DVD Review: NYPD Blue (Season 09)

Long running shows seem to get stable and safe when they’ve gone beyond the necessary episodes for syndication. The producers don’t want to shake things up since the last thing they want to do is create the storyline that tanked the series. NYPD Blue had three huge dramatic changes as it started the ninth season in the Fall of 2001. First the series went from 1.33:1 to 1.78:1 anamorphic giving a wider view of the action at Manhattan’s 15th Precinct. The series had to deal with fact that Rick Schroder wanted to quit the show so he could spend more time with his family in Montana. They had to figure out how to explain why Detective Andy Sipowicz (Hill Street Blues‘ Dennis Franz) had lost another partner. A bigger storyline occurred when the World Trade Center towers came down on September 11. Even though the series is really shot in Los Angeles, there’s no way a show about New York City could ignore the event. Even though New Yorkers came together to reconstruct the city in the wake of the terrorist attacks, crime didn’t stop for patriotism. NYPD Blue: Season 09 has the veteran series tackling all three changes without any excuse.

“Lie Like a Rug” has the detectives dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 and the disappearance of Danny Sorenson (Schroder). Sipowicz is doing his best to find his partner although it feels bleak. During the investigation, they discover that quite a few people have vanished from the Tail Feathers gentlemen club. Instead of drawing the missing detective story for too long, they get a lead. But will he lead them to the fate of their partner? In one of his best physical moment, Sipowicz gets the lead to cooperate fully. It’s a vicious moment that just has him stop on the line of “bad cop.” Being this is a police department, the new partner arrives as Det. John Clark, Jr (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). Once again the producers are rather daring in their casting. Who could have expected Zack Morris from Saved By the Bell being a credible NYPD detective? By his second minute on the screen, you don’t expect him to be busting Mr. Belding. The only lame part of the new episode is that the producers didn’t credit a new opening credit sequence. They merely stretched out the video from the old opening to fill the wider screen. “Johnny Got His Gold” puts the investigation of Schroder’s killer at the strip club. What should be a simple wire operation turns into a massive shoot out on the streets of New York City. Clark proves his worth as he goes after a face from The Wire. After the clean up, there’s a minor Hill Street Blues reunion as Joe Spano arrives as John Clark Sr. Turns out his character doesn’t get along with Sipowicz. The shoot out gets Sipowicz payback for his partner and an unexpected promotion. “Two Clarks In a Bar” has the son and father clashing since dad really doesn’t like his kid working with Sipowicz.

NYPD Blue: Season 09 keeps the show fresh and exciting. The characters investigate plenty of involving crimes. Along with another intense season from Franz and the unexpected arrival of Gossler, the rest of the cast keeps up the pace. Gordon Clapp, Greg Medavoy, Henry Simmons, Charlotte Ross Connie McDowell and Esai Morales hold up the scenes when Franz isn’t on the screen. Jacqueline Obradors also arrives as Detective Rita Ortiz. Towards the end of the season her character hooks up with Clark. The series absorbed the changes of 2001 and remained compelling for three more seasons afterward.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The upgrade to HD brings out the detail in Dennis Franz. The audio is Dolby Digital Stereo. The levels bring out the percussive soundtrack. The episodes are Closed Captioned.

No bonus features.

Shout! Factory presents NYPD Blue: Season 09. Starring: Dennis Franz, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gordon Clapp, Henry Simmons. Boxset Contents: 22 episodes on 5 DVDs. Released: April 5, 2016.