A television era ends as "NYPD Blue" (9 p.m., ABC) airs its final episode. With the exception of "America's Funniest Home Videos," "Blue" is the last scripted show from ABC's pre-Disney era. ("Funniest" will probably still be running long after the last VCR is entombed in the Smithsonian).
When "Blue" was first broadcast in 1993, its frank sexuality and salty language made sponsors skittish. Some ABC affiliates refused to air "Blue" at all. But viewers and critics responded to the show, and before long Dennis Franz's Det. Andy Sipowicz became one of television's most beloved cranks and most fully realized, three-dimensional characters. The show was showered with accolades, and the sight of Dennis Franz walking away with a statue became a staple of the annual Emmy Awards show.
Few programs have spread quite so much talent around the dial. David Caruso, who played Andy's first partner, Detective John Kelly, left the series in 1994 in a career move that many likened to Shelley Long's decision to quit "Cheers." After several so-so movies (remember "Kiss of Death"?) and other cop series (remember "Michael Hayes"?), Caruso found a steady gig on "CSI: Miami."
Amy Brenneman, whose early steamy "Blue" scenes with Caruso raised many an eyebrow, migrated to "Judging Amy." Jimmy Smits (Det. Bobby Simone) is now running for president on "The West Wing." Gail O'Grady (Donna Abandando) became the fetching mother on "American Dreams." And, in an unorthodox career move, Andrea Thompson (Det. Jill Kirkendall) experienced a brief tenure as a newscaster for CNN's Headline News.
Tonight's other highlights
- The top 10 women battle to survive on "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox).
- Lorelai continues the silent treatment with Emily on "Gilmore Girls" (7 p.m., WB).
- The Emmy-winning spectacle "The Amazing Race" (8 p.m., CBS) returns for a seventh globetrot.
- A patient fears a curse on "House" (8 p.m., Fox).
- The new series "Breaking Vegas" (8 p.m., History) looks at professional crooks who have tried to beat the odds at casinos.