One of the Pages Was “Hill Street Blues”

David Milch, my friend Bill tells the story, would make everybody in the class at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop stone cold crazy. Everybody else would sweat their hearts out in the reams of fiction they’d bring to class taught by the Vonneguts, the Algrens, the John Irvings  or whoever the professor was that term. But not Milch. Milch would effortlessly toss a page or two together that would knock everybody out of their chairs.

One of those pages was the premise, the beginning of “Hill Street Blues.”

Milch took the premise to Steven Bochco who made it into something that was new to television. “Hill Street Blues.”

And when Bochco died this weekend at an all too young 74, I thought first about the rain. All the important stuff on Hill Street happened in the rain.
Me, Bugs, Larry and Stiggs would be sitting around my kitchen table, drinking beer, every Thursday night, listening for the rain to come as we watched Hill Street Blues. All of us, young guys, figuring out who we were and where we were all going and Hill Street Blues—characters, plots, themes and stories so richly drawn that they stayed with us. Even now. After all these years. Even now I thank Steven Bochco for what I learned from those stories.

And how I am still listening for the rain.

3 Responses to “One of the Pages Was “Hill Street Blues””

  1. Paul Haider Says:

    Thanks for the memories, Roger. Steven Bochco will be missed for his writing and producing of great dramas for television. I can still remember asking my mom if I could stay up late on a school night to watch Hill Street Blues in the basement during the 1980’s; she couldn’t stand the basketcase of woman who was Captain Frank Furillo’s ex-wife on the show.

  2. toritto Says:

    Nice tribute Roger. I heard about Steve’s death and immediately thought of nights sitting with JoAnn watching Hill Street. And yes, everything important happened in the rain.

    Best regards fro Florida.

  3. boomerbob Says:

    Steven Bochco leaves behind one hell of a string of works, some of which will be in our hearts forever.

    I loved Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, and of course, for a change-up, Doogie Houser.

    I always tell people I don’t watch much TV, but then shows like Hill Street Blues, Cheers, MASH, Sopranos, and of course Deadwood, etc. remind me just how much I do watch, as they make, not just a liar, but one of Donald Trump caliber. 🙂

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