Television review

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The Independent Culture
Anthony's mother regarded her son with total impassivity; her second husband sat in silence, turned away from the action. "I've got a photo of you three together," she said to the puppy-like 26-year-old (referring to him and his two sisters). "You're on the end and I bent it over because it upset me that much." Anthony was abandoned to children's homes at the age of three, receiving no more than 10 visits in his childhood from his parents, never getting birthday presents, never getting Christmas presents. They only really showed interest in having him with them when he was fostered happily by a vicar and his wife. Having reclaimed him, his mother kept him for a week, the father for just one day.

Postcards From The Edge (C4), another strand in the "Broke" season, is a series of essays by photo-journalist Nick Danziger on people living, in one way or another, on the fringes of society. Composed of a combination of black-and-white stills and colour film, it made, as you would expect, depressing viewing. After spending time with Mary, a grandmother in Glasgow's Barrowlands who had witnessed eight of her nine children sliding into heroin addiction and was struggling to bring up her grandweans to a better future, we alighted in Halifax and the life of Anthony, who wanted more than anything to know why his parents had abandoned him. Desperately lonely ("no family, no friends, nothing. 'Why am I here?' sort of thing"), he keeps anything related to his childhood with reverential care and projects familial status on anyone who's kind to him.

Danziger accompanied him on visits to each errant parent. The mother seemed oblivious to anything other than her own feelings in the matter: all she could talk of was how her ex-husband had done her wrong. "Even now I can't look at it [the photo]. It brings back awful memories of what your dad did to us." The father you could only describe as a complete sod. "You're a big lad, aren't you? How old are you?" was his greeting. Why, he was asked, did he fail to turn up to promised visits to his institutionalised son? "Well, that's the circumstances, innit? Beyond your control, as they say... You've never held it against me, have you?" And later, "I have seven other children and four adopted daughters, so trying to remember them all, it does get a bit much."

In spite of all this, Anthony seems to have turned out a nice lad. Even his mother acknowledged this, in a backhanded sort of way: "He's his dad's double, actually. But yeah, a decent young man. Even though you look like your dad." People really don't get the parents they deserve.

More family grief in NYPD Blue (C4). Poor old Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) never seems to be able to sustain a run of luck. Last week, the moustachioed one had a son. This week he lost the other one: Andy Jr, the rookie with the jock haircut, was shot in a robbery. Cue much grinding of teeth, manly embarrassment and crazy camerawork. They really must buy that poor guy a rostrum or a tripod, or something to stop the wobble.

The death of Andy Jr is obviously a bit of a disaster, and not only because it leaves Jimmy Smits as the only faintly attractive man in the cast. It also means that his dad is going to take up his old boozing habits - last night's closing shots showed him perched on a bar-stool with three whiskies in front of him. Watching it, my main emotion was not "oh no, poor Sipowicz" but "oh, no, they're not going to resurrect that plotline, are they?". Sip's last recovery from alcoholism lasted so long it became an almighty bore. Now they're going for a rerun.

Meanwhile, the departure of Donna (Gail O'Grady), the Marilyn Monroe of reception work, was low-key in the extreme. She got a job in California, resigned, wrote notes to everyone and left - they could at least have had a party. Donna is going to be hard to replace: in a series where everyone talks legalese and hides their emotions, she emoted like crazy. And wore such tight belts, as well.