On January 15, 1981, Hill Street Blues premiered on NBC and changed the face of television forever. The irreverent, fast-paced series revolved around the dramatic turns in the lives of the officers of Hill Street Station. An average day at Hill Street was anything but usual, ranging from humorous to wacky to tragic to grisly–but always realistic. During its seven-year run, the consistently top-rated program collected 26 Emmy Awards, including “Best Series” four years in a row. The theme song, by Mike Post, likewise was a smash hit and ranked #10 in Billboard Magazine’s Top TV Theme Songs of 1985.
Subdued yet forceful, Captain Frank Furillo led the motley police force. The crazy assortment of cops included: Detective Mick Belker, the unkempt, slightly deranged undercover officer, known as a “biter” who often received calls from his mother; Lt. Howard Hunter, a trigger-happy, arrogant leader of the precinct’s SWAT unit; Joyce Davenport, the determined and intelligent public defender, who was also Furillo’s secret lover, creating tension as well as sparks; Officers Bobby Hill and Andy Renko, shot in the first episode (they formed a bond in their struggle to face life each day); the constantly worrying Lt. Ray Calletano, second-in-command of the chaotic precinct; and Head Sergeant Phil Esterhaus, a kindly man providing a refuge of sanity in an otherwise insane world.
The idea for Hill Street Blues originated with then-NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff. His entire concept to producer Steven Bochco was: “Barney Miller outdoors.” Bochco took that germ of an idea one step further, employing the motto around the set: “Make it messy.” Gone forever were the days of a clean, organized squad room populated by well-tailored policemen.
Known for its large ensemble cast of supporting and guest stars, the highly stylized production of multiple continuing storylines, overlapping dialogue, and intense action has been often copied, but seldom successfully duplicated. The company went on to produce the equally gritty medical drama “St. Elsewhere.”
Hill Street Blues concluded its original run on May 19, 1987.
USA / NBC – MTM / 145x60m-e / Broadcast 15 January 1981 – 19 May 1987
Creators: Michael Kozoll, Steven Bochco / Executive Producers: Steven Bochco, Gregory Hoblit / Music: Mike Post
Daniel J. Travanti as Capt. Frank Furillo
Barbara Bosson as Fay Furillo
Charles Haid as Officer Andy Renko
Veronica Hamel as Joyce Davenport
Michael Conrad as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus
James B. Sikking as Lt. Howard Hunter
Betty Thomas as Sgt. Lucy Bates
Michael Warren as Officer Bobby Hill
Bruce Weitz as Sgt. Mick Belker
Barbara Babcock as Grace Gardner
Gerry Black as Det. Alf Chesley
Taurean Blacque as Det. Neal Washington
Robert Clohessy as Officer Patrick Flaherty
Lindsay Crouse as Kate McBride
Pat Corley as Coroner Wally Nydorf
Kiel Martin as Officer J.D. LaRue
Lynne Moody as Martha Nichols
Ken Olin as Sgt. Stan Jablonski
Megan Gallagher as Officer Tina Russo
Dennis Franz as Det. Sal Benedetto
Dennis Franz as Lt. Norman Buntz
Jon Cypher as Chief Fletcher Daniels
Rene Enriquez as Lt. Ray Calletano
Robert Hirschfeld as Officer Leo Schnitz
Peter Jurasik as Sid, the snitch
Vincent Lucchesi as Capt. Jerry Fuchs
Ed Marinaro as Officer Joe Coffey
Ken Olin as Det. Harry Garibaldi
Robert Prosky as Sgt. Stan Kablonski
Trinidad Silva as Jesus Martinez ‘
Joe Spano as Det. Henry Goldblume
Lisa Sutton as Officer Robin Tataglia
Jeffrey Tambor as Judge Alan Wachtel
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