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I discovered the other night a channel on my cable system called Heroes & Icons. They were showing an episode of what I consider the finest police drama ever put on television, “Hill Street Blues.”
It ran from 1981 to 1987 on NBC and it stumbled the last season or two, but otherwise set the bar for all police dramas that followed.
Captain Frank Furillo, played by Daniel J. Travanti who won Emmys for his work, was the commanding officer of the Hill Street police station located in a run-down, dangerous neighborhood of a fictional metropolitan city.
Each week the viewer got a gritty, realistic (as TV can be) look at the lives of the Hill Street police officers and the dangers they faced each shift. What I also liked is “HSB” dealt with big-city politics both inside the police department and out.
Two episodes are being shown tonight (Friday, May 8) at 8 and 9 p.m. It’s also shown the rest of the week. Check your local listings. The channel is broadcast over the air in Chicago at 23.2.
Heroes & Icons also shows “NYPD Blue.” I caught an episode the other night from the first season which is my favorite. The inaugural season had a more realistic feel to it. I felt like I was standing inside the fictional New York City Police Department precinct where Detective Andy Sipowicz was trying to salvage his life and his career while working with his partner Detective John Kelly who didn’t take s*** from anybody, but would help a person in a second if they asked for it.
Dennis Franz earned Emmy honors for his great portrayal of Sipowicz. David Caruso left the show and his character of John Kelly after one season and sent his career into a tailspin until “CSI: Miami” came about and the character of Horatio Caine.
“NYPD Blue” remained a quality series after the first season. Jimmy Smits replaced David Caruso and was terrific. But there’s something about that first season I will always like.