The best of ‘Blue’

The top 10 episodes

BY RON EPSTEIN

Trying to select the 10 best out of 261 episodes of “NYPD Blue” is nearly impossible, but these hours still resonate.

10) “Colonel Knowledge” Eddie Gibson (John O’Donohue), an off-beat, veteran detective whose personality clashes with and offends nearly everyone with whom he works, is promoted to sergeant and put in charge of the squad when there aren’t enough higher-ranking lieutenants to go around. He shares the office with his noisy parrot. The detectives have little respect or patience for either, but do have fun at Gibson’s expense by teaching his parrot a few choice words. Cop humor. (Original airdate: March 16, 2004)

9) “Pilot”

The camera work, language and exposed skin pushed the boundaries of what was on a network show to that point, yet only laid the groundwork for what would become one of TV’s most-watched and highly acclaimed dramas. (Original airdate: Sept. 21, 1993)

8) “Black Men Can Jump”

Sipowicz takes his son to an auto auction with the help of car dealer Don Bucci. Sipowicz knows Bucci from over two years ago when Bucci’s daughter was kidnapped and never found. Sipowicz encounters a private investigator on the lot whom Bucci knows and whom Sipowicz has an uneasy feeling about. Playing a hunch, Sipowicz quizzes him about his relationship with Bucci. Long story short: The private investigator is the one who kidnapped Bucci’s daughter. Sipowicz arranges for her return, showing his passion for the job and how he never lets go of (or forgets) a case. (Original airdate: March 1, 1994)

7) “A Draining Experience”

Caught up in an internal affairs investigation, Bobby meets an old friend, Joey Salvo, who is under surveillance by the department. Andy, very frustrated because of what he perceives as IAB throwing Bobby under the bus for the sake of this investigation, finds where Bobby and Salvo are meeting. Salvo is shot on the street during the conversation. Although Andy is never named as the shooter, he’s clearly protecting his friend and partner. (Original airdate: May 20, 1997)

6) “Where’s Swaldo?”

When an African-American activist is killed, Sipowicz and Simone catch the case. During an argument in the squad, Sipowicz uses the N-word in front of the victim’s family. The family is upset, as is Simone and Lt. Fancy. It begins to bring out deep-rooted feelings in Sipowicz and shed some light on his past relationships with other races. (Original airdate: Nov. 12, 1996)

5) “Nude Awakening”

When Mark-Paul Gosselaar joined the squad, veteran cops know of his retired father, John Clark Sr. But after not being able to cope with his wife’s death, his son’s independence and his own shortcomings, the elder Clark commits suicide by shooting himself — only to be discovered by his son. (Original airdate: Feb. 25, 2003)

4) “Dead and Gone”

The David Caruso departure: The charismatic detective who helped launch the show and whose character (John Kelly) serves as a teacher and mentor to others, gets caught up in an internal affairs investigation. Rather than wage a big fight, he quits the department, frustrated by its politics. Kelly walks out the door of the precinct, never to be seen again. (Original airdate: Nov. 1, 1994)

3) “It Takes a Village

The Bobby-Diane relationship revealed much skin, as well as the emotional side of each character (Diane being molested by her father; Bobby being widowed). While they had many rolls in the sheets, this episode closes with them having sex and Diane getting pregnant. (Original airdate: Nov. 4, 1997)

2) “A Death in the Family”

For all the demons Sipowicz had to conquer, this was the biggest. After a strained relationship with his son, he and Andy Jr. reconcile and form a relationship, to the point that Andy comes to his dad for advice and ultimately joins the police force in Hackensack, N.J. Before he reports for duty, however, he is shot and killed trying to break up a robbery at a bar, thus sending Sipowicz into an emotional nosedive. (Original airdate: May 7, 1996)

1) “Hearts and Souls”

The culmination of a five-episode arc during which Jimmy Smits’ character (Bobby Simone) develops an infection around his heart and ultimately dies. (Original airdate: Nov. 24, 1998)

Free-lance writer and “NYPD Blue” devotee Ron Epstein realized he was getting too involved in the show when he started referring to his own work as being “on the job.”

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