CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- ABC is expected to announce this week it has renewed its veteran drama "N.Y.P.D. Blue" through the 2004-05 season, the show's 12th, sources close to the series said over the weekend.
The news marks the network's first scripted renewal for the 2004-05 season. ABC apparently had been in talks with 20th Century Fox Television and Steven Bochco Productions for several weeks, with all parties reaching an agreement on Friday. Dennis Franz will also return in his lead role as Andy Sipowicz for the new season, which is expected to be billed as the show's last.
Industry insiders say ABC will pay slightly less than its current $2.2 million per episode license fee for the new batch of 22 episodes.
To date this season, "Blue" has averaged 10.26 million viewers, off a significant 21.20% in year-to-year comparisons (13.02 million). Nevertheless, the long running series remains the Alphabet's most-watched drama.
"Blue" returns from its two-month hiatus this week. ABC had been using the show's Tuesday, 10:00/9:00c time slot to launch the midseason drama "Line of Fire." Interestingly enough, repeats of "Blue" actually have outperformed "Fire" in year-to-year comparisons.
Steven Bochco, Mark Tinker and Bill Clark are the executive producers of "Blue."