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» iRewind Talk » 80s Culture » 80s Television » Hill Street Blues

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Author Topic: Hill Street Blues
Pittsburghgirl
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It has been on Decades channel this weekend, but I haven't been able to catch a full episode. I think it started from Season 1 on Saturday and Season 2 is on now.
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aTomiK
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Its a damn shame that they never released the dvd sets here. One of the classiest series of all time.
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J2ME
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I don't think I've ever seen a single episode.  -
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Pittsburghgirl
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If you are a fan of the grittier type cop shows like The Wire or The Shield, I think you'd like HSB. You just have to remember it was an 80's network television show. I need to start rewatching it.
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kevdugp73
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I've got Season 1 + 2 on DVD Pitts, but haven't got around to watching it yet. This was too old for me as a kid, so can't say I've seen an episode either...never on re-runs around here. Again, I remember the images from being a kid, so that was enough to make me buy a couple seasons at a cheap price. High on my radar now...
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Pittsburghgirl
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I have finally gotten around to watching Hill Street Blues starting from the first season. I am up to S. 1 Episode 10. There have been a lot of great character actors, who at the time were very young, in guest roles. The acting is top notch. Im really enjoying it. Hard to believe this show is almost 40 years old! Thanks to pettyfan, who told me about it being on Hulu now. I signed up for a free one month account, and after that it is only $5.99 per month. There are a few other classics on Hulu now: NYPD Blue & St. Elsewhere come to mind right now
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Nostalgic for the '80's
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I did watch Hill Street Blues in it's entirety (on the DVD sets) a couple of years ago. I had only seen bits & pieces of the show before. So, this was the first time I saw every episode, in chronological order.

This is an excellent, solid crime drama, and reminds me of a documentary. I actually find these earlier seasons more reminiscent of a late '70's urban crime drama than an '80's one.

Excellent casting as well. Though I've seen some of these actors/actresses in later TV shows/movies, it seems like many of them got their "start" on this show. Standouts include (but are not limited to):

-Frank Furillo (D. Travanti). Excellent acting here, especially when he has to play office politics. He's very believable as the competent, capable captain @ the Hill Street station.

-Joyce Davenport (V. Hamel). Amazing actress. She successfully blends a hard/tough, no nonsense attitude & is also very feminine/sexy. Tough dichotomy to pull off, but she does this well.

The themes/storylines are also very mature for a early '80' network TV series. This show definitely touched on issues that other network TV shows at the time would never have even considered addressing.

- Teen runaways who are forced into prostitution.

- Veterans with severe PTSD.

- Extreme poverty, resulting in crime, evictions, etc.

- Guilt that an LE officer has over accidentally killing an innocent civilian.

- Aging parents who are dying or needing to be put into nursing homes; this is touched on at various times on the series - very realistic.

Other comments:

-I find Phil Esterhaus very entertaining. He's the character who briefs everyone in the episode openers in the first three seasons, ending with the iconic "Let's be careful out there". Phil is well into his 50's, and in the early season(s) ends up dating & almost marrying a 17-18 year woman, who is a senior in high school. Who does this guy think he is, Woody Allen?! - LOL. In any case, somehow, I don't think a storyline like that would fly today on a network TV series...but maybe I'm wrong

-The one character I find extremely obnoxious, flaky, and comical - is Fay Furillo (Frank's ex-wife). She is very needy/helpless is always coming to the station for help from Frank since her life is always in shambles. You get the definite impression that she hassles Frank more after the divorce than she ever did when they were married - LOL. She is unintentionally amusing, and I feel like her character is almost played for laughs. I.e., none of her relationships ever work out - the guys always seem to be secretly married, are dropping dead on her (which happened with one of them), etc. - hilarious. In another episode, she got involved with some kind of feminist newspaper/movement - but, dropped out when the "leader" of the movement put the moves on her - LOL. She also seems to walk into the station at the worst times, i.e. when some creep needs to be subdued & she unintentionally gets in the way, etc. She's definitely got the worst luck of any character on the series - LOL.

-With several of the characters sleeping with each other (notably Furilllo & Joyce Davenport) and/or airing their personal business/dirty laundry @ the station, it's surprising that anyone ever gets any work done

Though the series is incredible, I don't find it to be quite as good as later crime dramas like Homicide: LIfe on the Street, NYPD Blue, The Wire, etc. However, it's notable that this came first, and almost certainly paved the way for many of these later series.

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Nostalgic for the '80's
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Some other comments about HSB:

-There is a very funny running "joke" (through S04) involving the vicious Belker & a non-violent thief that he keeps bringing in for booking. This particular thief always gives a different name when asked (obviously all are fake), despite the fact that he knows Belker has brought him in numerous times before and would be able to tell he was lying about at least one of the names...However, what make this even funnier is that Belker never even calls him out on this, but just ignores it and goes on with the questioning. Hilarious [Wink]

To add to the humor here, it seems that every time Belker brings in this particular thief, Belker's mother calls. The thief (sitting right there) can't help but overhear the conversation, and after Belker gets off the phone he usually offers him some "sage" advice on how to deal with the given situation - LOL [Wink]

-The idea that this show takes place in an unnamed city/metropolitan area (rather than a specific place) is emphasized in the episode when Joyce Davenport & Frank Furillo get married in a very small ceremony. The priest says something like, "By the power vested in me by this state, I now pronounce you man & wife" - without mentioning the particular state they're in. The show's producers/writers definitely went out of their way to NOT have the series take place in a specific place, which was a completely different approach from any & all other TV crime dramas I've ever seen. Interesting & unique approach.

- After the actor who played Phil Esterhaus passed away in a previous season (first IRL & then on the series), they replaced him with the somewhat serious but also witty Stan Jablonski (aka "Stash") who took Phil's place in briefing everyone at the beginning of each episode. And, the iconic ending statement "Let's be careful out there!" was replaced with the much more cynical "Let's do it to them, before they do it to us!" - ha ha

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