The Good

A gritty, hard-hitting show that features a top of the line cast.

The Bad

It would have been nice to see a featurette on a day in the life of a real police officer.

NYPD Blue: The Complete Fourth Season once again takes viewers into the rough world of the 15th Precinct. Whether the officers are investing death by autoerotic asphyxia, dealing with drug addicts, or tracking down murderers this show relies on finding it's humanity within the characters we see episode after episode. The stakes are constantly raised because Detective Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) is romancing fellow Detective Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), while Detective Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) is dealing with his job and being a new father.

There are other characters whose stories carry equal weight and NYPD Blue: The Complete Fourth Season is able to support all of these because of the writing. The fact that they are able to make this show so visually fluid further underscores how well written each and every character is no matter the size of their role.

Features

Commentary Tracks

There are commentary tracks on the episodes "Where's Swaldo?" and "Alice Doesn't Fit Here Anymore" with director Mark Tinker and Writer Bill Clark. Also, on the "Tom and Geri" episode we get actresses Andrea Thompson and Debra Christofferson. I chose to listen to "Where's Swaldo?" with Mark Tinker and Bill Clark mainly because I wanted to hear how one of these shows is put together in a creative sense. Both of these guys have interesting senses of humor as they discuss the characters, how the scenes were shot and just about everything else in this introspective look at this show.

"Through the Lens: The Look of Blue" Featurette

I was glad to watch this for a lot of reasons but the biggest one was how they pointed out that this show wasn't handheld which I think everyone thought that it was. The creators discuss putting the audience "in the room" with the officers, shooting coverage shots in New York and then splicing them in with the main footage shot in Los Angeles and much more. Overall, if you are interested in learning how to make a fictional show seem like a documentary, this is something you are going to want to watch.

"In With the New" Featurette

This segment examines the new characters that came on to this show in this season. They talk about coming into this new world, how for one actor a small part turned into a few years on the show and how the interpersonal relationships between everyone on the set were really supportive. Overall, I really liked the way that this featurette was done simply because it's nice to hear from people other than the stars, and to get their take on the material and characters they are playing and now working with.

Video

Full Frame - 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio. They discuss in the "Through the Lens" segment about how this show started off utilizing a lot of movement, and then as it went on they tapered that off at creator Steven Bochco's request. As the episodes here are now showing us the fourth season, everyone seems to be in their groove. Also, the compression on these 22 episodes looks really sharp. Since this is a fairly recent show, I wouldn't think there would be much work to make NYPD Blue: The Complete Fourth Season look that way.

Audio

Dolby Digital. English, Spanish and French Dolby Surround. Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. I was grateful that even though this show set many standards in terms of introducing multiple plots, it didn't introduce having all the characters whispering their lines like they do in many of today's shows. Also, seeing as how NYPD Blue looks like a documentary, the sound is perfectly leveled to where it needs to be for viewers to follow what's going on.

Package

A New York Police Detective shield is the foremost image that presses off this front cover. Behind it is a dark blue shot of the city. The back features a procedural shot of Jimmy Smits and Dennis Franz as they seemingly enter a crime scene. There is also a solid description of what this season is about, a Special Features listing and technical specs. All four discs are neatly packed into two, slim, digipack cases with a picture of Franz and another one of Smits on each one. The back features a collage of shots from the various episodes as well as episode indexes, descriptions and airdates.

Final Word

I have always been a big fan of Dennis Franz as an actor but I was really taken by Jimmy Smits in his role. I have been watching him ever since he appeared as Julio Gonzalez in Running Scared, and seeing him in this four disc set only affirmed what a top notch actor I have always thought he was. In every role I have seen him play, he never seems like he's showing up. Regardless of the fact that most of the characters I've seen him portray are men with a strong, moral fiber, he always seems to try and infuse his roles with a freshness that makes them memorable. I could also talk about Dennis Franz or Kim Delaney as the whole cast are very good here.

So, if you are in the mood to revisit a good 1990s cop show, you could do a lot worse than NYPD Blue: The Complete Fourth Season.

NYPD Blue was released .