Wednesday, 21 March 2012


"Let's be careful out there!" The award-winning ensemble cast of the classic cop series HILL STREET BLUES. Image: FOX.

It's hard to believe, I know, but the seminal seven year running eighties cop-show created by Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco, which changed the face of episodic TV forever and inspired/launched a whole new approach to the genre (tough and uncompromising, yet also showing a lot of heart and humour) and bringing us innovative multi-arc story telling (both in its scripting and visual realisation), alongside beautifully conceived and acted characters, is not properly available on DVD or Blu-ray. All those dedicated HSB fans are most likely shouting at their screens whilst reading this article that the first two seasons of the show were released on DVD in the US and later in the UK, but I'm not counting those, especially the CHANNEL 4 UK releases which were very low quality conversions at best, often from VHS tapes (the transfers containing picture noise! Something you should never get on a DVD!) which were notably cut versions of the episodes then edited down further for violence (HSB never shied away from it and always commendably presented it in a non fantastical, realistic way) so as to make the release palatable for general viewers as a 12 certificate. And, with only one of the UK season releases having any type of extras (a cast and crew reunion special and cast commentaries), it's not unfair to say that British fans of the show would be poorly served compared to what was on the US releases (extra commentaries, deleted and alternate scenes, trailers).

Season Six titles: Hill Street Blues - Season 6 Intro (1) - YouTube

Episode trailers for Seasons One and Two: Hill Street Blues - Trailers (1) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - Trailers (4) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - Trailers (5) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - Trailers (6) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - Trailers (8) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - Trailers (10) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - A Season 4 Roll Call and Intro (Phil Esterhaus Dies) - YouTube
Hill Street Blues - The Last Scene - YouTube

Despite the differences, though, one thing was sadly consistent with HILL STREET BLUES debut on DVD, and that's the fact that, for reasons I just cannot understand, the two individual box sets failed to sell enough copies in either territory to make it commercially worthwhile for the TV companies to release further additional box sets- a real shame of a situation. With the passing of time since those mid-2000's releases, the way series are now released on home DVD and Blu-ray has thankfully changed considerably-as lots of well known older and classic titles which prior captured high esteem with critics/audiences are now being sought out for audience viewing consumption, as have selected attempts by TV companies, desperate for profits, to seek out additional special materials to accompany them.

I think the time is both right and ripe for somebody out there in Hollywood/FOX to re-evaluate the award winning HILL STREET BLUES and put it in a fully restored, complete and unedited form, entire series box set. If released with clever marketing, alongside a solid but not bank busting price tag, plus a really worthy set of extras alongside it, I think it would sell very well.

As one of America's finest and iconic ever TV series, of which shows like THE WIRE, THE SHIELD and SOUTHLAND owe it so much, it deserves no less special treatment...

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