Basic premise: The anti-Dragnet.
Why it’s here: Homicide (#29) came first, but this was the series that pushed gritty police drama. If Dragnet is how we wish our police detectives were, NYPD Blue is closer to how they actually are. Compelling television that handled some social issues surprisingly well. The episode where the two lesbians ask the gay cop to artificially inseminate one of them was absolutely phenomenal, and I don’t know if it would play on TV today.
Why it’s not higher: David Caruso. I don’t know if it’s the internet meme with CSI: Miami, but I never liked him. He was a huge jackass on this show (which is why he lasted precisely one season). We also “got” to see Dennis Franz’s bare ass entirely too many times. While they handle social issues very well at times, at other times they beat you over the head with it.