Adam Rodriguez, Yancy Butler, Michael DeLuise. Steven Bochco's short-lived, top-notch police drama was the first TV series to earn a mature" rating for its gritty, visceral storytelling and high-impact characters. Includes all 22 episodes on 6 DVDs. 1997-98/color/16 hrs/NR/fullscreen.
Though its pedigree was top-drawer, the fine CBS police series Brooklyn South never really clicked with primetime audiences (or, according to critics of the network, never got a chance to click). All the same, the program offered interesting possibilities for its famous creators to decant old wine into new bottles. Steven Bochco and his lead writer on NYPD Blue, David Milch, produced this show about uniform cops working a tough New York City beat while coping with the professional and personal fallout of sundry catastrophes. If the series didn't establish, as NYPD Blue did, a new benchmark in stylish television from the start, it certainly shocked audiences into high-stakes drama with a premiere in which several key characters are slaughtered during an ambush by a rooftop sniper.
This made for a hell of a way to introduce a series cast, i.e., by establishing most of them as survivors, but Milch and Bochco made inspired use of ethical and emotional ripples from that horrifying event to inform the rest of Brooklyn South's first (and only) season's storylines. Not surprisingly, Brooklyn South's ensemble approach and busy episodes (comprised of multiple, character-driven stories) most closely resemble the form and balanced tones of Bochco's classic Hill Street Blues. As such, each installment can be as ghoulishly funny (Michael DeLuise's officer Phil Roussakoff, moonlighting at a funeral home, causes some consternation when he takes a nap in a coffin) as it is brutal (the usual murders, suicides, etc.) and emotionally stark (love as a sure path to despair).
Brooklyn South had its problems (too many characters), which were compounded by network ambivalence. This DVD set, however, will keep an abbreviated but worthy project from disappearing into oblivion. --Tom Keogh