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S3x04: Crosetti

April 3, 2010

Air Date: 12/2/1994
TELEPLAY BY: James Yoshimura
STORY BY: James Yoshimura & Tom Fontana
DIRECTED BY: Whitney Ransick


Now this is how you dispense with a disruptive cast member. You don’t punish the audience. You send them off in style, befitting of their character and with respect for the fans who enjoyed their work. It’s one of the finest send offs I’ve ever seen. As for the backstage drama, I’ll let Polito himself do the talking:

I stepped on the wrong toes. And I made a major mistake. I did not know at the time that Tom Fontana—when Tom Fontana tells you, “You have to be dropped now, but I’ll bring you back”—I didn’t believe that because I’d been screwed by so many producers over the years. He is a serious man when he says that. I didn’t know that. I didn’t trust him. So after he said, “NBC wants to get the girl on the show, and they have to replace somebody, and we’re gonna choose you, but I’ll bring you back in the fall,” I instead, very stupidly, went to the newspapers. And I said, rather openly, I said some very vicious comments, both about the way it was being handled by NBC and the way Fontana and Levinson were handling listening to NBC.

Polito continues:

I was totally wrong because, in fact, the changes they made meant that NBC put it on a better night, and it became a success. But aside from that, I was wrong to jump at Fontana and all that, and not believe in Fontana and Levinson, because they’re great people and would’ve been faithful to me, but I just didn’t trust it because I’d been screwed too many times before. I actually said in one newspaper, “The producers of the show are like the people on the Titanic,” and the writer said, “You mean they’re the captain of the ship?” and I said “No, no. They’re on the iceberg saying, ‘This way. Come this way.'” That’s in print and that was wrong.

From a 3/05/05 interview Polito posted on the site Groucho Reviews

On the DVD extras, James Yoshimura has some choice words for Polito, which I’d rather not repeat here.

Moral of the story: When Levinson and Fontana say they have your back that’s exactly what the fuck they mean.

Big Man and Munchkins catch a “floater” case and sadly it turns out to be Steve Crosetti. Munch immediately assumes it’s a suicide and are tasked with assisting Gee in telling Lewis, who is seen early joshing with Felton and Howard about Crosetti’s whereabouts. Bolander feels pressured to resolve the case in a way that comes down on the side of wrongful death, but finds there is limited evidence to suggest this was in fact the case. Munch and Lewis butt heads over the direction of the investigation and not to be trite, but squad loyalties are tested. Munch gets his brother Bernie to put on the dog – funeral wise – so that Crosetti can go out in style.

Gee chow chows about his health, his detectives’s clearance rates only to receive some terrible news he must then pass on to Lewis, who flips his shit. Gee struggles to keep his squad together as folks inevitable choose sides as they try to deal with the loss of their own. Gee also seeks a honor funeral for Crosseti with the assistance of Russert, but gets resistance from the BRASS who want nothing to do with any more detective suicides. Frustrated, Gee storms out of the Deputy Commissioner’s office aware that attempt to do right by Crosetti has failed. Gee acknowledges his people (the Italians) are “unforgiving lot, but they make great pasta so it balances out.” getting one of the few LOL moments in an otherwise somber episode.

The dream team is tasked with refreshments and running interference between Lewis and Bolander. Pembleton is disgusted when Crosetti is denied a honor funeral and with Bayliss for three hundred dollars worth of cookies. Despite his anger over the BRASS and drama of Crosetti’s death, Pembleton does right by his fellow detective in a poignant scene that is one of the best moments of the entire show.

Lewis hovers between the first two stages of grief: denial and anger. His feelings interfere with his ability to see the realities of the case and threaten his relationship with Bolander, the primary on the case. Lewis spends much of the episode obstructing the investigation and chasing down hopeless leads. In another heartbreaking scene, Lewis, who has just chewed out Bolander, breaks down when Munch relays the medical examiner’s autopsy results, which reveal that Crosetti drowned due to an overdose of various prescription drugs. Despite their smackdown, it’s Bolander who ends up giving Lewis the emotional support and the space to fully grieve. It should go without saying that Clark Johnson – the actor who plays Lewis – pulls out all the stops on this one. Craft FTW.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2010 10:36 am

    Thank you for the behind-the-scenes dish on Crosetti. I was wondering why “Brother Shamus” disappeared from the show. Is it generally the case that when characters get killed off in established series it’s because of some non-plot-related reason?

  2. April 3, 2010 1:38 pm

    Yes, Brother Shame us was quite the diva. We’ll have to watch the DVD extras.

  3. hsofia permalink
    April 4, 2010 12:07 pm

    Wow; had no idea of the background of Polito’s being written off. It was big of him to acknowledge his mistakes … or at least that’s how I choose to take it. I remember this episode. It was powerful.

  4. April 4, 2010 2:34 pm

    @hsofia – I really like how candid he was regarding this experience. It shows he’s got grit. And he does make it back to H:LOTS so clearly, they kind of moved beyond this incident.

  5. Bayliss permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:35 am

    I cried watching this one — twice — and I’m not ashamed of it. Lewis’s acceptance/Bolander’s compassion — and of course, the salute. THE. BEST. NETWORK. SERIES. EVER.


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