Picks and Pans Review: True Blue

UPDATED 12/11/1995 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 12/11/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

by David Milch and Bill Clark

Former Yale writing teacher David Milch, who developed ABC's top-rated police drama NYPD Blue with Steven Bochco, had mapped out the relationship between John Kelly and Andy Sipowicz and sketched in the first couple of episodes before the show debuted in 1993. But something was missing—the talk that cops talk. A fellow writer put him together with Clark, who had spent 25 years chasing bad guys as a New York City detective, and the plots began to sing.

In True Blue, Milch and Clark, known on the set as Yale and Jail, smuggle the reader behind the scenes. In a hard-boiled argot worthy of Ed McBain, Clark retells stories from his own years on the job)—many of which loyal viewers will quickly recognize.

The authors also paint in personal details. Milch, for example, is candid about his resource-draining love of the racetrack. He's equally up-front about troubles on the set. In fact, many readers will probably want to tune into True Blue purely for the dirt about David Caruso, who played Det. John Kelly.

Milch says he did not like the way Caruso "jumped on the end" of the speeches of the actor with whom he was reading at his audition. "I was concerned," says Milch, "that Caruso-as-Kelly would emerge a distant and selfish character."

Caruso-as-Kelly did just fine, winning a Golden Globe in '93. The problem was Caruso-as-Caruso. According to Milch, even as the actor was melting audiences with his sensitive performance of a standup cop, he was bullying cast members to the point where costar Dennis Franz "virtually stopped talking to him."

In 1994 the actor left the show to pursue a movie career—somewhat ambivalently, Milch believes. Returning to NYPD Blue for his final episodes, Caruso looked "gaunt and haunted," says Milch. "David had a world of guts; Kelly was a character he'd fought over and over again to become, and now he was going to lose him." (Morrow, $23)

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