A beaker full of death wrote:
Dunno if it's on Netflix, but it's on Hulu. The best of all time: Hill Street Blues
I agree on the quality, but unfortunately only the first three seasons are available. The show didn't really hit its stride till later Season 2, and I'd say seasons three and four are the heart of the series. Season five is interesting because of the increased influence of David Milch, and it's still really good. Seasons six and seven seemed to lose something, even with the addition of Dennis Franz.
One area where "Hill Street" is impressive to this day is how they handled the ensemble. When I hear someone say it's impossible to write good stuff for everybody in a big cast, I think back to HSB (and its contemporary St Elsewhere
). They had IIRC thirteen opening credits "starring" roles (maybe fifteen or sixteen in Season 5), and a number of recurring regular or semi-regular parts (Asst. DA Bernstein, Jesus Martinez, Chief Daniels, Grace Gardiner, Al Wachtel, Jerry Fuchs...). And they didn't just get lines here and there. The audience knew each one of them: their family life, their personal problems, their background, their sense of humor, which of their co-workers they liked and which they didn't, and on and on. And it didn't take years to build that, either, it was there almost from the beginning. Just allowing the characters to talk, to interact for a minute or so and deliver a few deftly-drawn, outside-the-plot lines contributed volumes to their believability. Really wonderfully done.
Gary Mitchell wrote:
I've been rewatching Miami Vice on Netflix. Not every episode is the greatest but I'm enjoying it.
I watched a couple of those recently to show my wife "special guest villains" Michael Richards and Frank Zappa, and to see how the show compared to my recollections. It was OK, but not something I'd rewatch aside from the nostalgia factor. The stylistic emphasis is almost overwhelming and undercuts the realism a bit; there had to be some unfashionable interiors somewhere
with old desks, dingy acoustic ceilings and bad flourescent lights. But they go to a city courtroom and it looks like it belongs with some futuristic alien civilization from TNG. Back in the day it was said that if there was a house in a location shot that violated their "no earth tones" rule, they'd have it painted gray.
It's interesting that Anthony Yerkovich went from the decidedly un-glamorous realism of "Hill Street" to Miami Vice
where style was clearly valued over all else. He did re-use the name "Sonny Crockett," who was a pretty nasty, murderous biker on a few "Hill Street" eps.
Cop shows themselves are fairly easily divisible into procedurals, character-driven workplace ensembles and social dramas. One type found in literary mysteries, the humdrum, does seem pretty much missing from the screen.
True, though Adam-12
did make some effort to include episodes with little action. Of course there were plot complications, but they often got episodes by without car chases, foot pursuits or gunplay, and often focused on the officers answering routine calls from a wide range of everyday citizens. It seemed like they'd only use their siren a handful of times a season, which was quite frustrating for me as a kid. Dragnet
did similar things sometimes, too: Friday spends an episode on a board reviewing a fellow officer's conduct, for instance, or doing background checks on new applicants.
One mystery detective show I've not seen since the original '80s run and recently revisited is Remington Steele
; a local digital side-channel has started running it as part of "Me-TV" programming. And it's held up quite well. The leads are great, the premise is strong, the characters are real and funny, the plots are sometimes a little rushed but usually solid. Stephanie Zimbalist is terrific, never overselling her detective's hardness and handling the light comedy effortlessly. I never understood how she didn't become a major star.