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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hill Street Blues: Season 2
Hill Street Blues: Season 2
Fox // Unrated // May 16, 2006
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted May 18, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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The Second Season

Hill Street Blues is a crime drama about the police officers in an urban police station. The series first aired in 1981 and ran for a total of seven seasons. The show has been reputed as a groundbreaking series and set the tone for future dramas like L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. Hill Street Blues was one of the first dramas to incorporate a large scale cast and integrate story arcs into the season episodes. The show was quite successful in its seven season run with a total of ninety-eight Emmy nominations. For more details about the show please refer to DVD Talk's review of season one.

I came into the second season of Hill Street Blues without any prior experience with the series. Yet, having vast experience with crime dramas and creator Steve Bochco's work such as NYPD Blue, Brooklyn South, and Murder One to name a few, I had a fairly good idea what the show would entail. Needless to say, I found myself engrossed within the first couple of minutes of the season. The characters, the storylines, the writing, the dialogue, and just about everything else come together to make up a fine drama. The second season of Hill Street Blues turned out to be a lot of fun with plenty of dramatic moments, enticing stories, and lots of character development.

Unlike current crime dramas that focus on the cases or the flash of the investigations, Hill Street Blues is more about the characters. The cases are never really a big part of the stories. Sometimes they are important, but most of the time the intrigue, the drama, the excitement come from the characters and their interactions with each other.

For instance in the opening of season two, Danny Glover guest stars in four episodes as Jesse John Hudson. Hudson is a reformed gangster who was in prison for murder. Publicly he vows to clean up the community and show his fellows the straight and proper way. The story about Hudson isn't so much about the cops from the Hill trying to arrest him (they do try), but the profound effect his character has on the entire department. There are some truly dramatic moments that arise, which include the loss of an officer in the line of duty.

The early half of the season also includes a couple romantic interludes. Furillo and public defender Joyce continue their private affair and eventually make it public knowledge. This in itself is difficult because Joyce defends the criminals Furillo tries to put in jail. Another interesting aspect of this relationship is how Furillo manages to keep ties with his ex-wife Fay. There is also Sergeant Esterhaus's relationship with his sex crazed girlfriend Grace. This side story isn't so much dramatic as it is comical. Henry finds himself drawn to a woman who is not his wife, which leads to learning something about his wife he never wanted to know.

Police corruption is always a big seller in crime dramas and season two includes a story about just that. The Sullivan Commission was put together to investigate police corruption and the officers at the Hill find themselves in the bulls eye. Despite Furillo's eighteen years of impeccable service, he is hung out to dry by his superiors and put in a bad light after a few honorable, yet against procedure, actions. Hill, Renko, Coffey, and Bates also try to cover for a fellow officer and it comes back to bite them in the butt. Henry and some other officers go undercover to entrap some corrupt cops and it ends with one of the most likeable characters in Hill Street Blues with a bullet in his back.

Belker finds himself oddly accustomed with a lunatic who calls himself Captain Freedom. Freedom is a regular Joe who thinks he is a super hero from outer space. He repeatedly interferes with police business and tries stop criminals in the act. More often than not, he just messes things up. Pam Gilliam, a public defender, is murdered and her death affects Joyce on a personal level. She begins to question the morality of working as a public defender trying to keep criminals out of jail. The story becomes especially intriguing when the accused murderer is set free on a technicality. Another decent story revolves around detective LaRue, who continues struggles with alcoholism. He quickly finds his life spiraling downwards with his job in question, friends not wanting to be around him, and the like.

Together these stories (and many more) provide an intriguing and entertaining look at several different police officers and their relationships together. The characters are all developed in such a manner they are hard not to like and feel for as they go through the ins and outs of working on the Hill. The drama is projected very well with superb writing and dialogue. While watching season two of Hill Street Blues you will easily see why the series is reputed as such a groundbreaking drama. Fans of the crime drama (or drama in general) will definitely enjoy seeing every minute Hill Street Blues season two has to offer.

Episode Guide
1. Hearts and Minds
2. Blood Money
3. The Last White Man on East Ferry Avenue
4. The Second Oldest Profession
5. Fruits of the Poisonous Tree
6. Cranky Streets
7. Chipped Beef
8. The World According to Freedom
9. Pestolozzi's Revenge
10. The Spy Who Came in From Delgado
11. Freedom's Last Stand
12. Of Mouse and Man
13. Zen and the Art of Law Enforcement
14. The Young, The Beautiful, and the Degraded
15. Some Like It Hot-Wired
16. Personal Foul
17. Shooter
18. Invasion of the Third World Body Snatchers

The eighteen season two episodes are spread across three dual-sided, dual-layered DVDs.

The video is given in its original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame color. The picture quality is good considering its age. The image is a bit soft at times. For the most part, it looks good with a slight grain and no noticeable issues attributed with video compression.

The audio is given in Dolby digital 2.0 mono. There are language options for English, Spanish, and French. The sound quality is adequate for the presentation and offers an audible listening experience. The mono track offers very little in terms of dynamics, but since the track is dialogue driven it is not a problem. There are also subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, as well as support for English closed captioning.

The first extra is the featurette "The Hill Street Blue's Story". It stars producer/director Gregory Hoblit. The topic is about how revolutionary Hill Street Blues was for television dramas and also covers Hoblit's role in the series amongst other things. There are also several other short running featurettes with various actors talking about their characters and time on the series. The featurettes include "Belker Unleashed", "Confessions of Captain Freedom", and "A Cowboy on the Hill". The next item is a gag reel with goofs caught on tape. Finally, all episodes include optional previews you can watch to get the highlights of the selected episode and the upcoming episode. Overall the featurettes are entertaining enough for a single watch. Not having a lot of experience with the show, I enjoyed getting to learn additional aspects about the characters and the actors who played them.

Final Thoughts:
I started Hill Street Blues season two without any prior experience with the series and I quickly found myself drawn to it. Season two offers plenty of well-defined, well-developed characters and enticing stories about them and their relationships to keep you hooked to your seat. Hill Street Blues is fine programming and should be more than entertaining for someone who enjoys a good crime drama.

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