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Gerald S. O'Loughlin
Norman Buntz, the gruff (and somewhat ethically questionable) detective from "Hill Street Blues" (1981) leaves the anonymous inner city and heads to the sunny climes of Southern California where he opens up a detective agency. Written by
Norman Buntz (Dennis Franz, foreshadowing his Andy Sipowicz character in "NYPD Blue") was a tough, somewhat unprincipled, often violent streetwise detective from "Hill Street Blues," the 1980s' seminal cop show. Sid (Peter Jurasik) was a small-time, not particularly successful crook who moonlighted as Buntz's snitch, and the two developed somewhat of a reluctant affection for each other, if not an actual friendship. Franz and Jurasik worked so well together in "Hill Street" that when the show ended, their two characters were given their own series, in which they were transplanted to Beverly Hills and opened up their own detective agency. Apparently the producers were going for the TV version of Eddie Murphy's "Beverly Hills Cop". Not a very good move. Murphy's Axel Foley was a wild Detroit detective, a tough enough cop but one who used his wits and his outrageous sense of humor more than his fists and his gun to get things done. Norman Buntz was not noted for his sense of humor, and the producers unfortunately made this series a comedy first and a cop show second, and it didn't work at all. "Hill Street Blues" fans liked Buntz' breaking of the rules when he thought it was called for, and his single-minded, legalities-be-damned method of hunting down criminals. Making a Teddy Bear or even somewhat of a buffoon out of him, which is what this show did, turned off the fans expecting to see the Norman Buntz they knew and loved, and the series never got off the ground. It's too bad, because Franz and Jurasik really did have great chemistry together, and the right type of showcase for them would have been a big hit, but the producers blew it by trying to turn them into The Two Stooges. The show deservedly sank without much of a trace.
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