Hill Street Blues (1981) – Cranky Streets, and Chipped Beef

Robert Crais pens the teleplay for Cranky Streets from a story by Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco. It first debuted on 10 December, 1981.

With city and union negotiations faltering tensions are running high on the hill. Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren) find themselves assigned to be training officers. When Renko pulls a practical joke on his trainee, it goes badly for him. Meanwhile, Hill’s trainee is an old friend, Nash (Stephen McHattie!) who helped him get his start on the force and his transferring in from another station where he had some problems.

Nash proves himself early on in the shift by saving some lives but then shows that he may have a violent streak when he beats a suspect so badly that he’s hospitalized. Hill backs his version of the story up, but that could cost Renko, Bates (Betty Thomas) and Coffey (Ed Marinaro) when they agree to back Hill.

Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) has his own suspicions about Nash as well.

Coffey has other problems this week as he visits the old neighbourhood and learns some truth about his family, and those he grew up with.

Sure there’s some melodrama throughout the episode, and some fun humour, but this one played the storylines fairly straightforwardly and posed some ethical questions and situations for our characters to face.

I’ll be curious to see if any of the decisions made in this episode come back over the course of the season. And as much as I like Renko, what’s with the stupid way he wears his hat, or can’t keep his uniform in order?

Chipped Beef was written by Jeffrey Lewis from a story by Kozoll and Bochco. It first debuted on 17 December, 1981.

Fay’s (Barbara Bosson) love life continues to be more trouble than it’s worse when her latest love interest dies during a political luncheon, something Furillo and Howard (James Sikking) witness. Fay is understandably upset and it gives a very nice moment between her and Joyce (Veronica Hamel) at the end of the episode.

I was delighted to see a couple of great gues stars, John Diehl shows up as a repair man, and Art Evans plays a bystander who helps Renko only for the precinct to learn there is an outstanding out-of-state warrant out on the man. This brings into question ideas of loyalty and discretion, which ties in directly with the Nash case.

Furillo calls in Lucy, Coffey, Renko and Hill and lets them know he knows that their report about the Nash incident are ‘dubious’ and gives them a chance to come clean.

Washington (Taurean Blacque) is having relationship problems, and Belker (Bruce Weitz) busts the pickpocket (Nick Savage) again while dealing with his mother and his sister.

There’s a fun appearance by an early ATM machine which apparently talks to the customers, and Belker is working undercover near it to bust a theft ring.

An enjoyable episode, I like the resolution to the Nash story though it’s too bad McHattie only had a two-episode run on the show. But there will be more next week, so let’s be careful out there!

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