One of the biggest hits in TV cop history — not counting the Law & Order juggernaut, to which there is no comparison — was ABC’s NYPD Blue, which ran for 12 seasons, won 20 out of the 84 Emmy Awards it was nominated for, launched David Caruso (later of CSI: Miami), made Dennis Franz into an even bigger TV presence than he had been on Hill Street Blues, turned Jimmy Smits from a lawyer (as in L.A. Law) into a cop, and presented a whole new side to both Saved By the Bell‘s Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Silver Spoons‘ Rick Schroder. And now there could be an NYPD Blue sequel series on the way.
The original was created by the late Steven Bochco and David Milch, and this new version reportedly was given Bochco’s blessing four days before he passed away in April. The original initially focused on cops John Kelly (Caruso) and semi-alcoholic and racist Andy Sipowicz (Franz). Caruso left after the first season for what he hoped would be a big screen career (it wasn’t) and the focus shifted to Sipowicz and the partners he would be paired up with, notably Smits, Gosselaar, and Schroder; plus the woman who would eventually become his wife, Sharon Lawrence’s Assistant District Attorney Sylvia Costas, who would give birth to their son, Theo.
This show, which has been given a pilot commitment by ABC, will not be a reboot, but will, as noted above, be an NYPD Blue sequel series. The proposed series will flash forward from where the show left off in 2005, and now Theo is following in his father’s footsteps as he attempts to become a detective working in the 15th squad. He’s also being described as “hard-drinking, hard-headed, and quick-witted.”
Due to the fact that this is a sequel, characters from the original are expected to appear. Unfortunately, Theo’s parents won’t be a part of that; his mom was killed on the show and part of the premise of the new version is that he is investigating the murder of his father. The latter may have something to do with the fact that Dennis Franz wasn’t interested in participating, telling Deadline, “I did receive a call, and I’m flattered but not interested. NYPD Blue was a high point in my life and career, and I think of it so fondly. I wish them all well and much success.”
In an interview with the Television Academy, Steven Bochco explained of the first show’s origins, “I wanted to do something for the network that would really break the rules because in 1991 the hour drama was just in the toilet. So I had had some conversations with ABC about trying to just sort of push the boundaries a little bit and I thought a cop show was the appropriate kind of show in which to do it, because, you know, an expanded language, palette, sexuality, violence — all that stuff is appropriate.
“We negotiated language and negotiated the number of [curse] words you could use and how often you could use them,” he added. “And we negotiated how much nudity there could be, what you could see, what you couldn’t see. It was the most negotiated thing ever and I had less problems with NYPD Blue than I ever had with any other show because everything was negotiated upfront. When we finally went into production on it, it created such fear with advertisers, particularly in the South. If that show hadn’t been a hit from its very first episode, I don’t think it would have lasted four weeks, because ABC was under such assault for putting the show on. They could have just withered. At the same time, if you strip away the nudity and the dirty words, at its core you still had a very solid, recognizable cop drama with two extraordinary characters.”
It will be interesting to see what boundaries the NYPD sequel series will push up against.