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  • This is one of the great lost treasures in television history. This was one of the few shows of that era that dealt with day to day lives of the average policeman and didn't portray them as super heroes. Much of this had to do with the fact that the man who was responsible for much of the stories was acclaimed novelist Joseph Wambaugh (himself a former Los Angeles police officer). Unfortunately, after this show debuted, it was overshadowed by the likes of "Starsky and Hutch", "The Rookies" and "S.W.A.T". These shows, and others, gave you a very inaccurate portrayal of police life, whereas this one showed police officers as ordinary human beings with the same faults and failings as ordinary people. Too bad this show is not shown in reruns anymore, but luckily we now have shows like "NYPD Blue", "Boomtown" and, of course, the "Law and Order" franchise to carry on the legacy of this lost classic.
  • A fine example of both the strengths and the pitfalls of the anthology series, Police Story was among the highest-rated series of its time. At its worst, the series was as formulaic as most of commercial TV. At its best, it blew a breath of fresh air through mid-70's TV.

    Created as a vehicle for writer-turned-producer (and former L.A. cop) Joseph Wambaugh, the best episodes grittily portrayed the life of the street cop--good and bad. Each episode opened and closed with crackling radio calls (Female dispatcher: "John Frank William, 8-9-9). Guest stars ranged from Don Meredith (at the height of his Monday Night Football popularity) to David Birney (as amputee cop "Captain Hook") to a surprising turn by ultra-liberal Ed Asner (as an grinning old cop threatening to blow away one last perp before retiring in "Three Days to Thirty"). The series spawned the silly spin-off "Police Woman"; but it also dealt with cops who thought of their badge as a license to bully ("The Wyatt Earp Syndrome"--so titled because the Standards and Practices department refused to allow Wambaugh to call this episode by its original title--"The John Wayne Syndrome") and undercover cops who were difficult to distinguish from the criminals they pursued ("The Player" with James Farentino).

    Wambaugh reportedly tired of the regular infighting such a weekly series required, and semi-retired to a "consultant" status mid-way through the series run; the early episodes are clearly the best. But all are worth watching if only as the precursor which made later shows like St. Elsewhere, L.A. Law, and Homicide possible.
  • Ex-LA police officer Joseph Wambaugh was definitely one hot selling author in the early 1970's (and he still is today !). Many of Wambaugh's sharply written, incisive and confronting novels about the lives of Los Angeles police officers were made into first rate telemovies or major theatrical releases ( "The Onion Field", "The Choir Boys", "The New Centurions", "The Blue Knight" etc ).

    "Police Story" was also created by Wambaugh and is arguably one of the finest police drama series ever made for television. It really was the first TV series to develop intense stories about previously untouched issues confronting police officers such as job related stress, marriage break ups, alcoholism, retirement, partner conflicts etc. So many other police drama series in later years such as "Hill St Blues", "Cagney & Lacey", & "NYPD Blue" owe their roots to the ground breaking plots and solid scripts that were the backbone of "Police Story".

    Many dynamic actors appeared in this wonderful TV series over its 5 year run including Darren McGavin, Tony Lo Bianco, John Forsythe, Ralph Meeker, Mike Conners & Ricardo Montalban. For those of us who so fondly remember the series, we just have one question.....just when is it coming out on DVD ?? A multi DVD box set covering all five seasons would be warmly welcomed by many TV fans who crave to re-visit this unique and captivating TV series.
  • Real cops depicted as real people and a great mix of humor, drama and reality. The show attracted the cream of Hollywood for their episodes and several stars depicted several different characters. You just wanted to hang out with detectives Bert and Tony (Don Meredith and Tony LoBianco), applaud the grit of David Birney in "Captain Hook" and the true love displayed by Kim Darby in the same episode. You laugh at Monster Manor as cops enjoy pre-AIDS America and salute Claude Akins as a veteran cop with a practical touch. You feel "Wolf's" pain and follow the new deputy chief through his promotion process. I teach cops and police cadets and I would pay a lot for this great series, especially a DVD boxed set with some commentaries. After all, if they can do a boxed set of "Sledge Hammer" and "Reno 911" they ought to be able to do this landmark show. Super cool theme music, too.
  • I remember this series well. I tried to make sure that I watched it every week. Of course, my social life came first. What I liked most about this show, in contrast to its daughter Police Woman and so many others, it did not have a recurring main cast that you knew would always return the next week, thus there was really no cause for alarm when the main cast came in jeopardy. Most of the regulars were background players such as Profaci on Law and Order is now.

    Instead, Police Story was an ensemble series more akin to later shows such as St. Elsewhere and Hill Street Blues that deliberately sometimes knocked off likeable leads and there were so many recurring leads that one did not get sick of them every week. The show was unpredictable, not Mission Impossible or other gimmick shows such as McGyver where you always knew the good guys would win.

    The most similar current shows are Deep Space Nine and Law and Order, which are not afraid to knock off a major character for the sake of the story.

    There were so many Police Stories, and I have forgotten most of them; if they ever were rerun, I did not see them again. Two of the most memorable ones were, one where the hero was undercover and went to Tijuana to track down a drug shipment but the buy went wrong.

    The other memorable one starred Claude Akins, a well-known character player, as a detective, who with his partner, was tracking down violent felons and bail jumpers.

    Of all the thousands of movies and TV shows I've seen since the late 1940s, it takes a real powerful one to stick in my mind as those episodes did. The whole series was full of powerful episodes of equal impact. I just don't have room here for all them.
  • Hollywood didn't get it (they seldom do) and I guess the general public didn't either or these great shows would still be on re-runs or even DVD. My experiences from the 60's & 70's as a street cop were never so dramatic or intense as those shown on "POLICE STORY" but the stress and emotion they portrayed hit a level of realism that has never been repeated. Jack Webb's "DRAGNET" and "ADAM-12" presented cops as never-bend-the-rules moralists while "Dirty Harry" could still get work in "NYPD BLUE". Both were entertaining but I suspect that many viewers came to believe that the cops always catch the bad guys and/or that most cops think that it is OK to beat confessions from suspects or otherwise violate the Constitution they swore to defend. Most of the other cop shows were (and are) just silly. I'm sorry that every police cadet does not have the opportunity to see the "POLICE STORY" particular: "STIGMA", which was probably the best show of them all. It is also probably Mike Connors best performance ever, and Martin Milner is excellent as well. Some of the "POLICE STORY" series made it to commercial VHS but only in PAL (British) format. Too bad.
  • This was one of the great police dramas in television history. This was one of the few cop shows of that era that dealt with the day to day activities of the average policeman and they weren't portrayal as your run-of-the-mill "good" cop nor that they weren't portrayed as average "superheroes". These were the men and women who risk their lives in order to wear the badge and to protect the citizens of the city. "Police Story" was that show and during its five-year run it was one of the highest rated series on television. "Police Story" portrayed a sheer dose of realism of the average cop and it went as far as going beyond the psychological concepts of the police officer whether on the job and the relationships that they faced on the street and at home. "Police Story" dealt with good cops and the cops that were corrupt and hostile behind the badge.

    "Police Story" was an anthology television crime drama that was brainchild of former author and former Los Angeles Police Officer Joesph Wambaugh and represented a major step forward in the realistic depiction of police work and it featured some of the best acting ever depicted for network television. Creator Joesph Wambaugh along with producers Mel Swope and David Gerber(who serves as executive producer) brought along intense and sometimes riveting stories about previously untouched issues confronting police officers with issues such as job related stress,marriage,break-up,alcoholism,retirement,partner conflicts and even push the envelope for what was the boundaries for what was shown on network television like suicide and drug abuse. So many police dramas in later years like "Hill Street Blues","Cagney and Lacey","NYPD Blue","Law and Order",and even "The Shield" owe their roots to the ground breaking plots ans solid scripts that were the backbone of "Police Story". This series dealt with cops as real people with real problems that was added on with a mix of humor and reality in some of the episodes.

    "Police Story" originally aired on NBC-TV for 95 episodes airing from its premiere episode on September 25,1973 until the series finale on May 28,1978 for five astounding seasons. Out of the 95 episodes that were produced,the series consisted of 84 hour long episodes,3 episodes that were 90 minutes in length,and 8 two hour episodes totaling 95 episodes in all in color. The setting for this series was in Los Angeles with most of the characters working under or one of the branches of the Los Angeles Police Department. The anthology format allowed the show to try out characters and settings for series development,and during its broadcast run,"Police Story" generated three spin-offs. An episode from Season 1,"The Gamble"(March 26,1974),starring Angie Dickinson,became the pilot for the successful "Police Woman" television series(also produced by David Gerber),that run on NBC for four seasons from 1974 to 1978. An episode from Season 2,"The Return of Joe Forrester"(which was a 90-minute episode that aired on May 6,1975),was developed into a weekly series starring Lloyd Bridges that aired from 1975 to 1977. Finally,an episode from Season 5,"A Chance To Live"(which was a two hour episode that aired on May 28,1978),was spun off into the short-lived series "Man Undercover" starring David Cassidy.

    "Police Story" brought along some of the finest writers for this series ranging from Rick Husky to Donald Bellsario, Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts,Don Ingalls, Sy Salkowitz, Mark Rodgers, E. Jack Neuman, Robert L. Collins,to Ed Waters,Jerrold L. Ludwig, Stanley Kallis, Kenneth Pettus, Allan Balter, William Woodfield, Jonathan Christie, and Michael Mann.

    Not to mention the best directors in Hollywood ranging from Virgil W. Vogel,Barry Crane, Richard Benedict,Gary Nelson,Barry Shear,David Friedkin, Leo Penn, E.W. Swickhamer, Joesph Pevney to other directors like Paul Wendkos, Oscar Rudolph, Jack Smight, Richard Donner, Ivan Dixon, Ralph Senesky, Alf Kjellin,Seymour Robbie,Don McDougall,to Corey Allen, Charles S. Dubin, Christian Nyby, and Lee H. Katzin along with future Hollywood director John Badham contribute to some of the astounding episodes.

    This anthology series attracted the cream of Hollywood for their episodes and featured several stars depicting several different characters. The dynamic actors that appeared here ranged from Darren McGavin,Vic Morrow,Claude Akins,Tony LaBianco,Ralph Meeker,Ricardo Montalban,Mike Connors,along with Joe Santos,Glenn Corbett,Chuck Connors,Diane Baker,Michael Ansara,Norman Fell,Pernell Roberts,Tina Louise,Robert Stack,Robert Vaughn,Christopher George,Kim Darby,to Alex Rocco,Jan Michael-Vincent,William Shatner,Edward Asner,Robert Conrad,Gary Collins,Ina Balin to Sal Mineo,and even appearances from soul legends Issac Hayes and William "Smokey" Robinson in several episodes along with newcomers like James Woods,Harvey Keitel,Clifton Davis,Sylvester Stallone,and regulars like Don Meredith(at the height of his Monday Night Football Career),Scott Brady and John Forsythe. Even dramatic appearances from Frankie Avalon,Alex Rocco,Fred Williamson,Brock Peters,Eddie Egan,Bernie Casey,Eddie Albert,Robert Culp,James Gregory,Joe Santos,Howard Duff,Bo Svenson and James Farentino along with Earl Holliman.

    The best episodes from Season 1: "Slow Boy","Requiem for an Informer", "The Ho Chi Minh Trail","Chain of Command","Countdown"(parts 1 and 2), "Cop In The Middle","The Wyatt Earp Syndrome","Chief","The Gamble".

    The best episodes from Season 2: "Requiem for C.Z Smith","Robbery:48 Hours","Captain Hook"," A World Full Of Hurt","Explosion","Year of the Dragon"(parts 1 and 2),"Sniper","The Execution","Man In The Shadows","War Games","The Witness","The Return of Joe Forrester".

    The best episodes from Season 3: "Odyssey of Death"(parts 1 and 2),"Breaking Point","Fifty Cents,First Half Hour-One Dollar and Seventy Five Cents All Day","The Other Side of the Fence","Vice: 24 Hours","Open City",and "The Test of Brotherhood".

    The best episodes from Season 4: "Three Days To Thirty","The Other Side of the Badge","Nightmare on a Sunday Morning","Monster Manor","Spitfire","One of Our Cops Is Crazy","The Jar"(parts 1 and 2),and "Two Frogs On A Mongoose","Hard Rock Brown",and "The Malflores".

    The best episodes from it's final season:"Pressure Point","Stigma", "Day of Terror,Night of Fear","The Broken Badge","No Margin for Error", "A Chance To Live","A Cry For Justice","Confessions of a Lady Cop",along with the explosive "River of Promises" and one of the most riveting episodes of the final season "Gladiator School"
  • The first season of Police Story is FINALLY out on DVD! You can order it at or at More than likely, the DVD will also be sold at some of the major retail outlets, but I don't know that for sure. Anyway, I ordered my DVD from and I should be receiving it today or tomorrow. The first season DVD includes the pilot episode, titled, "Slow Boy", along with a Joseph Wambaugh interview segment. I can't wait for the second season to come out! In fact, I would be willing to buy all of the seasons now if Shout Factory were to release them all at once, which is unlikely, but hope springs eternal.:-)
  • jimv-53 February 2008
    Excellent and more realistic cop show, way ahead of it's time.Although I liked Hill Street Blues a lot, perhaps it went too far into the character's personal problems.Whereas Police story was more objective but still had the bite. Why is Police Story not available on DVD ? Some others shows that are available on DVD are not worth the 50 cent DVD disc they are put on !The theme music is also part of the attraction but the plots are more in keeping with real life. Most often, you did not get the Hollywood type ending. Because there were different actors in each episode, viewers would not get tired of the same faces. While I am at it, I would also like to see Robert Taylor's The Detectives released.
  • If you read any Wambaugh novels, both fiction and nonfiction, you can really appreciate the skill, care and intelligence put into this rather short lived TV series.

    The stories had a feel of reality that probably reflected Wambaugh's experience; but, also shows his knack for capturing the real nature of police work. And to put celebrities in the leading roles of law enforcement had to be one the best, funniest, more sophisticated inside jokes that ever got on the little screen.

    If you ever have a chance to see any of these shows on the re-run channels, take a few minutes to enjoy them. You will be entertained and satisfied, really!
  • Police Story was a bold and innovative concept for television police drama. It was perhaps the first police drama to portray cops as real humans with human frailties. There was not a smooth script with the sense that everything was under control. There was always an edge that something might go wrong and be irreparable by the end of the show. Its strengths were the revolving collection of actors from week to week. It often took well known type casted actors such as Martin Milnor as Pete Malloy,Adam 12 Hugh O'Brien as Wyatte Earp, and others and played them against type as the so clean appearing cops they were used to playing. That casting against type could make even a lack luster episode interesting.
  • Behind "Dragnet" and "Adam 12," this is THE definitive police show. "Police Story" paved the way for "Hill Street Blues," "NYPD Blue," and "Southland." With a great cast that includes, but is not limited to Vic Morrow, Chuck Connors, Don Meredith, Don Murray, Scot Bready, Harold Duff, Claude Akins, Loyd Bridges and Paul Burke in several re-occurring roles, this shows police work at it's most dangerous, boring, sad and funny. You don't know from episode to episode who is going to be appearing. One week it's SWAT action. The next, Robbery team detectives, Vice cops, Accident Investigation Division and, of course, Patrol Division. The cops are real people with their flaws, prejudices and guts. I was a rookie cop when Season 2 started. This was mandatory viewing for young cops back in the early 1970's. I've been a retired cop for over two years now. In that time, I had not missed being a cop one time, until I watched the first episode of Season 1, "Slow Boy." Vic Morrow made his first appearance as Sgt. Joe La Frieda and it's a gem. I can't recommend this enough. My youngest daughter made a bunch of points with sending this to me. I had no idea that it had been released to DVD. I'll be snapping up the remaining seasons as they become available.
  • Back in the 1970s, my family watched "Police Story" religiously. However, I was pretty young and cannot say just how good all the episodes were. This is because a few years ago they released Season One on DVD...and no other episodes have been released. So, my giving the show a 10 is purely based on the First Season....though it seems logical to assume subsequent seasons were also excellent.

    The show was very unusual because there were no series regulars. A few actors appeared periodically playing the same characters--but that was the exception to the rule. Instead, each episode focused on a different type of policework or different situation. One episode was all about a fingerprint man who was bored because he wanted to do field work, another was all about the Chief, another was about a dirty cop...and so on. Each was like a made for TV film and it was one of the real quality productions of its day. The writing was top-notch and realistic, the acting exceptional and the episodes were never dull. And, unlike most cop shows, it was never formulaic.

    If any of you learn about how to see the rest of the episodes...please let me know.
    • In watching most anthology series; no matter how broad in the subjects covered, you eventually get a feel for the sentiments of the series' producers. They're happy or hard. They like classically structured drama or flashy twists of irony. They're hopeful or cynical... especially when it comes to stories about the police and criminals. What's oddest about "Police Story" for me is that I expected a more clear cut pro law enforcement party line from Joseph Wambaugh, in the mode of Jack Webb and "Dragnet." Instead, episodes feature bad men who are good at the law and good men who are useless, as well as by the book heroes and delusional would be saviors. Few episodes give much in terms of comforting closure about the problems faced by a 1970s America in metropolitan decline.

    • It might be as simple as, Jack Webb was an unapologetic fanboy when it came to the law and those "on the job," while Wambaugh was a retired LAPD officer with a deeper grasp of the complexity of the real work. It's hard to imagine such a morally ambiguous look at police as people being aired on US television today. This week our star is a good person who's going to fail, next week our hero will hit a suspect or his own wife. No back story to soften the impact, no follow up to reassure us of kismet, just a close up at an ugly period in our shared past.
  • The all star cast in this show was excellent. Some of the best TV actors of the time wanted to be on the show. This show allowed more gritty TV shows that came later. Up to that time police dramas followed a party line. Jack Webb's shows are the best examples of that genre. I think "Southland" was a much more realistic and gritty show, but for its time in the early 70's "Police Story" was on the forefront of gritty shows. People were not used to seeing blood and guts and that is lacking when this show is viewed, but it was likely something the viewers did not want to see depicted at the time.

    I would buy every season of this show, minus season one, which I already own. The show started while I was in college and I didn't have a TV until after graduation so I missed three seasons. I would really like to see seasons 2 and 3 having not watched them at all, I would like to see the last seasons as well.

    This show is definitely one that people who like to watch police dramas need to see.
  • "John Frank Williams, 899!"

    My memories of Police Story (I was 14 when it debuted in 1973) had convinced me that it was groundbreaking, realistic and documentary-like in its execution.

    Having just bought the DVD, I can state assuredly that it *was* groundbreaking. However, one must keep in mind that it didn't take much to shatter the ubiquitous, cliché-ridden terrain of prime time TV dramas from the 50 to the 70s!

    As far as realism goes, I'll have to take it on faith that Wambaugh's involvement assured that Police Story's plots hewed more closely to actual police-work. There's more internal politics at play than, say, a straight-laced show like Dragnet or Adam 12... but nothing particularly controversial to my eyes.

    The plots and dialogue (replete with hilarious, antiquated 70s jargon!) are still very much "on the nose," lacking in the kind of subtextual elements regularly enjoyed by Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, The Shield and The Wire. But I never expected it to live up to those shows; they were made possible by Police Story. I was just surprised that the non-procedural, family/home elements were more FAR melodramatic than I remembered.

    I'm not putting the show down by any means! I'd love to see more seasons released. (If for nothing else, it's a fascinating time capsule for 70s TV actors & production technique.) Recommended!
  • So many total BS cop shows have been made. Unfortunately many people actually believe that true life cops are like those supercops depicted. It hurts the citizen/cop relationships because people think when they call on the police they will do the right thing and devote all of their time to solve the stolen car or bicycle from someone's garage left open. In reality they do not even have the resources to come to your home to take a report. In these more technical times many communities have the ability for citizens to file reports of crimes online which frees up officers to handle the calls that are priority one with the threat of someone's life at risk. The show Police Story did not receive the ratings it should've but as was previously stated by another review, the Starsky & Hutch supercop type shows were the top rated. I am pleased that it did run from 1973 to 1987 but I do not think it was continuous. I may be wrong but I think it missed a season then was picked up midseason the following season. I am not a former cop but I knew a lot of them for several years very well and they all had the same opinion that Police Story was the only one that came close to depicting reality. Before that Adam-12 surprisingly was the most realistic according to the officers I knew. There was an overlap of these two shows from 1973 to 1975 when Adam-12 had it's last season. As far as the movie Police Story and the sequels, they did not come close to getting it right.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I use to watch Police Story as a boy on Friday nights and loved the show. Watching re runs made me realize Police Story had it all. Beat cops, detectives, paper work, politics, court and personal stories as each episode was different with each different story. Story details great actors and characters made Police Story a classic 70's series such: the psycho boss gets up pushing paper work to avoid more problems. Kurt Russel as a rookie cop. Michael Jan as a swat guy. A Detective work with robbery homicide with a memorable ending. A bad guy get shot threw a plat glass window the the detective says that's one bad dude! A cop get crap job's and a awful partner because of politics. Another cop has to go to trial over false assault claims because of his wife. The cop who goofed around and got his partner killed, the other who drank too much and other serious stories Police story had levity with much humor with the cop who ate a driver licence with peanut butter and many other real life details which de-stressed a stress filled job. Well written and directed. The author was a true police crime writer who added realism to a great series. 7 stars.
  • This show was hit and miss as far as I am concerned.Some episodes were good,some were not-so-good,and several are howlers with weak plots,improbable situations,and flat acting. As far as this show being fantastic or one of the best,I just don't see it. On the bright side,there are a lot of cool guest stars. Overall it is mediocre.You've seen better.
  • Police Story had real celebrities as cops and villians in a hour tale of myrth lies and gunplay. Only on tv can we see celebrities as federal agents. in real life ZSA ZSA GABOR and ETHAN HAWKE won't be going to bust up a chinese spy ring or a crack house. This show was interestign and as close to anthology as one could get. Not as realistic or disturbing as the crimes in OLIVIER OLIVIER, this film deal with a 1970's crime beat feel. Enjoy.
  • I have seen many series about detectives and cops of all kinds all over the decades. Cops as the leads, I mean. And of course this TV show will remain as one of the best ever, even forty years after its releasing. In this TV show, cops are shown from every angle possible: high rate cops, commissioners, beat cops, detectives, lieutenants, homicide, drug enforcers, vice squad cops, Internal Affairs cops; male cops, female cops, cops with problems of all kinds, cops with kids, lone cops, widower cops...But, unfortunately, in this show, I have not seen corrupted, rogue, rotten cops schemes, which is although a very interesting point of view about police force and which we have seen many times in long length features for the big screen, and not only... But not in this series. So far I remember. But maybe I missed one, after all that's possible.