H is for “Hill Street Blues”

“Hill Street Blues” was an American television law enforcement drama that aired on NBC for seven seasons (1981–87). The show received great critical acclaim, winning four consecutive Emmy Awards for outstanding dramatic series, and it is recognized as a pioneer in the gritty crime and police television genre.

“Hill Street Blues” recounted a day in the life of the officers at the Hill Street police precinct, located in a crime-ridden urban ghetto in an unnamed American city. Each episode began with a morning roll call and ending with a late-night summary of events. The show placed a premium on good writing, and its scripts were recognized for their artistry, innovation, complexity, and hard-hitting realism. The series dealt with real-life issues and employed professional jargon and slang to a greater extent than had been seen before on television.

The award-winning ensemble cast included Daniel J. Travanti as Captain Capt. Francis Xavier “Frank” Furillo, Veronica Hamel as public defender Joyce Davenport, Michael Conrad as Sgt. Philip Esterhaus, Bruce Weitz ad Det. Mick Belker, Joe Spano as Sgt. Henry Goldblume, James B. Sikking as Sgt. Howard Hunter. Rounding out the cast were Betty Thomas, Robert Prosky, Ed Marinaro, Det. Kiel Martin, 1981–87, Taurean Blacque, and René Enriquez.

The show was overseen by producer Steven Bochco, who later repeated his success with other series, most notably, “L.A. Law” (1986–94) and “NYPD Blue” (1993–2005).  The innovative and edgy style of  “Hill Street Blues” employed handheld cameras that lent it a documentary-style authenticity. Fast-paced editing ratcheted up the tension while linking together the show’s numerous plotlines. “Hill Street Blues” offered sophisticated, multilayered narratives with the daily crime investigations that occupied much of the characters’ lives. But much of the show’s success could be attributed to its depiction of the psychological drama and moral ambiguities that played out on a personal level for those characters.

Previous BATZAP 2021 posts: A B C D E F G

35 thoughts on “H is for “Hill Street Blues”

  1. Lorraine April 9, 2021 / 10:37 am

    Thanks for reminding me. Now, if I could get, “let’s be careful out there!” and the theme song out of my head long enough to get to my h!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 9, 2021 / 10:51 pm

      Great line, great theme song!


      • Lorraine April 10, 2021 / 7:01 am

        I agree. I’ll try and stop by to remanence with you about those television shows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Fandango April 10, 2021 / 8:06 pm

          Looking forward to it!


  2. msjadeli April 9, 2021 / 2:04 pm

    I know I watched it because the faces look so familiar. I do remember the morning briefing and the sgt always saying the same thing. I think it was “Be safe out there.” Not sure. I remember liking the show.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lynnette Forest April 9, 2021 / 4:47 pm

    I don’t remember ever watching this show but somehow I know the theme song…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 9, 2021 / 11:14 pm

      It had a memorable theme song.


  4. J-Dub April 10, 2021 / 5:30 am

    Another great show that brings back memories of watching TV with my family

    Liked by 1 person

  5. leigha66 April 14, 2021 / 1:39 pm

    This was probably in my top three favorite shows… I loved Det. Belker! I happened across an episode somewhere on cable late at night last week and couldn’t turn away. Great choice!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. cassmob May 7, 2021 / 1:56 am

    This was one of my favourite TV series. I’ve been surprised how few of the others I’ve watched even when I’ve recognised the titles. It seems it’s true…I don’t watch much TV.

    I’m impressed by your prolific writing on different topics and the thought provoking challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango May 7, 2021 / 6:48 am

      Thank you so much. That’s very nice of you to say.

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.