NYPD BLUE: SUMMARY/REVIEW by Amanda Wilson aka Puedo01@aol.com

Episode 1 Season 6

"Top Gum" 10/20/98

Teleplay by Meredith Stiehm

Story by Steven Bochco, David Milch & Bill Clark

Directed by Mark Tinker



LAST GASPS: The show opens with a dream in which Simone meets his childhood pigeon mentor Patsy on the roof of his building near his pigeon coop. They have a cryptic conversation about some vague worries Bobby has regarding his life. Patsy keeps telling him to take a deep breath and heíll be fine. Patsy recalls a story about his school days in which he made a map, but it was wrong. Bobby says heís not a child anymore. Patsy then scolds him for all the "crap" under the pigeon coop. Pasty asks about his marriage, which Bobby says is fine. Patsy tells him again to take a few deep breaths and heíll be fine, and he gives him a loving touch on the chest, right where his heart is. Bobby tries to breath, and then wakes up, touches his chest and realizes breathing is not easy.

Later, he goes to the dentist, who wants to see him not so much to clean his teeth, but because his daughter is in trouble with a drug dealer, and he wants Bobby to look into the guy. During the appointment, we hear Bobby wheezing. He tells the dentist heís fighting off a cold.

 Throughout the day, Bobby continues to wheeze and frequently mops sweat from his forehead. Later, he goes to see the dentistís daughter, scares her boyfriend out of the apartment, hopefully out of her life. But by this time, heís lost his usual smooth and is clearly feeling worse.

CLEAR AS MUD: Bobby, Andy and Greg and James are working the murder of a rich kid homosexual school teacher, Kevin, whose father has been trying to keep his lifestyle a secret by buying off the people he hangs out with. The wealthy father has hired ex-detective Mike Roberts, a squad embarrassment, to protect his family and watch out for his son. Roberts does his usually sloppy job, and fails to keep one of Kevinís former students, the crack-addicted Kenny, away. Kenny has already been paid to stay away, but comes back for more, knowing Kevinís father thinks they are lovers and will pay anything to keep that fact a secret. A grocery store clerk and friend of Kennyís whoís in on the murder, tells Bobby and Andy that Kenny stabbed Kevin when Kevin refused to call his father and ask him for a million dollars. Kennyís confession comes after a delusional interview scene in which he talks to an imaginary person, his Crack Genie, "Carlos," whom heís trying to get out of his life. Kevinís father is present for the confession and realizes then that Kenny and Kevin were not lovers, and that he planted that idea in Kennyís head which led, of course, to Kevinís murder.

MACHO MAN: Jill and Diane catch a rape case together. Nina, a teenager living with her mother, reports sheís been raped by her motherís boyfriend, Tony. Sheís afraid to tell her strict mother anything about it. Jill and Diane break the news to mom, who initially accuses Nina of leading him on. Jill and Diane go to grab up Tony, and have to use a womanís last defense (a swift kick in the nuts, of course) to get him into the cuffs. He maintains the bravado of a stupid macho who hasnít a clue heís in deep crap by asking for a DA to come talk to him, explaining that since Diane and Jill probably have it in for him, being women and all--women who kicked him in the nuts. Heís only a little surprised, however, when Sylvia walks in and introduces herself. She assures him that sheíll take his statement. He thinks that means things go his way. Another one caught.


LAST GASPS: The stabbing was a red herring, in case you havenít figured that out by now. A ploy, I suspect, to distract us from what seems to the real way Bobby might exit--through some kind of serious health problem.

The dream sequence was fine stuff. Visually, it was very satisfying without being cheesy. I knew it was a dream right away, but without that cheap-dreamy feel you get sometimes when youíre watching this kind of mechanism. Jimmy Smits waking up from this dream is a great moment--he only opens his eyes, and you see it all. I found myself, throughout this performance, checking my own breathing. He nails this illness, whatever it is. Itís frightening, confusing, real.

Now, we can take this dream two ways. First, the over-analytical, psychobabble route: (Iíll try my hand at it, but Iím not a pro at this.) Patsy must represent a strong link to Bobbyís inner parent--the only parental figure weíve seen in his life, anyway (and thatís been part of the problem, no?) Bobby seems afraid/confused and doesnít know where to turn. Patsy shows up. But weíre not sure, and neither is Bobby, what the problem is. Patsy talks about the wrong direction in his map, and they are surrounded by homing pigeons. Lots of direction information there, but what does it all mean? Bobby tells Patsy heís not sure he can hold up his end of the marriage bargain, but later tells him, "Thank God weíre real happy." Patsy also talks about what a mess there is under the pigeon coop. Are there things under the pigeon-coop-that-is-his-life that Bobby needs to clean up? Well, who knows. Weíve never known much about Bobbyís life, which makes it hard to be an armchair shrink for a TV guy, ya know? Whatís clear here is that Bobby, as heís sleeping, is having a hard time breathing, and heís incorporating that into his dream (sort of like you do when your clock radio goes off and you start dreaming about the people, songs, commercials youíre hearing on the radio). Patsyís advice several times to take a deep breath to make it all better isnít working for Bobby. Patsy touches his heart. Premonition? Or is it that Patsy is just someone who touches Bobbyís emotional heart?  

So much for psychobabble. The second route--simplicity. We know itís a foreshadow of Bobbyís impending departure from the 1-5. It seems to say simply that it will have to do with a health problem nobody, not even he, knew anything about. This is going to be our surprise.

I think itís creative as hell, by the way. Much better--much, much better-- than the notion that he and Diane wouldnít be allowed to work together. Much better, even, than killing him off. (That happens all the time in TV land, no?) This seems a first. Itís going to take Bobby down in a way that will be hardest for him--losing his strength, losing his cool, losing his ability to work. I canít tell you how much I hate to see Jimmy Smits go, but since thereís nothing we can do about that, Iím happy he seems to be going with (finally) a story he can sink his teeth into.

CLEAR AS MUD: Father betrays son in the worst way. Fine work by guest actor who played Kenny, and um, "Carlos" the Crack Genie. (Jeremiah Burkitt, I believe) Pretty routine stuff, otherwise. Seemed mostly a way to get Bobby cut and show us just how bad he was feeling. Greg and James, both a bit heavier, are minimal here. In fact, having only watched it once through before writing this, I canít even really recall what they did. And help me friends (Alan?)--the actor who played the dentist....where have we seen him before?

MACHO MAN: Jill and Diane continue to prove theyíre a good team. This might be the best use of Diane, in fact. The two compliment each other so well. One is smooth where the other is rough. One is calm where the other is tough. Theyíre different than the Andy-Bobby pairing, though, because Jill and Diane seem not to be stuck in personality patterns when it comes to dealing with cases--at least not as stuck. Andy is always wisecracking, for example. We can count on that. But Jill and Diane are more able to shift between the emotions or actions that are needed to get their jobs done. The case itself wasnít so exciting--I think weíve seen this kind of thing a few times--but it was nice to see these two working it together.


Upstairs John returns again for another quickie with Dolores. We learn that Johnís computer business has set a record for bankruptcy in New York, and that heís back in the squadís PAA pool. Heís currently assigned to Anti-Crime (which is upstairs, where we first met him, of course), and heís thrilled. Me too, by the way. Dolores is fine, but...well, Iíve said it a thousand times by now...I miss Upstairs John in the 1-5. I have no idea if this is going to happen, but Iím looking forward to a tearful goodbye to Bobby from him when the time comes.

Sharon Lawrence, in case you hadnít noticed, is back in the opening credits. Glad to see that. Sheís at the end, of course, since she wasnít on them at all last year. Iím sorry her series (the canceled NBC sitcom "Fired Up") didnít make it, but I liked her much better as Sylvia. Nice of the Bochco folks to consider her family enough to let her do this.

Line of the Week:

Kenny: This is my Crack Genie. Iím trying to get him outta my life.

Bobby: Crack Genie, huh?

Kenny: Carlos.

So, do you want to watch next week? ;)

Amanda Wilson