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NYPD Blue: Season Two

When NYPD Blue premiered on ABC-TV in September 1993, the show already was steeped in controversy. With it's frank sexuality, harsh language, and violent situations, it was the equivalent to network television's first R-rated series. But as the show's superior writing, direction, and acting quickly proved, the elements that garnered the most advance controversy were not what would garner the most accolades. As the first season drew to a close, word got out that David Caruso, Blue's brooding leading man, would be leaving the show early into the second season. It was news that caused fans and critics to speculate as to whether or not the series would be able to hold together with such a significant loss. And as the first four episodes of Season Two set up Caruso's Det. John Kelly for his fall from grace and eventual departure from the police force, the show's future became even more uncertain. Sure, those first four episodes were great. But how could NYPD Blue go on without John Kelly? Wasting no time with mourning the departure of Caruso, Episode Five, "Simone Says," introduced Jimmy Smits as Bobby Simone, the new cop at the 15th Precinct, and the new partner of Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz). By the time the pivotal episode was over, Simone was established as a worthy successor to Kelly, and Caruso was all but forgotten.

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The meat and potatoes of Season Two deals with establishing the new partnership between Simone and Sipowicz, as well as Sipowicz's growing relationship with district attorney Sylvia Costas (Sharon Lawrence). But that's only part of what goes on during the season — NYPD Blue continued to pack more story into single episodes than most shows cram into a whole season. Over the course of the 22-episode run, the second year explores the tumultuous relationship between Det. Greg Medavoy (Gordon Clapp) and the buxom receptionist Donna Abandando (Gail O'Grady); Sipowicz continues to wrestle with his alcoholism; Simone tracks a serial killer; and a new detective, Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), sparks the interest of Simone. By the time Simone stands as best man at Sipowicz's wedding to Sylvia in the final episode of the season, Blue had proven that it could weather whatever storm may come along, and come through an even better show than when it started. Fox's NYPD Blue: The Complete Second Season collects all 22 episodes of the popular series created by David Milch and Steven Bochco into a six-disc box set. Like the box set of Season One, this collection is slim on bonus features. Only five episodes have audio commentaries by either a writer or director, and the sixth disc features "Season Two: A Season of Change," a 57-minute documentary that recaps the whole season. But if you're the sort of fan who buys NYPD Blue on DVD, you shouldn't be buying it for any sort of bells and whistles. You'll want it because Blue is arguably one of the greatest television shows in history, with writing and acting better than many films. In fact, with its over-arching storylines and constantly developing characters, the series has emerged as one of the leading TV productions to take advantage of the time afforded by television in crafting complex characters with dimension and emotional resonance. After coming out of a successful first season, and heading into an uncertain second season, NYPD Blue built upon the strengths of the cast and writers, hitting its stride and paving the way for next several seasons, which would prove to be the show at its best.
—David Walker

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