Hill Street Blues (1981) – Choice Cut, and Up in Arms

Seven episodes in writer Lee David Zlotoff brings us full circle with Choice Cut. First airing on 14 February, 1981, the episode sees Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) dealing with a hostage situation in a supermarket, not entirely dissimilar from what happened in the first episode.

In fact, it’s the same hostage takers!

They went on the run from juvie, and just want a fair shake from Frank. Unfortunately, Howard (James Sikking) wants to send in his tactical unit and makes a number of errors that complicate things for Frank and Goldblume’s (Joe Spano) attempts at negotiation.

When a huge side of meat gets hit with bullets, Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren) decide to cut around the part needed for evidence and keep the rest, but other cops are also watching, and there may be a mix-up made with an already occupied body bag.

Speaking of Renko and Hill, the precinct is still trying to build the case against the suspect that may have shot them.

Belker (Bruce Weitz) nabs a criminal who works crowds (again), one that seems to pop up fairly regular since the first episode, and some seeds are planted for some future storylines as there are reports of a black van being associated with some assaults and plans for a precinct redecoration.

This was a solid episode, once again hinting at the racism, and sexism that was prevalent at the time (and probably still is) and I had a real problem with a couple of scenes featuring Bates (Betty Thomas), she’s wandering around in her police uniform, but in a long shot we see her walking, and she’s wearing heels (!), I mean c’mon. Let’s keep it a little more authentic folks.

Up in Arms first aired on 21 February, 1981. It was penned by Anthony Yerkovich and series creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll.

Problems arise with the Renko/Hill shooting suspect, the polygraph came back clean. There are also some issues arising between the partners again, as Hill has yet to introduce Renko to his new girlfriend.

Meanwhile Furillo and the rest of the precinct have to deal with a number of local businesses who have decided to band together and form a bit of a vigilante group to deal with the gangs, robberies and assaults on their businesses that the precinct haven’t been able to handle.

They also may have been stirred up by the local media who are working on a documentary about the precinct.

We bruch up against some racism again in this episode, Belker overreacts with his new girlfriend, Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) learns something about forgiveness, and the black van story progresses, violently and tragically.

There’s still lots of humor and melodrama coming up in the series, and while some things are being handled seriously, the show isn’t giving all of them their due attention, but the that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.

Let’s be careful out there, and we’ll see what happens next week.

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