For Hanukah, my wife got me Hill Street Blues - Season 2. This was like buying catnip for a cat. Over 20 years ago [ugh], Thursday night at 10:00 was a sacrosanct timefor me; "The Hill" was on. I've seen various episodes over the years, but this was the first time I got to go through the season in sequence, episode by episode. Just great!
Hill Street Blues
The Good: This show set the contemporary standard for cop shows on TV. Great stories about real people, great acting, and a gritty,realistic feel. Basically, every cop show since has built on Hill Street's foundation. Every show opens with "Roll Call, 7:04 a.m. [or whatever time]," and carries the viewer through a day with the Hill Street Blues, that is, the Hill Street cops, from the captain, to the uniformed patrolmen, to the prosecutors and defenders and other regulars in the precinct house. While it's not as racy as, say NYPD Blue, another Steven Bochco show, it's actually quite refreshing that the sexiest thing that happens is that two of the characters regularly get together for a nooner. In the middle of the day! What made this show, as well as any good program, so good is that the viewer cares about the characters, and will tune in to see what's going on with them from week to week.
The Bad: If you watch on HD TV, then you will be somewhat disappointed. This is analog TV, with little or no up-conversion for digital or HD. I watch on a DVD and VHS Recorder/player Combo with Up-conversion, and the picture is clear and all, but it ain't HD. Substantively, for about five minutes in the first episode, the show feels a bit dated. Then, you fall into the world of Captain Furillo and the Hill Street gang, and it don't make no difference at all. Shows like Hill Street have been accused of being prime time soap operas. I understand the criticism, except that with soap operas, I used to be able to stop watching for weeks, and then when I came back to the soap, I hadn't missed anything. Not so with Hill Street, which normally operated in three-episode arcs, another innovation introduced [or at least used successfully] by the show.
The Bottom Line:: Five Flicks. Of all the TV I've ever seen, this show really is "must see TV." For old fans of the show, it's a chance to visit old friends. For the uninitiated, it's a chance to see better TV than 99% of what's on the air now. Don't miss it.