The earliest days of television saw the beginnings of Network Programing in its various forms and Genres. In those days prior to the introduction of Video Tape, circa 1958, the programs fell into one of three categories: Live programing, kinescope films and the standard filmed TV Series.So we had News, Variety, Drama,Sports and "Local Chit-Chat(a mixture of mostly Local "Soft" News and Personal Appearances by Celebs , who just happen to be in the area.
Later in the mid-1950's, we saw that the Juvenile Western Shows like THE GENE AUTRY SHOW, ROY ROGERS & DALE EVANS and THE LONE RANGER gave rise to a new, revolutionary idea(for TV). Some one out there in TV land came up with the idea of doing "The Adult Western"! Now to this of course, doesn't mean X Ratings or the old "Adults Only!" designation. The Adult Western meant a mature, more realistic, and meatier in characters and storyline.
Other actors on the series are: Kiel Martin, Taurean Blacque, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, Betty Thomas, Rene Enriquez, Ed Marinairo, Robert Hirshfeld and so many more who came and left the cast during a 7 year run!
Once the 'Adult Western' cat was out of the bag, with GUNSMOKE(?), a great population explosion of Western Primetime Series occurred. Soon the Adult Western was the leading genre of filmed series on the air.
Well by the mid-1970's, the tide had turned radically. At one point the only series that was even set on the American Frontier was LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. The new "Western" was The Cop Shw. Now, we do mean Police and not the Private 'I' series, which is similar and definitely related. With the coming of HILL STREET BLUES in 1981, a new pinnacle was reached. Until then, most series either were so involved in the activities of the bad time and the Cops (usually Detectives) working the cases.
Conversation between partners often times sounded a lot like it could be used in a training manual or training film. This seemed to be a particularly hard problem with any series involving the backbone of our Polioce Departments, the Uniformed Beat Cops.
Producer/Creator Steven Bochco's inhabitants of HILL STREET were a great improvement and an advancement for all series dramas. Bochco gave the characters 3 Dimensional Personalities, rather than being like comic strip/comic book cartoon characters, talking in formal Police Jargon about Police situations.
HILL STREET introduced the full person to the TV screen. So, if a guy's a Cop, could he be an Oprea Buff or sing with a Barber Shop Quartet society group? Could he have a side business or be a Brick Layer? Whatta bout any Pilots or Scuba Divers?*** And even more importantly, we get a view of personal lives of the men and women of the Precinct. We see divorces, alcoholism, on-the job affairs and all manner of problems that are with us in real life. Early on, they dealt with a Detective McAffey and his being married to 2 women at once. The original Desk Sgt. Phil Esterhaus discovers that an old friend of his is a homosexual and has been paying a lot of attention to him. Sgt. Stan 'Stash" Jablonski(Robert Prosky) comes transferred to the station on bad paper concerning him and a certain Female Lieutennant.
THe whole zoo is presided over by one Captain Frank Furillo(Daniel J. Travante) who is not without his foibles. Favourite characters include:Sgt./Lt. Howard Hunter(James B. Sikking) G.I. type head of the Precinct's Emergency Action Teamor "EATERS", PO's Bobby Hill & Andy Renko (Michael Warren & Charles Haid) a salt-n-pepper pair of Street Smart kids, now grown up, Two special mentions for women characters go to: Fay Furillo(Barbara Bosson) Capt. Frank's ex, and A.D.A.Joyce Davenportand (hey,ain't a Davenport a name for sofa-hide-a-bed?) .