The New York Police Department Re-runs the Show

CBS tried to reform the cop show. Police reform advocates are not impressed. In the six years since it came on the air, the police-abuse drama “NYPD Blue” has become the most watched show…

The New York Police Department Re-runs the Show

CBS tried to reform the cop show. Police reform advocates are not impressed.

In the six years since it came on the air, the police-abuse drama “NYPD Blue” has become the most watched show on broadcast television — not only for its cop show, but also for its crime stories featuring the exploits of its ensemble cast (Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Bacon, John Cusack, etc.), and the relationships formed among them. A year-and-a-half ago, when the cast appeared at an awards ceremony in the middle of a shooting at the offices of the New York Post, there was an audible gasp in the audience. The show was the most watched in its history, eclipsing the newsmagazine version of the same awards show — which featured, instead, the cast of “L.A. Law,” led by Alan Alda. (“That’s the one we use on the air,” one of the producers told me last June. “We can’t use them in the movies, though.”)

It wasn’t the last gasp, mind you. NBC ordered a new run of “NYPD Blue” this spring. It seems that viewers, fed up with the show’s increasingly graphic sexual and physical violence, have elected to save it by re-watching it repeatedly, and, I would say, have chosen to watch it in the privacy of their own homes. On Monday night, I watched a taped rerun of the first season, and the episode was not on-air the next day. The reason: NBC’s ratings chief, Andy Lack, who took over in 2002 as a TV industry newcomer, after heading the network sports division, was so taken aback by the show’s ratings surge that he commissioned a poll of viewers about whether they wanted to re-run it.

I wondered why NBC wanted the show rerun more than once, and what he meant by “we,” meaning that, of course, the show’s producers didn’t actually want to get rid of it. After I called him, he explained that the network, in its hunt for viewer revenue, was offering an incentive to viewers to re-watch it.

Leave a Comment