Hill Street Blues (1981) – Double Jeopardy, and Film at Eleven

Double Jeopardy, known in some markets as Dressed to Kill first aired on 31 January, 1981. Written by series creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll, the episode puts Operation Duckling into action.

It seems the serial rapist they’ve been trying to apprehend since the beginning of the series is still out there, and the precinct is upping their game to bring him in once and for all. Even if that means half of the officers (of both genders) go undercover as potential victims to capture him. Things escalate, but in the end, the precinct gives Bates (Betty Thomas) the credit of the bust.

Meanwhile, LaRue’s (Kiel Martin) case and internal affairs investigation is still underway, but Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) and Washington (Taurean Blacque) may have a possible lead on Macfee (Dan Hedaya) that will bring it all to an end.

Goldblume (Joe Spano) has a rough encounter on his way back to the precinct and draws his gun for the first time in twelve years. Something he never wanted to do, not when you can negotiate and create a dialogue instead.

And while Furillo and Joyce (Veronica Hamel) continue their relationship, Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) considers his current situation with two women, and Belker (Bruce Weitz) comes off undercover to meet the woman his mother insisted he call.

The melodrama remains high, but of all the episodes so far, this one feels the least problematic in its portrayal of police work and the issues that seem to plague it, recognized or not.

And finally, Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren) seem to be back on even footing again, yay!

Film at Eleven was written by Anthony Yerkovich, who a few years into the 80s would help create one of the defining cop dramas of the decade, Miami Vice. He served as Story Editor on Hill Street, and this episode first aired on 7 February, 1981. For the first time, we are greeted with a ‘previously on Hill Street Blues,’ we are given a ‘coming up on Hill Street Blues’ instead.

The unit gets a potential break on the Renko/Hill shooting from the series opener, but they have to work the leads and potential suspects before Renko and Hill find out what’s going on. They don’t want to jeopardize the case.

At the same time, a local news team led by Cynthia Chase (Andrea Marcovicci), is shooting a piece around the precinct to get a look at how the police operate and what they deal with on a day to day basis.

Belker has an interesting case, bringing in a suspect that claims to be Dracula, but things go from humorous to heartbreaking when the young man is left a lone in a private cell.

Once again, the show balances its melodrama, humor, and topics. And while it’s always good to know the show can provide a bit of a chuckle, I’ll be very interested to see where the series goes in its pursuit of the Renko/Hill shooting.

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