NYPD 2069

Det. Franco quickly deduces that the husband is the murderer, but before he can make his case he is run down in the street by a speeding van. The last thing he sees is Kroger turn and walk away from the scene. The detective’s distraught wife is told that her husband is a vegetable and makes the decision to remove him from life-support. However, he keeps breathing on his own. The doctor tells her that there is a secret government project that cryogenically freezes fallen members of the NYPD and FDNY and that he could be brought back to life in about ten years due to advances in nano-technology.

Sixty-six years later, Alex Franco awakens with a new prosthetic arm and the stunning realization that his wife is dead and that his son is a 77 year-old vegetable (due to a viral outbreak that killed 300,000 in the year 2039 that was most likely terrorism). More incredulously, his murderer is now 99 years old, but with the benefits of money and scientific advancements has the mind and body of a 50 year-old man. He is given a new identity as Alex Bohlander and is assigned to his old precinct, where he will work alongside his grandson Paul Franco.

What follows is the classic fish-out-of-water story. Detective Franco must adjust to a world he knows little about without giving away his secret (the secret government project was a failure, with him as the one unknown and illegal success, and was terminated). New York City is now devoid of vehicles, except for government use. Despite the population of New York being 15 million, it looks like the streets are abandoned. Most of the city has been segregated into rich gated areas (“Chelsea Gardens”) with their own private police force. Very few people ever venture outside. The skies are filled with buildings much taller than the standard skyscraper and there are holographic billboards and “police drones” floating around monitoring the citizens’ every move.

Police work has changed dramatically and Bohlander, as he is now known, must adjust accordingly. Weapons are now mostly laser and microwave technology, although he is allowed to carry a nine-millimeter pistol. Police all wear the latest technology. The glasses that they wear can show all pertinent information on any suspect, give on the spot and instant lie detector tests, and allow a judge to render real-time decisions. A suspect can be found guilty and terminated right in the field.

Bohlander tracks the man responsible for his predicament, Kroger, to a restaurant where he observes him living lavishly. After talking his way past a bodyguard, he comes close to both revealing who he is and killing the man. Knowing that such actions would have his new life revoked, he slips away. Then Bohlander along with his new partners, including his grandson Paul, track the case of a child who was kidnapped from the nanny of a wealthy family. The ensuing chase and gunfight leaves his grandson dead. The pilot ends with Bohlander volunteering to break the news to Paul’s wife and son. While at their apartment, the young boy seems oddly drawn to Alex. He finds an old photo of him from 2003 and is bewildered.

If I didn’t know that Stephen Bochco was at the helm when I heard the title for the first time I might still be chuckling, which I must admit, I did for quite some time. Bochco is responsible for some of the best dramatic television in the medium’s history. “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue” have defined the police genre and helped raise the quality of many other network dramas. He is also responsible for “Doogie Howser, M.D.” and “Cop Rock.” The question is what do we have herer

The script reads like how an “NYPD Blue” episode looks and sounds, especially in the initial interrogation in 2003 of Harlan Kroger. From the dialogue to the script instructions to the actors makes it difficult to keep Dennis Franz out of mind. I can’t decide if that is a bad thing. Has the cop show been done to deathr As we know from the past, any pop culture medium is going to be beaten to death before it goes away, and then it will come back again a decade later. I think I can see the thinking here. Bochco is taking what he knows best and throwing it almost seven decades into the future. It’s not cookie-cutter science fiction, but it has enough elements of the new and unknown that it will certainly look different. Having his lead straddle the beginning of the century and the end lets him stay in safe territory with his “old school” cop who must search for answers in the somewhat fascist future (I am hoping for a shot of a “John Aschroft Junior High School”).

Whether this show can work depends on the casting and art direction. They need to find an appealing cast and the look has to be done right. It’s a not too distant future, so he should be able to achieve that with some plasma screens and funky clothes. Regardless, it’s fun to see what previous generations envision the near future will look like. What about all the implausibility, you sayr One might think that anyone who wakes up from a coma in 2069 after 66 years and is able to go back to work in his old precinct might be a hard sell, but if this is TV. Joss Whedon thought he could have a space show (“Firefly”) with folks running around saying “pardner” brandishing six-shooters. Ok, that one didn’t work (Fox Exec- “Um, Joss, when you said it’s a space western, you were being literalr!”). Maybe a better example would be “24” with more plot holes, amnesia, and kidnappings of the same person, than could possibly happen in one day. If people, and I mean smart people, not “The Bachelor” or “Fear Factor” people, can rave about that show, what’s so far-fetched about this. Fox needs a signature drama that can last awhile. “The X-files” is a distant memory, “Firefly” will be cancelled faster than you can say “Draw, Yoda!” and “24” can’t possible be done a third time, rightr (I know, I know.) Bochco took this to Fox because of his well-publicized rift with ABC over the juggling of NYPD Blue’s timeslot and cancellation of “Philly”. If Fox is smart they give him lots of money and a timeslot other than Friday at 8 or 9 and I think they could have a new flagship drama for themselves.

Please, just change the title.

The Scorecard
Pilot Director: Gregory Hoblit
Producers/Show Creators: Steven Bochco, Nicholas Wooton, Matt Olmstead
Start Date: March 2003
Location: Los Angeles

Rating: B-