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DVD Review Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series DVD Review - Recommended

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Kevin EK, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    Thank you Jim.

    You've just provided a great example of why this series continues to merit attention. Your points are spot on.
    And if you dig even farther, you'll find plenty of other really interesting character moments and surprise appearances by actors who would go big on later TV shows and films. (M*A*S*H is also in this category - plenty of guest appearances by actors and directors who would go big much later on).

    The Belker/Usual Suspect arc would come to a surprising end - but I guess it's not that surprising if you've been watching the show. Just when you think you know where these guys are going, they throw a hook rather than a jab.

    My favorite part of Jablonski's opening monologue for Season 5 is that you can hear the seeds of David Milch's very specific style. It's only a small step from there to the arias Milch would later write for Al Swearingen on "Deadwood."

    Tim Robbins would also play a significant guest role in early episodes of "St Elsewhere". This was when he was quite young, and it was a few years before he would really break through with "Bull Durham". (I'm not going to even get into "Top Gun" or "Howard the Duck" when it comes to that...)
     
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  2. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    And from what I've heard, he was generally calm, cool and collected-- basically having the patience of Job!
     
  3. Message #23 of 28 Mar 19, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    The Drifter

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    Thanks for the responses, everyone. I actually finished watching HSB late last year, and wrote up a review for S06-S07:

    HSB was a superb series. While some may disagree with me on this, S06 & S07 were just as good - if not better - than previous seasons. Though I know some shows fade as time goes by, if anything HSB got better in the last seasons:

    -Dennis Franz's Norman Buntz character (S06-S07) was great - unintentionally?! funny & also a nice contrast to the other, more strait-laced officers. That being said, he definitely had a moral code.

    -I was surprised that
    Officer Coffey got killed in S06, in a completely random way - i.e., he was going to get something to eat/drink, and got shot by a criminal who was robbing the store. Completely unexpected & jarring, but I guess that was the whole point - and this added to the realism of the series.

    -It was interesting how Jablonski got essentially forced into retirement for health reasons during these seasons (also very realistic), but still stayed on the show to a great extent - due to his keeping in touch with some of the officers, i.e. Belker & some of the others.

    -The episode where Officers Hill, Renko, and Jablonski went hunting (S07) was one of the best of the series. Goldblum was supposed to join them, but kept getting side-tracked,
    until he got kidnapped by a killer that the authorities had been hunting for. I honestly thought he was going to die, until he successfully talked the killer into letting him live. Very intense episode.

    -I was happy that Fay Furillo was absent for much of S06 & all of S07 (though Frank still had phone conversations off an on with an unseen Fay, notably in the final episode). She was an extremely obnoxious character, and I can see why Frank divorced her. Glad that she got written off the show, since her absence only improved the series.

    -Chief Daniels was a real scum-bag & a self-serving politician. He obviously only cared about making himself (and the department) look good, to the detriment of the people that worked for him.

    Which is why it was great to see the scene - in the final episode -
    where Daniels was throwing Buntz under the bus in front of the TV reporters (even though Buntz had only been trying to clear his name), resulting in Buntz angrily punching out Daniels! Fantastic :) This was possibly the single best scene in the entire series ;)

    After I finished with HSB, I tried to watch short-lived Beverly Hill Buntz series, which was a de facto follow-up to HSB, focusing on the Buntz character. Unfortunately, the show has never been available on DVD/Blu-ray. I guess it wasn't popular enough to justify a physical media release. I tried to watch at least some of the show via streaming, but the picture quality on the streams is not that great. So, I think I'll pass on this - for now.
     
  4. Message #24 of 28 Mar 19, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    The Drifter

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    To add to my last post, note that Dennis Franz actually played TWO characters on HSB.

    1) Bad Sal Benedetto: A bullying aggressive thief, criminal, and killer - Bad Sal was a real scum-bag with 0 redeeming qualities whatsoever.
    The scene in S03 when he cowardly cold-cocks Larue from behind was a real testament to the fact that he was an unequivocal P.O.S. It was nice to see Hill beat the crap out of Benedetto in a later scene, in retaliation for Bunt's cowardly attack on Larue. And, since everyone involved were LE, you knew that because of their unspoken "code" they wouldn't mention any of this to their bosses ;) Benedetto was later revealed as being the mastermind of a criminal scam that almost got Washington killed - again, a true piece of garbage. The character eventually got killed off.

    2) Norman Buntz: Buntz was not as much of a scum-bag as Benedetto was, but was still a jerk at times. Here's an interesting article from 1986 about the Buntz character - interesting to read this; it's a nice time-capsule about HSB & the '80's - apparently Buntz was a fairly ground-breaking character on TV at the time.

    http://articles.latimes.com/1986-08-15/ ... ill-street

    I also remember DF's cameos in some early '80's Brian De Palma films, specifically as seedy/sleazy characters he played in both Blow up & Dressed to Kill (among others). And, most of these appearances even pre-dated his early HSB role - though his BDP film characters had some similarities to his HSB character(s) ;)

    Yes, I did think it was sad
    that this "Usual Suspect" ended up getting killed. He was a non-violent thief, so - though he was obviously a criminal - was more sympathetic than some of of the other criminals on the series. It was sad how Belker was trying to find the guy's next of kin to notify them of his death.

    Oddly enough, I was re-watching Friday the 13th Part 3 right around the time I was watching HSB last year, and noticed this same actor playing a violent biker in the film - LOL.
     
  5. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Actually, I think that Fay was the one who divorced Frank -- due to his alcoholism. But you are correct that she was a very annoying character.
     
  6. Message #26 of 28 Mar 19, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    The Drifter

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    -Well, at the beginning of the series, I thought Frank & Fay were still married on paper - though they were going through a divorce, I didn't think the paperwork was finalized yet. He was already dating Joyce at that point (their relationship started off-screen prior to S01, thought there was a flash-back episode that detailed the beginning of this). It's notable that in one of the holiday episodes, one of Frank's family members mentioned that Frank was miserable while married to Fay, and that his alcoholism was a result of his hating the marriage. I can see why! Fay was always bothering Frank in the office due to not being able to get her act together, and obviously kept wanting to get back together with him - long after he had obviously moved on.

    That all being said, it is possible that Fay initially left Frank (prior to S01) due to his drinking.

    -Related to this, you bring up another good point about Frank's alcoholism - this really added to the reality of the show. One of my many favorite scenes is towards the end of S01 (I think), when Larue finally went to an AA meeting - and was greeted by Frank, who was also attending the meeting.

    However, Frank constantly having to get after Larue re: his drug/alcohol use/lateness/insubordination was unintentionally amusing - Larue was like the little kid who kept getting sent to the principal's office for getting in trouble - LOL.
     
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  7. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Producer

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    Which, IMO, proves that Frank wasn't the hypocrite about J.D. LaRue's drinking-- Frank addressed it in himself by going to that AA meeting, one episode after busting J.D. for the same thing.
     
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  8. Message #28 of 28 Mar 21, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2019
    The Drifter

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    Exactly! And, I think that's why he was coming down so hard on J.D. at times. I.e., Frank had gotten his #$#% together re: his drinking, for the most part (though I do remember 1-2 temporary relapses during the course of the series) so he knew the addiction could be controlled/overcome.

    Conversely, J.D. was always screwing up, had constant money problems, etc. At one point, Frank pointed out to him that there were co-workers of J.D.'s who made as much money as he did & supported families on their salaries, etc.; whereas J.D. was single w/no family, and seemed to always be broke.

    So, while Frank was sympathetic to J.D.'s plight, he wasn't going to enable him - which was an important distinction.
     
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