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"Hill Street Blues" Personal Foul (1982)

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Riveting episode

8/10
Author: Woodyanders (Woodyanders@aol.com) from The Last New Jersey Drive-In on the Left
9 September 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Belker (Bruce Weitz in inspired growly form) and Washington (Taurean Blacque, the essence of laid-back cool) go undercover at a seedy porn theater. Goldblume's (a sympathetic Joe Spano) wife asks for a divorce. The bitter and unemployed Carter Reese (ably played with fierce intensity by Felton Perry) takes his wife (an equally fine Hope Clark) and six-year-old son hostage. An exhibition basketball game between police officers and local gang members threatens to degenerate into a messy brawl. The hostage situation in this episode serves as a sterling example of the show's admirable refusal to sentimentalize things: The situation isn't resolved in some fake happy way; instead it reaches a grim and tragic conclusion. Moreover, director David Anspaugh builds a good deal of tension and stages an exciting rough'n'tumble fight in the porn theater bathroom with real skill and aplomb. James B. Sikking as the perpetually overzealous Hunter has some hilarious scenes butting heads with fearsome street gang leaders and Belker has an amusing moment when he's hit on by a gay patron in the porn theater. The climactic basketball game is a total hoot (none other than a very young pre-stardom David Caruso pops up as one of the rival team players!); the trashy cheerleaders for the street gang team in particular are simply sidesplitting. And Renko (well played by Charles Haid) has another affecting scene with his dying father John (a strong and moving performance by Morgan Woodward), who asks his son to take him home so he can pass away on his own terms.

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