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Police Story

1 9 7 3 – 1 9 8 0 (USA)
88 x 60 minute episodes
8 x 120 minute episodes
6 x 120 minute telemovies

An anthology crime drama series from NBC detailing all aspects of police work (based on the memoirs of Joseph Wambaugh, a novelist and ex-policeman).

Set in 1970s Los Angeles. Police Story focused on officers from various divisions of the Los Angeles Police Department. While the series had its share of car chases and psycho killers. Wambaugh and series producer David Gerber primarily concentrated on making police officers more three-dimensional and human.

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The series presented the job of the police officer as challenging, dangerous. and at times mundane. Undercover detectives spent their lives on stakeouts; rookie cops faced tough street educations; SWAT sharpshooters hit innocent bystanders, and problems such as corruption and racism on the police force and tensions between ethnic communities were frequently explored.

The personal lives of the characters were also examined, most often in the context of the pressures police work put on all members of the cop’s family.

While episodes consistently started stronger than they finished, the anthology format and the ever-present influence of documentary film conventions helped Police Story to stand out from more familiar cops-and-robbers fare.

Three other series’ sprang out of the show, Joe Forrester (starring Lloyd Bridges, and first seen in an episode of Police Story called ‘The Return of Joe Forrester’), Police Woman (first featured in the episode ‘The Gamble’), and David Cassidy – Man Undercover.

There was also a short-lived partner series from the same producers, called Medical Story.

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Some of the actors who appeared in the series over the years included Dean Stockwell, Chuck Connors, William Shatner, Glenn Ford, Ed Asner, James Gregory, Claude Akins, Robert Culp, Jackie Coogan, Mike Connors, Frankie Avalon, Kim Hunter, Robert Forster, Vince Edwards, John Astin, June Lockhart, Darren McGavin, Shelley Fabares, Dennis Weaver, James Farentino, Donna Mills, Angie Dickinson, Earl Holliman, Lloyd Bridges, Macdonald Carey, Jan-Michael Vincent, Kurt Russell, James Woods, Tina Louise, Smokey Robinson, Norman Fell, Patty Duke, Larry Hagman, Sylvester Stallone, Dabney Coleman, Terri Nunn, Gregory Sierra, Danny Bonaduce, Ellen Travolta, Tony Lo Bianco, Joe Santos, Jackie Cooper and Desi Arnaz Jr.