Classic anthology series, which details the personal lives of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department. The stories ranged from highly dramatic to extremely funny. Even though...
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Classic anthology series, which details the personal lives of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department. The stories ranged from highly dramatic to extremely funny. Even though there weren't any real regulars, Don Meredith and Tony LoBianco were often seen throughout the run of the show as detectives Bert Jameson and Tony Calabrese respectively. Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
A fine example of both the strengths and the pitfalls of the anthology series, Police Story was among the highest-rated series of its time. At its worst, the series was as formulaic as most of commercial TV. At its best, it blew a breath of fresh air through mid-70's TV.
Created as a vehicle for writer-turned-producer (and former L.A. cop) Joseph Wambaugh, the best episodes grittily portrayed the life of the street cop--good and bad. Each episode opened and closed with crackling radio calls (Female dispatcher: "John Frank William, 8-9-9). Guest stars ranged from Don Meredith (at the height of his Monday Night Football popularity) to David Birney (as amputee cop "Captain Hook") to a surprising turn by ultra-liberal Ed Asner (as an grinning old cop threatening to blow away one last perp before retiring in "Three Days to Thirty"). The series spawned the silly spin-off "Police Woman"; but it also dealt with cops who thought of their badge as a license to bully ("The Wyatt Earp Syndrome"--so titled because the Standards and Practices department refused to allow Wambaugh to call this episode by its original title--"The John Wayne Syndrome") and undercover cops who were difficult to distinguish from the criminals they pursued ("The Player" with James Farentino).
Wambaugh reportedly tired of the regular infighting such a weekly series required, and semi-retired to a "consultant" status mid-way through the series run; the early episodes are clearly the best. But all are worth watching if only as the precursor which made later shows like St. Elsewhere, L.A. Law, and Homicide possible.
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