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49. NYPD Blue

Tapehead no 49

We all need heroes, Tapehead more than most.

NYPD Blue’s Detective John Kelly is a natural: wise beyond his years, street-wise beyond belief, likes his girlfriend to be dressed in police uniform – in short, he’s Tapehead’s kind of guy.

The first of the new series, as poetic and elegiac as television can get, should, by rights, have been titled John Kelly: The Burden of Sorrows.

Janice, Kelly’s wild, pouting girlfriend is on trial. Kelly, of course, is the star witness. Intense and vulnerable, strong and skinny, head permanently crouched as if ducking sway from the world’s blow, David Caruso somehow has the face (or soul) of a little boy and an old man.

This allows him to scatter wisdom like confetti, like someone who has seen too many episodes of Kung Fu, as if he’s counseling not only the other characters but the whole audience; his public.

Try practicing his way, in the midst of a wildly heated, fraughtly complex situation, of gently saying, “am I right ?” when he knows he is. Heroic.

Ultimately, of course, Tapehead accepts that one day (one day soon) Kelly/Caruso will make his exit and Tapehead’s life will be devastated, desolate, in much the same way he was when Sheila Grant left Brookside, or when LWT killed off Dial Midnight.

Never mind River Phoenix or Kurt Cobain, last year was all about Julian Leaving Casualty.

This week, though, he’s back, in Dangerfield, starring as a dashing, debonair GP who fills up all those irksome idle hours fiddling around as a Police Surgeon.

Dangerfield is so slow, there’s nothing for it but to start estimating how long it will be before we see Julian sitting suavely in his Range Rover again (it sounds easy, but sometimes it can be as long as, ooh, eight or nine seconds) or calculating how many thousands of pounds Julian’s mobile phone bill runs to: no wonder the NHS hasn’t got any money.

Dangerfield is slower than Heartbeat, with more countryside than All Creatures Great And Small and dialogue like: “Ooh, Dad ! Don’t forget your Dictaphone.” To which Julian shouts back (as he dashes off debonairly into his Range Rover for a mobile phone fix): “Don’t worry, darling, I’ll use my finger like everyone else.”

All in all, Tapehead reckons Julian should get his gold lame jacket out and go back to singing “That’s the look, that’s the look, The Look of Love”.

Meanwhile, Julian’s replacement, Mike, has a typically trying week in Casualty (but deals with it – heroically). Learning Curve by Tony McHale, has all the staple Casualty ingredients – teenage joyriders, teenage pregnancy, stroppy Scouse scallies, and dangerous dogs –
but all with a good, juicy twist.

Look out for a fainting Jehovah’s Babe and, most startling of all, a strangely unpublicised guest appearance by Tapehead’s old hero, Arnold from Different Strokes making his comeback as an eight-year-old who breaks into a rich bitch’s kitchen. A classic.

Last week in Revelations, the truth came out about Thomas and Gabriel having a snog.
“I was wishing him well !” Gabriel protested (to his wife), an excuse which in Tapehead’s experience, never works.

This week, Charlie (Thomas’s girlfriend, Gabriel’s sister) goes on a bender (as it were) and gets nasty.

All the while, Tapehead is no nearer to comprehending how one family can contain so many enigmas. Why, for example, did Gabriel’s mother (soap icon Judy Loe) confront her son’s ex-lover, sneering: “You’re not a man Thomas. You’re nothing like one and you never will be,” when to Tapehead’s eyes he is indisputably quite a lot like one (he’s got a beard; he’s doing both her son and her daughter) ?

At least Tapehead’s fascination with Thomas and Gabriel (the Tony Hadley and John Taylor of soaps) which has over recent weeks reached obsessive proportions is no mystery.

Gabriel is extraordinary – looking, and not only because, in his dandy’s house and Duran Duran waistcoat, he looks like Oscar Wild’s Bosie.

With pouting lips, foppish fringe, sucked in cheeks, and gorgeously tousled locks, Gabriel is not only impossible handsome, his resemblance to Tapehead is frightening.

Casualty: Sat, 8.05pm-8.55pm, BBC1
NYPD Blue: Mon, 10pm-10.55opm, C4
Revelations: Thu, 10.40pm-11.10pm, Carlton