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Hill Street Blues

1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 7 (USA)
146 x 60 minute episodes

Hill Street Blues was a combination of drama and comedy about imperfect heroes who tried (and often failed) to uphold the law and hold their messy lives together. With gritty realism and an open-ended narrative style that wove storylines together, Hill Street paved the way for dramas like NYPD Blue and ER.

hillstreetblues63Brought out by a fine troupe of actors, the continuing story lines of the show blended the drama and humour of life at Hill Street Police Station (located in the ghetto area of a large, unnamed East Coast US city) from 7:00 am roll call until the late night news.

Captain Frank Furillo was the cool-headed commanding officer of the precinct who eventually married his girlfriend, Public Defender Joyce Davenport, in March 1983. Frank had to cope with police bureaucracy and a chaotic personal life. Fay, his ex-wife, was also constantly hounding him for more alimony.

Among others in this popular cast were Officers Bobby Hill and Arnold Renko (originally meant to be killed off after the first episode) and officer Lucy Bates (played by Betty Thomas from the Second City improvisational theatre troupe).

Belker was a scruffy undercover detective who sometimes bit offenders and barked at startled dogs. To criminals, he was a terror (“Would you like to sit down, hairball or would you prefer internal bleeding?”).

Henry Goldblume was the dedicated and idealistic community affairs officer who sometimes took the brutality he saw around him too serious. Howard Hunter was the trigger-happy leader of the precinct’s S.W.A.T. team, ready to blast away at a moments notice.

Tall, fatherly Phil Esterhaus, the head sergeant, provided a haven of calm in the storm. He ended each roll call with the same words, “And, hey – let’s be careful out there.”

Esterhaus was killed off in 1983 (following the real-life death of actor Michael Conrad). He had been having a passionate affair with Grace Gardner, the middle-aged widow of a fellow officer, and according to the story, he suffered a heart attack while making love to her.

In its second season, Hill Street Blues won a record eight Emmy’s, and the theme tune, written by Mike Post, went to No. 10 on the US charts.

Hill Street Blues was a most unusual mixture of drama and comedy, fast-paced and deliberately choppy, as was life at the station house. Although the city in which the series took place was never mentioned, the real-life station house seen in exterior shots was the Maxwell Street Precinct in Chicago.

Dennis Franz, whose character of Norman Buntz quit the police force in the final episode of Hill Street Blues, moved to a spin-off sitcom called Beverly Hill Buntz, with the abrasive Norman becoming a Private Detective in LA.

Sgt Phil Esterhaus 
Michael Conrad
Capt Frank Furillo 

Daniel J. Travanti
Officer Bobby Hill 

Michael Warren
Officer Andy Renko 

Charles Haid
Joyce Davenport 

Veronica Hamel
Det. Mick Belker 

Bruce Weitz
Lt Ray Calletano 

Rene Enriquez
Det. Johnny ‘JD’
LaRue 

Kiel Martin
Det. Neal Washington

Taurean Blacque
Lt Howard Hunter 

James Sikking
Lt Henry Goldblume 

Joe Spano
Sgt Lucille Bates 

Betty Thomas
Grace Gardner 

Barbara Babcock
Fay Furillo 

Barbara Bosson
Capt Jerry Fuchs 

Vincent Lucchesi
Det Lt Alf Chesley 

Gerry Black
Officer Leo Schnitz 

Robert Hirschfield
Officer Joe Coffey 

Ed Marinaro
Officer Robin Tataglia

Lisa Sutton
Jesus Martinez 

Trinidad Silva
Det Harry Garibaldi 

Ken Olin
Det Patricia Mayo 

Mimi Kuzyk
Mayor Ozzie Cleveland 

J.A. Preston
Sgt Stanislaus Jablonski 

Robert Prosky
Lt Norman Buntz 

Dennis Franz
Officer Patrick Flaherty 

Robert Clohessy
Officer Tina Russo 

Megan Gallagher
Officer Raymond 

David Selburg

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