Hill Street Blues
Hill Street Blues
Although filmed in Los Angeles (both on location and at CBS Studio Center in Studio City), the series is set in a generic unnamed inner-city location with a feel of a US urban center in the Midwest or Northeast such as Chicago or Detroit. The police cars shown in the series were painted in a manner very similar to Chicago police cars of the period, using the phrase "Metro Police" in the same style and size as "Chicago Police" on that city's cars. Also, many second-unit establishing shots used recognizable locations in Chicago, including freeway entrances with Interstate Highway shields with route numbers which enter the city. Other shots include aerials of bi-level commuter trains entering and leaving the Chicago and North Western Railway's Chicago passenger terminal. The C&NW's green-and-yellow colors (and in later seasons, the colors of Chicago's Metra commuter rail system) are evident.
The program's focus on failure and those at the bottom of the social scale is pronounced (very much in contrast to Bochco's later project, L.A. Law). Inspired by police procedural detective novels such as Ed McBain's 1956 Cop Hater, it has been described as Barney Miller out of doors; the focus on the bitter realities of 1980s urban living was revolutionary for its time. Later seasons were accused of becoming formulaic (a shift that some believe to have begun after the death of Michael Conrad midway through season four, which led to the replacement of the beloved Sergeant Esterhaus by Sergeant Stan Jablonski, played by Robert Prosky); thus, the series that broke the established rules of television ultimately failed to break its own rules. Nonetheless it is a landmark piece of television programming, the influence of which was seen in such series as NYPD Blue and ER.