Hill Street Blues - Series 1 [DVD]
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The Hill Street Blues - Series 1 DVD contains all episodes from the first series of the ground-breaking TV cop show from legendary producer/writer Steven Bochco. One of the most innovative and critically-acclaimed series of its time, Hill Street Blues ran from 1981 to 1986 and has been influential in shaping later cop shows such as "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law". Set in a fictional locale patterned after Chicago, it tells the story of an overworked, under-staffed police precinct and provides a realistic view of the personal and work lives of its characters, which occupy every rung of the hierarchical ladder. Throughout the series, Captain Frank Furillo juggles the delicate balancing act of protecting the jurisdiction's law-abiding citizens, without inciting the local gangs and criminal elements, which are openly hostile to any police presence. As dangerous as his inner-city neighbourhood may be, however, Furillo's biggest battles often involve protecting his own cops from the Public Defender's Office, self-serving bureaucrats, and even each other.
'Let's be careful out there.' So ends each roll-call session at the Hill Street station house. In Hill Street Blues Series 1 the action gets off to a flying start with Precinct Captain Frank Furillo having to defuse a hostage crisis. The rest of the season keeps up the pace, as Officer Larue battles a drinking problem, Sgt. Esterhaus questions his upcoming marriage, and Furillo finds his chances for promotion compromised by a city councilman's involvement in a murder.
Created by Steven Bochco and one of television's most influential series, Hill Street Blues was not your father's cop show. The Emmy-winning pilot episode, "Hill Street Station," immediately established the series as less a police procedural than an up-close and personal "interface with the police experience." To establish gritty, documentary-like realism, the show featured sequences, such as the pre-credit roll call, that were filmed with a hand-held camera. There was chaotic, overlapping dialogue. There were sudden, shocking bursts of violence that claimed popular characters. Story lines were not wrapped up at the end of the hour, but instead, unfolded serially throughout the season. It's no wonder that Hill Street, while championed by most critics, was initially not embraced by viewers. It was, in the beginning, one of television's lowest rated shows, its case not helped by NBC's criminal practice of juggling it in its primetime schedule). But there is justice in Hollywood. Hill Street Blues won the Emmy for best drama in its first season. Also honored were several members of the ensemble, including Daniel J. Travanti as the compassionate and incorruptible Precinct Capt. Frank Furillo, Michael Conrad as the avuncular Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (whose cautionary, "Let's be careful out there," became the show's pop culture signature), and Barbara Babcock as the wildly sexual Grace Gardner, who rocks Esterhaus's world (particularly in the episode that earned her statuette, "Fecund Hand Rose").
There were no big stars on Hill Street Blues (or, for that matter, no little stars, as one of the cast members jokes during a near-hour-long reunion featurette included as a bonus feature on this three double-sided disc set). Each was an indelible character, among them Charles Haid as cowboy cop Andy Renko, Veronica Hammel as sexy public defender Joyce Davenport, Bruce Weitz as the untamed, animalistic Belker, Keil Martin as LaRue, whose descent into alcoholism is one of the season's most compelling dramatic arcs, and James Sikking as the gung-ho Howard Hunter. Once daring, Hill Street Blues seems almost quaint today, with none of the graphic sex or language that scandalized NYPD Blue (in one episode, a captured cat burglar, portrayed by a pre-L.A. Law Michael Tucker, makes a reference to "wolf pee-pee"). The ethnic portrayals, too, are not exactly nuanced. But the human dramas at the heart of Hill Street still make for arresting television. --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
Having said that these only slightly mar the overall enjoyment and I look forward to the timely release of all seven seasons.
After settling down for a serious couch-fest of memories with these DVD's it was quickly apparent something was missing. Scenes weren't making sense. Edits were skipping around. Events were being referenced that the viewer hadn't seen.
As has been mentioned here elsewhere, these are the edited versions of the show suitable for early-evening transmission on Channel 4. And they haven't been edited at all well. The action, gritty and realistic for its time but tame by today's standards, has been all but totally deleted. A key ingredient of what made the show so good isn't there any more. Just what is the point of releasing a cult series to enthusiasts if you then remove one of the facets that made it so memorable? I expect better from the channel that prides itself on providing innovative, controversial programming.
It got so bad that I gave up watching half way through the second series. I'm even thinking about flogging both boxed sets on the Amazon resellers market.
Great programme, lousy DVD's...
Because the discs are double-sided this equates to having six discs, which you'll note is one more than the region 2 version currently available. Suffice to say; this is the better option. The episodes aren't edited and it comes with extras, so it's the best way to watch this classic, ground-breaking series.
One of the great milestones of modern American TV it was a huge jump forwards from the glut of formulaic cop shows of the 1970's. Here we got to see the real lives and loves outside of the precinct and for the first time got an insight as to why the characters were like they were, good and bad. This program really coloured my teen years and I'm thrilled that it's finally being released on DVD. I never thought it would happen.
NYPD Blue, The Shield, CSI Whatever - none of these would have existed without Hill Street Blues.
Here's to Season 2, 3, 4 etc.
I grew up with these cops and as the last reviewer stated, I never thought it would arrive on DVD. It's been a long wait, but worth it.
Still showing on More4; catch it if you're a fan, if you've never seen it watch it to find out why it is the best.
Although it does come over as being somewhat dated now and does not have the gritty realism of, say 'The Wire'(superb!), it is still a thoroughly engaging watch and will definitely bring a smile to anyone who enjoyed it first time around.
However, as great as it is to have the first two seasons on DVD; what isn't so great and has been mention in other reviews of these products, is the mindless and idiotic way these have been re-edited when transferred from the original tapes to DVD; so much so, that it has rendered some of parts of the story almost unintelligible if the viewer is not familiar with the original TV series.
My opinion of these DVD sets is that they are still worth purchasing for the nostalgia trip, but prepare to be irritated by the moronic editing and the possibility that the remaining seasons may never be released on DVD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
DVD box set was bought for my mum but I have watched some with her and we've both enjoyed seeing the familiar characters again. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jude
Life is complete. Seasons 1, 2 and 3 have arrived. Absolutely brilliant viewing. Without doubt this is by far the best US police programme ever. Read morePublished 6 months ago by beau nydle
A wonderful trip down memory lane, enjoying viewing past episodes, they are in excellent condition.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer