Fearless. Powerful. For God's sake, put on a towel or something. These are just a few of the words used to describe the police drama NYPD Blue. The series, created by Steven Bochco, takes a gritty look at the mean streets of crime-ridden New York through the eyes of Detective Andy Sipowicz and an ever-changing cast of partners.
When NYPD Blue debuted in 1993, network television was a very different place. Language harsher than "Good golly!" and "Gosh" and "Darn it all to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks" was hardly ever heard, even on cable. Adult situations consisted largely of characters discussing various retirement plan options. Dennis Franz's ass remained largely hidden by an unappreciated array of fabrics.
NYPD Blue changed all that. From the first scene, in which Sipowicz refers to a female prosecutor as a "b***** little c*** who needs herself a good a** r*******" and invites an overly-officious to "s*** on my t******-s***, you m*****-f******* p**** of d******," viewers knew that Blue was a different kind of show. By the end of the first episode, 17 people were dead, three cities lay in ruins, and several affiliates in such important markets as Topeka, Kansas, and Lickspittle, Kentucky, dropped the show from their lineups.
But ABC was unfazed by the criticism, in large part due to the network's complete indifference. "We have a show called NYPD Blue on the air?" asked then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, as he lounged about on a pile of money. "Huh... news to me."
A Star Is BornEdit
Blue's devoted following and high ratings meant instant stardom for the character at the centerpiece of this edgy urban drama -- Dennis Franz's naked ass. During the show's 12-season run, viewers came to view Franz's ass as an old friend, coming to love the character despite its many flaws and pockmarks.
Memorable episodes featuring Dennis Franz's Ass include:
- The time Franz stepped out of a shower, giving viewers a full-on view of his ass for a full three minutes, including a heart-stopping 12-second sequence in which Franz bent over to pick up his car keys.
- A sex scene with co-star Sharon Lawrence, featuring numerous close-ups and glamour shots of Franz's ass.
- A very special episode in which Franz's ass confronts its drinking problem.
"People Got a Funny Habit of Getting Dead Around You, Sipowicz"Edit
If Dennis Franz wasn't on-screen taking off his pants, then chances are he was mourning another dead or departed partner. In Blue's 12 seasons, Franz's Sipowicz character had no less than 223 partners, played by the following actors:
- David Caruso, Season 1
- Jimmy Smits, Season 2-4
- Ricky Schroeder, Season 4-7
- Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Season 5
- Mario Lopez, the first three episodes of Season 6
- The kid who played Screech, episode four from Season 6
- Jimmy Smits, again (as a crime-fighting ghost that only Sipowicz could see), the rest of Season 6
- Gil Gerard, half of Season 7
- William Peterson, the rest of Season 7, except for one episode
- Rip Taylor, that one episode in Season 7
- Gavin McLeod, Season 8 and part of Season 9
- Tori Spelling, the rest of Season 9
- Jon Seda, as much of the Season 10 premiere that aired before audiences burned ABC's transmitter to the ground
- Smits, again (as a robot with crime-solving superpowers), periodically in Season 10
- The Barenaked Ladies, Season 10
- Some Guy Who Wandered Onto the Set One Day, five hours and 20 minutes of Season 11
- Ted McGinley, Season 11
- Ray J. Johnson, Season 12
- Jaye P. Morgan, Season 12
- Rance Mulliniks, Season 12
- The male residents of Fontana, California, Season 12
Sipowicz's partners met their demises in a variety of ways from the grisly (shot by perps, mauled by bears) to the banal (killed by routine dental surgery, poisoned by careless mushroom-foraging), to signs that the writers were no longer trying (abducted by aliens, run over by snowplows, killed in a reality TV death lottery conducted by a futuristic fascist government).
NYPD Blue's theme song was "Baby Got Back".
NYPD Blue left the airwaves to great fanfare among its remaining 78 viewers in 2005. The final shot of the series featured Sipowicz and his ass walking arm and arm into the sunset while the ghost of Jimmy Smits waved goodbye.