NYPD Blue, Season 4, Episode 7
Ted and Carey's
Bogus Adventure
Written by Meredith Stiehm
Directed by Dan Sackheim

PLOT ONE: PARENTAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTED

Thelma Morris, a woman who Bobby helped after a purse-snatching several years ago, calls the detective to help when her daughter Annette barricades herself in her room after a possible rape incident. Bobby and Andy manage to talk the "slow" Annette into coming to the station with them.

During the interview, she says that she was at the local coffee shop when a few boys from a nearby prep school stopped by her table. Carey, the leader of the bunch, bought her a muffin and invited her to go with them to a hotel, where they got drunk, and they made her perform oral sex - which she says she tried to "sleep" through. Mrs. Morris gets madder and madder as the interview goes on, and berates Annette for even going near the boys.

The detectives pick up Carey and his friend Ted, whose father happens to be Councilman Paul Manos, who interfered with a multiple-homicide investigation Andy and Bobby worked two years ago. Manos insists on being in the room when his son talks to the detectives, and Lt. Fancy reluctantly agrees. Ted seems more than willing to implicate himself, but the councilman tries answering all of Andy's questions instead of his son. When Manos suggests that Ted couldn't have done anything, Andy sneers, "You weren't hiding under a table, were you, Ted?" referring to Manos' behavior during the previous incident.

Fancy suggests that the detectives prepare Mrs. Morris for the likelihood that the four boys won't be prosecuted. She doesn't take the news well, first accusing Andy and Bobby of having taken bribes, then blames Annette for making it too easy for the boys to get away with it, driving her daughter to tears.

A few hours later, Mrs. Morris calls the station, frantic; Annette's gone missing. After a brief search, they find out that she's climbed up on the roof of a nearby building, and when she hears her mother's voice calling to her, she jumps.

With Annette's death, any slim chance of prosecuting the four boys goes out the window, but Manos decides he wants someone on the force to give them all a "talking-to." Sylvia, the riding DA in the precinct that day, decides she'd like the task. While Manos blusters about all the trouble they "nearly" got in, Sylvia points out that they never would've gone to jail, that the only place they can look is their own moral sense, and considering their previous behavior - and the terrible example set by parents like the councilman - she figures they're destined to live 'lives filled with disgusting and contemptible behavior." Neither the boys nor Manos were expecting this kind of harsh condemnation, and Sylvia smugly leaves them with their jaws on the floor.

Mrs. Morris comes to the precinct to find out whether there will be any prosecution. Bobby, trying to let her down easy, says that the DA hasn't decided yet, but she knows what he really means. A lawyer told her she has grounds for a civil suit, which Bobby encourages her to pursue, but for the moment, all she can think about is the idea that it was the sound of her voice that drove Annette to jump. Bobby asks if she has anyone to be with right now. "I was with her," she laments.

PLOT TWO: TUESDAY IN THE PARK WITH JIMMY

As part of her undercover assignment, Diane sets up a rollerblading date with Jimmy Liery at Washington Square Park. Things seem peachy until a fellow blader accidentally bumps into Diane, which prompts Liery to start pounding on the poor fellow. Diane manages to stop Jimmy before it gets too rough, then places an anonymous 911 call for an ambulance.

Jimmy mellows out a little, and tells a disgusted Diane that he did it because he can't stand to see her feel discomfort. Diane starts walking away, and Jimmy tries to explain his behavior by saying that he's a little on edge waiting for something at the airport. Just then, Medavoy and Abby Sullivan innocently jog by, and Greg does a double-take when he sees Diane. Liery starts grilling her about it, but Diane manages to change the subject.

Diane tells Fancy about the two incidents, and he suggests that she think about asking out of the assignment. "I'm just reaching the guy," Diane says. "Maybe he's reaching you, too," is the Lieu's reply.

Seeking further counsel, Diane meets with Jane, an old friend and mentor and the officer in charge of the Liery case. After briefly discussing Diane's relationship with Bobby - and getting Diane to admit she doesn't think she's worthy of marriage and parenthood - Jane suggests that undercover work is a real great way to undermine a person's sense of self-worth. Diane insists on staying on the job, but Jane tells her she can change her mind at any time, and they'll figure out some other way to get at Liery.

The skater that Liery attacked comes into the precinct later that day to file an assault complaint, but Diane manages to avoid being spotted, thanks to some help from Bobby. She fills him in on the incident, and Bobby suggests that Liery might roll over under pressure from the assault charge, which would get Diane off the hook. Diane feels like Bobby's being overprotective again, and the conversation turns ugly before she grabs her coat, flips him the bird, and leaves.

PLOT THREE: LACK OF WANNA

Four years ago, Andy helped commit an emotionally disturbed man named Fred who kept biting the heads off his mother's birds. Now Fred's out, and he comes into the precinct reeking of aftershave and speaking in his own incomprehensible language, a series of whoops and interjections and the occasional "wanna." Andy, busy with the rape case, sends him home, but Fred returns later in the day, and uses the word "momma," which piques Sipowicz's interest.

Fred has to cool his heels in the squadroom while Andy tries to help Annette Morris, and after that case's tragic conclusion, the odd twosome head off in search of Fred's mother. Fred leads Andy to a dumpster beside his building, where his mother's body is lying. At first, Andy figures Fred performed some sort of mercy killing for his aged and ill parent, but after Fred produces a bottle of nytro-glicerin pills, he realizes that the woman had a fatal heart attack, and Fred put her in the dumpster and doused himself with perfume to blot out the stench. Unfortunately, with no one to look after him, Andy has no choice but to have Fred commited again.

MISCELLANEOUS THREADS:

While cleaning up after dinner, Andy and Sylvia talk a little about the day they just had, and Sylvia says that sometimes, when she's in a futile situation like the lecture with the four boys, she can't think of anyplace she'd rather be than at home with Theo. Andy, figuring that she may be having doubts about her job, offers to start doing security work at night to help make ends meet, but she cuts him off and says that she'd feel even worse if no one had been there to at least try to talk to the boys.

Bobby, feeling frustrated by the fight with Diane, tries to strike up a friendly conversation with Jill Kirkendall, just arriving for the 4 to 12 shift. The subject of Annette Morris comes up, which prompts Jill to ask about Andy Jr., and talk about her two sons, who are staying with their father this week.

Gina Colon seems to be doing well in the detective's squad so far, and James gives her a red apple to celebrate, figuring that flowers would draw too much attention.

Both dieters get regular excercise this week. In addition to Greg's jogging date with Abby, Andy has to keep scaling the seven flights of stairs to the Morris' apartment since their elevator is broken. Bobby later tries to discourage Andy from eating some candy, and to use the workout he got as positive reinforcement. Andy thinks positive reinforcement is a thick steak and a pair of baked potatoes.


Growing up, I used to get into trouble fairly regularly, because I had a smart mouth and a tendency to use it in the presence of the wrong people. And everytime it happened, my parents would always punish me, or, at the very least, make it clear how disappointed they were in me. That used to upset me when I would see how other kids my age would always get off scot-free, and I would wonder why my folks always had to be so harsh.

But as I got older, I started to realize that, without even realizing it, I had developed a pretty good sense of right and wrong, while a lot of the kids who got a free ride from their parents were turning out to be amoral jerks, who did anything they wanted because they knew they'd never get in trouble. But every once in a while, there would be an incident where I got in trouble when it wasn't entirely my fault, and I would still get grounded.

I was reminded of all that while watching "Ted & Carey's Bogus Adventure," which subtly dealt with that same issues. On the one side, you have Councilman Paul Manos, a stern practitioner of the "it couldn't have been my kid" school of parenting, whose bright young son took part in a terrible crime. On the other, you have Thelma Morris, who went so overboard in trying to teach her handicapped daughter about the right thing to do that it eventually drove Annette to suicide. And somewhere in between you have Fred's mother, who apparently reached through his fragile psyche enough that he knew to do what was right after she died.

Sometimes, when a show tries to incorporate a single theme over several stories or characters, it can get ugly (a recent "Chicago Hope" where *every* doctor dealt with the issue of truth-telling became so heavy-handed I had to turn it off), but "Ted and Carey" did a nice job, since it was dealing with so many other issues in addition to that.

I particularly liked the Fred subplot, because I could tell something was up the first time he showed up in the squadroom, and started feeling edgy when Andy kicked him out. That nervous feeling grew even more when Andy left him sitting at a desk while they chased after Annette, because I was thinking that Fred's mother might still be alive but in danger. (Imagine a Lassie episode where Timmie's mom ignores the dog's barking because she's making a pie.) Fortunately - sort of - there was nothing that Andy could have done to save her, which makes his day one big doughnut hole.

"Ted and Carey" is a good example of why throwing out the formula from time to time can be a very good thing. Lately, the writers have been breaking the two cardinal rules of the past few seasons: every case gets closed, and no non-romance stories can last for more than an episode. The main story in "Ted & Carey" wouldn't have been half as effective if those weasely prep school punks had actually been locked up, for instance.

And the two main ongoing stories this season have both been dynamite. Bobby's sparring with Henry Coffield the last few weeks produced some of the best fireworks the show has seen in quite some time, and Diane's attempts to buddy up to Jimmy Liery looks like it could be just as exciting. Contrary to certain people's fears (note to Jim Hill: you can start bowing now), there's a lot more at work than just "Will Diane drink?" and "Will Bobby be jealous?" Diane's sense of emotional self-worth, never particularly strong, is in serious jeopardy here, and the longer she stays with the twisted Liery, the worse it's going to get. And sooner or later, Liery is going to figure out what's going on, because Diane is making too many dumb mistakes - calling him from a police line, to name one - to get away with her "Mouse" act forever.

Meanwhile, the show's traditional male-only point of view got a little tweaking. Both Diane and Sylvia got scenes that were not only just about them, but that explored their feelings about their careers. About the only flaw in Diane's chat with Jane (played by Lindsay Crouse, about whom I'll write more below) was that we really weren't given any idea who Jane was until near the end of the scene, which got confusing. I don't need to have every character's personal histories spelled out for me in their first appearance - nor do I want to - but a simple throwaway line early in the scene to clearly establish that Jane is running the operation would've really cleared things up and enabled me to concentrate more on Diane's feelings and Kim Delaney's great performance.

And as happy as I was to see Diane being explored more, I was *ecstatic* at the material Sylvia got this week. Maybe Sharon Lawrence is going to go out with a bang instead of a whimper, after all, because her scathing rebuke of Manos and the four boys was the best scene she's had since...well, since her early pre-Andy's wife days. I actually stood up and applauded after she wryly turned to Manos at the end and said, "Okay?" And to have an Andy/Sylvia domestic scene at a show's end that's actually about Sylvia's hopes and fears and not Andy's was a welcome twist. Better late than never.

Early last year, I remember feeling like "Blue" was putting together a lot of outstanding indivdual episodes, but because they were so self-contained and occasionally repetitive, the quality of the season as a whole didn't quite equal the sum of its parts. This year, some of the individual episodes may not be as perfectly constructed, but I feel a lot more excited at the end of each week, and a lot more eager to see what happens next week. Keep 'em coming like this, folks, and I'll stay happy.

Quick hits:

By some bizarre miracle, we still have two more new episodes to go before the show goes into reruns, which will make nine straight to start the season. Is that allowed? :)

See ya in the funny papers...


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