Chronicling New York Police Department activity around the clock over 16 months is a journalistically sound project, so why slap a Hollywood name on it, asks Denver Post critic Joanne Ostrow. Yet ABC News is using Dennis Franz of “NYPD Blue” fame to voice-over its summer series, “NYPD 24/7,” which debuts tomorrow evening and runs for seven Tuesdays. The production team is the same group that gave us “Hopkins 24/7,” about the noted Baltimore hospital. Ostrow says the opening segment makes the case that this is more a documentary than a summer cop reality series. In the first hour, Detective Steve Di Schiavi is a hardworking, tough-talking New York cop who is investigating the case of a young woman stabbed in the lobby of her ex-boyfriend’s apartment building. She’s assessed as “critical and likely” – as in likely to die. The police tackle the mystery from different angles on the street until she is conscious and able to speak.
The program is a look at the pavement-pounding, computer-checking, suspect-interrogating and other time-taking efforts by the guys in blue. Di Schiavi seems emotionally drained after having to notify a victim’s next of kin. The series is the pro-cop antidote to recent headlines suggesting the police are less than heroic guardians of the peace. The series follows cops from homicide to vice divisions, confronting crimes ranging from weird to terrifying, from the case of a man found boiled to death in a manhole to that of a serial rapist, up and down the ranks from beat cops to the police commissioner. Ostrow says ABC News makes the case that a “real-life documentary” (is there any other kind?) is more dramatic than any movie or scripted series.