Let’s Be Careful Out There or Why An Englishman Loves Hill Street Blues

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The cast of Hill Street Blues

by Neil Bamforth

Steven Bochco died at the start of April. I, for one, mourned his passing hugely. Mainly, I have to say, as the main man behind the greatest TV show in the history of TV shows ever, anywhere at any time on the planet. If you wish to disagree don’t bother. I am right and you are wrong. So there.

Hill Street Blues changed TV drama forever – and, clearly, for the better.

Never before had anyone produced a show with an ensemble cast that the viewers cared about. There had always been one, two or, perhaps, three main stars along with a supporting cast. Shows focused on the main stars. That was what worked.

An ensemble cast only tended to happen in ‘soap operas’ because that worked for soap operas, but only for soap operas.

Bochco had other ideas and along came Hill Street Blues.

It never made it very far up the viewer rating chart and is, probably, the lowest viewer rated show ever to get awarded a second season – then a third and on to the final seventh. Undoubtedly the number of prestigious awards it garnered saved it from being dropped and, for that, we should all be eternally grateful.

Huge stars made early screen appearances in Hill Street Blues.

David ‘CSI Miami’ Caruso played ‘Tommy’ – leader of The Shamrocks street gang. Danny ‘Lethal Weapon’ Glover appeared in three episodes as a gang warlord released from prison murdering his way back up to warlord again.

Andy Garcia popped up as did Tim Robbins (The Shawshank Redemption among his later film rolls) as a rookie cop bullied into committing suicide.

Linda ‘Terminator’ Hamilton played Officer Joe Coffey’s girlfriend and Michael ‘Starship Troopers’ Ironside appeared very briefly.

Yes. You are right. I am an anorak. Some people go train spotting or plane spotting or collect stamps. I’m an unashamed Hill Street Blues anorak. I adore it as much today as I did in the 80’s.

The characters, without exception, are played to perfection by an extraordinarily talented ensemble cast.

I have met others who claim to love the show but I’m invariably disappointed when I discover they can’t remember/didn’t see the episode when a cow is found in an apartment and finally, off screen, lands on a passing motorists car while being winched from the building’s roof. You discover this when Officer Andy Renko (Charles Haid) is being interviewed on TV and the TV is on in the station house.

The initial idea for the show came from Paul Newman’s excellent movie ‘Fort Apache: The Bronx’ and you can certainly see how that movie was something of an inspiration for Bochco.

However, after the initial inspiration, Hill Street Blues came alive in its own right.

Captain Francis Xavier Ferrillo (Daniel J Travanti), Sgt Phillip Freemason Esterhuis (Michael Conrad).

I’d better stop now. I can reel off the entire cast list of all seven series and most of the guest actors too – well, those who went onto be quite famous in the movies anyway.

“Dispatch, we have a 9-11, armed robbery in progress – see Surplus Store – corner of People’s Drive and 124th street” and then the magnificent theme music courtesy of Mike Post.

Mick Belker:”SIT HAIRBALL!”

Sgt Stan Jablonski:”Let’s do it to them before they do it to us” –

Capt. Furillo: “Look at this! You got the address wrong on the warrant.”
Sgt. Esterhaus: “Captain, we never shoulda stopped doing these in pencil.”
Capt. Furillo: “So when the man understandably objects to being arrested, Earps here hits him with a board!”
Officer Earps: “We had to, boss. We couldn’t get his attention.”

Thank you, Stephen Bochco, and thank you for reading this, you can go now – AND HEY! Let’s be careful out there.

About Post Author

Neil Bamforth

I am English first, British second and never ever European. I have supported Oldham Athletic FC for 50 years which has made me immune from depression. My taste buds have died due to too many red hot curries so I drink Kronenburg beer and milk - sometimes in the same glass. I have a wife, daughter, 9 cats and I like toast.
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S. Dick
4 years ago

Again our Neil has written another colourful article and I do so love HSB.

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  S. Dick
4 years ago

In which case I love you….er…in a manly way if you’re a man…. 😉

jess
Reply to  Neil Bamforth
4 years ago

Nothing wrong with some man love, the greatest bromances have yet to be Neil 🙂

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  jess
4 years ago

Oh eck….😬

jess
Reply to  Neil Bamforth
4 years ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=82&v=PGNiXGX2nLU Little musical interlude for yer man loving.

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  jess
4 years ago

😂😂😂😂😂😂

Neil Bamforth
4 years ago

My apologies for some of the name spelling….I could Google but that would be cheating. This is from memory here and now as I type….AM I an anorak then? 🙂

Daniel J Travanti : Captain Furillo. Michael Conrad : Sgt Phil Esterhuis. Barbara Boson : Faye Furillo. Michael Warren : Bobby Hill. Taurean Blaque : Neil Washington. Rene Enriquez : Ray Caitano. Kiel Martin : John De Larue. Charles Haid : Andy Renko. Victoria Hamill : Joyce Davenport. Joe Spano : Henry Goldblum. Betty Thomas : Lucy Bates. Ed Marinaro : Joe Coffey. Bruce Weitz : Mick Belker. James B Sikking : Howard Hunter. Robert Hischfeld : Leo Schnitz. Trinidad Silva : Jesus Martinez. Dennis Franz : Norman Buntz. John Cypher : Fletcher Daniels. Mimi Kuzyk : Patsy Mayo. Ken Olin : Harry Garibaldi. Robert Prosky : Stan Jablonski. Barbara Babcock : Grace Gardener. Gerry Black : Alf Chesney. George Wyner : Irwin Bernstein. Lisa Sutton : Robyn Tataglia. Jeffrey Tambor : Alan Wachell. Tony Perez : Officer Perez. Robert Clohessy : Patrick Flaherty……

it’s getting harder now…

Somebody Miller…Gary? played Hunters Lieutenant…Ballentyne?

Sid The Snitch was Peter Jurrasic? Can’t be Jurrasic…something like that?

Ah! Meghan Gallagher : Tina Russo!

Vincent Lambretta? No…something Italian…Luciano? No don’t be silly…anyway…he was Jerry Fuchs.

Helen somebody was Natalie Deroy?

Ozzie Cleveland was something Preston. Initials. Can’t remember…damn it!

Anyway….that took about 10 minutes without help!

See! I am an anorak! 🙂 🙂 🙂

jess
4 years ago

Oh I am bothering you indeed. This cannot stand, since Game of Thrones is the BEST show ever made, till the next Best show ever made is on television. My mom liked Hill St Blues too.

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  jess
4 years ago

Well at least your mum had great taste!! 😜

jess
Reply to  Neil Bamforth
4 years ago

Of course she did. She chose me didn’t she 😉

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  jess
4 years ago

Abso! 🙂 🙂

Admin
4 years ago

It was my favorite show way back in the day. My absolute favorite. Bochco was a genius.

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  Michael John Scott
4 years ago

👍👍👍👍 spot on!!

Jaime Da Silva
4 years ago

Absolutely. THE BEST

Neil Bamforth
Reply to  Jaime Da Silva
4 years ago

👍👍👍👍👍😘

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