‘Blue’ on beat until ’02

9th season for Bochco's Emmy-winner

The cops of “NYPD Blue” will be working the streets of Gotham for two more seasons.

ABC has picked up Steven Bochco’s Emmy-winning cop drama through May 2002, ensuring the skein will live to see its ninth season on the air. Web also has an option for a 10th year.

While specifics of the agreement are still being hammered out, it’s likely ABC will order 20 episodes of “Blue” per year. The show will probably continue to air without any in-season repeats on a January-May basis.

The early pickup for “Blue” is somewhat surprising since the show is in the middle of a creative transition. Longtime showrunner David Milch has stepped down from his day-to-day role supervising production of the series, with Bochco becoming more heavily involved.

“It’s a real show of faith and trust in us and our staying power,” Bochco told Daily Variety. “We’re just genuinely pleased.”

Bochco was skeptical when ABC delayed “Blue’s” seventh season premiere until January, but the move ended up helping the show’s ratings.

In the all-important adults 18-49 demo, “Blue” averaged a 6.6 rating/18 share last season, ranking 18th among all shows in the category. That’s up 5% from its year-ago time period performance.

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