The Police Drama (aka Cop Series) is, was and most probably always will occupy a major segment of the Networks' prime-time and off time schedules. Much like the Adult Western's predominant position of the 1950's and '60's, the Cop Show provides us with a dramatic outlet for acting out and hence the abstract "solutions" to that which troubles us; at least in a fictional format.
WE certainly saw a plethora of these Police Dramatizations over the years. Starting with the earliest days of Commercial TV Broadcasts; the Strong & Long Arm of the Law has given us a peek at various fictionalized written takes on the Victims, the Victimizers and the guys charged with our protection and with the arrest and rendering to our local Prosecutor for proper charging and adjudication in our Criminal Courts.
When we list some of the best of these series that have permanently etched their impressions of just what Cops are in our collective consciousness; we still find the roster to be considerable. Starting in the late 1940's and the early 1950's we were treated to a parade of titles such as: THE PLAINCLOTHESMAN (DuMont TV Net., 1949-54) with Ken Lynch as the "Subjective Camera" Lieutenant, ROCKY KING, INSIDE DETECTIVE (DuMont, 1950-54) with Roscoe Karns, the one and only DRAGNET (Mark VII Ltd./NBC, 1951-59) and THE LINEUP (CBS Television , 1954-60) with Warner Anderson, Tom Tully & Marshall Reed.
AN even casual inspection of the nuts & bolts that make up these shows would quickly reveal the one overwhelming factor that runs through all of them. And that is that they are all stories of not the Preliminary Investigations; but rather they are dramatizations of the Follow-Up. The original occurrence and the actions taken by the original responders (most often the Uniformed Patrolmen on the Beat) is the Preliminary; all of the subsequent interviewing, canvassing and whatever are part of the Follow-Up Investigation and is the province of the Plainclothesmen, the Detectives.
AND therein lies the crux of the problem.
THE "Dicks" receive their assignment after the fact and generally know something about where to start and which trail to follow at first. Although most of the info is unknown, other than the Victim and the Classification of Crime; it's up to the "Gumshoes" to shed the light on the Who, What, Where, Why and When of the rest of the pertinent facts as well as the identity of the perpetrator(s).
THE Uniformed Cops, on the other hand, deal with any and all types of incidents. Whatever their next assignment may be, be it an On-View occurrence or a call for Police Service; most usually originating from their Communications Center via the 2 Way Radio. It is all a matter of the "Luck of the Draw". This does not make for a very easily constructed filmed dramatic presentation. Oddly enough, the truly successful Series about the Uniformed Police are rare.
TWO shows come to mind. The first is Jack Webb & R.A. Cinader's ADAM 12 (Adam 12 Prod./MarkVII Ltd./Universal/NBC, 1968-75) with Martin Milner & Kent McCord as Reed & Malloy. This was sort of the first horse out of the gate for Uniformed Cop Shows. The production team steeped the series in heavy doses of Police Procedure, General Orders, unusual incidents, colorful characters and an exceptionally high number of really good "Pinches." Being a ground breaker; it worked quite well.
SECONDLY we have HILL STREET BLUES (MTM Ent./20th Century-Fox/NBC, 1981-87), which went in for big numbers in ensemble, heavy on both the Character Driven & Incident Driven aspects of storytelling and by giving us a mixed bag; being partially Uniforms and part the Detectives. Can you say "Police Soap Opera?"
SO this finally brings us down to TURKS (December 3 Prod./CBS TV, 1999). The series in a nut shell is the story of the Turk Family (an Irish surname, by the way, Schultz!) who live in "my kind of Town", "sweet Home", Chicago, Illinois. The main character, Joe Turk (William Devane), a still serving Sergeant of Police on the CPD. He has an Irish wife, replete with a noice, thick, heavy Oirish Brogue, Mary Turk (Helen Carey). They are blessed with 3 fine sons; two of whom are Chicago Cops and the third has a real job.
The production crew opted for making TURKS a family Soap Opera, with a Police Department back-drop; rather than making it a pure Cop Dramatic Series. They started with the title, which is not only a real Irish Family name, but perhaps a play on the very word itself; with the term "Young Turks" meaning a sort of radical & youth oriented political movement.
The settings are designed to act in a delicate class conscious balance; with the Turk family's Blue Collar, Chicago-style Brick Bungalow Existence offering a stark contrast to some of the more truly Middle-Classed pursuits of the younger Turks. It demonstrates a sort of a fine example of having "Champagne Taste and Beer Pockets."
TURKS had a fine lead Actor in Mr. Devane and the program surely benefited from the fine location filming right here in the Windy City. They managed to show off a lot of our Downtown Architecture and quaint, charming and older Neighborhoods of Chicago's "hinterland." Generous shots of Loyola University, Northwestern Hospital and some really antique looking Police Station are all used to good effect.
AND true to all fictional Chicago Lore, it appears that we all seem to use the "El" (the Elevated Trains) and Subway almost daily. We don't.
TURKS bit the dust after only 13 episodes; at a time when the Series seemed to be getting up a good head of steam. That left a lot of the plot lines just hanging out there for Eternity.
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