Love it or hate it, the unlikely NYPD Blue romance between Dennis Franz's Andy Sipowicz and Charlotte Ross's much-younger (and prettier) Connie McDowell has people once again buzzing about ABC's nine-year-old cop drama. And judging by the show's solid ratings performance this season — which concludes with tonight's two-hour finale (9-11 pm/ET) — the controverisal couple is winning over viewers as well as each other.

"Not to pat myself on the back, but it was my idea [to pair them up]," exec producer Steven Bochco tells TV Guide Online, "and there was an awful lot of resistance to it [from fellow Blue producers]. But I persisted, and since I'm the boss, they had no choice."

Initially, Bochco explains, his colleagues "objected to the clich&#233 of the middle-age mutt and the blonde bombshell. But I had a very, very different idea in mind, which is that in the real world what bonds people is not the superficial stuff of beauty and sex. Certainly, that can be an initiating factor in a relationship, but [this is] a very different dynamic.

"I think it's a very fruitful, adult relationship," he adds. "And my decision was to take an entire year to grow it incrementally and organically, which you almost never see on television."

Well, at least it's not something we're used to seeing in the 15th precinct, which has sparked such torrid — and relatively impulsive — interoffice affairs as those of Simone and Russell (Jimmy Smits and Kim Delaney), Jones and Haywood (Henry Simmons and Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon) and, most recently, Clark and Ortiz (Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jacqueline Obradors).

"We completely contrasted [Sipowicz and McDowell] with the uncomplicated attraction between Clark and Ortiz," Bochco says. "To see that young, fresh, sexually-energized kinetic connection between two people contrasted by two people who have scar tissue and are much older and wiser, more cautious... It's just a fascinating balance."