Andy reacts to his wife's accidental shooting. And the show's director reveals the true inspiration for all that floating camera work

May 25, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

For six seasons of ”NYPD Blue,” Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) has been the Job on the job, and it continues unabated in this week’s season finale. His trials include: getting shot in the series’ first episode, falling off the wagon, undergoing prostate surgery, having one partner drummed out of the force and another killed, losing a son — and then in last week’s show, seeing his wife, Sylvia, shot by a vigilante with bad aim. Still, the series’ producers don’t think of Sipowicz as a victim. ”I have people in my life who I call Bad Luck people, but I don’t think Sipowicz is one of them,” veteran ”Blue” producer and director Mark Tinker tells EW Online. ”He is in a bad stretch, to say the least. But if you take a character like Sipowicz down somewhere, you’ve got room to take him up too.”

Tinker previously worked with ”Blue” creator Steven Bochco on ”Hill Street Blues” and ”L.A. Law,” two very influential TV shows. But ”Blue”’s trademark visual style — the handheld shots that roam around the room in alternating close-ups — takes its influence from a more surprising source: those annoying Dockers ads from the late-1980s. (You remember: the ones with guys just ”hanging around,” chatting about high school memories and dating… everything BUT pants, while the camera flits around them, abruptly zooming in from a wider shot to the pants’ label.)

Original ”NYPD Blue” director Gregory Hoblit — who left in the middle of the second season, when Tinker arrived, to direct the movie ”Primal Fear” — adopted the ads’ handheld-camera style and the show has used it ever since. ”The guy who did those ads is Leslie Dektor, a multiple-award-winning TV commercial director,” says Tinker. ”Now we’ve made his name into a verb for that floaty, hitchy camera. I’ll say, ‘Dektor over from the phone to Sipowicz.”’

While the cameramen are still Dektoring around the squad, most of the shots have gotten smoother since the show’s first couple of years, when the jittery, over-caffeinated camera was whipping all over the set. ”People were getting a little nauseous,” Tinker admits. ”Stevie started making himself vocal about that, and by the third season we had calmed the camera down 20-25 percent.” Just as long as they don’t start filming the show like an ”Old Navy” ad.

TV Show
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Steven Bochco,
David Milch
David Caruso,
Dennis Franz,
Jimmy Smits
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