"The Vision Thing"
Season 12, Episode 6
Teleplay by William Finkelstein
Story by Bill Clark & William Finkelstein
Directed by Tawnia McKiernan
Who's dreaming? Three things I've been waiting for finally happened. More on that after the usual this:
Andy uses good, old-fashioned detective work to discover the guy's name. A search of the Metro Cards used on the bus turns up one guy who seems to be taking the same weekly trip to a parole office. The people at that office recognize the photo as a bad guy named Frankie.
When Frankie is brought in, he confesses. But the real story is how Andy and Junior react to the case. Under continuing pressure from Bale, having been shot at last week, having had his son kidnapped, and having to spend a great deal of time lately getting Junior out of jackpots, Andy is on edge. For his part, Junior is acting like an asshole again. He's pretty much under control until Andy starts to mother hen him about going out to Greg's new job at a bar (see below). After that, he seems to just give up, being a condescending prick during the parole interview and being and out and out asshole during an interview with Frankie's sister. He has words with Andy more than once.
The last fight Clark and Andy have is outside the door to Frankie's hideout. Clark insists he go in first because Andy is too much on edge, and too rattled by being shot so recently. Andy refuses, they argue for a few minutes, and finally Clark tells him to go ahead and get himself shot. Andy charges in first. Frankie has a weapon and fires it. Lucky for Andy, the gun sticks. If it hadn't, he'd be comparing halos with Bobby Simone.
Rita and Murph ask if any of Gerald's former employees have records. Gerald says he's sure they don't, and that he's such a good judge of character, he'd never hire anyone bad. The detectives check it out anyway and turn up a guy with a robbery record. When they go to Gerald's shop to get more information, he seems reluctant to turn it over. He finally complies, though, after he wraps up a creamer that will match John's set.
The women interview the former worker, Izzy, and find out that he did take a picture frame once. Hardly the $300k in merchandise Gerald is missing.
Meanwhile, John turns up at the antique shop to thank Gerald in person for the creamer. Gerald gets admittedly bold and asks John if he's seeing anyone. John says no, and the two head out to lunch together. Over wine, they find out more about each other. Gerald tells of his farm in Tuscany but how he nearly lost it and his business because he owed so much in taxes. He finishes his autobiography praising the insurance industry for saving his assets.
John's years hanging around with cops make his suspicious enough to relay this information to Rita and Murph. But he does it reluctantly. He really likes Gerald, and struggles with whether he's doing the right thing. Rita and Murph take the information and interview Gerald again. They tell him they've got the goods--good enough goods, anyway--on Izzy and that Izzy is going up the river. Gerald blanches. He tries to talk them out of charging Izzy. They pressure him about why, tell him there's a chance he'll get his things back. Gerald finally gives in and tells him he was pulling an insurance scam. On his way out in handcuffs, John stops him to talk. He offers sympathy, but Gerald won't have it. He barks that he didn't think he was having lunch with Sherlock Holmes. John counters that he did think that, that his conscience wouldn't let him send someone else to prison or rob an insurance company, so he found another way to confess. Gerald scoff at that and tells John the only reason he said anything is because he's got a thing for blondes.
Greg has invited everyone down to the bar for free drinks and dinner on his first night. (This is what sparks the fight between Andy and Clark.) Only Baldwin shows up, but that doesn't dampen Greg's spirit. He acts like Napoleon ordering the bartender to give Baldwin a G & T and then a menu. The bartender is pissed off, fires a "yes SIR" at him, but still, Greg remains happy. Greg remains happy even when, a few minutes later, a big, bruising, drunk asshole walks in and starts harassing the customers. The loudmouth keeps shouting, insulting people and Greg keeps talking happily to Baldwin. Finally, the bartender suggests less than politely that Greg address the situation.
Greg is suddenly not so happy. He approaches the bruiser, who turns, looks down at Greg and demands to know who the hell he is. Greg tells him and asks him to leave. The guy refuses. Unflappable, Greg asks again. The man then suggests he could break Greg's arm. Greg pauses, his confidence growing. He looks the man straight in the eye and firmly explains that his job is to get guys like him out of this bar, and that he's going to do that job one way or another. The drunk considers Greg, downs his shot and leaves without another word.
At the end of the day, Our Andy stops in the hospital to see this young Andy. He wants to show the kid respect while at the same time advising him to be smarter next time and let the robber have the cash. The kid is appreciative. He asks for his cell phone back, and Andy promises to go back to the station house and retrieve it. As he turns from the kid's hospital bed, he catches a glimpse of the bed next to it and there sees an image of his late partner, Bobby Simone, lying sick for all the world like he did hours before he died. The image frightens Andy, and he quickly looks away. Glancing back, he sees the bed empty.
At the station house, Andy gets the cell phone and takes a moment in the locker room to try to collect himself. But he doesn't get the moment he seeks. Simone is back, standing next to the locker he once used, hands jammed in his pockets like always, relaxed and, like always, waiting to hear what his skittish partner has to say.
Andy tells himself he's crazy, tries to count the lockers, is genuinely worried he's gone around the bend from stress. Bobby calms him down with the easy, playful banter he used to use with Andy. He assures Andy that yes, everyone would think he's crazy if they saw him right now talking to himself. Andy asks if he can touch Bobby. He does, and to his surprise (and perhaps comfort), his hand rests on Bobby's chest rather than going through to the wall. Bobby tells Andy he's there because Andy called him, and that, yup, he's really dead. It's not so bad, death, he says. It's peaceful. Andy J. and Sylvia are fine, keeping Andy in their hearts. Andy tells him how much he misses their time together, how Bobby's life was too short, how he wishes they could still be together. Bobby says his life is just as long as it was supposed to be, and that life is much longer than Andy thinks. If life were short, he says, he wouldn't be there with Andy now. Bobby tells him it's all OK; Andy's just going through an unusual time. Andy asks him what he should do about everything, and Bobby responds: Be a teacher. Be a teacher to all four of your kids. Theo, Michelle, Matthew and, he adds, Clark. Andy doesn't believe Clark sees him as a father figure. Bobby assures him Clark does, especially after the death of his own father. Bobby adds that Clark is now afraid he'll lose another dad.
Bobby also assures Andy that there is a God, and that God is looking out for him. Andy tells Bobby he never got over not having Bobby in the world with him. Bobby says he *is* in the world with Andy. Like his guardian angel? Andy wonders. Like that, Bobby says. The locker room door opens just then and Clark walks in fresh from a run. He sees Andy, assumes they're going to have another fight, and tells Andy coldly that he'll be gone soon. It's Bobby who is gone. As Clark walks over to his locker--the one that used to be Simone's--he lets the locker room door shut behind him. Bobby appears outside the door for the second it takes to swing shut and calls, "God Bless, Andy."
Andy listens to Clark bluster a bit like the angry child Bobby says he is. Andy shuts down the bluster by asking Clark if he wants to go out to eat. Clark is surprised. Andy then assures Clark everything is OK and that he's not going anywhere. Clark nods his head, grateful for the words he's waited to hear.
However, my Dad was a writer. Never at a loss for words. It's true what the writer of Simone's lines said, (to paraphrase) your life is as long as it lives in those you leave behind. So there's this: My Dad, Jim, lives on tonight.
...Which makes me strong enough to say that while I loved seeing Bobby Simone again, I thought the story leading up to it was a little weak. There just wasn't enough groundwork done for this. I think the idea was to have Andy on the edge: he'd been shot, his partnership is falling apart, he never sees his wife (along with the rest of us...), his son got kidnapped, his boss is trying to drive him out and he's wigging over the latest homicide. All good stuff, but it just didn't get sold.
Here's what I mean, point by point. Last week's shooting and the kidnapping of Theo were two very traumatic events. Andy, however, didn't seem all that traumatized. As I pointed out last time, Andy didn't react strongly enough to the kidnapping. Hell, he walked away from Burt, the mechanic who actually did it. And there was never a scene in which he got to express his fear over being shot, being out of the picture for Theo, the other kids and Connie. This may be due in part to the fact that Connie doesn't exist anymore except as a lump in the bed, but that aside, he could have had a scene where he comes a little unglued. Perhaps he could share those feelings with Greg. And take his partnership crumbling, his partner crumbling: he's gotten to express a little more concern in this realm, and that's good, but it hasn't seemed to me to be something that's keeping him up at night (unless the desk sergeant is interrupting sleep to go pick Junior up at a bar). The situation with Bale is prime ground for giving us a very nervous Andy, and it was going that way just fine until Bale did him a favor. Even though Bale immediately rebuked Andy's gratitude for that, the character who seemed most unsettled by the whole affair was Bale not Andy. Again, that's fine, unless you're trying to lay groundwork for Andy being so unsettled and worried that he's having visions. And finally, there's Andy overreacting to the homicide tonight. Like Clark said, it's one of a million sad stories. Why was this one different? Why indeed. I suspect it's because Andy had been shot, was worrying about leaving his family, and worrying about losing his job and not being able to provide for them, but these are not things that were a solid part of the Andy story before Bobby appeared. They weren't woven together very strongly, and there wasn't as much consistency as there should have been in Andy's skittish behavior. If Andy had been wigging out, and if we'd have understood clearly why, this vision would have made a whole lot more sense. Bobby said Andy called him. I know the writers wanted me to hear that call, but I had to listen way too hard for it. In fact, I had to back track a bit after Bobby said that in order to figure out when Andy was calling for help. I'd have rather just said, "Yes, he did." When Bobby said to Andy, "You called me."
Now that's out the way, so let me get to what I loved about this, and the moments in Blue that make it the superior effort (in spite of my grousing) that it truly is. I'll start with the stabbing victim, Andy. I thought that was so completely clever. It could have been cheesy, but through the genius of the writer who decided to put the kid's name (Andy) right at the top of the scene, it wasn't. You know his name is Andy. OK, there are 6 million Andys in the world, right? No big deal. Then you find out he got hurt trying to stop a robbery. Then you realize he's about the same age as Andy Junior. Then you go, "Hmmm" as Andy, Sr. expresses awe at the kid's bravery. And the really beautiful part of it is that Andy himself probably doesn't realize why this kid touches him so much. We realize it, but he doesn't. He just acts on it. And it's all brought home when, seconds after he looks in on this kid who reminds his subconscious of his son, he sees an image of Bobby. That worked. Very powerful.
Next, the interaction between Andy and Bobby. Jimmy Smits slipped back into Simone's skin like he never left it. Bobby's presence, his style, his smooth way were all back before Smits even spoke a word. I always marveled at Smits' ability to sell his character with just his face, his body. He did it perfectly again in this short scene. And the best of Bobby was included in the lines: he got to be playful, serious, tender. It was remarkable to see these two actors--Smits and Franz--both move quietly between the very ends of their characters' emotions. For Smits, that meant joking around and then being completely serious in the span of just a few lines. For Franz, that meant taking Andy's newly discovered strength all the way back to square one where he needed Bobby's counsel and aide in order to pull himself out of hell (drinking after Andy J.'s death, for example, being a prick in general for another), and then moving seamlessly back into a role of strength with Clark. And I loved this scene for what Bobby said about life going on, and for the way Smits delivered those lines. I loved that in ways I've already (almost) expressed and can't really write much more about without going places I'm not quite ready to go (but hope to be soon). Suffice it to say that scene took me there.
Finally, and certainly not least, I was awed by the last few minutes with Clark. Aside from having met him once, I don't know Mark-Paul Gosselaar at all, but since I'm convinced through his work and reputation that he's a thoughtful man, I suspect he had a few nerves at the thought of doing a scene with Jimmy Smits appearing literally over his shoulder. Talk about ghosts... Smits' Simone is, many argue, the best partner Andy had. The Other Guy had his good points, to be sure, but the partnership between Sipowicz and Simone was the best. So here's The Kid, who's been holding his own very well, who put Sorenson to shame, shame, shame, who has done well the work of carving out his own niche, now facing the prospect of standing in the shadow of the late, great, St. Simone/Smits. Do his knees knock? Maybe, but does he fold? Hell, no. He walked into that scene like he owned it. And he did. The undeniable chemistry between Smits and Franz, the presence and power those two artists create was not moved one hair by MPG's entrance; clearly, he's in their league, and how cool it must be for him to get to prove it. Well done.
I'm not too sapped, however, to say how much I loved getting to see Bill Brochtrup do something. I realize he can't be featured weekly--that wouldn't work--but this is just the kind of thing that's good to have sprinkled in once in a while. For what it's worth, I think PJohn is far too intelligent to have been swept away by that lying little twit, but it was enough to see him in a story; why quibble over plausibility? Oh, OK, I will. PJohn has been nothing if not intelligent, intuitive and I'll say intuitive again. He'd have known from the start that Gerald was full of shit. The man tried too hard. Farm in Tuscany...give me a break! He was far too interested to have had a pure motive. And let's not mention the fact that he was far too old for PJ. Don't even try to tell me that PJ is so hard-up for a relationship that he falls for the first self-important antiques dealer that walks through the door. I'm not buying *that* tea service, baby. Still, this was fun. I hope they find more uses for PJohn.
And Medavoy! Now there's someone who could be featured a little more. He's a cop, after all, on a cop show. And, as I've said before, Clapp is one of the best actors in the company. "In Which Greg Proves Them All Wrong" is a good start. I'm nervous, though. They've taken him here before, you know, only to have him show up in a funny hat the very next week. Let's pray we don't go that route again, and that we get to see this character working out his issues on the job. I hope this is the start of an arc, but again, I fear otherwise since we've been toyed with in the past. The best line this week was Greg's (see LsOW) and I hope it actually comes true.
*Rita and Murph ask Gerald how the store was broken into. Why wouldn't they know that? Didn't he call the cops? Who walks in to report a burglary?
*The bit with the camera phone was solid. First, that they actually found a good use for the thing and second that Andy couldn't figure out how to make it work.
*Nice to see Andy using his experience as a cop to find Frankie after the high-tech way they got Frankie's photo. Goes to show you that all the CSI bullshit in the universe won't help you if you don't know how to find the bad guy. I'll take that as a swipe. Why not?
*Clark can be *such* an asshole. I wished that parole officer would have taken a swipe at him. Another credit to MPG's talent that we can feel sorry for the guy 10 minutes later.
*I wonder if Bobby has any idea how Connie is?
*My Italian isn't what it could be, but doesn't the name of the insurance company Gerald talked about translate to something like "Talk to me?" or "How do you say?" I know I'm going to spell this wrong (probably more like Spanish) but wasn't it Come se Dice? I think it had something to do with talking, which, if so, is a fun little foreshadow. Seems to me PJohn would have picked that up, no?
*We got Cagney & Lacy and Sherlock Holmes in almost one breath. I thought both were very funny, but maybe not so close together. Sherlock Holmes, maybe, but I don't think anyone would disagree that Murph & Rita look a whole lot better than Cagny & Lacy ever did.
*Bale seemed nearly human tonight. See, this is going to piss me off later when he starts acting like a freak again. The shooting wasn't an issue, Andy did good work today...was the man on Xanax?
*I see Bobby's coat died and went to heaven, too. I could have sworn Baldwin was wearing it. Go figure.
*I noticed Jimmy Smits was uncredited in the beginning of the show (and maybe after; I didn't check). This makes me think the whole thing was going to be a secret before ABC decided to try to get more mileage out of it by doing promos. I think it would have been far better to have had it be a secret. Of course, if you're ABC, it's far better to get more ratings. ABC does a truly lousy job of promoting this (or any other) show, and I think if they were better at it they'd have enough ratings not to have to blow what could have been a truly awesome moment.
*It also occurs to me that were it not for the election, this show would have aired right around Halloween. Unless Andy & Greg do the Dance of Sugarplum Fairies next month, this may be the closest thing NYPD Blue ever does to a holiday-themed show.
*You may not have noticed, but Bobby Simone wasn't the only character back from the dead tonight. The bartender Greg was rude to was none other than Pete the Bartender who took two in the head outside Tailfeathers at the same time Sip's other dead partner, Danny, bought the farm. (Of course tonight, his name was Tommy.) More on that in CAST LEGACIES below.
*Let me close with: Jimmy looks just as good now as he did eight (has it been that long?) years ago. (Have I been writing these reviews that long? Longer? I've got to get a life. Wait, I did! More on that, sort of, below.)
by J.L. (probably not James Lipton) Garner:
Previously on NYPD Blue... Mike Sabatino as Officer Martelli, Andrew Sikking as uniform, and Jimmy Smits as the Ghost of Partners Past ;-)
Previously on NYPD Blue as someone else...-Lee Garlington (Margaret Lidz--the Parole Officer) -- appeared in Season 5's "Three Girls and a Baby," and Season 6's "Mr. Roberts." Has also appeared on "Hill Street Blues," "L.A. Law," "The Practice," "Everwood," and "West Wing," as well as the second and third sequels to "Psycho," "Evolution," and "The Sum of All Fears"
--Mike Tinker (Tommy, the bartender Greg was rude to ) -- in addition to being Executive Producer Mark Tinker's brother and an LAPD cop, Mike's also played several roles on "Blue" over the years, most notably Pete the bartender from the Tailfeathers club near the end of Rick Schroder's tenure on the show.
--Norma Maldanado (Linda Sanchez, Frankie's sister) -- was in the Season 6 episode "Dead Girl Walking," as well as appearances on "ER," "24," "Boston Public," "General Hospital," and the films "Under Suspicion" and "Erin Brockovich"
Not previously on NYPD Blue...--Dennis Christopher (Gerard Prosser, the antiques dealer) -- was part of the cast of "Profiler" (the uncredited role of Jack of All Trades) and "Freakylinks," as well as guest roles on "L&O: CI," "Enterprise," "Crossing Jordan," "Deep Space Nine," and "The Equalizer," and parts in the films "Chariots of Fire," "Three Women," "It," and Fellini's "Roma"
--Hector Atreyu Ruiz (Frankie Rosales, the bad guy) -- he's guest starred on "Boomtown" and "Alias"
--Bobby Kaman (Ismet Vukaj, the robbery suspect) -- showed up on "Karen Sisco" and the short-lived late '90s "Mike Hammer" revival series
--Yvonne DeLaRosa (Jackie Perez, the widow) -- she's been on "Navy NCIS," "Strong Medicine," and "The Fighting Fitzgeralds"
--Brendan Kelly (Gavin Loughery) -- his past roles include films like "Cellular," "Con Air," "The Rock," and "Devil in a Blue Dress," as well as guest appearances on "Oz," "Big Apple," and "Due South"
--William Stanford Davis (Howard Jackson) -- you've seen him on "The Shield," "American Dreams," "Cold Case," "The Practice," and "Ally McBeal," and in the films "Primary Colors" and "City of Angels"
--James Bulliard (Andy Manooghian) -- credits include "That Was Then," Showtime's "Leap Years," and "Mutant X"
--Kitty Swink (Dr. Scattergood) -- she's appeared on "JAG," "Judging Amy," "Deep Space Nine," "Total Security," and "Babylon 5"
--Fatso-Fasano (Jamal) -- he had a guest role on "The Handler," and a part in an independent film called "The Beat"--Paul Lima as Jason
--Kasey Wilson (Mara) -- has appeared on "Without a Trace," "American Dreams," and "Yes, Dear"
--Richard Herd (Jimmy McGowan) -- he's got a long list of credits including "V," "T.J. Hooker," recurring roles on "seaQuest DSV," "Seinfeld," and "Star Trek: Voyager," and guest spots on "The O.C.," "Everwood," "JAG," "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.," and "Hill Street Blues"
--Richard Gilbert Hill (Eugene Brunell) -- he's been on "Chicago Hope," "The Practice," "Frasier," "3rd Rock," and "Knots Landing"
If you're reading this at alt.tv.nypd-blue, you'll notice Alan posted for me. I'm traveling for work again, and wrote this Monday. Thanks, Alan! And to those of you in the newsgroup, please stop by and check out the rest of Alan's Website, including the FAQ.
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