Hill Street Blues (1981) – Fecund Hand Rose, and Rites of Spring

Alan Rachins wrote Fecund Hand Rose which first aired on 25 March, 1981.

The creepy Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) storyline about dating a newly turned eighteen-year-old gets pulled a little into the light. It doesn’t get treated for what it is, he’s been grooming her through high school. They were dating before he turned eighteen! They plan on getting married this week, but Grace (Barbara Babcock) throws him a curve ball and makes him think about what he really wants. He wants children, which Cindy would provide for him, or a fulfilling emotional relationship with Grace.

This whole storyline has been really bothersome and unnerving. I don’t like how it was presented, I don’t like that the whole thing was seen as acceptable by those involved, both character and writers.

Macafee (Dan Hedaya) returns this week as a possible informant. Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) is less than thrilled about protecting the corrupt cop, it seems Macafee, by turning informant on other corrupt cops, is getting immunity from prosecution for his own crimes.

LaRue (Kiel Martin) is angry about being assigned to the Macafee’s protection considering their past. Through it all Macafee paints himself as some wounded saint, but everyone knows he’s dirty, no matter what information he has.

When an attempt is made on Macafee, Furillo is furious, and wonders if it wasn’t staged by his attorney, Fitzgerald (Thomas Callaway) to draw more attention to the case and make a name for himself.

Bellker (Bruce Weitz) has busted an alleged burglar who may have swallowed his ill-gotten gains, which comes in useful when LaRue forgets the ring for Esterhaus’ wedding. It gets temporarily cancelled for a couple of weeks when he collapses during the ceremony.

Not my favourite episode so far, but I think that’s Esterhaus’ fault.

Rites of Spring, the penultimate episode of season one (happily Esterhaus’ relationships aren’t mentioned), and its finale, both aired as two-hour specials. It was written by series creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll as well as story editor Anthony Yerkovich.

First airing on 19 May, 1981 there is a lot going on in this one. LaRue’s drinking problem is becoming worse, not to mention some financial worries, and it causes some grief between him and Washington (Taurean Blacque). He also runs afoul of Belker because of a shooting following a stick-up and a run-in with a pawn shop that is under surveillance.

Renko (Charles Haid) is a bit of a bigot, constantly referring to ‘those people,’ and he and Hill (Michael Warren) find themselves constantly checking on a low-income single mother who abandons her children so she can go drinking. She also makes overtures to Hill.

Renko, meanwhile, also has his own love life to tend to, it seems he’s been taking some writing and english courses at night, and he and his teacher (Mimi Rogers!) have engaged in a relationship.

The heart of the story sees a racist cop, Weeks (Charles Hallahan) involved in yet another fatal shooting. He has a number of them, and all the victims are black. He’s spun stories in the past, and he seems to be trying to spin one this time around as well.

Goldblume (Joe Spano) is wrestling with resigning from the force. He doesn’t want to be in the city anymore (something Furillo’s ex feels the same way about), and things are exacerbated by the fact that his younger is currently in the hospital, and he’s helpless to do anything.

We’re starting to see the creeping in of some more serious issues, which is great, but the melodramatic lilt is there as well. Let’s see what change and remains the same next week when we finish season one oand begin season two of Hill Street Blues.

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