TV pioneer Steven Bochco passes

TV pioneer Steven Bochco passes

Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Apr 12 2018, 02:23 PM #1

Emmy-winning writer-producer Steven Bochco, who co-created groundbreaking classic TV shows during the '80s/'90s, such as HILL STREET BLUES,L.A. LAW, and NYPD BLUE, passed away last week at the age of 74. I grew up on the first two shows, and sort of liked NYPD BLUE, but I didn't think it was as good as NBC's HOMICIDE:LIFE ON THE STREETS, which I think paved the way for shows like THE WIRE. NYPD BLUE was too cleaned up and not gritty enough for me,as compared to the other show--it also relied on brief nudity and introducing more curse words on network T.V. Here's some tribute articles:

CNN---TV pioneer Steven Bochco passes

The Hollywood Reporter---Steven Bochco's Memoir: Truth Is A Total Defense

Both HILL STREET BLUES and NYPD BLUE can be seen back-to-back on the HEROES & ICONS digital channel 5 days a week,btw. I really enjoyed seeing episodes of the former again, since I hadn't seen it since the show was on the air. Still enjoying them,lol.
Last edited by Kim Greene on Apr 24 2018, 05:49 AM, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

Apr 12 2018, 05:26 PM #2

HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS is one of my favorite TV shows, and I own the first 3 seasons on DVD.  H:LOTS is based on a non-fiction book David Simon wrote, with many episodes' narratives based on real cases he wrote about as a journalist. 
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Apr 13 2018, 07:18 AM #3

I knew that HOMICIDE was based on a book (just like THE WIRE, which was also based on actual cases Simon covered during his journalism days.) Yeah, the first season of HOMICIDE was some of the best TV I'd seen at the time, and I loved it, because it wasn't your typical TV show at the time, and plus, it was refreshing to see a cop show (that didn't have car chases and shootouts every week) and that was surprisingly philosophical and offbeat at times, and that wasn't filmed in New York or L.A. for once. I wanted to get at least the first season on DVD last year,but it seemed too expensive. HOMICIDE (which lasted five seasons) was good for at least its first three years, then it was revamped and basically made to look like an NYPD BLUE clone its last two season---mainly because it also suffered from low ratings,despite the fact that it was critically acclaimed at the time. I read that there was a suggestion that the fact that two of the main characters were black might have something to do with its low ratings (which I thought was a stupid reason for someone to not watch a show, but there may have been some truth in it.)

Luckily, NBC's then-new president, the late Brandon Tarkitoff, was a champion of shows that weren't automatically the most popular right away, and didn't mind nurturing them along to give them enough time to catch on with audiences. Basically, neither HILL STREET BLUES nor HOMICIDE would've made it past their first season today, what with cable and online streaming giving the major networks so much competition. HOMICIDE did introduce me to some of my favorite actors, such as the always-impressive Andre Braugher (whom I think is still in the hilarious Fox cop comedy BROOKLYN NINE-NINE) and Canadian actor Clark Johnson (who also went on to carve out a career as a movie/TV director himself.) Forgot to mention that I always liked the HILL STREET BLUES theme, which I also heard on the radio back in the day, along with the TAXI show theme, which I liked even more.
Last edited by Kim Greene on Apr 24 2018, 05:42 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Apr 13 2018, 08:36 AM #4

I forgot to check and see what old classic TV show had been picked for bingeing on the DECADES channel last weekend, and almost missed seeing any episodes of the groundbreaking 1973-79 anthology POLICE STORY, which was worth seeing. I had no idea it had lasted so long, since I never heard of it until it was released on DVD about five years ago, and only saw one good episode on the tube. It was basically one of the first shows on TV to show policemen (and policewomen,to some extent) as real people with real problems and PTSD stemming from the daily violence they had to deal upfront with on their job, and not as the all-knowing morally perfect upstanding officers they were usually portrayed as before then. I always figured THE FRENCH CONNECTION, which broke major ground on the big screen in the depiction of street detectives going undercover to bust a drug ring, had a lot to do with making shows like POLICE STORY more acceptable on the small screen---with its more realistic depiction of cops, and a cool catchy early '70's theme.

One notable episode I saw was called "Stigma" starring Mike Connors (star of the classic private detective show MANNIX) as a older veteran cop hanging out with his best friend who's also a cop, played by actor/singer James Darren (THE GUNS OF NAVARONE.) They see a guy speeding through a light one day, stop him,and before they know it, the man in the car pulls a gun and holds the younger cop hostage. When he starts to shoot at the older cop, the cop's forced to shoot him first---unfortunately, his friend is shot and killed by the other passenger in the car. Even though the older cop gets an award for his bravery under fire, he still blames himself for not being able to save his friend's life, and that starts to eat away at him inside---making him difficult for anyone to deal with, and interfering with his job. Very thoughtful and tough episode. Another one I saw dealt with a Latino cop (Richard Yniquez) who, while responding to a domestic abuse call, thinks the husband is pulling a weapon on him, so he shoots him---only to learn that what he thought was a gun was actually a pair of pliers. He winds up getting reassigned to the barrio because they need a Spanish speaker there, and gets involved in trying to solve what we would now call a sex-trafficing case, concerning an injured girl who won't testify. Good show worth tracking down, if you like early '70s TV dramas.

POLICE STORY at IMDB
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

Apr 14 2018, 12:36 AM #5

Yeah, the later seasons of HOMICIDE were weaker, but there's one episode which I had trouble watching because I was in the process of ODing on antidepressants - it's a long story, and also the last time I've been hospitalized, 16 years ago - and I'd like to see it again because it was crucial to the show's arc about Reed Diamond's character. I've exchanged several tweets with Diamond in the past few years, and he seems to have a good sense of humor about the relative marginality of his career and his characters' tendency to get killed off after a season. My favorite episode is "Three Men and Adena," which I've seen repeatedly on DVD now and whose cinematography and editing reminds me a lot of the Dardenne brothers' subsequent films. Maybe the show aired in Belgium?

I liked THE SHIELD a lot and own several seasons on DVD as well. There was another cop show on TBS whose name I've forgotten, but which featured WALKING DEAD actor Michael Cudlitz as a gay cop who became addicted to Oxycontin, that I was fond of as well. It tried hard to be edgy, but it was nowhere near as violent as THE SHIELD.  I don't watch much TV these days and I've pretty much given up on the genre at the moment. 
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

Apr 14 2018, 10:49 AM #6

Oh,yeah----I remember when Reed Diamond joined the HOMICIDE cast, and quickly proved to be a good addition to the show. Apparently he does have a history of being in good TV shows that only last a season or two (JOURNEYMAN, DOLLHOUSE,the creepy-as-hell David Lynch-influenced sci-fi WAYWARD PINES,the period series UNDERGROUND) for whatever the reason, but you could say that about a lot of other actors too,lol. Looked up that other actor's name you mentioned, whom you said played a cop in some show, and it sounds like that might have been the 2009-2013 NBC cop series SOUTHLAND. SOUTHLAND was unusual in that even though it was a highly critically acclaimed show, that still wasn't enough to help boost up its low ratings---so after NBC canceled it, it was picked up by a cable channel and continued on for another 3 seasons. I only watched it like maybe once or twice, because I didn't see it as any different from the average cop show on the air at the time. It took me a minute to get used to THE SHIELD, because it looked as if it was shot by a shaky-cam, and it honestly made the show hard for me to watch at first. After a while, I started getting into the story and actually liking the show, with its shady-as-hell main police characters doing shady things, and always coming up with a way to cover their tracks.

Nowadays, the only current cop shows I watch and like is NBC's gritty CHICAGO P.D. (a spinoff of the popular firefighter drama CHICAGO FIRE) and CBS's well-made new reboot of the '70s TV show S.W.A.T., featuring former CRIMINALS MINDS regular Shemar Moore being great in the lead as the S.W.A.T. team's gutsy captain. I also like the reboot of MAC GUYVER and HAWAII FIVE-O, even though I keep forgetting they're on, since NBC's TAKEN, a really good action-packed series based on the popular TAKEN action films, comes on around the same dang exact time, and the same dang night,lol.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

May 17 2018, 08:17 AM #7

There's been a slew of TV shows having their season finales these last couple of weeks,as well as a slew of cancellations in tow. A couple of the popular NBC shows CHICAGO P.D., TAKEN, GOOD GIRLS, THE BLACKLIST, and the fun sci-fi time-travel show TIMELESS (all my favorite shows,btw) had their major finales in the past month,as well as the new rookie drama RISE,featuring Josh Radnor (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER,the now-defunct PBS Civil War series MERCY STREET) as a teacher in a struggling high school who is given the position of taking over the school's arts program,despite the fact that there's already a director (my fave actress Rosie Perez, in a welcome return to TV) who runs it. Naturally,they both clash over what kind of plays they want the kids to perform---he wants to do more experimental plays,she wants to do it her way. The plays themselves become a kind of unofficial therapy for the teens in dealing with their various problems---there's a couple in which one of the teens is going through a F-to-M transition; a gay teen who's not out of the closet yet dosen't want to play a role where he has to kiss another teen boy,and various other problems the teens have to deal with. RISE isn't a GLEE knockoff or anything----it actually reminds me more of the original FAME,with its gritty look at the lives of its working-class characters,and a talented diverse cast----I've liked all the musical sequences on the show so far. Hopefully,it'll get a second season,but I'm not holding my breath.

Other shows that got the ax were cult fave THE LAST MAN ON EARTH,LUCIFER (the Fox crime drama about the devil coming to earth in human form,running a decadent nightclub in L.A. (where else,lol?) and teaming up with a tough sharp detective to solve crimes,all while dealing with assorted angels and demons,raging at God about being who he is, and discovering that he actually kind of likes being around humans who aren't completely evil like him for a change,lol.) The popular ABC political drama SCANDAL just ended it's seventh and final season,while BROOKLYN NINE-NINE,the popular Fox cop show spoof comedy,was axed,but after a huge outcry by distressed fans on social media,the show was picked up by NBC,which is great,since I like the show,too.
Last edited by Kim Greene on May 27 2018, 03:29 AM, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: Oct 24 2004, 05:57 PM

May 18 2018, 01:46 PM #8

I am going to a viewing party of THE AMERICANS' final episode at Split Screens, a TV festival programmed by Matt Zoller Seitz, on the 30th. I am disappointed that there's a separate event with the show runners, but it's held at 1 PM on a Friday afternoon, when I have to work. The festival seems to have more panel discussions with actors than screenings, and I would love to see it include a focus on worthwhile international TV shows that aren't being aired in the U.S.
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

May 19 2018, 11:36 PM #9

Since you mentioned international TV shows, two immediately came to mind-----CLEVERMAN and THE MINISTRY OF TIME. CLEVERMAN, which debuted in 2016, and has gone on for two seasons so far, is an Australian sci-fi/supernatural series about a race of half-human people called the "Hairies", who are segregated from society because they have strange powers and are considered dangerous to other humans. The show is unique because it's supposed to be the first Australian TV series ever completely written,produced and directed by Aboriginal writers,producers, and directors----it also uses a lot of actual Aboriginal folklore background for the supernatural aspects of the show. Here's some info about it here----I saw the first season, which ended on a big cliffhanger, so I need to catch up with the next one. Here's some info about the show here---both season are currently streaming on Netflix:

CLEVERMAN at IMDB

CLEVERMAN discussion at Moviechat

Guardian article on CLEVERMAN, and its cultural importance


THE MINISTRY OF TIME (which I haven't seen yet) is a Spanish series about time-travel---the creators of the show ended up suing NBC, saying that NBC'S new hit TV series TIMELESS was basically a rip-off of MINISTRY OF TIME. A settlement was reached before the show got on air, so all turned out good with that,hopefully. Here's some info about the show (which is also on Netflix)

THE MINISTRY OF TIME at IMDB

Deadline article on Lawsuit over THE MINISTRY OF TIME

The Hollywood Reporter article on the lawsuit
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Kim Greene
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Joined: Nov 10 2004, 10:28 PM

May 29 2018, 05:50 AM #10

Here's an article I just stumbled across about THE AMERICANS---turns out it was based on a true story that happened in Canada, and not only that---the two sons of the real-life spy couple are currently fighting to keep their Canadian citizenship:b

Article on the true story behind THE AMERICANS
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