NYPD Blue Summary/Review by Amanda Wilson aka firstname.lastname@example.org
"Two Clarks In A Bar"
Season 9 Episode 3
Stories by Bill Clark & Jody Worth
Directed by Henry Bronchtein
DANNY'S FUNERAL: The show opens with a very nice-looking montage of scenes from Danny's funeral. Squad members are the pall bearers, all are decked out in their dress blues. Bagpipes, police flags, motorcycle procession and helicopter fly over. Andy gives a brief, difficult eulogy. As a soloist from the department sings Ave Maria, everyone lays a rose on Danny's casket; Andy leans over to touch it. Then, it's back to work.
JOHNNY'S FIRST CASE: John Clark is welcomed to the squad. Andy, who seemed last week not to mind the addition of JC, Jr. to the 15th, is perturbed about it now because he realizes he's likely going to be partnered up with the kid. He explains to the Lt. that it's too soon for him to have a new partner and besides, he's already had a partner named John. He tells Tony he's going to work the case with Connie and that John can tag along if he wants.
Connie and Andy arrive at the apartment of Phil and Nancy Carlson with John in tow. The uniforms explain that it looks like the place had been robbed early in the morning and the woman stabbed. She's off at the hospital barely hanging on. Her husband was on his way back home. Before he arrives, the detectives learn there was no forced entry. Andy gives John a verbal slap in front of everyone for touching things in the apartment and leaving his fingerprints around. John handled an item by accident while trying to avoid being knocked over by a crime scene cop.
Phil Carlson arrives and seems less than concerned that his wife has been stabbed. He tells the detectives he was out at his early golf game in Westchester which he does every Tuesday morning. Carlson is a total jerk.
Back at the station house, the cops have found out through some phone calls that Carlson and his buddies didn't show up for their usual golf game today. Tony asks why they haven't brought him in yet. Andy explains he wants to bring him easy.
Meanwhile, John suggests they check his phone activity and see if they can find out how much life insurance he had on his wife. Andy sends him after it while Connie calls for the phone dump. As soon as John is out of earshot, Connie takes Andy to task for setting the kid up: seems the Privacy Act says you can't life insurance information like that without a subpoena. Andy doesn't seem to care.
A few minutes later, John gets a visit from his dad, John Clark, Sr. Dad has just stopped in to see where his son is working but is clearly still not happy about the choice. After saying hello to his old acquaintance Medavoy, he sits down at John's desk and has a few choice words with Andy, including the words "Dutch Boy," a mysterious nickname Andy has used before with the elder Clark. John gets them apart and takes his Dad into the coffee room where Dad tries again to persuade John to leave the 15th and come to work with him in his Bronx squad. John says no and they talk instead about the homicide case John is working.
After Dad leaves, John approaches Medavoy and asks what the "Dutch Boy" thing is all about. Greg begins the story a little reluctantly but after John pushes a bit, gets into it completely. He laughingly tells how Clark was on a foot patrol years back and noticed that the back door to a hardware store was resting open at about 2am. He goes inside, gun drawn, to check it out. He creeps down the stairs in the dark, convinced he's going to find some burglars. He calls out a few times, but gets no response. Then, he sees a man standing stick still with something in his hand. He calls out again, but the man does not respond, so Clark fires off a few rounds, calls for backup and hits the ground. Silence. After a few minutes in the dark, he finds a light and turns it on. He sees white powder flying all around him as if he pumped shots into a bag of flour, but it's not a bag of flour, as his quickly arriving colleagues discover along with him, it's a life-sized statue of a boy holding a paint brush--the mascot of the Dutch Boy brand paints--and the little boy has two slugs right in his crotch. Greg enjoys this story a little too much and Baldwin wanders over to try to take the sting out for the new guy.
Later, Baldwin checks up on John again while he's busy at Medavoy's computer. He finds out John is doing a futile search for insurance information and explains the Privacy Act to him. John is a bit more than miffed and marches over to Andy to ring him up about it. He doesn't get much of a chance, however, because just at that moment an attorney named Robert Horowitz shows up and says he's representing Phil Carlson. Horowitz is really ticked off because he's found out that one of the detectives has been calling Phil's co-workers trying to find out if he's got a girlfriend. The detective said he got the information from a list of Phil's phone calls. Andy and Connie are stunned. They tell Horowitz no such thing has happened, but Horowitz knows what he's talking about and he informs them that Phil is now his client and won't talk without him.
Andy blows up. He demands to know who got the phone dump. No one fesses up. Andy calls TARU and finds out that the phone dump was given to none other than Detective John Clark. Andy bears down on John, shouting and pointing his finger. He's so loud that he draws the attention on Tony who starts banging on his window. John swears he didn't do it and then, bing, a light bulb goes off. They all realize at the same time that it was his father.
Andy storms off to Tony and tells him what's going on. He demands that John be removed from the squad. Tony tells him he can't do that without a lot of trouble and says he'll talk to John. Tony tells John in no uncertain terms that he needs to get a grip on Dad and make sure it never happens again. John is willing to take the hit and is embarrassed and pissed off.
Upon his return to the squad room he learns that Nancy Carlson has died. Now it's a homicide and the top suspect is lawyered up tighter than a drum. John makes an effort by leaving to go see if the uniforms have been able to dig anything more up on the case.
While he's gone, a call comes in. Phone John takes it and whispers. Andy catches it, though, realizes it's Dad and takes the call. He screams into the phone, calls Clark, Sr. an asshole and promises to stuff his head in a trash can and kick him down the stairs if he ever shows up at the 1-5 again. In the midst of this, John Jr. walks in. He marches over to Andy and gets in his face again, trying to threaten Andy if he ever talks to his father that way again.
He then announces that the uniforms got a report of a suspicious person outside the Carlson home early that morning. The dog walker who saw the man got a license plate and it came back to an ex-con named Keith Casey.
Andy wants to take Connie and go pick him up and leave John behind. Connie takes the high road and insists that John go. Andy doesn't fight her. The three of them have his place staked out when Connie tells stories about her dad the cop in an effort to make John feel better. Andy take the opportunity to make him feel worse.
They finally find Casey drinking in the street with several asshole friends of his. Casey is no problem for Andy to grab, but one of his mouthy friends won't shut up. Frankie is taunting the cops. John makes a few moves in Andy-style and collars the guy for obstructing police business. Andy seems impressed by this.
Back at the house, Andy let's John take the Casey interview. Tony suspects Andy has done this to set the kid up to fail, but Andy responds half-heartedly that he just wants to see the kid work. John interviews Casey as Andy looks on.
The interview is all about saving the case and, as important to John, saving his Dad's ass. He tells Casey that DNA will prove he was in the apartment, but what is not common knowledge is that the victim was a cop's sister: a cop from the Bronx, who is on his way to the 15th as they speak to kick ass. He tells Casey that every cop in the precinct will allow it to happen because it's family. If Casey will just get in front of it, confess now, he can be taken to central booking where he'll be in public and there will be no chance for a private beating. Casey bites and writes it up, explaining how he was looking for a place to take off and chose that apartment because he saw the husband leaving early in the morning and because the door was left unlocked.
Andy is very impressed with the save but says nothing. At the end of the day, everyone heads off to Mac's for a beer. Andy decides not to go at first, but changes his mind. They drink a toast to Danny, to fresh starts and to John's first homicide collar.
Just then, Dad shows up in an unpleasant mood. He orders John out of the bar. John is not happy and asks his Dad to leave. Dad continues, insisting that John get his coat and leave with him. He says he doesn't want Andy to turn his son into a drunk. That lights Andy's fuse and he jumps up and tells Clark to get out. Now everyone is on his feet. Connie is trying to keep Andy back, John is holding his fathers arms down and asking him repeatedly to leave. Finally, Dad loses it and shoves his son halfway across the bar. Baldwin and Greg step in, Greg holding Dad back and Baldwin using his commanding voice to get Dad to take a hike. Dad leaves really angry. A few minutes later, Andy tosses a few bucks on the table and leave just as pissed off. John is left standing there very unhappy on what should have been one of his best days.
FIRE DOA: Greg and Baldwin catch the case of a girl who is burned up in a fire at her apartment. It's arson, according to the fire cops. The DOA Chrissy and her roommate, Sally, are Blondie wannabes, living the dirty, drugged up life of dreamy rock band kids.
Sally shows up the scene and shrieks and then faints when she hears her roommate is dead. Her friend Candy is there to help. The detectives find that a rare and valuable 1956 Les Paul guitar is missing from the apartment. Greg pursues this lead trying to find if it's been hocked somewhere.
Connie is enlisted to help interview Sally when she's somewhat more composed. She learns that no one had it out for Chrissy. She also learns that nearly every "broke and jealous" musician in New York knew about Chrissy's guitar and that her father was rich. She also learns that Candy had a key to the apartment.
Greg and Baldwin learn the same from Candy, but Candy seems far less upset about the death than Sally.
It's the guitar that finally breaks the case open. Greg locates it and learns from the music store owner that the guy who sold it is a half-junked up failing musician named Spyder who had shown up on the doorstep at opening time that morning. Knowing that musicians often sell their stuff to get money--especially those who suck and are on drugs-- he thought nothing of it.
Greg and Baldwin get Spyder's address from the music store owner and pound on his door. It opens and Candy is standing there. They brush past her with guns drawn and roust the sleeping Spyder. He's dazed and confused, naturally. Down at the 1-5, Spyder is trying to hide his hands under his T-shirt. Baldwin grabs them out and painfully slams them on the table to point out the even-more painful flash burns Spyder has. Greg advises Spyder that he'd just better tell what he did and how it was an accident or something so that he can get some time shaved off his sentence. Spyder likes this idea and begins blithering on about how he just wanted to steal some jewelry when Chrissy came home and starting bitching at him. He was only trying to shut her up and, gosh, she died! He set the fire and sold the guitar, and he knew it could be traced, but, man, he was so fried he didn't care. He just needed a fix. Oh, and his father used to beat him. He wonders if that's enough of a sob story.
Greg suggests he might also tell them how he got in without breaking in. He doesn't want to. Baldwin asks if it was Candy who gave him a key. He says no, it was Sally.
Connie gets Sally to come in and confronts her with this story. Sally admits that she'd run out of money, had given Spyder a key and that she and Spyder were going to sell Chrissy's jewelry and take off to that really hot, super cool music scene in Raleigh since the Big Apple wasn't doing them any good.
DANNY'S FUNERAL: I thought it looked really good, but I think it fell a little flat in terms of content.
I'm aware that it was shot in NYC in August and that there was no way Kim Delaney could have been there, but perhaps a word somewhere along the line about how it was just too tough for Diane to have been going to yet another funeral or something would have been nice. Also, it seemed a little strange to me not to at least have some glimpse of someone who looked like Danny's sister(s).
I missed Hank and Shannon and Officer Mike and Officer Miller and Josh... all the background regulars who, I'm sure for financial reasons, couldn't be there. The New York shoots are enormously expensive, of course, but I like to think that TV is so magic they can take a few close-ups of these guys and shove them in there somehow. Perhaps not, but it would have been nice to see them.
Then, when you add ADA Heywood into the line there with everyone else, it makes the usual regulars' absence all that more stark. It might have been a better sell if she hadn't been so visible.
That said, we must realize that we didn't see the entire thing from start to finish and that there were tons of people there, civilians and cops, and it could be that we are to assume they were there and that we just didn't see them.
I was moved by the look of the thing, outside of seeing the ADA, right up until Andy spoke. His speech was empty. Andy's gruff and boorish, true, and I realize no one was going to be all teary-eyed because, after all, Danny had been missing for about five months, but we've know Andy to pull out a touching comment or two at appropriate moments. This would have been an appropriate moment.
JOHNNY'S FIRST CASE: I was a little surprised at the depth of Andy's discomfort over having a new partner. He seemed so willing to work with John last week. This might have hit home a little more if Andy had been a little more effusive at the grave site. And then, after the big dust up over Dad making the phone calls, Andy seems to turn around when John busts a loud mouth and then pulls off the interview. That's fine, but Andy's conflict could have been fleshed out a little more with an "attaboy" or something approaching an apology to John, or even a remark or two to Connie that would shed a little more light into Andy's heart for us.
I think MPG did an outstanding job throughout. This is an interesting character: he's not cocky, like Danny was. He's green and it shows, but he's also smart and that shows, too. He's humble, knows his place, but is not willing to let Andy walk all over him. My only complaint about him, and I'm not sure if was MPG or the line he delivered, was when he told Andy that if he ever talked to his father like that again, "you'll have me to deal with." Sounded a lot like the mouse roaring at the lion. It was a perfect moment for Andy to have said something smart-ass back to him. I don't know if that was supposed to come off as menacing, but it didn't. It was sort of funny in a sad kind of way.
Working Pops into the story was brilliant. Not only is Joe Spano an excellent actor, but the story was crafted so well. We all thought, going into this one, that Clark, Sr. was some hot-shot cop. Now we know better. He's an idiot through and through and he's got serious issues as a father, too. This is a fine way to show us who our new character is and what his crosses are. The end scene was really outstanding. And so here's this bright, brave new detective caught between two hot-heads who can be enormous jerks and who are both telling him what the job is all about. He's got to sort out who's going to teach him from who has been teaching him and find a way to reconcile them both in his head.
I thought the interview was really good writing. The first layer was getting Casey to give up the murder, the second was redeeming his father's mistake. That says a lot about the guy.
I hope we see a lot more of Joe Spano.
Medavoy's Dutch Boy story was outstanding. The story itself is really good, and having Medavoy tell it makes it even better. Baldwin says "it's something that could happen to anyone," and I'm thinking, "Yeah, Medavoy!"
FIRE DOA: Is a new formula is emerging? Instead of knowing right away whodunnit and watching how the cops get him to give it up, we're now being led to believe one guy did it when it was really it was someone else. That's OK once in a while, but it was used in both stories tonight. I don't need a big mystery all the time. And while the Sally/Spyder story was wrapped up neatly, I do wonder why Phil left his damn front door unlocked. (On further thought, it seems fairly clear he didn't hire the guy to kill his wife because she was stabbed and didn't die right away, but still...)
On breaking out of formula, we had a crime here that was brought to a close by Greg's dogged attention to detail. He called a bunch of music stores and tracked down the stolen guitar. There's a lot of that kind of thing in police work but it doesn't always make good TV. Here's an example of how it did make good TV. We got the idea, with one well-placed line, that Greg was doing a phone canvass of sorts without having to hear every single boring phone call. Well done.
My favorite part of this story was with the two mopes in the music store. The one guy, Pooch, had about two lines but hit them both perfectly.
I thought the actress who played Sally also did an outstanding job. Her reaction to news of her roommate's death could have been over-the-top but wasn't. It seemed very convincing.
Spyder was good, too. The epitome of stupidity.
* Nice few seconds when Andy is left alone in the squad room after everyone else takes off to the bar. He has one of those private "come to Jesus" moments when he realizes that if he doesn't stop being such a blowhard he's going to end up all alone ll the time. And all of that was done with one great camera angle and one great look on the actor's face. It was nicely punctuated with the very next shot in which we see the tray of four beers and one club soda.
*I've only seen a cooked body once, but it's not something you forget. The folks who put together that one in tonight's show seemed to me to have it down. Yuck, and I mean that in a good way.
*Strange that Shannon didn't mention Danny or the funeral to Andy when he was running the case. As I mentioned before, it's possible Shannon was there and changed for his tour like the rest of them, but since we didn't see him at the funeral it would have been nice to hear a word. He did, after all, always have a word for Danny about his sister.
*The return of Obnoxious Eddie Gibson was nice for two reasons. One, it gives that little feel of history, and two, it reminds us that there is a night tour and that they do actually work. Now if we could see them coming in at the end of day tour, that'd be even nicer.
*In addition to being a bit hot-headed, it seems Andy and Pops Clark also share a tendency toward jumping to conclusions and damming people without cause.
*Nice nod to CBGB's, the famous NYC underground rock club. It's where Spyder and the girls were trying to become famous in the footsteps of Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, The Ramones and others. And Pooch was wearing one of their T-Shirts.
*Nice that the toast included "a fresh start." I'll drink to that.
*I've learned that the name John Clark was Executive Producer Bill Clark's brother's name. That John Clark died too young and this is a nice way to remember him.
*From Andy's lips to Bochco's ears: "Today it's me and Connie. Junior can tag along if you want." Alas, this is not to be.
*We don't have Clark writing his name on anyone's locker, but we do have Phone John writing his name on the board.
*Housekeeping: For those who are counting, this is episode three. Last week, eps one and two were put together for the two-hour show.
We've got some interesting CAST LEGACIES:
Henry Bronchtein: our director this week has stepped over from his regular duties on cable's The Sopranos to stand behind the camera on network TV's best.
Previously on NYPD Blue: Joe Spano as John Clark, Sr., James McBride as Shannon, John F. O'Donohue as Eddie Gibson.
John Michael Bolger (Keith Casey): He was on Blue twice before, has done ER and Third Watch.
Eric Balfour (Sypder): He was on Blue just last year. You may know him from the show Six Feet Under. He's been a guest on The West Wing, Chicago Hope and many others.
Kristen Minter (Candy): She's on ER playing Miranda. She was also Heather in Home Alone many years ago.
John Prosky (Robert Horowitz): This face should be familiar. He's been on several Bochco shows including a previous stint on Blue, Murder One and LA Law. He's also been on Judging Amy, The West Wing, JAG, Chicago Hope and Frasier.
Geoffrey Lower (Phil Carlson): He played a jerk tonight, but he was a preacher several times on Dr. Quinn.
Franc Ross (Wade of the music store): He's been on the West Wing, ER and Buffy.
PJ Brown (Frankie the Jerk): This guy did a lot with a little playing the mouthy Frankie. He's been on L&O and L&O:SUV a few times, Third Watch and, ta da!, The Sopranos.
Pamela Gordon (Nutty Lady): I guess our casting folks watch The West Wing a lot... and she's also been on X-Files, ER and Frasier.
Patrick Collins (Chaplain): He's worked for Bochco before on HSB and for Tinker on St. Elsewhere in addition to working on L&O and Third Watch, but the most interesting thing about this guy is that he was a monk and lived in silence for 6 years before becoming an actor.
Rounding out the cast in fine style: Kimberlee Peterson as Sally Jones; Sven Holmberg as the beloved Pooch; Marlon Young as Officer #1; Christopher Michael as the Fire Captain, and Randy Mulkey as the character with the best name (though you never hear it in the show): Officer Catchings.
LINES OF THE WEEK:
Medavoy yukking it a bit too much up over the Dutch Boy story: "He got his balls broke but good!"
Baldwin: "Still, it could have happened to anyone."
Medavoy: "Sure! Yeah! Simple mistake."
(that was all in Gordon Clapp's outstanding delivery)
John: "I'll go check with uniform, see if they got anything."
Andy: "Don't get lost."
Wade miffed and explaining to Pooch in the music store about the guitar: "Rare."
Pooch: "Would you step off my nuts already?"
NEXT WEEK: Another new addition to the 1-5....and Papa Clark comes back.