25 years ago today, on September 21st, 1993, the groundbreaking television program “NYPD Blue” premiered on ABC. The show would run until March 1st, 2005 making it one of the longest running prime-time dramas of all time. The original season starred David Caruso as detective John Kelly and Dennis Franz as detective Andy Sipowicz. While Franz would remain a mainstay of the show through the course of it’s run, his partner changed numerous times through the years with actors Jimmy Smits, Rick Schroder and Mark-Paul Gosselaar playing the part. The Steven Bochco produced police procedural won many accolades and awards including Emmys, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Awards.
The show was controversial when it debuted as it promoted a new gritty realism in television. Each episode began with a warning of adult subject matter with the show often showing nudity, alcoholism and profanity. Several religious outlets called for boycotts of the show. NYPD Blue has been cited as the program which led to the creation of the Parents Television Council.
And still, looking back on it, we would gladly take these concerns over the rampant abuses seen on television today. NYPD Blue premiered before the advent of prime-time reality television and politics were not the central guiding factor behind programs offered by media conglomerates. Sure, it’s certainly not innocent programming a la “I Love Lucy” or “The Honeymooners”, but compared to today’s glut of violence, sex and depravity, NYPD Blue was not just the start of a new stage of realism in television but the end of a golden age of programming.