On Tuesday was the return of NYPD Blue to the fall season, after airing in the winter and spring for the past two years.
The season opener was preceded by a special, inexplicably hosted by Joe Mantegna, that took us “inside the world of NYPD Blue.” While there were several interesting parts to this preview, it was mostly gloss and fluff and left me wishing it was produced by more interesting people and was three times as long.
Whereas in shows like Law & Order and CSI it is the plot that drives the show, and shows like ER are more character driven (and I use that term loosely with ER), I realized on Tuesday that NYPD Blue is neither: it’s simply a compelling, well-punctuated visual ballet. The show has neither strong plots nor particularly strong actors (although Dennis Franz does have his charms, I admit): it’s something you have to eat as a whole, and be broadly brushed by. And I have a hunch that you either like that or you don’t, but I’d be hard pressed to suggest how you tell the difference. In a sense this makes the show perfect for the modern television viewer: you can go to the bathroom in the middle of the show and not really miss anything. You can even miss entire episodes or entire seasons, and not feel as though you’re being left behind.