Stream On: Gone too soon—‘East New York’
Despite an outcry from devoted fans, “East New York” ended its one-season run on CBS after twenty-one episodes.
The creative team and reps of this new Warner Brothers Television Studios police procedural series had been shopping the show around, after its premature cancellation by CBS, when the Writers Guild of America went on strike. Its time-slot competition, S.W.A.T., was renewed, along with poorer-performing freshman shows So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas, both from CBS Studios.
The East New York twitterverse was not happy at all; a move to Paramount+ was the only polite suggestion, and that’s where the existing 21 episodes have landed. But it looks as if there will be no more, which is a shame.
“I think each of our characters has a little bit of Sipowicz (the breakout character of 1993’s NYPD Blue) in them that we're going to slowly reveal over the course of the season.” (East New York co-creator Mike Flynn)
The spirit of NYPD Blue, David Milch and Steven Bochco’s game-changing 1993 cop show, hovers palpably over East New York. Created by Mike Flynn and NYPD Blue executive producer William Finkelstein, ENY is another character-driven series—that also employs Jimmy Smits (Dexter, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who played Det. Bobby Simone on the earlier series. Here, he is Assistant Chief John Suarez of New York Police Department Precinct 74 in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood.
Suarez’ protegé, Regina Haywood (a brilliant and charismatic Amanda Warren, Black Mirror), the newly promoted Deputy Inspector of the 74, is starting her first day when a man shoots a “dollar van” driver and kills two others. Regina is single and ambitious, and as an African American woman, feels more pressure from the department and city officials than from the criminal element and skels (the term is another hand-me-down from NYPD Blue) with whom she and her detectives contend. Although the neighborhood, for decades called the borough’s “murder capital,” hasn’t experienced the same level of gentrification as other Brooklyn neighborhoods, real estate companies are buying up properties and raising property values. Luxury housing developments have been introduced into the area, a stone’s throw from public housing, and with more money also comes more political corruption.
Regina’s executive officer, Captain Stan Yenko (Richard Kind, Curb Your Enthusiasm, A Serious Man) is a learned nebbish who’s not shy about highjacking conversations with arcane facts, often proving himself a valuable problem solver.
Detective First Grade Tommy Killian (Kevin Rankin, Friday Night Lights, Justified) is a cranky old-school sport-jacket-and-tie detective; he and his girlfriend are trying to open a cop bar. Officer Brandy Quinlan (Olivia Luccardi) is an enthusiastic white girl who grew up in Section 8 housing with a drug-addicted mother; she’s the first volunteer for Haywood’s neighborhood policing initiative of having uniforms live in the projects. Officer Andre Bentley is a young and wholesome African American who commutes in from his parents’ mansion in Westchester, and Officer Marvin Sandeford (Ruben Santiago-Hudson, NYPD Blue) is Andre’s savvy veteran training officer.
The cases they chase range from the “dollar van” street attack (dollar vans are privately-owned vans that carry passengers; some are licensed, some aren’t) to the murder of a Wall Street hedge fund manager, and Regina Haywood has to fight for resources from an unsympathetic bureaucracy.
East New York is one of those polished shows, like Blue Bloods, in which everyone is good-looking and the locations are bright and photogenic. (The exteriors are filmed on location in Brooklyn.) But we’re not here for gritty realism; we’re here for realistic drama. And East New York delivers that in spades.
Bottom line, East New York is a very good cop series that deserves another chance, barring writers’ strikes and network machinations. Brian Lowry wrote, at CNN.com, “East New York has the potential to depict the police as people—noble and heroic at times, but not immune to insecurities and excesses—and do the same for the people with whom they interact, instead of reducing them to perps or chalk outlines … [if it can] attract enough viewers to provide East New York the chance to play the long game.” Well, it did—but it wasn’t enough.
Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon's prices. This column originally appeared on The Outer Banks Voice.