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Hill Street Blues is a serial police drama that was first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. Reruns are currently being aired on AmericanLife TV Network on weekday nights in the United Statesmarker, and on weekday afternoons on digital network More 4 in the United Kingdommarker. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police precinct in an unnamed Americanmarker city, the show received high critical acclaim and its production innovations proved highly influential on serious dramatic television series produced in North America. Its debut season achieved eight Emmy awards, a debut season record surpassed only by The West Wing, and the show received a total of 98 Emmy Award nominations during its run.


MTM Enterprises developed the series on behalf of NBC, appointing Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll as series writers. The writers were allowed considerable creative freedom, and created a series which brought together for the first time a number of emerging ideas in TV drama.

  • Each episode features a number of intertwined storylines, some of which are resolved within the episode, with others developing over a number of episodes throughout a season.
  • Much play is made of the conflicts between the work and private lives of the individuals. In the workplace there is also a strong focus on the struggle between doing "what was right" and "what worked" in situations.
  • The camera is held close in, action cut rapidly between stories, and there is much use of overheard or off-screen dialogue, giving a "documentary" feel to the action.
  • Rather than studio (floor) cameras, hand-held Arriflexes are used to add to the "documentary" feel.
  • The show deals with real-life issues, and uses commonly used language and slang to a much greater extent than had been seen before.
  • Almost every episode began with a pre-credits sequence consisting of briefing and "roll call" at the beginning of the day shift. Many episodes are written to take place over the course of a single day, a concept later used in the NBC series L.A. Law.
  • Most episodes concluded with Captain Frank Furillo and public defender Joyce Davenport in a domestic situation, often in bed, discussing how their respective days went.

Hill Street Blues cast, circa 1986

Though filmed in Los Angelesmarker (both on location and at CBS Studio Center in Studio Citymarker), the series is set in a generic unnamed inner-city location with a feel of a Northern United States Chicago-esque urban center.

The program's focus on failure and those at the bottom of the social scale is pronounced, and very much in contrast to Bochco's later project L.A. Law. It has been described as Barney Miller out of doors — the focus on the bitter realities of 1980s urban living was revolutionary for its time. Later seasons are accused of becoming formulaic (a shift that some believe to have begun after the death from cancer of Michael Conrad midway through the fourth season, which led to the replacement of the beloved Sgt. Esterhaus by Sgt. Stan Jablonski, played by Robert Prosky) and the series that broke the established rules of television ultimately failed to break its own rules. Nonetheless it is a landmark piece of television programming, the influence of which is still seen in such series as NYPD Blue and ER. In 1982, St. Elsewhere was hyped as "Hill Street Blues" in a hospital. The quality work done by MTM led to the appointment of Grant Tinker as NBC chairman in 1982.

In season seven, producers got scripts from acclaimed writers outside of television: Bob Woodward and David Mamet.

The series had cable runs on TV Land, Bravo, and currently, AmericanLife TV.

There is also a short-lived Dennis Franz spinoff called Beverly Hills Buntz, in which Franz's dismissed Lt. Buntz character moves from the Hill to Los Angeles to become a private eye, taking along "Sid the Snitch" Thurston (Peter Jurasik) as his sidekick.


Pilot: Brandon Tartikoff commissioned a series from MTM Productions, who assigned Bochco and Kozoll to the project. The pilot was produced in 1980, but was held back as a mid-season replacement so as not to get lost amongst the other programs debuting in the fall of 1980. Barbara Bosson, who was married to Bochco, had the idea to fashion the series into 4- or 5- episode story "arcs." Robert Butler directed the pilot, developing a look and style inspired by the 1977 documentary The Police Tapes, in which filmmakers used handheld cameras to follow police officers in the South Bronx. Butler went on to direct the first four episodes of the series, and Bosson had hoped he would stay on permanently. However, he felt he was not being amply recognized for his contributions to the show's look and style, and left to pursue other projects. He would return to direct just one further episode ("The Second Oldest Profession" in season two).

Season 1: The pilot aired on Thursday, January 15, 1981, at 10 pm, which would be the show's time slot for nearly its entire run. Episode 2 aired two nights later; the next week followed a similar pattern (episode 3 on Thursday, 4 on Saturday). NBC had ordered 13 episodes, and the season was supposed to end on May 25 with a minor cliffhanger (the resolution of Sgt. Esterhaus' wedding). Instead, building critical acclaim prompted NBC to order an additional 4 episodes to air during May sweeps. Bochco and Kozoll fashioned this into a new story arc, which aired as two two-hour episodes to close the season. One new addition with these final 4 episodes was Ofc. Joe Coffey (played by Ed Marinaro) who originally had died in the first season finale's broadcast.

In early episodes, the opening theme had several clearly audible edits; this was replaced by a longer, unedited version partway through the second season. The end credits for the pilot differed from the rest of the series in that the background still shot of the station house was completely different; it was also copyrighted in 1980 instead of 1981.

The show became the lowest-rated program ever renewed for a second season. However, it was only renewed for ten episodes. A full order was picked up part way through the season.

Season 2: A writer strike pushed the start of the season forward to October 29, meaning that only nineteen episodes were completed that year. Kozoll was now listed as a consultant, signifying his diminished role in the show. He later stated he was already feeling burnt out, and in fact was relying more on car chases and action to fill the scripts.

A less muted version of the closing theme was played over the end credits.

Season 3: Michael Kozoll left the show at the end of season 2, replaced for the most part by Anthony Yerkovich and David Milch. Yerkovich later created Miami Vice after leaving Hill Street Blues at the end of this season. This was the show's most popular in terms of viewership, as it finished #21. This was also the birth of Must See TV, as the show was joined by Cheers, Taxi and Fame. The network deemed Thursdays "the best night of television on television." Michael Conrad was increasingly absent from the show due to his ongoing battle with cancer.

Season 4: Michael Conrad's final appearance was halfway through the season, as he had died in real life. His character was kept alive until February 1984, when he was sent off in a memorable episode, "Grace Under Pressure".

The show won its fourth and final Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series this season.

Season 5: The show changed drastically this season, entering a somewhat "soap operatic" period according to Bochco. New characters included Sgt. Stanislaus Jablonski (played by Robert Prosky), Det. Patsy Mayo (Mimi Kuzyk), and Det. Harry Garibaldi (Ken Olin), while Mrs. Furillo (Bosson) became a full-time member of the squad room. Bochco was dismissed at season's end by then-MTM President Arthur Price. The firing was due to Bochco's cost overruns, coupled with the fact that the show had achieved the 100 episode milestone needed to successfully syndicate the program.

Betty Thomas won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Drama Series this season. However, at the awards ceremony, an unidentified man rushed the stage ahead of Thomas and claimed she was unable to attend. He then claimed the award and left the stage, confusing viewers and robbing Thomas of her moment in the sun.

Season 6: Major changes occurred as Joe Coffey, Patsy Mayo, Det. Harry Garibaldi, Lt. Ray Calletano (Rene Enriquez), Fay Furillo (Barbara Bosson) and Officer Leo Schnitz (Robert Hirschfeld) all left the show. The sole addition was Lt. Norman Buntz, played by Dennis Franz. In a 1991 interview on Later with Bob Costas, Ken Olin explained that these characters were removed so that the new showrunners could add characters for which they would receive royalties.

The season premiere opened with a roll call filled with officers never before seen on the show, briefly fooling viewers into thinking the entire cast had been replaced. It was then revealed that this was, in fact, the night shift. The action then cut to the day shift pursuing their after-work activities. Another unique episode from this season explained through flashbacks how Furillo and Ms. Davenport met and fell in love.

This was the first season that Travanti and Hamel were not nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor/Actress in a Drama Series.

Season 7: Officer Patrick Flaherty (played by Robert Clohessy) and Officer Tina Russo (Megan Gallagher) joined this season in an attempt to rekindle the Bates-Coffey relationship of years past. Stanislaus Jablonski became a secondary character part way through this season, and when Travanti announced he would not return the next year, the producers decided to end the show in 1987. The program was also moved to Tuesday nights after six years to make way for L.A. Law on Thursdays.

This was the only season that Weitz was not nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. This was also the only season for which the show was not nominated for Outstanding Drama Series.


The producers went to great lengths to avoid specifying where the series took place, even going so far as to obscure whether the call letters of local TV stations began with "W" (the FCC designation for stations east of the Mississippi) or "K" (signifying a station west of the Mississippi). However, Renko's statement to his partner in the season one episode "Politics As Usual" of, "Just drop that 'cowboy' stuff. I was born in New Jersey, [and] never been west of Chicago in my life," was one indication that the series took place in the Midwest or Northeast.

The Precinct House in 2005

Although the series was filmed in Los Angeles, and routinely used locations in downtown Los Angeles, the credits and some stock exterior shots were filmed in Chicagomarker, including the station house, which is the old Maxwell Streetmarker police station on Chicago's Near West Side (943 West Maxwell Street). The show's police cruisers are painted and marked similarly to Chicago police cars. The series frequently used establishing shots, under the credits at the beginning of the first act, showing an Interstate 80 sign, commuter trains entering and leaving the old Chicago and North Western Railway Chicago terminal (the C&NW yellow and green livery was clearly evident), and aerial views of South Side neighbourhoods. Exterior views of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue were used to establish court scenes. An exterior view of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's City Hall represented the state capitol.

Throughout the 146 episodes there are various references to the other police precincts in the city. In a season one episode Commander Swanson states that he has "16 precincts" to take care of; but this conflicts with the season two episode The Shooter, when Officer Wallins of the Property Department states that he has to look after all the city's property, "from 14 Precincts". The seventeen Precincts which are named during the course of the various episodes are: Hill Street, Polk Avenue, Midtown, Von Steubben Avenue, North-East, St James's Park, Michigan Avenue, Washington Heights, South Ferry, West Delavan, Filmore, South Park, Preston Heights, Castle Heights, Richmond Avenue, Farmingdale and Jefferson Heights. The Hill Street precinct house is marked "7th District" outside. In some scenes the Midtown precinct house is marked "5th District", though in others it is marked "14th Precinct". Officers in uniform (apart from the EAT) wore shoulder flashes with the name of their precinct embroidered on them.

Command structure

A number of characters changed rank during the seven years of production. The pilot episode presented a simple command structure. Captain Furillo had one Lieutenant (Ray Calletano), and they had three Sergeants, one in each of the three main areas of operations - Sgt Phil Esterhaus (uniform), Sgt Henry Goldblume (detective), Sgt Howard Hunter (EAT).

There was a process of evolution into a more complex command structure (more reflective of general real-life practice). In this 'evolved' structure Capt. Furillo has three Lieutenants - Calletano, plus Goldblume and Hunter, both promoted; Buntz replaced Calletano when the latter was promoted to Captain, and left the Precinct (though not the series).

  • Uniforms: There are likewise three uniformed Sergeants - Esterhaus, Bates (following promotion), and a third, elderly, unnamed, Sergeant who appeared in the background of almost every episode (from the final scene of episode 2 until the final episode 6 years later) without ever receiving any story-line; Jablonski replaced Esterhaus following the death of actor Michael Conrad. A further character to appear throughout all 7 seasons without ever being given a storyline was Officer Jock Buchanan, a middle-aged grey-haired officer with a mustache. At the start of the third series he was promoted to Corporal. Although his appearance with two uniform stripes was never given a title in any episode, the existence of the 'corporal' rank in the Metro Police was demonstrated in an early episode of series 1 when Furillo visited Headquarters and during a conversation with Commander Swanson a list of names and ranks (including Corporal) was displayed on a blackboard in the background.

  • Detectives: Amongst the detectives Alf Chesley was the detective Sergeant, until he was promoted to Lieutenant and left the show; this left undercover officer Mick Belker as the only notable Detective Sergeant. Walsh was also referred to as 'Sergeant' by Fay Furillo during the first season.

  • Emergency Action Team: Strangely, after Hunter's promotion to Lieutenant no EAT Sergeant was ever depicted. Corporal Schmeltzer appeared to be Hunter's second-in-command, although the role of 'right hand man' was assumed jointly by EAT Officers Webster and Ballantine. Their roles were so interchangeable that in the credits of episode "Of Mouse and Man" Gary Miller (Ballantine) is credited as playing Webster. However, in the final year of programming it was Ballantine who assumed the more prominent storyline, having apparently gone insane and turned against Hunter.

These various promotions are reflected in the ranks of the characters, as referenced in the following cast list.


Police officers (listed by rank)

Officers are listed by the rank they held at first appearance on the programme - some officers later held higher ranks

Chief of Police
  • Chief of Police Fletcher P. Daniels (1981-1987) (historically, was Captain at 23rd Precinct) — Jon Cypher
Deputy Chief of Police
  • Deputy Chief Dennis Mahoney (1981-1982) — Ron Parady
  • Deputy Chief Warren Briscoe (1983-1987) — Andy Romano
Commander Captain
  • Captain Francis Xavier (Frank) Furillo (Hill Street Precinct) (1981-1987) — Daniel J. Travanti
  • Captain Jerry Fuchs (1981-1984) (Special Narcotics) — Vincent Lucchesi
  • Captain Roger MacPherson (Midtown Precinct) (1981-1982) — Andy Romano (on promotion to Deputy Chief, Romano's character inexplicably changed his name to Warren Briscoe)
  • Captain Lewis 'Lou' Hogan (Jefferson Heights Precinct) — Robert Hogan
  • Captain Leder — Charles Cyphers
  • Lieutenant (later Captain) Ray Calletano (1981-1987) — René Enríquez
  • Lieutenant Norman Buntz (1985-1987) — Dennis Franz
  • Lieutenant (later Captain) (later Commander) Ozzie Cleveland (1982-1985) (Midtown Precinct - he resigned upon election as Mayor) — J. A. Preston
  • Lieutenant Emil Schneider (Homicide) — Dolph Sweet
  • Lieutenant Shipman (1983-1987) (Internal Affairs) — Arthur Taxier
  • Sergeant (later promoted to Lieutenant, later demoted to Sergeant, later promoted back to Lieutenant) Howard Hunter (EAT commander) (1981-1987) — James B. Sikking
  • Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Henry Goldblume (Negotiator) (historically, was a patrol officer at Jefferson Heights)(1981-1987) — Joe Spano
  • Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Alf Chesley (Detective) (1981-1982) — Gerry Black
  • Sergeant Philip Freemason (Phil) Esterhaus (1981-1984) — Michael Conrad
  • Sergeant Michael (Mick) Belker (Undercover Detective) (1981-1987) — Bruce Weitz
  • Sergeant Neil Washington (LaRue's partner) — Taurean Blacque
  • Sergeant Stan Jablonski (1984-1987) (historically, spent 22 years at Polk Avenue Precinct) — Robert Prosky
  • Sergeant Jenkins (1985-1987) (Night-shift sergeant) — Lawrence Tierney (has final line of final episode)
  • Sergeant Ralph Macafee (Corrupt cop) — Dan Hedaya
  • Corporal Schmeltzer (EAT) — Actor unknown
Officer or Detective
  • Officer (later Sergeant) Lucille (Lucy) Bates (1981-1987) — Betty Thomas
  • Officer (later Corporal) Jock Buchanan (1981-1987) — Actor unknown
  • Officer Joe Coffey (Bates' partner) (1981-1986) — Ed Marinaro
  • Officer Robert Eugene (Bobby) Hill (historically, was a patrol officer at Jefferson Heights) (1981-1987) — Michael Warren
  • Officer Andrew Jackson (Andy) Renko (Hill's partner) (1981-1987) — Charles Haid
  • Officer Patrick Flaherty (1986-1987) — Robert Clohessy
  • Officer Tina Russo (1986-1987) — Megan Gallagher
  • Officer Leo Schnitz (1981-1985) — Robert Hirschfeld
  • Officer Mike Perez (1981-1985) — Tony Perez
  • Officer Robin Tataglia (1982-1987) — Lisa Sutton
  • Officer 'Pete' Dorsey (rookie with Tataglia) (murdered in episode 48) — Peter Lownds
  • Officer 'Nate' Crawford (rookie with Tataglia) — Franklyn Seales
  • Officer Ron Garfield (1983-1986) — Mykelti Williamson
  • Officer Marvin Oliver (Marv) Box (1981) (Phone technician of season 1) — Actor unknown
  • Officer Santini (series 1) — Jeff Seymour
  • Officer Bernard (Bern) Harris (season 1) — Mark Metcalf
  • Officer Fuentes (Harris' partner in season 1, episode 2) - Steven Bauer
  • Officer Cooper (Perez's partner in season 1) — James Remar
  • Officer Ellis (Perez's partner in season 2) — Leonard Lightfoot
  • Officer Gerald (Gerry) Nash (season 2) (historically, was a patrol officer at Jefferson Heights with Hill) — Stephen McHattie
  • Officer Estella Sanchez (season 2) — Livia Genise
  • Officer Lyle (season 2) — Phil Peters
  • Officer Clara Pilsky (1984-1985) — Jane Kaczmarek
  • Officer Archie Pfiezer (1984-1985) — Barry Tubb
  • Officer Ann Schwitzer (1984) — Caroline McWilliams
  • Officer Randall Buttman (1984) — Michael Biehn
  • Officer Rudy Davis (1984) — Harold Sylvester
  • Officer Arthur 'Art' Delgado (season 2) — Jerome Thor
  • Officer Jack Halloran (killed in season 2) — Actor unknown
  • Officer Wallace 'Wally' Tubbs — Arnold Johnson
  • Officer Coley (1981-1982) — Robin Coleman
  • Officer Wallins (Property Dept.) (season 2) — Ben Slack
  • Officer Webster (EAT) (1981-?) (one of Hunter's key assistants) — Tom Babson (season 1) / Dwyane McGee (from season 2 onwards)
  • Officer Jack Ballantine (EAT) (1981-1987) (one of Hunter's key assistants) — Gary Miller
  • Officer Brunswick (EAT) (1981-1982) — Wesley Thompson
  • Detective John (J. D.) LaRue — Kiel Martin
  • Detective Sal Benedetto (1983) — Dennis Franz
  • Detective Patsy Mayo (1984-1985) — Mimi Kuzyk
  • Detective Harry Garibaldi (1984-1985) — Ken Olin
  • Detective John Walsh (1981-1982) — John Brandon
  • Detective Ben Lambert (1981-1982) — Charles Guardino
  • Detective Virgil Pattison Brooks (1981-1982) (Belker's fellow undercover cop, murdered in episode 20) — Nathan Cook
  • Detective Michael Benedict (1984-1987) — Gerald Castillo

Other characters

Cast notes

  • The producers did not intend Officers Renko and Hill to be ongoing characters - Renko was not supposed to survive their shooting in the pilot episode. NBC was sufficiently impressed with the chemistry between Charles Haid and Michael Warren that they insisted that Renko survive and become series regulars. Similarly, Coffey was "resurrected" after being killed at the end of the first season. In reruns, the scene was replaced and Coffey was said to be only wounded. Ed Marinaro joined the series as a regular the next season only to be shot down fatally again in season 6.

  • Barbara Bosson had been cast, having been Bochco's wife at the time. NBC president Fred Silverman noticed her and requested that she appear regularly in the series.

  • Dennis Franz appears as dirty cop Sal Benedetto in a memorable 3rd season story arc before taking on the role of Lt. Norman Buntz. Franz and Ken Olin also starred in the 1983 Bochco series, Bay City Blues.

  • Daniel J. Travanti and Charles Haid appeared on a 1974 episode of Gunsmoke together, playing a pair of criminals looking to rob a bank.

  • As actors' contracts were due to expire at the end of season seven, there was talk that if the show survived for season eight, Buntz would become the precinct's commanding officer.

  • Marinaro, Spano, Weitz, Warren and Blacque appear as police officers in the HBO sitcom Dream On in 1994.

  • Travanti rarely wishes to discuss the series in interviews, and often will not refer to it by name. In a 1989 episode of Later with Bob Costas, he compares it to referring to an estranged ex-wife. He and Veronica Hamel were reunited in 2002 at the NBC 75th Anniversary Special.

  • One minor recurring character was a flasher who would shout "I'm buck naked!" whenever he exposed himself. In one episode, the desk sergeant entered "Buck Naked" as the suspect's name in the arrest logs. The character (played by Lee Weaver) was also billed as "Buck Naked" in the credits, and later reappeared in NYPD Blue.

  • In 2004-2005 Charles Haid played C. T. Finney, a New York Police Captain on the sixth season of the NBC show Third Watch. Veronica Hamel also guest-starred as the mother of New York firefighter Alex Taylor as part of the NBC 75th Anniversary programming in May 2002, along with Marinaro and Weitz.

  • Officer Andrew Renko and his younger brother Tommy Renko are played by actual brothers Charles Haid and David Haid.

  • Future NYPD Blue and CSI: Miami star David Caruso appears in a minor role throughout the first season as the warlord of the Shamrocks, an Irish-American youth gang.

  • Daniel J. Travanti guest starred in an episode of "Cannon" as a killer. James B. Sikking played an unfortunate hitch-hiking victim in the opening teaser of the episode.

Gang culture

The violent portrayal of gang culture was a constant feature across all seven seasons. At the time it was a relatively unknown concept in some countries where the programme was aired. Many storylines relate to features of gang life, and also the very different approach of officers like Furillo and Goldblume compared with others such as Hunter. The constantly recurring gangs included the Gypsy Boys, the Shamrocks, the Black Arrows, the Royal Blood, the Dragons, the Street Lords, the Mao-Mao, the Pagans, the Emperors, and Los Diablos.


  • The two-hour pilot episode, "Hill Street Station," was awarded an Edgar for Best Teleplay from a Series.
  • Over its seven seasons, the show earned 98 Emmy Award nominations. That averages out to 14 nominations every year.
  • The series shares the Emmy Award record for most acting nominations by regular cast members (excluding the guest performer category) for a single series in one year. (Both L.A. Law and The West Wing also hold that record). For the 1981-1982 season nine cast members were nominated for Emmys. Daniel J. Travanti and Michael Conrad were the only ones to win (for Lead Actor and Supporting Actor respectively). The others nominated were Veronica Hamel (for Lead Actress), Taurean Blacque, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz, and Charles Haid (for Supporting Actor), and Barbara Bosson and Betty Thomas (for Supporting Actress). Also that year, for the only time in Emmy Award history all five nominees in an acting category (in this case, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) were from a single series.

  • In 2007, Channel 4 (UK) ranked Hill Street Blues #19 on their list of the "50 Greatest TV Dramas."[29480]

Theme and music

The theme tune was written by Mike Post (featuring Larry Carlton on guitar) and reached #10 on Billboard's Hot 100.

In 2006, The Who wrote a song called "Mike Post Theme", and songwriter Pete Townshend has confirmed that he took inspiration from the theme for Hill Street Blues.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released the first two seasons of Hill Street Blues on DVD in Region 1. In Region 2, Season 1 & 2 have been released by Channel 4 DVD, and can also be found on Season 3 can be viewed as streaming video on commercial sites. Fox currently has no plans to release any more box sets of the show, claiming that the lack of sales prompted their decision. Coincidentally, this explanation was given for the cancellation of two other Bochco shows, NYPD Blue and L. A. Law.

DVD Name Region 1 Region 2 Additional Information
Season 1 January 31, 2006 March 6, 2006 (R2 has different cover art)
  • "Next on..." Promos
  • Commentary tracks
  • Deleted scenes
  • "Roll Call" featurette
Season 2 May 16, 2006 June 12, 2006 (R2 has different cover art)
  • Gregory Hoblit: The Hill Street Blues Story
  • Profile: Bruce Weitz on Mick Belker
  • Featurette: Confessions of Captain Freedom
  • Commentary by Actors Charles Haid, Bruce Weitz and Dennis Dugan on "The World According to Freedom"
  • Commentary by Writer/Story Editor Jeffrey Lewis and Executive Story Consultant/Writer Robert Crais on "Freedom's Last Stand"
  • Profile: Charles Haid on Andy Renko
  • Gag Reel

NB: R2 DVD releases extras: R2 series 1 contains two commentaries (pilot and episode 11) and 51 minute "roll call" featurette with cast members only.

There are no extras on the R2 series 2 release.

Computer game

Hill Street Blues was also the name of a computer game that was based on the TV show released in 1991 by Krisalis. The game placed the player in charge of Hill Street Station and its surrounding neighborhood with the aim being to promptly dispatch officers to reported crimes, apprehending criminals and making them testify at court. If certain areas had less serious crimes unresolved, such as bag-snatching, they would soon escalate to more serious ones such as murder in broad daylight.

In popular culture

A 1982 episode of SCTV parodied how the large cast swarmed the stage for the show's 1981 Best Drama Emmy. In the parody, a mob rushed the stage and trampled Herve Villechaize, played by John Candy. Another episode parodies the show, in a sketch entitled "Benny Hill Street Blues", portraying life at the police station, but in the slapstick styles of the British comedian.

A 1984 edition of The Lenny Henry Show featured a single-sketch parody of the show, including a roll-call sequence and opening credits where the actors' billings (Lenworth J. Henry, Jane J. Bertish Jnr) clearly referenced the show's star, Daniel J. Travanti.

In U2's 1989 rockumentary, Rattle and Hum, Bono's rant in Bullet the Blue Sky includes the line "And I can't tell the difference between ABC news. Hill Street Blues, and a preacher on the 'Olde Time Gospel Hour'..."

A 1990 episode of Bochco's Cop Rock parodied the roll call with an original song, "Let's Be Careful Out There," based upon Sergeant Esterhaus' trademark instruction to his officers at the close of each roll call. James B. Sikking made a cameo appearance at the end of the scene, dressed as Lt. Hunter in LAPD SWAT uniform, lighting his pipe on the way out of the roll call room as his character typically did on Hill Street Blues.


  1. "Hill Street Blues" (1981)
  2. Corruption in South Ferry was a prominent feature of the Sullivan Commission in season two, while West Delavan and South Park (infrequently named) were first specifically mentioned by Esterhaus in the opening moments of the season one episode Freedom's Last Stand. Philmore is named in the opening scene of the episode The Shooter.
  3. The episode Domestic Beef introduces Preston Heights and Richmond Avenue, while in the same episode Farmingdale is said to be an easy precinct, suitable for a less able Captain to run.
  4. Castle Heights is named only once, by Washington, in the episode Honk if You're a Goose while Washington & LaRue are listing officers (and their precincts) who have taken their own lives.
  5. His first name "Jock" is used by Fay Furillo during the episode "Bloody Money", when she asks about his children; his surname "Buchanan" is used by Belker during the episode "Pestolozzi's Revenge".
  6. Suffering 'burn out' after 19.5 years service (20 years required for pension) Furillo allowed Delgado to stay on the books for six months without actually working - this proved a dangerous issue for him under interrogation by the Sullivan Commission. See episode The Spy who came in from Delgado.

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