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  • Writer's pictureJames McGee

'Let's be careful out there...'

Sad news in the papers today. Steve Bochco, creator of some of the best and most iconic shows to come out of US television, passed away at the relatively young age of 74.

My introduction to Bochco's work began with the tremendous and unmissable Hill Street Blues, which set new standards for American cop shows. The multiple and often gritty story lines were a revelation when the show first aired and a world away from previous fare: Matlock, Cannon, Hawaii Five-0 (the Jack Lord version), The Streets of San Francisco, Kojak etc, though the latter did raise the bar somewhat due to its star, Telly 'Who loves ya, baby?' Savalas, who, up until then, was best known as a big-screen actor.

If you exclude the short-lived NBC television series that aired in the early 1960s, Hill Street Blues was the closest anyone came to adapting Ed McBain's magnificent 87th Precinct novels for the small screen.

Bochco went on to make the equally excellent LA Law, Doogie Howser MD, and the true successor to HSB, the wonderful NYPD Blue, in which the actor Dennis Franz created one of the greatest of all TV characters in his portrayal of Detective Andy Sipowitz.

If Bochco hadn't come up with Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, it's very likely that more recent TV shows wouldn't have made it past the cutting room floor; shows such as CSI, Law and Order, The Wire, Chicago PD, Homicide: Life on the Streets, Blue Bloods, True Detective et al. You could, at a pinch, even throw in Deadwood, which was created by David Milch, Bochco's working partner on NYPD Blue. All of them carry traces of Bochco's genius.

A sad loss to anyone who values serious television drama.

If you'd like to wallow in some nostalgia, click on the photos to bring up the opening credits and those wonderful theme tunes...

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