I wasn't one of the faithful who followed 'NYPD Blue' from its inception all the way through its 12 year run. I watched the first few episodes to get a feel for what it was doing, and then only checked in for certain milestones and guest stars.
The departure of Kelly, the deaths of Bobby and Sylvia, a storyline with Peter Boyle. I think I finally considered watching the finale seriously once I learned Danica McKellar would be making a guest appearance in the episode.
So having admitted that, I'm sure Bochco and Company (BochcoCo?) could care less what I thought of how it all ended. And I know they certainly didn't set out to make sure a Caretaker for Toobworld would be happy with the results.
Well... I am.
The ending for the series beautifully illustrated a central belief for Toobworld - that just because a show might no longer be on the air, that doesn't mean the lives of these characters don't continue.
Sure, I love those finales that seemed almost apocalyptic in their finality. Everybody but the most likely candidate gets fired. War's over, go home. The one-armed man really did kill her so the running stops. It was all a dream caused by Japanese food. Everybody's trapped inside a snow globe.
But then there are those shows that just quietly fade away on their own terms, leaving us with the comforting knowledge that if we did want to revisit them, they'll be there.
We know Sam Malone is still tending bar in Boston; his old buddy Dr. Crane is starting a new chapter of his life in the Windy City. And even though 'Seinfeld' ended with a sense of "Th-th-th-that's all, folks!", the jail term for the foursome was for only a year. So you know Jerry and his pals are back in Manhattan and back to their old ways, having learned no lessons whatsoever.
The finale for 'NYPD Blue' celebrated a TV show's circle of life. New detectives showed up for work. Old friends departed. (The visit by Medavoy was particularly bittersweet; Greg should have remembered the old adage - "You can't go home again.") And we were left with the image of Sgt. Andy Sipowicz settling down at the command desk, ready to face all the headaches the job would bring.
This was only an ending in the sense that we saw how far Andy had come in his personal growth since the first episode. And for someone like me who was only the occasional viewer, the changes were epochal.
When we first met Sipowicz, he was a racist, homophobic, foul-mouthed, bad-tempered alcoholic (not to mention the show's second banana). But now he had been tempered by adversity and still found the inner strength to face his ordeals and inner demons without resorting to crutches like booze. Not once during the hour - and I would guess this has been true for a long time on the show - did we feel as if Andy might need a stiff drink to get through the bullshit being dumped on him from his higher-ups.
If 'NYPD Blue' came back next week with a fresh episode, then this finale would have been no more than a good example of the quality writing, acting, and directing the show has displayed over 12 years.
And that's just the way it should be.