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Betty Thomas
'Hill Street Blues' paved the way for today's golden era of TV drama
'Hill Street Blues' paved the way for today's golden era of TV drama

The ambitious police drama seemed doomed even before it hit the NBC airwaves on Jan. 15, 1981. Test audiences were unimpressed by the gritty pilot that focused on the personal and professional struggles of police officers working in a crime-ridden urban precinct. In fact, many hated it — there were no recognizable stars, the camera was unsteady, the scenes were noisy and confusing, and there were too many characters. "Hill Street Blues" got off to a shaky start, and it barely received a second season — at the time, it was among the lowest-rated shows ever renewed at the network. But audiences eventually embraced it, and, during its seven-season run, the series...

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