NYPD Blue’s Neglected Fanbase: Where is the Love?

When NYPD Blue premiered in 1993, TV audiences were introduced to a few new things, notably shaky camera angles and posterior nudity. I didn’t enjoy the show when I first watched it, but appreciated it a lot more when the hubs and I started binge watching them in 2003 (before binge-watching was an actual thing…). A friend lent us his copy of Season 1 NYPD Blue to try, and we were instantly hooked: interesting cases, salty language, the edgy lines of row-houses panning to the familiar outlines of the Twin Towers, the rough and sullen Andy Sipowicz played by actor Dennis Franz, and of course, David Caruso before he took off his glasses at every hook-line on CSI Miami (yaaaaaahhhh!). We were into NYPD Blue big time and couldn’t get enough! 

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We bought our own copy of Season 1 NYPD Blue, and we were happy to know Seasons 2 and 3 were also on the shelves. We made fast work of those too, and then waited with baited breath for Season 4 to be released. Then in 2006, we bought a copy of Season 4. Awesome! It gave us an excuse to watch Seasons 1-3 again!

After finishing up Season 4, we hoped Season 5 of NYPD Blue would come out. There was no news on the internet about release dates, but there certainly was a demand by fans of the show (I mean, there were at least TWO fans hoping…). Several years pass, and every once in a while I’d wonder whether the rest of the seasons would be released. My internet searches were coming up fruitless other than finding out that Fox had abandoned releasing any subsequent Seasons of NYPD Blue due to poor DVD sales. I couldn’t believe it! It couldn’t be true! But, the evidence was there…no new NYPD Blue sets anywhere!

Feeble attempts to garner anything NYPD Blue even led me to torrent sites, but there was nothing up. Nothing on Netflix. Nothing on HULU. No back catalogue on network websites. Man, it was sad.

A ray of hope shone brightly the day I was doing some online shopping on Amazon this past November and found a release date of February 2014 for Season 5 of NYPD Blue!! I couldn’t believe it! The series was in pre-order which I put money down for immediately.

February 10 was when NYPD Blue Season 5 would arrive in my mail box, and I was over the moon! At last!

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Season 1’s offerings

Before I go on about Season 5, let’s talk about the presentation of NYPD Blue Seasons 1 through 4. You could tell some serious care had been taken by Fox to release a decent box set for fans of the show. To start, Season 1 and 2 are in nice packaging with six DVDs. It’s obvious there was some thought put into the design, including having a sleeve with a fold-out DVD case. The extra features were impressive as well which included several featurettes, interviews and commentaries. Seasons 3 and 4’s packaging was a condensed version and not as elaborate in design giving us 4 DVDs instead of 6. With the reduction of DVDs, the quality of the shows suffered a bit. Mini DVD cases in a sleeve replaced the fold-out seen in previous seasons, but similarly, featurettes and commentaries are included in Seasons 3 and 4 of NYPD Blue.

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When I opened that shipping box from Amazon and pulled out the Season 5 set of NYPD Blue, I noticed immediately how the packaging is a far departure from the elaborately clean fold-out presentation of the first two seasons.  Season 5 has a clear plastic DVD case, six DVDs and no extra features. When playing the episodes back, I couldn’t help but notice the reduction of quality of sound and picture. The hubs, who is a TV guy, remarked the episodes weren’t cleaned up at all as the commercial cue dots were left on, which could very well indicate these DVDs were straight dubs from the original broadcast tape to DVD. One more notable thing: this was not a Fox release, but Shout! Factory, which I am not familiar with. Whether this release is a result of Shout! Factory expediting the release to get it out there as soon as possible, that they didn’t have the means or licensing to clean it up a bit… or perhaps fans shouldn’t expect any better (I mean, how dare we?). Really, it’s anyone’s guess. But this situation for me comes down to this:

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NYPD Blue fans are finding themselves in an Oliver Twist situation right now. We are willing to put up with a sub-par unpolished release…and still feel grateful to get another season of NYPD Blue on the shelves.

Now that Seasons 1-5 of NYPD Blue have been watched, it begs the question whether more seasons will ever be released in North America. A search online reveals some shocking information: all 12 Seasons of NYPD Blue are currently for sale on Amazon in the UK! I also learned there is no intended release date for their release this side of the pond. Why no NYPD Blue love? Perhaps the series is more popular in the UK than here? I can’t say, but I am very jealous. Until more seasons of NYPD Blue get released in North America, I guess I continue to hang out in the gruel queue asking for more…

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12 comments

  1. RE: DVD only being released in UK.

    I don’t know what your home movie setup is like, but I have a cheap $40 DVD player that I bought at Canadian Tire. It is multi-region. I only have the one multi-region in the house, and it’s not hooked up to my big system, so I only buy specialty items for it.

    RE: Binge watching.

    I started doing it back then too. The Sopranos is the first show I can remember doing that with. I picked up season 1 for $5, and got quickly hooked. The fact that I’m half Italian and my dad regales me with tales of how Grampa Guiseppe was friends with the local Guelph mafia…

    Ahh but I digress. I was amused by how much they’re always eating on that show, and on that note, I want a canoli.

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    1. Yeah, the hubs and I talked about it – expensive to ship, and they’re PAL. Your Crappy Tire DVD player play PAL?

      It was definitely the Sopranos for us too – you’re in good company! We are both Italian as well. Me: My Great grams on my Dad’s side, though really by name only – no traditions, and basically estranged from that side. The hubs – his great grams on mom’s side. He has a “Nona”…gabagool!!

      And ooo! Guelph mafia? Interesting!

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      1. Hmmm. I’ll have to get back to you on that. I’m not sure.

        Well bonjourno!

        Unfortunately I never knew my grandmother, she passed away when my dad was 8 or 9. My grandfather, he died when I was 10 or 11. So I never had the chance to get to know much about being Italian. Whenever I meet an Italian they always start speaking Italian — I can’t speak a word. Well, I can say one or two 🙂

        Anyway I recently started digging into the family history and I learned so much new info, it was staggering. I found out the names of my great and great-great grandfathers and all their families. I found out when they came here and how (on what ship, via Ellis Island). I knew my great-grandfather owned a shop in Sicily, where they lived, and I found the address and a picture on Google street view. Then I found out that we were not Sicilian as we always assumed. My great-great grandfather was from Amalfi and moved to Sicily! So it turns out, our family is from Amalfi, where it seems every damn Italian I meet is also from!

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        1. Wow interesting!
          It’s weird. I am not close to Dad’s side of the fam. Dad’s been dead a long time. BUT! I connected w 2 second cousins – one, a Scot, another Brazilian! The Scot is heavily into geneology and has told me some interesting things, like how my great grandparents were confectioners! They made candy. They moved to Scotland for whatever reason and set up shop there.

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            1. We found out there were a lot of musicians in our family too. I like to think some one of us was playing in the band at the Corleone wedding in the Godfather Part I.

              My dad says that Part II (I’m assuming you’ve seen them) reminds him a lot of what the old neighborhood in Guelph was like!

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            2. Sudbury has a strong Italian community too. A section known as Gatchell, as well as Copper Cliff are known as little Italies. In fact, Copper Cliff has a little neighborhood with narrow streets that some say reminds them of Italy.

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  2. I thought NYPD got better once Caruso flounced off in a huff about pay. I thought it got better once it started to stand on its’ own feet and lose its ties to the Hill Street Blues formula a bit more. you have to love Sipowicz though.

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