January 15

This Day in History

Crime

Jan 15, 1981:

Hill Street Blues begins run

On this day in 1981, Hill Street Blues, television's landmark cops-and-robbers drama, debuts on NBC. When the series first appeared, the police show had largely been given up for dead. Critics savaged stodgy and moralistic melodramas, and scoffed at lighter fare like Starsky and Hutch. Created by Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll, Hill Street Blues invigorated television, paving the way for more realistic and gritty fare.

Hill Street Blues was set in an anonymous northern city (the exteriors were actually filmed in Chicago) and was the first real attempt by television to portray police officers as fallible human beings. Each episode began with the 7 a.m. roll call led by Sergeant Esterhaus. He closed the roll call with his trademark refrain, "Let's be careful out there."

The series not only changed the way that Americans viewed police officers, it also revolutionized the television drama itself. The show resisted formula and introduced the ensemble cast. Whereas early cop shows like Dragnet and Adam-12 were centered around a couple of officers who always got their man by the end of the hour, the full squad house of regulars on Hill Street Blues rarely resolved cases in one episode.

Hill Street Blues was acclaimed through its entire run. When it ended in May 1987, it had set the records for most Emmys won in a single season and most nominations in one year.

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This Week in History, Jan 15 - Jan 21

Jan 15, 1981
Hill Street Blues begins run
Jan 16, 1936
The Moon Maniac
Jan 17, 1950
The Great Brinks Robbery
Jan 18, 1990
Barry arrested on drug charges
Jan 19, 1999
Man charged in California cyberstalking case
Jan 20, 1974
Football player-turned-murderer born
Jan 21, 1959
Switzer of Our Gang murdered

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