Picks and Pans Review: Nypd Blue

updated 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/27/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ABC (Tuesdays, 10 p.m. ET)

A

Look, I know this is kind of premature. After all, they're still scraping the gum off the bottom of the seats at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, where they held last week's Emmys. But you can already engrave next year's Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series with the name David Caruso. The redhead is extraordinary as John Kelly, a volatile but cloaked Irish-American police detective in New York City. Amid personal and professional tumult, Kelly clings as the only verily to loyalty to his floundering, alcoholic partner (Dennis Franz). Caruso delivers this role with charismatic, Cagney like intensity.

With its provocative and graphic approach to language and sex, this is a show for grown-ups only. But I happen to agree with NYPD Blue's creator Steven Bochco: If these issues cannot be addressed forthrightly in the 10 p.m. time slot, the networks cannot hope to compete with cable.

Strikingly shot, wonderfully cast, this tough, taut, atmospheric show is the season's best new series.

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