Furillo breaks the news of Esterhaus's death. Bates is given serious consideration for Sergeant. Coffey's girlfriend is sexually assaulted. Belker goes undercover as a truck driver to try and catch ...
The original "ensemble drama," this is the story of an overworked, under-staffed police precinct in an anonymous inner city patterned after Chicago. We follow the lives of many characters, from the lowly beat and traffic cops to the captain of the precinct himself. This is the show that blazed the trail followed later by such notable ensemble dramas as "St. Elsewhere" and "L.A. Law."Written by
The show is based on the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Police Department as seen by the black and gold shoulder patches on the police uniform (city of Pittsburgh colors). Also the hill is the Hill District section of Pittsburgh. The hospital mentioned in the show: Mercy, is in uptown next to the Hill District and the Trib Newspaper is the Tribune Review a Pittsburgh city newspaper. See more »
The Hill Street Precinct E.A.T. van, which is also used as the van that the Polk Ave. Precinct used to drop the homeless off on the Hill, is number 2227. There is also a squad car with the same number. The same with 2225, which is used on a larger newer E.A.T. van as well as the number for a squad car. Each number should have only been used one time. See more »
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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