Hill Street Blues (1982) – Personal Foul, and The Shooter

The Hill Street Precinct deals with a lot of personal things this week in Personal Foul. First airing on 25 March, 1982, Personal Foul was written by Steven Bochco, Anthony Yerkovich, Jeffrey Lewis and Michael Wagner.

With a basketball game with the local community (and its gangs) waiting in the wings, Renko (Charles Haid) deals with his father’s (Morgan Woodward) declining condition and his wish to spend his remaining days at home instead of fighting the cancer that is overrunning his system.

Hill (Michael Warren) and Renko have a tough time with a domestic call that escalates horribly, Goldblume (Joe Spano) recovering from his wounds is now facing a divorce, and Belker (Bruce Weitz) is less than thrilled to be doing undercover work at an adult movie theatre, but does hit it off with one of the employees.

Finally, the game itself seems to be a lot of fun, though the precinct isn’t above throwing some elbows and doling out violence to the opposite team, who brings in a ringer from state prison. Belker gets cited for biting during the game, and Hill almost makes the final shot when someone shoots the ball with a gun they smuggled in – and that seems like a horrible idea and should have been followed up on, but the episode does nothing with it.

I do like the fact that we’re seeing some darker and heavier storylines, which need to be balanced out with some of the humourous melodrama, but some of the silliness still needs to be toned down, just a touch.

The Shooter was written by Bochco, Yerkovich, Wagner and Lewis and debuted on 6 May, 1982.

Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) and the precinct are dealt a serious blow when two cops are shot and killed in the line of duty. Ballistics on the gun show that it came from the precinct, and had originally been scheduled for destruction.

Furillo, Goldblume and Washington (Taurean Blacque) run down leads, to track down the gun’s almost invisible movements through illegal sales, unreported burglaries, and gun collectors to find the people responsible.

J.D. (Kiel Martin) provides some important info, which may see to his being reinstated to the Hill before the end of the season (the next episode), or the beginning of the next.

It’s a frightening look at how pervasive guns and gun culture is, and how it’s made to look glamorous and profitable. Ugh.

There are a couple lighter moments at the beginning of the episode with Belker getting his license renewed and his car inspected before getting involved in a pursuit.

Renko, who is a coiled spring over the situation with his dad, learns that his father is going to die in the next day or two. Joyce (Veronica Hamel) reveals that even she has a gun now after what happened to the DA who was murdered earlier in the season.

Next time we close out season two and get season three underway, so let’s be careful out there.

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