Booty."

Benito Martinez (Lt. Gomez): He's been in a few movies, and has done Chicago Hope and the X Files. I think his future's so bright...

If any of the following were on All My Children with Kim Delaney, I don't need to know about it.  ;)
Carlos Sanz (Det. Olivo); Carlos Antonio (Miguel); Michael Bacall (Brendan); Bahni Turpin (Louise); Jonathan Lavin (Crow Gilmore); Gregory Storm (Leroy); Albert Garcia (Officer Manuel).

LINES OF THE WEEK:
Sid to Baldwin: "Back off brother, I ain't your girlfriend."

Sid to Danny: "I ain't getting naked! Ya'll ain't doing nuthin' in my butt!"

Denby to Gomez: "The man here says you got 60 cops out there. Does that include Starsky and Hutch?"

And my favorite:
Sid explaining why he killed the Italian man:   "He was calling me names, the damn, filthy, greaseball."

NEXT WEEK: Danny's still alone and Charlotte Ross joins the cast as Detective Connie McDowell.

Thanks,
Amanda Wilson