Posts Tagged ‘“Hill Street Blues”’

Let’s Be Careful Out There: “Hill Street Blues” Turns 30

Friday, January 14th, 2011

30 years ago, on January 15, 1981, Hill Street Blues premiered. The series redefined the “cop genre,” yet was nearly canceled for low ratings!  The series was the lowest-rated series that NBC had ever renewed (ranking at #87 of 96 of all prime-time shows).  This first season then set the record for most Emmy nominations (21) and wins (8) in a single season.  Created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll and produced by fabled MTM Enterprises, Hill Street Blues would win the Emmy for Best Drama series for four consecutive years.

Star Daniel J. Travanti describes the series in his Archive of American Television interview:

“First of all, it’s not a cop show. It’s a complex, satirical, social commentary: an entertaining, goofy, serious, suspenseful, funny, wrenching series of tales about complex individuals of varying personalities, some of whom have heroic qualities– all of whom have flaws of one sort or another, greater or smaller, who happen to be in police work.  Who do their best to do that difficult work of apprehending suspects and punishing the guilty while being fair and honest, or trying to be, and avoiding corruption.  It’s about people, complex people, embroiled in complex emotional relationships and tough, tough work, who happen to be in uniform.  That’s all.  And it has what almost no other American series has ever had: satire.  It deliberately makes fun of social problems in order to call attention to them by way of suggesting improvement.”

The sincerest form of flattery, SCTV’s “Benny Hill Street Blues”

Director Robert Butler’s Archive Interview is Now Online!

Friday, August 3rd, 2007


Director Robert Butler was responsible for creating the look and feel for many classic television series in a career that spanned five decades. His full Archive of American Television interview is now available online, including detailed accounts of directing the first episodes of Batman, Moonlighting (pilot telefilm) and Hill Street Blues.

Click here to access Robert Butler’s entire five-hour interview.

Interview description:
Butler began by describing his early years breaking into the business as an usher at CBS. He described his experiences in various behind-the-scenes capacities on such classic “live” anthology series as Climax! and Playhouse 90. He described his first break in television directing on the comedy/drama series Hennesey. He detailed his many and varied assignments in series television in the 1960s on such series as The Detectives, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, Gunsmoke, The Defenders, The Fugitive, Hogan’s Heroes, The Twilight Zone, Batman, and Star Trek. Butler described his work in the 1970s on television movies (such as Columbo MOWs and James Dean) and feature films. He extensively described his groundbreaking work on the look of Hill Street Blues, for which he directed several of the initial episodes (including the pilot). He talked about his later work on such series as Remington Steele, Moonlighting (the telefilm pilot), Out on a Limb, Midnight Caller (which he also executive-produced), Sisters, and Lois & Clark. The interview was conducted by Stephen J. Abramson on January 14, 2004.