Hill Street Blues (TV Series 1981–1987) Poster

(1981–1987)

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Best show of its time - by a long way.
Kane III8 March 1999
In the days of E.R and NYPD Blue, it's hard to remember just how ground-breaking a show HSB was. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The quality of the acting and writing, the documentary look and feel, the seedy broken down environment, the brutally frank situations and language (for the time), the fact that the "bad" guys got away with it as often as not, the huge ensemble cast, the long one-take scenes, the unhappy endings etc. etc.

Needless to say, the American people wanted nothing to do with such quality at first - until it won a record number of Emmys and they couldn't ignore it anymore. If nothing else, this series proved to the networks that quality can sell soap after all.

If you like your E.R. think a kind thought for Hill Street Blues - the series that made it all possible.
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Realistic, ground-breaking police drama
Megabuck26 August 1999
When Hill Street Blues was being made, here in the UK it didn't get networked. Instead, my local commercial station (Central) picked it up and showed it on a Friday night at 11pm. My opinion of the show can be judged from the fact that I used to get home early from the pub to watch it.

It might be a cliche, but this really was a ground-breaking series. Compare it to its forbears, series like Kojak and Starsky & Hutch. Instead of there being three or four central characters, and a single plotline per episode, HSB had a couple of dozen characters and five or six plotlines, each interwoven and often continuing from week to week.

It brought an extra level of realism, too. In previous series, if cops got into a fist fight then they'd remain standing, although maybe with a bloody mouth. If someone got shot, odds on it was the bad guy, with the cops not receiving a scratch.

HSB changed all that. Fights looked real; policemen got shot; the bad guys often got away. And it went beyond that, including police corruption; politics interfering with the job; the way the police reached compromise deals with people like Jesus Martinez, even though he was a gang leader and notionally a 'bad guy'.

You cared about the characters, too. When Joe Coffey got shot, when Esterhaus died, any of a dozen others, they felt like they meant something. This wasn't a show that you watched, then forgot about.

Stephen Bochco went on to series like LA Law, NYPD Blue, Murder One and ER, all of which owe a lot to the style of HSB. It really did break the mould of TV drama; its influence is still clear, even today.
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10/10
This is TV??
epat14 June 2006
Bear with me on a bit of background: For a full decade as a penniless hippie, I didn't have a TV. None of my friends did either. To our minds, TV was a puerile waste of time, pablum for the masses, a substitute for life. Besides, we couldn't afford one. When I settled down tho & my son started going to school, his friends talked constantly about TV programs he knew nothing about. So he wouldn't feel culturally deprived, we decided to get him a little black & white set for his room. Thereafter, whenever I came home from work, I knew where to find my wife & son — both in his room glued to the tube.

One evening I was leaning in the doorway waiting for a commercial so I could talk to them & I got caught up in what they were watching — some tough portly mustached detective had been captured by a lunatic with a shotgun & bound to a chair. Tense! When the commercial did come, I said, "Hey, this is a pretty good movie, what is it?" "That's not a movie", they told me, "it's Hill Street Blues, a TV series!" No way, I thought, they had to be pulling my leg. I couldn't believe TV had reached that level of sophistication. They'd taken your standard soap opera format, where no one character predominates & the interwoven stories carry over from episode to episode, & applied it to cops. Cops lead what has got to be hands-down the most bizarre lifestyle imaginable & the viewer's sense of involvement is certainly heightened by knowing that at any moment one of your favorite characters might be gunned down. The show was brilliant & I was hooked. From there on, I watched every episode of HSB I possibly could.

Years later, suffering thru a near-suicidal post-divorce funk, coming home to the aching loneliness of an empty apartment with not even a dog anymore to wag his tail in greeting, too depressed even to look up old friends let alone make new ones, I found myself watching the show again. They were showing HSB reruns 5 nights a week just then, so I got to spend an hour each evening with all these familiar faces I'd come to know so well & care about, my own grief momentarily forgotten amidst their trials & tribulations. It's the only thing I can recall with any pleasure from that period & it's not much of an exaggeration to say HSB pulled me thru.

So now that the series is finally being released on DVD, I'm pre-ordering it as fast as it comes out. Seeing it again now, I'm much more aware of its flaws — improbable scenes like the EATers shooting up that liquor shop in the very first episode & other contrived situations that strain to produce a few chuckles. Yet I like it all the more for that; it transcends such flaws so easily. Watching it now for maybe the 4th or 5th time, I'm still amazed at the depth & range of characterization, not to mention the added kick of spotting well-known actors like Danny Glover, Forest Whitaker & David Caruso who appeared on the show before they made it big. More sophisticated shows now like NYPD Blue, ER & Sopranos may make HSB seem dated by comparison, but they would never even have existed if HSB hadn't led the way. Not for nothing was it one of the longest-running dramas on TV.

I still don't think much of TV, but Hill Street Blues will always hold a special place in my heart.
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Very Real and Authentic
Me Grimlock12 July 2002
Hill Street Blues was an unconventional cop show for the '80s, and even today. Why? Because it was real. Well as real as you can get with a TV show, without taking some liberties ofcourse. Unlike Miami Vice, T.J. Hooker or Hunter, HSB had a lot of detail and accuracy.

Sure Miami Vice was an entertaining show, but only for being stylish and hip for it's time. HSB didn't try to be cool, it tried to be accurate. Miami Vice and all the other cop shows and cop movies of the '80s, '90s and today are extremely fake in the way they present themselves, going more for a target demographic then bothering to portray how things operate in our world. In the real world, cops in America aren't wearing Armani suits and constantly trying to bust Columbian drug dealers and their shipment of cocaine while spitting out mile a minute obscure metaphors and similies that take us a few seconds to figure out. If you want to see the way REAL COPS in America speak, act and carry themselves through real crime cases, then watch HSB. You won't be dissapointed.
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In the past. Where it shouldn't be.
sean.littletribefilms14 December 2000
I remember coming home from swimming in the evening, waiting to see Hill Street Blues. My mum would hold my hand as I walked down the street, just as the lady did at the begining of HSB when the police car is driving in the snow the camera picks up on a lady and her child walking down the street, reminds me of me and my mum. The programme was ace, just too dam good. Television today has a lot to learn. One thing I will always remember about that show was the music, it was so sad, but lovely to hear. p.s I wonder where that boy and mother are now?
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10/10
Fantastic after all these years
info-820-38125910 September 2010
I recently began watching this show again in re-runs and find it every bit as compelling now as when it originally aired. The writing is gritty and realistic and the story lines often have a universality one doesn't find in other shows, then or now. It maintains a break-neck pace that is always involving. The acting is so consistently excellent that I find it hard to pinpoint a favorite character. It's also fascinating to see the number of actors here, some guesting, some series regulars, who have gone on to greater fame - Alfre Woodard, Dennis Franz, David Caruso, Lawrence Fishburne, Jennifer Tilley, Don Cheadle, Tim Robbins, Mykelti Williamson, Ken Olin, Jane Kaczmarek and many more.
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10/10
Grrrrrrrrrrrr!! This was Chicago by the way!!
dataconflossmoor19 July 2007
Tough cops are everywhere!! This series did not officially designate a city in which it took place, but, all indications point to "Hill Street Blues" being set in the city of Chicago!! The Old Style beer sign outside one of the bars that the television audience saw during the introduction of the show sort of gave it away!! I loved this show, the cast was a big reason!! Daniel Travanti was extremely likable just by virtue of the fact that he was very faulted!! Veronica Hamel, was the hard working feminist D. A. who attempted to dissect reality, it then became a moot question as to whether or not she would be able to stomach it!! Ed Marinaro was terrific as a Chicago cop, this is absolutely remarkable considering the fact that he was a professional football player from New York!! Betty Thomas was the ideal prototype for a lady cop!! Kiel Martin was perfect as the sleaze ball working on the right side of the law!! Last but not least, Bruce Wietz, "Grrrrrrrr!!" he added an astutely hilarious perspective to the series through his portrayal as the undercover guy!! One time, Kathy Bates played his sister, she also made the noise "Grrrrrrrr!!" and used the term "dog breath". "Hill Street Blues" was enormously popular throughout the entire eighties decade because, it depicted tragedy in a manner which portrayed it as something that does not simply disappear!! Part of NBC's powerful Thursday night line-up, it always highlighted the bothersome travesties which afflicted a precinct in a poverty ridden section of the city!! So many ideas seemed complicated, until the figureheads of the law came to grips with the fact that there was no solution to most crimes, just aspects of mollification to them!! The prevailing circumstances of adversity on this program are what gave all of the characters in the show "Hill Street Blues" a tailor made invitation to seek amelioration for their actions!! Many situations that are very sad remain that way for both sides!! Victims of their environment turned criminals by default, as well as the detectives and policemen, all seem to be making deals with the devil!! Before "Law and Order", before "L A Law", there was "Hill Street Blues"... Reality is nauseating, reality is humorous, reality is perverse, reality has a definite monotony, and, in this case, reality for effective television programming was "Hill Street Blues". I thought this television show was one of the best ever!! I wish there could be more shows like "Hill Street Blues" on prime time television today!! "Hill Street Blues" was a definite winner!!
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Unsurpassed
nickwillder29 September 2001
An American cop show - who'd have thought an American cop show of all things could exemplify the best of television. From the land that gave us the pits of tv (have you seen Donahue?) there comes, once in a while, a beacon of greatness. The last episode of M*A*S*H, and the whole of HSB make the invention of television worthwhile.
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The greatest show ever
Jacqui-1414 April 2002
No one will ever come close to making such a down to earth drama.In any other show, the re-use of actors to play different characters would have never worked. Dennis Franz as both Bennedetto and Norman Buntz is only one of many examples. And for the gentleman who wanted to know the leader of the Shamrocks, it was none other than David Caruso, who was John Kelly in the first season of NYPD Blue. Bochco has many uses for the great actors he comes in contact with, even his own wife!!! Who can forget Faye Furrillo shreiking "Let me tell you something Mister". It is a wonder he slept at night!! I have almost every episode on tape, if someone has them all please contact me Thanks Jacqui
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An Island in the Sea of Madness
Brian Washington12 September 2003
During an era of cop shows where the main characters were often portrayed as superheroes or as charicatures, this priceless classic was born. For the first time since the days of Jack Webb and Joseph Wambaugh, we finally had a show that showed police as real people with all the faults and failings that all people had. You had Furillo, who was a recovering alcoholic, Renko and Hill, who were dealing with their own fears, Hunter, the reactionary head of the S.W.A.T. team, Bates, who just wanted to prove that she was a good police officer as well as a woman, Belker, the maniacal undercover cop, and of course the fatherly Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, the father figure for the whole squad. This show definitely set the stage for shows like N.Y.P.D. Blue and the Law and Order franchise and will always be a classic.
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The Divine Dramedy
Jason Daniel Baker24 November 2012
Each episode of the critically acclaimed series begins with another morning at the office at the Chicago Police Department's Hill Street precinct.

Overworked, underpaid, understaffed and under equipped the boys and girls in blue do their best to put on a decent show of fighting crime whilst under continual threat of violence from many of the craziest criminals on earth.

The guy in charge of this circus is less of a ringmaster and more of a lion-tamer. His name is Captain Frank Furillo (Daniel J.Travanti). Soft-spoken and diplomatic he, at first, doesn't strike the viewer as having the intestinal fortitude to be a cop let alone one in charge of a precinct.

Brow-beaten by public defender Joyce Davenport (Veronica Hamel) then by his crazy ex-wife Fay (Barbara Bosson) Furillo looks even less formidable and his very manhood is called into question by his psycho SWAT team commander Lt. Howard Hunter (James B.Sikking).

After seeing him stare down the barrel of a gun during a hostage crisis then shield a couple of kids with his body so they don't get hit by machine gun fire we are able to formulate a more balanced assessment of Furillo. This is the most genuine kind of hero. He exemplifies the best qualities of the men and women who serve under his command and leads by example.

It is evident that both cops and criminals coming through Hill Street precinct are there due to varying degrees of insanity. Furillo's own psychosis is perhaps the same as that of the public defender - he thinks that he is making a difference for the better. After what we have seen him do it is difficult to argue that he is wrong.

This was a cop show unlike any other that people had seen before. Part comedy and part soap opera set against the back-drop of an environment viewers were used to seeing simplistic good vs evil narratives and dispassionate procedurals got something of greater complexity.

With sombre strokes of piano keys the understated yet resilient tone of the title theme better matches the continuing narratives of this series than that of most other shows though the mixture of mellotron and orchestra may seem a tad pretentious.
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9/10
Hill Street Blues - Gritty, funny and at times really sad.
escapeintofilms1 February 2011
This series really takes me back, it is without doubt one of my all time favourites. Rarely have I ever been on such a roller coaster of emotion following the story lines of some of these characters.

My favourite has to be Mick Belker, it took a while to get with his character but once you do it will leave you feeling that he is the type of guy you might want in your corner.

This was by far the first of its type in the UK, not too sure about other US offerings around that time period as this was definitely pre-internet. Just glad this was snapped up by channel 4.

"Let's be careful out there"!
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10/10
Beats most cop shows of today!
Syl2 September 2002
Hill Street Blues is perhaps the best cop drama in television history. It was groundbreaking then and now! It is well-casted with a diverse ensemble. The writing is unbelievably brilliant enough to stand two decades. This is what classic shows are about. It is now seen frequently on Bravo with a fantastic theme song. The cast like Daniel J. Travanti, Veronica Hamel, Barbara Bosson, Betty Thomas, Dennis Franz, Ed Marinaro, and so many others perform brilliantly to make this show likable. The characters are real, candid, rather than just stereotypes. Watching most shows today, I miss the golden age of eighties television where the best shows like Hill Street Blues completed the NBC lineup. It was never a ratings winner but the network kept a quality show like this on to win countless awards including Emmys and Golden Globes. NBC in their Golden Age allowed Hill Street Blues and shows like St. Elsewhere and L.A. Law to flourish without worrying about ratings. Too bad, they still do not exist anymore. While the shows are now produced by networks who do a terrible show, a show like Hill Street Blues would never be approved or foreseen as a brilliant show.
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8/10
Cop Soap Opera
bkoganbing4 July 2008
What Steven Bochco did in Hill Street Blues for the Eighties was later perfected in NYPD Blue for the Nineties. It was the concept of a police soap opera. The accent in Hill Street Blues was more on character development than on action, though there certainly was enough of that.

You had about 10 to 12 regulars on the show, some didn't make it through the seven year run of the series and were replaced by others. A few of the regulars were killed off, one Michael Conrad as Sergeant Esterhaus actually did die during the run and had to be written out. But that was like life itself.

We got to know the police and assorted folks at the Hill Street precinct, their problems and frustrations with their job and with every day life. Presiding over it all was Daniel J. Travanti as Captain Frank Furillo, a man with a broken marriage which he healed with Veronica Hamel and a drinking problem which he healed with Alcoholics Anonymous. He was a real human being, but a flawed one.

All of them were flawed in some way which was what I liked about the show. Rene Enriquez as Lieutenant Cayateno was a Latino who may or may not have been advanced due to an unofficial affirmative action policy by the department. He knew it and was trying extra hard to prove he was up to the job for real.

Kiel Martin was detective J.D. LaRue also with a drinking problem. It took him a couple of seasons to get into Alcoholics Anonymous and I still remember the episode at his first meeting when he saw Travanti there.

Veronica Hamel was cool, professional, and drop dead gorgeous. She was a Legal Aid attorney by day and later the second Mrs. Furillo. You can see why Travanti was so attracted to her. First wife Barbara Bosson was the neurotic's neurotic. Maybe it was the pressure of being a cop's wife, but I suspect quite a bit more drove Furillo from here. Bosson later became a victim's advocate and as one who worked in that field, I can tell you that you have a few neurotics working there just like Faye Furillo.

James Sikking was Lieutenant Howard Hunter who had a mask of confidence and unflappability to hide some insecurities. He was constantly sucking up and not above disparaging a few colleagues to push himself up in the department.

Ed Marinaro was Officer Joe Coffey, an all American type former football player as he was in real life. There was a great episode where he busts his former high school coach for patronizing some street kids. Made him reevaluate a few things.

We got to know all these guys inside and out, but my favorite on the show was Bruce Weitz as undercover Detective Mick Belker. That man looked like he lived in a sewer, but that's what made him so effective in dealing with lowlifes and making arrests. It was like Belker found his niche in life and I don't think he was interested in promotion or advancement. In many ways he was the most well adjusted character on the show.

Cops really became three dimensional on this show more than any other up to that time. Bochco had no ending episode for Hill Street Blues, the last episode was like any other day at the Hill Street precinct. With the deaths of Michael Conrad, Rene Enriquez, and Kiel Martin, I'm sure that mitigated against any revival episode. But this is one series I wouldn't mind seeing a twenty year anniversary with some of the surviving regulars.

I'll bet there are a lot of fans who'd like to know what the Hill Street precinct is like in the 21st century.
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You can't beat it
Jose E15 February 2002
This show started airing in my country when I was in my early teens, and before long I became hooked. Now that most of TV stuff is utter crap I remember Hill Street Blues once in a while, wondering why most of current shows are so bad.

Hill Street Blues was and will be the best and most realistic show ever made about the day-to-day life in a police station. The characters were believable, and so were the storylines. I definitely can say I miss it.

10/10.
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More than just a ground-breaking show
niara14 July 2004
This TV series is a testament to Brandon Tartikoff, who was then head of Entertainment at NBC, who championed this show and stayed with it because he knew that this was a groundbreaking show.

I remember watching the pilot for this show way back in high school. It was unlike anything I had ever seen on television. I remember the episode when the characters Renko and Bobby Hill were shot and lying in the hallway, and you had no idea if they were alive or dead. I remember gasping out loud. Stuff like that just wasn't on TV at the time.

Ensemble casts, story lines that continued for weeks at a time, and truly compelling, realistic writing. Television was pretty much a wasteland back in 1981 -- and unfortunately, has gotten far, far worse -- and this show, which took a year to find a permanent spot on NBC's lineup and introduced the whole concept of the landmark Thursday night at 10 pm drama on NBC.

Another testament to this show is that in one year every single Emmy nomination for the outstanding supporting actor in a drama series category was for a cast member from Hill Street Blues. That was, and still is, unprecedented stuff. I had the pleasure of taping the show as it came on late night on one of the local channels here in NYC several years ago. Brilliant, and still holds up well. What I would give for something similar to blanket the vapid horizon that is network television today.
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A series well worth your time and investment
Surfer-2327 December 1999
"Hill Street Blues" was about a busy police station in the heart of a great unnamed city, though it was clear that the city had more than a passing resemblance to Chicago. The cast was very large, headed by Daniel J. Travanti as Capt. Frank Furillo.

Though immediately groundbreaking, the series took about a season to hit its stride. The early episodes, for example, showed Frank as something of a superman, an officer who could handle the precinct's problems, dispense wisdom and counsel to his men, and even negotiate in fluent Spanish with gangsters over the loudspeaker. He later became much more quiet and withdrawn, even purposely dull at times, but nevertheless remained an extremely strong presence in the station.

It would require pages and pages to do full justice to "Hill Street Blues," since the characters and stories were often so interesting, and also because there were so many of both of them. The people and situations were very believable, sometimes disturbingly so. The endings were not always happy and the cops did not always get their man. Corruption and incompetence were shown as very real parts of organizational life. Sometimes even recurring characters who were brought in for comic relief would end up being killed. But most people at the Hill Street station had faith that they were making a difference in the community, and that drove them forward.

The acting was, for the most part, phenomenal, and the sense of realism superb. When the officers were on the street, you really believed they were on patrol. The interaction among the characters could occasionally drift toward soap opera, but the writing was nevertheless a far cut above almost anything else before or since. Shock was used sparingly and effectively, and the series relied more on different ways of developing similar plot lines (robbery, shootings, etc.) than on always trying to "out-do" the bizarre storyline from the previous week (a very unfortunate trend in 90s series).

"Hill Street Blues" was an excellent police drama, and an excellent series.
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Simply The best
crazymike23 February 2000
Well there isn't much to say about this Tv series, It's the best tv series ever. I've seen great movies and great tv series but all of them had small things that could be improved on. On Hill Street Blues this doesn't happen because it's perfect. The casting is perfect and the dialogs are simply superb.
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9/10
Streets ahead
jc-osms28 March 2010
My favourite 80's drama is getting a from-the-start re-run on my local regional channel and I couldn't be happier. Back then my brother and I thought so much of it that we'd tape two episodes back to back and meet up every second Saturday watching them like a film - great memories.

And d'you know what, it still stands up showing that class lasts. With constantly over-running scenes, overlapping dialogue and carry-over sub-plots from one show to the next, it took very little time for me to get hooked again, now as then.

It goes without saying that the ensemble acting is great and though every one will have their own favourite character, I can't look past Daniel J Travanti as the calm at the centre of the storm, the imperturbable Frank Furillo.

The plots mix tragedy and comedy, drama and the mundane so that you feel that you are the fly on the wall yourself. It deserved everyone of its numerous awards and the only mystery to me is that none of the actors seem to have really broken into Hollywood movie-making unlike say Denzel Washington or David Morse from its sister show, hospital drama "St Elsewhere". Anyway I hope all the actors are still in work (see, I still care about them), either way this great show remains a testimony to a programme where everyone seemed on their game all the time.

Oh and it has a theme-tune title-sequence you'll not want to fast forward past!
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10/10
".....Remember, Let's be careful out there!", and "....Okay, Let's do it to them before they do it to us!"-----'Immortal Wisdom from Desk Sergeants Estherhaus and Jablonski..
John T. Ryan10 September 2007
The earliest days of television saw the beginnings of Network Programing in its various forms and Genres. In those days prior to the introduction of Video Tape, circa 1958, the programs fell into one of three categories: Live programing, kinescope films and the standard filmed TV Series.So we had News, Variety, Drama,Sports and "Local Chit-Chat(a mixture of mostly Local "Soft" News and Personal Appearances by Celebs , who just happen to be in the area.

Later in the mid-1950's, we saw that the Juvenile Western Shows like THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, ROY ROGERS & DALE EVANS and THE LONE RANGER gave rise to a new, revolutionary idea(for TV). Some one out there in TV land came up with the idea of doing "The Adult Western"! Now to this of course, doesn't mean X Ratings or the old "Adults Only!" designation. The Adult Western meant a mature, more realistic, and meatier in characters and storyline.

Other actors on the series are: Kiel Martin, Taurean Blacque, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, Betty Thomas, Rene Enriquez, Ed Marinairo, Robert Hirshfeld and so many more who came and left the cast during a 7 year run!

Once the 'Adult Western' cat was out of the bag, with GUNSMOKE(?), a great population explosion of Western Primetime Series occurred. Soon the Adult Western was the leading genre of filmed series on the air.

Well by the mid-1970's, the tide had turned radically. At one point the only series that was even set on the American Frontier was LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. The new "Western" was The Cop Shw. Now, we do mean Police and not the Private 'I' series, which is similar and definitely related. With the coming of HILL STREET BLUES in 1981, a new pinnacle was reached. Until then, most series either were so involved in the activities of the bad time and the Cops (usually Detectives) working the cases.

Conversation between partners often times sounded a lot like it could be used in a training manual or training film. This seemed to be a particularly hard problem with any series involving the backbone of our Polioce Departments, the Uniformed Beat Cops.

Producer/Creator Steven Bochco's inhabitants of HILL STREET were a great improvement and an advancement for all series dramas. Bochco gave the characters 3 Dimensional Personalities, rather than being like comic strip/comic book cartoon characters, talking in formal Police Jargon about Police situations.

HILL STREET introduced the full person to the TV screen. So, if a guy's a Cop, could he be an Oprea Buff or sing with a Barber Shop Quartet society group? Could he have a side business or be a Brick Layer? Whatta bout any Pilots or Scuba Divers?*** And even more importantly, we get a view of personal lives of the men and women of the Precinct. We see divorces, alcoholism, on-the job affairs and all manner of problems that are with us in real life. Early on, they dealt with a Detective McAffey and his being married to 2 women at once. The original Desk Sgt. Phil Esterhaus discovers that an old friend of his is a homosexual and has been paying a lot of attention to him. Sgt. Stan 'Stash" Jablonski(Robert Prosky) comes transferred to the station on bad paper concerning him and a certain Female Lieutennant.

THe whole zoo is presided over by one Captain Frank Furillo(Daniel J. Travante) who is not without his foibles. Favourite characters include:Sgt./Lt. Howard Hunter(James B. Sikking) G.I. type head of the Precinct's Emergency Action Teamor "EATERS", PO's Bobby Hill & Andy Renko (Michael Warren & Charles Haid) a salt-n-pepper pair of Street Smart kids, now grown up, Two special mentions for women characters go to: Fay Furillo(Barbara Bosson) Capt. Frank's ex, and A.D.A.Joyce Davenportand (hey,ain't a Davenport a name for sofa-hide-a-bed?) .
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10/10
Remembering the police drama Hill Street Blues on its 35th anniversary
rcj53651 November 2016
The series "Hill Street Blues" premiered on NBC's Prime Time schedule on January 15,1981 as the mid-season replacement for two canceled NBC shows("A Man Called Sloane" and "Good Time Harry")that became one of the greatest police dramas of the 1980's that was nominated for an impressive 98 Prime Time Emmys and was victorious in winning 8 Prime Time Emmys during its first season for Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing and Direction, Outstanding Actor in a Prime Time Series, Outstanding Actress in a Prime Time Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Prime Time Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Prime Time Series. This was debut season record that was held until 2000 when another critically acclaimed NBC series "The West Wing" surpassed it winning 9 Prime Time Emmys for Outstanding Television Series. "Hill Street Blues" was nominated for 4 Golden Globes and was victorious in winning 3 Golden Globes in 1982, 1983 and 1984 for Best Outstanding Television Series.

For the seven seasons and 146 episodes it produced while on the air the series aired as the mid-season replacement on January 15,1981 where it aired on Thursday nights at the 10:00 eastern/9:00 central time slot until January 17,1981 when the network moved the series to Saturday nights until March 21,1981. Then NBC moved "Hill Street Blues" again from Saturday nights to Tuesday nights in order to save it from cancellation within its first season where it was placed at the 9:00 eastern/8:00 central time slot from March 28,1981 until May 26,1981. Then from Seasons 2 thru 6, the show was placed on Thursday nights in Prime-Time becoming one of NBC's "Must See" dramas on it's successful prime time line-up at the 10:00 eastern/9:00 central time slot where it remained from October 29,1981 until April 3,1986. By the show's seventh and final season saw the show remaining on Thursday nights on October 2,1986 until November 27,1986 on the same exact time slot. Then on December 2,1986 it moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights from March 3,1987 until the series finale on May 12,1987.

"Hill Street Blues" was the brainchild of creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoil(who also served as executive producers of this series) along with producer Gregory Hoblit. The series was produced by MTM Productions(Mary Tyler Moore's production company and then ex-husband Grant Tinker). MTM Productions not only created Mary Tyler Moore's sitcom of the 1970's but also created "The White Shadow","Newhart", "Rhoda","St. Elsewhere", "Remington Steele", "WKRP In Cincinnati","The Tony Randall Show",and "The Bob Newhart Show" just to name a few. Interesting point about the actors associated with "Hill Street Blues". out of the 146 episodes it produced only actors Daniel J. Travanti, Veronica Hamel, Micheal Conrad, Michael Warren, Betty Thomas, Joe Spano, Charles Haid, Dennis Franz, Bruce Weitz, Jon Cypher, Taurean Blacque and Kiel Martin were with the series throughout its entire seven season run.

It's evident that this series had some of the best writers that gave this series the must see television of the decade ranging from the creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoil along with Dick Wolf, David Milch, Anthony Yerkovich, Jeffrey Lewis, David Mamet, Walon Green, Robert Ward and had top notch directors from Christian Nyby, David Anspaugh, Thomas Carter, George Stanford-Brown, Bill Duke, Stan Lathan, Jack Starlett, Corey Allen, Alexander Singer, Gabrielle Beaumont, Randa Haines, Oz Scott, Arnold Laven, Don Weis, Rick Wallace, and Robert Butler who contribute to some of the fantastic and riveting episodes this series had.

Top notch guest stars from David Caruso, James Remar, Howard Rollins, Alfre Woodard, Frances McDormand, Lauren Holly, Jennifer Tilly, Lindsay Crouse, Dan Hedaya, Jane Kaczmarek, Linda Hamilton, Danny Glover, Michael Lerner, Reni Santoni, Gregory Sierra, Clarence Williams III, Anne-Marie Johnson, Edward James Olmos, Chris Noth, Dolph Sweet, Ally Sheedy, Michael Biehn, Joe Santos, Eric Laneuville, CCH Pounder, to Lynn Whitfield, Garrett Morris, James Avery, Charles Hallahan, Mimi Rogers, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jill Eikenberry, Cuba Gooding Jr., Richard Bull, Robert Pastorelli, Alex Hyde-White, Beah Richards, Richard Romanus, Hector Elizondo, Steven Bauer, Hal Williams, Robert Davi, Scatman Crothers, Yaphet Kotto, James Murtaugh, Joanna Kerns, Don Cheadle, Dwight Schultz, Dana Elcar, Laurence Fishburne, Moses Gunn, to Beverly Todd, Keenen Ivory-Wayans, Patricia Wettig, Val Bisoglio, and Michael Ironside just to name a few of the great guest stars this series had.

From the best episodes I will start with the riveting pilot that started it all "Hill Street Station". Other great episodes "What Are Friends For?"(Season 6, Episode 9); "It Ain't Over Till It's Over'(Season 7, Episode 22); "Grace Under Pressure"(Season 4, Episode 14); "Trial By Fury"(Season 3, Episode 1); "Freedom's Last Stand"(Season 2, Episode 11); "The Rise and Fall of Paul The Wall"(Season 5, Episode 10) and many more great episodes that made "Hill Street Blues" one of the best cop dramas of the 1980's.

When NBC abruptly canceled this critically acclaimed series after seven seasons and 146 episodes, it didn't take the powers that be over at NBC long to find its replacement that also created and produced by Steven Bochco that also became NBC's "Must See" drama of the late-1980's and early-1990's which was "L.A. Law"
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10/10
The reinvention of the cop dramas...Remembering Hill Street Blues on its 35th anniversary
raysond1 November 2016
When it comes to outstanding dramas no one will ever come close to one of the greatest cop dramas of the 1980's perhaps the best police drama in television history. "Hill Street Blues" was indeed groundbreaking and realistic in its portrayal of the men and women who put there lives on the line everyday in order to protect and serve the citizens of the city. When "Hill Street Blues" burst onto the scene as a mid-season replacement in January of 1981, no one had never seen a show like this before and it reinvented the cop show genre like no other. Hand-held cameras,stories that lasted multiple episodes and large ensemble casts were pretty new to audiences but it didn't click at first. Ratings for the first season of the series were so low that cancellation seemed imminent. But through critical acclaim,the show grew to become one of the defining shows of the decade,one that set the standard for police dramas to follow. Despite incredibly low ratings during its first season, it surprised audiences and critics alike when "Hill Street Blues" won eight Prime Time Emmy Awards in 1981,breaking the record for the most Emmy wins for a show's first season. That record stood until 2000 when another critically acclaim NBC drama "The West Wing" surpassed it.

"Hill Street Blues" premiered in prime time on January 15,1981 as the mid-season replacement for two canceled NBC shows("A Man Called Sloane" and "Good Time Harry")and from the first episode became one of the biggest hits in the history of NBC that was nominated for an impressive 98 Prime Time Emmys and was victorious in winning 8 Prime Time Emmys for Outstanding Drama Series,Outstanding Writing and Direction,Outstanding Actor, Outstanding Actress,Outstanding Supporting Actor,Outstanding Supporting Actress and was nominated for 4 Golden Globes winning 3 Golden Globes in 1982,1983 and 1984 for Best Outstanding Drama Series. For the seven seasons and 146 episodes it produced the show became part of NBC's "Must See Thursday Line-Up" of prime time shows that included "Cheers","Family Ties","Night Court" and "The Cosby Show" for all of Seasons 1 thru 6. The seventh and final season saw the series moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights in mid-season until May 12,1987. The show was produced by MTM Productions(Mary Tyler Moore's production company and her ex-husband Grant Tinker) the company that not only produced "The Mary Tyler Moore Show",but also produced "The White Shadow", "St. Elsewhere", "Newhart","Remington Steele", "WKRP In Cincinnati",and also "Rhoda" just to name a few.

"Hill Street Blues" was the brainchild of creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoil and was set somewhere in the fictional police headquarters of a large metro city(taking place on the mean streets of Chicago)and it dealt with the men and women of the police department taking on the baddies,but it was way more than that and took it's characters to even more dealt than any show like it. The characters are real,candid and rather than just stereotypes that had real problems and realistic situations. The writers who were behind this series consisted of Anthony Yerkovich, David Mamet,Steven Bochco, Micheal Kozoli, Dick Wolf, Walon Green, Jeffrey Lewis, David Milch and top notch directors from Gregory Hoblit, Christian Nyby, Rick Wallace, Thomas Carter, Gabrielle Beaumont, John Patterson, Stan Lathan, George Stanford-Brown, Corey Allen, Don Weis, Oz Scott, Bill Duke, Randa Haines, Arnold Laven and Alexander Singer.

Big time guest stars ranged from David Caruso, Talia Balsam, Meg Tilly, Anne-Marie Johnson, Howard Rollins, Frances McDormand, Lindsay Crouse, Alfre Woodard, Morgan Woodward, Jennifer Tilly, Linda Hamliton, Danny Glover, Michael Lerner, Chris Noth, Dolph Sweet, James Remar, Ally Sheedy, Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Biehn, CCH Pounder, Ron O'Neal, Lynn Whitfeld, James Avery, Meshach Taylor, Alan Autry, Steven Bauer, Hector Elizondo, Yaphet Kotto, Joanna Kerns, Don Cheadle, Clarence Williams III, Laurence Fishburne, Ralph Manza, Lauren Holly, to Renny Roker, Lynne Moody, Lee Weaver, Jane Kaczmarek, and Mykelti Williamson just to name a few of the great actors who were guest stars on this series. When NBC abruptly canceled "Hill Street Blues" after seven seasons and 146 episodes,it didn't them executives in charge of prime-time programming long to find its replacement that was also under Steven Bochco that was also critically acclaim...."L.A. Law" that premiered in the fall of 1987.
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10/10
Thank you Decades TV
pensman17 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't seen this show since it went off but this January 2016, Decades TV is running a look back and I haven't been able to change the channel. A lot of TV does not age well and there are times I wonder why I ever watched a show. But the acting here is still terrific and the writing almost prescient. Perhaps Bruce Weitz's Belker is over the top but does provide comic relief in a show that is gritty even by cable show standards. Travanti is still great as the idealistic cop stuck in an ugly precinct and trying hard not to let the muck suck him down. And the rest of the cast just brings non stop talent to the small screen: Michael Warren, Joe Spano, Kiel Martin, Betty Thomas, Charles Haid, Michael Conrad,James Sikking, and Veronica Hamel. By any standard this was quality TV and I hope others get a chance to either discover it or rediscover it.
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8/10
A groundbreaking show of the early 80's
calvinnme25 July 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was lucky enough to be able to follow this show from the beginning, and it was truly unlike any police show that had been on TV up to that point. When Hill Street premiered in January 1981, cable had just begun to become available to most homes, and so most cop shows up to that point had been network fare looking for mass appeal that were either overserious ala "Dragnet", comical ala "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Car 54", or just over the top ala "The Mod Squad".

Hill Street was completely different. It showed the hopeless poverty of those living in the run-down Hill Street precinct, the shaken rape victims immediately after the crime, the ups and downs of the various partnerships among the officers, and the personal lives of the members of the force. The only brave act Hill Street never performed was actually NAMING the city in which the drama was playing out. With all of the snow, the entrenched bureaucracy, and with neighborhoods with names such as "Midtown", I can only imagine this must have been New York City, but for some reason producer Bochco never actually named the location.

The series was one of the first to regularly employ hand-held cameras to give the show a fly-on-the-wall, documentary feel, but this technique was not overused. Also, the show pulled no punches on the personal lives of the characters. During the first season LaRue descends from a somewhat slimy charmer to a completely pickled bum, and Hill and Renko's doubts and fears after being gunned down help to humanize roles that up to that time had often been wrapped up in macho posturing.

One of the lighter sides of season one is forty-something Phil Esterhaus trying to decide between his eighteen year old girlfriend Cindy and the fortiesh and erotic Grace Gardner who is trying to make up for lost time at a pace that would probably even seem extreme to Hugh Hefner. Another funny moment is when Esterhaus ends roll call by saying that he has been ordered to inspect the officers for "unusual weapons." The cops bring out hunting knives, switchblades, and sawed-off shotguns, throwing them on a table. As Esterhaus continues his announcements, the officers return their brass knuckles and other contraband weapons to their pockets. Comedy sometimes turns to tragedy, though, such as when Belker keeps apprehending a fellow who thinks he is a comic book crimefighter and when asked for his name keeps giving his comic book name. Eventually, though, the caped crimefighter runs across a criminal who doesn't get the joke and he is killed.

The one aspect of Hill Street that never really made sense to me was the couple of Frank Furillo and Joyce Davenport. With Frank overseeing the police officers that tend to the mayhem that is the world of crime-ridden Hill Street, and Joyce as public defender doing her best to free every criminal no matter how guilty, I can't imagine why they would ever want to have anything to do with one another socially, assuming they truly believed in what they were doing on the job.

As a final point, if you haven't seen this show since it first aired 34 years ago, you're going to notice a lot of not-yet stars that were playing guest spots during this first season. These include David Caruso who later starred on Bochco's NYPD Blue, Tim Daly of "Wings", Michael Tucker of Bochco's "L.A. Law", and a young Danny Glover as a very scary gang member. I highly recommend Hill Street Blues whether you have seen it before or it is all new to you.

Just one more thing, if you are younger you may scratch your head when watching this and say - "I've seen this kind of stuff all before, nothing new here". That's because so many police procedurals patterned themselves after this show that this technique is no longer new, but in 1981 it was ground breaking, the granddaddy of what you watch today.
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10/10
Hill Street Blues : The Screen Police
happipuppi1314 July 2015
First off ,happy to see that only 1 person made a negative review.

It's nice to see that time hasn't taken anything away from the love people have for this show. It has been said by some that the show is dated and doesn't hold up well but hey ,the show was created nearly 35 years ago. You can't fault it because it doesn't look like a modern police force.

(Now here's why I gave my review it's title.)

To be certain ,in 1980 ,the way police were portrayed on TV needed to change ..a lot. Not to put down my favorites growing up but ,TV cops then were :

Known by name and "cool" reputation. Were 'tough' and could out-shoot all bad guys. Were 'buddies' or close with their partner but both still kicked tail. Some were humorous or a joke like "CHIPS" or the police on "The Dukes Of Hazzard."

In short ,despite 70s cop shows being action packed and maybe even sometimes 'attempting' to put a more human face on the men (and women) in blue ,they fell short in many ways.

So much ,that a lot of the shows all started to match tone and execution. They had good true to life stories to work from ,no question. They could get pretty gritty & a bit dark...but by the end of the 1970s ,just about all of these shows ended their run ,becazuse they were so alike in that way.

Even the great 'Hawaii Five 0' ended in 1980.

So, this ,in the crime-drama field ,left a big gap to fill. In 1980 ,along comes Brandon Tartikoff ,the new head of the otherwise 'still' laughable NBC network. He contacts MTM productions (MTM ,then known more for sitcoms than drama) to make a dramatic police series. MTM gives the assignment to Steven Bochco & Michael Kozoll.

Bocho & all involved pretty much know that this series 'has' to be different and not the type of police drama viewers have seen for years. A new decade means a new direction in every sense of the word.

Bochco, had the idea to fashion the series into story "arcs". Robert Butler directed the pilot, giving it a truly unique (for TV)look & style. This was inspired by the 1977 documentary "The Police Tapes", in which a hand-held camera follows police officers in the South Bronx. (Butler went on to direct the first four episodes of the series.)

At the start of the 1980-1981 season ,the most 'serious/realistic' drama NBC had was "Quincy M.E." with Jack Klugman ,where he solves a crime every week ,despite being a coroner/medical examiner.

Hill Street was filmed in early '80 but held back so it wouldn't be a casualty among the new shows debuting. (The season started late ,in November ,due to the actors strike and many new series failed just the same.)

On January 15th ,1981 much of that damage had passed and any viewer who tuned in to see Hill Street Blues that Thurday night ,knew instantly ,it was going to be a different show. The unmistakably mellow ,light jazz theme by Mike Post said it all. "We're not trying to hit you over the head with this."

The opening credits as well.... Not screeching cars and foot chases but just images of the streets and the station house and the actors names.

Hill Street's style ,in terms of it's actors and their characters ,plus how the stories were presented ,were the blueprint for how many dramas (both police and standard) would be for years to come.

The police officers in this show don't always win and some get hurt & wounded quite badly to a level of critical.

They're allowed to be human and we see that side of them in their private lives as well. Thankfully not in soap-opera or overly dramatic fashion. ...but in real everyday human standards.

1993's NYPD Blue would go even further with these things later but Hill Street Blues was the show that took the police crime-drama genre by the collar and told it to grow up.

In doing so ,it made law -enforcement something to take seriously again ,as the 1960s & 1970s were a very 'anti-police' era in the real world. As well as garnering many well deserved awards and last but not least ,a loyal following that stands today.

It might not be the first show some might think of if you asked them to name a TV police drama but that's not important ,what is ,is it's own original reputation ,as the series that (aside from some it's quirkier characters) made police offers human beings.

Ten stars out there! Stay tuned for the 35th Anniversary in January 2016! (END)

11/10/2015 Edit :

The show can now be seen on a new (non cable) network called Icons & Heroes (I&H), it just debuted in my city last week.
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