Glenn Yeffeth, editor,
What Would Sipowicz Do?
Race, Rights & Redemption
in NYPD Blue

(Benbella, 2005)

For those that don't care for police drama and consider shows of the type to be soapy, tear-jerking, sexually tense, gruesome, garish and ghastly, books on the subject are even worse. Of course, those in the know are familiar with Steven Bochco's training and background at Carnegie Mellon University (nee, Tech) in days of old, and back in the day, and recall Hill Street Blues. Bochco, the creative genius behind shows that went beyond the silliness of Car 54, Where Are You? and the stodgy, plodding of Joe Friday on Dragnet is the master of television shows that are real, deeply felt, deeply moving and full of details that bring authenticity and near plus-perfect status to programming that addresses issues faced by those in law enforcement today.

Given all this, then, What Would Sipowicz Do? Race, Rights & Redemption in NYPD Blue, edited by Glenn Yeffeth, is a companion piece that serves to delight, entertain and interest with essays that serve to bring a deeper level to the genre.

NYPD BLUE went off the air several years ago, but its resonance and tough beauty live on in reruns on various cable outlets. As a long-time viewer of this television masterpiece, I am familiar with its plot twists and turns, as well as the controversy ignited by its airing of various derrieres, cute or not, and the sometimes salty language employed at least once in the show, particularly during its final years. However, despite these non-issues, each episode was shocking, interesting and often quite moving, particularly when a much-beloved character, such as Bobby Simone, was dying. Much has been made of the early and foolish departure of David Caruso, or John Kelly, Andy Sipowicz's partner in the first few seasons. His successor, Jimmy Smits, or Bobby Simone, brought a depth of feeling and emotion to his relationship with Andy, as played by Denis Franz, that is seldom seen in programs that have long since been forgotten.

What Would Sipowicz Do? is a series of essays compiled and edited by Yeffeth. The various chapters address such issues as family ties (Joyce Millman); lesbian relationships (Sharon Bowers); medical ethics and lingua medica (Jennifer Parks); racism and reality (Kenneth Meeks) and other interesting, relevant topics. These essays can stand alone, and in most cases were first published elsewhere. Each is well worth reading. My only complaint about this book is that those of us who do watch shows like NYPD Blue will quibble with two factual errors that occur on p.134, where the dying Bobby talks to Diane about meeting his daughter, whom Diane had lost to miscarriage (the baby was a boy); and, also, on p.144, when the author refers to Diane's significant other, Bobby, as Jimmy (Jimmy Smits). However, these factual errors are not enough to put one off on reading this fine book. It is worth a read.

by Ann Flynt
22 July 2006

Buy it from