Posts Tagged ‘Hill Street Blues’

TV Themes: Hill Street Blues

June 3rd, 2009 7 comments

During the recent Social Living Top 5 craze on Facebook (are you my friend yet. If not, click here), I was confronted with the urge to list my five all-time favourite TV series. Topping my list was Hill Street Blues “” not because it is intrinsically superior to my other all-time favourite TV dramas, such as The West Wing or Homicide: Life On The Streets, but because it was the first TV show other than Sesame Street I truly, deeply loved.


From the moment the female CB radio voice would dispatch the cops from the Hill Street precinct to another venue of malfeasance to the last note of Mike Post”s beautiful theme, I”d be mesmerised by the chaos and overlapping storylines.

Hill Street Blues did not invent the ensemble TV series, but it invested into the characters multi-dimensional complexity. Detective Neal Washington was my favourite character, but the most interesting of the lot was his partner J.D. LaRue (played by the late Kiel Martin), a man whose best attempts at being virtuous were undercut by his human frailties. Before Hill Street Blues, the viewer was not meant to root for flawed characters. But I rooted for LaRue.

Hill Street Blues could shock us, not only with its harsh depiction of the realities of urban decay, but also by the use of severe dramatic devices. When Joe Coffey (played by Ed Marinaro) died in the line of duty mid-series, it came as a sharp shock to the viewer. It was as unexpected to us as it was to the characters to whom we had grown close.

Every show has its moral centre. Hill Street Blues had several moral centres, all of them in some way or other flawed. Sometimes there would be conflicting moral centres “” often embodied by the lovers, Captain Frank Furillo and public defender Joyce Davenport. Furillo was not as complex as most of his underlings. He was a leader because he knew what he stood for. Of all TV characters, he reminds me of my father, not physically but in his exacting but essentially kind demeanour, honour and pragmatism.

The Hill Street Blues theme is also one of my all-time favourite title tunes. It was written by Mike Post, who scored several other Steven Bochco shows, including L.A. Law, NYPD Blue and the criminally underrated Murder One. He also wrote such great themes as those for the wonderful Quantum Leap, Magnum PI, Law & Order, The Rockford Files, CHiPS and Doogie Howser, MD. The distinctive guitar on the Hill Street Blues theme is by fusion musician and one-time Crusaders member Larry Carlton, who played the solo on Steely Dan”s Kid Charlemagne.

Mike Post – Hill Street Blues Theme (full version).mp3
Mike Post – Hill Street Blues Theme (title version).mp3