And with Sergeant Esterhaus’ words, “Hey, let’s be careful out there.”, the iconic cop-show, Hill Street Blues was born.
From the creater, Steven Bochco, who brought shows like L.A. Law, Doogie Howser, M.D., NYPD Blue and recently, Commander in Chief to television screens around the world, Hill Street Blues wasn’t a glossy cop drama. It gave a realistic and harrowing view of the lives of cops and detectives so dedicated to their cause, they are prepared to sacrifice anything along the way, balancing their fierce determination with their own inner demons and failings in life provided much of the drama and emotion on the show.
There was the recovering alcoholic in Furillo, Hunter was the diehard leader of the S.W.A.T. team, Bates who had to try and prove herself as a good cop, while not wanting to sacrifice the fact that she was a woman, the manical undercover cop, Belker, and of course the father figure Sergeant Phil Esterhaus. Hill Street Blues shook viewers by portraying the lower social classes and the bitter pill they are forced to swallow in trying to survive day to day. For these desperate people at some point they faced interaction with the law and often intervention. The drama unfolded poignantly and with heartbreaking results often.
Hill Street Blues laid the foundation for cop shows like N.Y.P.D. Blue and the Law and Order series, and will remain a classic. In many ways it was also the landmark show to first introduce the ‘ensemble’ cast concept, with shows like N.Y.P.D. and ER resulting from this formula.
In its debut season it set an Emmy record by winning eight awards. And the theme tune, written by Mike Post, was so popular it reached the top 10 of the Billborad charts for pop singles.