Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hill Street Blues - Where Modern TV Police Drama Began

"Hey, hey, hey, ... let's be careful out there."

Those iconic words from Michael Conrad will instantly bring members of Generation X, and more than a few Boomers, to a moment of quiet nostalgia, as we wait for that garage door to open to the sound of those sirens amid a subtle piano melody.

This week, which brings the release of a full 32-CD boxed set of Hill Street Blues, Denver Post TV critic Joanne Ostrow reflects on the modern police drama that set the standard for all the others. Today is, no doubt, a "golden era" for the genre, as shows like The Wire, Homicide, Law & Order, CSI, and others continually dominate the ratings and around water-cooler talk, or posts. But the original work of Steven Bochco really changed the way we watched television, and gave us so many poignant and endearing moments. Bochco was willing to ask tough questions, portray difficult conversations, and challenge TV censors long before it became fashionable - and even absurd - to do so.

The police drama has such a difficult task, to entertain while also philosophizing and humanizing the dark side of society that we didn't used "talk about at parties." And, networks would be crazy not to always carry a crime drama. But for these stories from the street to carry the deep, almost literary, significance of a show like Hill Street is truly something special. As the boxed set comes out, the actors will re-surface to discuss the groundbreaking television and reflect on its time.

For those on the couch, it's time to just sit back, relax, and visit our friends at the precinct one more time.

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