Bob Butler wrote:
It was a great collision of a number of elements. Timing, of course, had a lot to do with everything. I was at a point where I could act on some of my hatreds, namely, cleanliness. I hated cleanliness. Star Trek was so cleanly [sic]. I tried to get the scenery butchered up as though it had been in use, and I couldn’t do it. The production designer was already working, and I lost that argument. It’s largely as many arguments as you can win. The more arguments you win, the more singularity the yarn has. It’s not rocket surgery, it’s singularity, recognition of people at work and at play consistently and clearly and understandably. That’s what we’re trying to do, so we win as many arguments as we can.
I took Remington Steele to Grant Tinker, who was a friend of mine on The Dick Van Dyke Show. We’d known each other a long time. And he said, before I give you an answer on Remington Steele, let me give you a script, and he sent Hill Street Blues to me. And, immediately, the directorial disdain surfaced.
Do we really need another cop show? So that kind of cleared my head and I knew I had to go to work again. And, I had the boss’s ear. Grant Tinker was the boss. I had the certainty, which was that cleanliness was hideous and messiness was appropriate, and more real and more recognizable also, so I was able to shake that execution of that story up, overlap the dialogue, [and] make the lighting look kind of routine and hideous and improper in places. Truly, the cinematographer, a very knowledgeable Hollywood guy, knew when I said, “Look, let’s make this thing look awful. I want it to look awful.” He knew I was talking about Hollywood awful.
I mean, we were going to be able to see everybody, it was going to work fine, but it just was going to be less shiny, glossy, perfect, surface-y, clean. So he would come up to me, I think just to assure himself, and he would say, “Listen, man, it’s looking pretty bad.” And I would always say, “Good. Make it look worse.”
And that’s really the truth of the way we worked. You know, the show had legs. Let’s face it, it had legs. I remember the fourth act in the hour form having not much action. There’s a tie-down situation around a liquor store where there’s some hostages inside. That’s not a very big opportunity for a chase with people tied down and movies finish with some form of action, chase, gunfight, whatever, and I remember mentioning to the guys, “Guys, we’ve got a talky fourth act.” I mean, sure, the EATers, Emergency Action Team that Howard Hunter, Jim Sikking, he’s here tonight with us, were active and they blew up the back door and then shot up the liquor bottles, etc., but it was clever and it was wordy and it was somewhat action-less. I expressed this as humbly, secretly, arrogantly, as I possibly could, and blank faces. You try to win an argument three times and if you don’t you forget it and move on because the clock is ticking, the sun’s going down, the teacher is going to take the kids away from you, and you have to get the damned thing shot. So, I gave in, and your friendly director was wrong, man, because the fourth act played great. So bet on me less than a hundred percent of the time.