Hill Street Blues (1982) – Phantom of the Hill, and No Body’s Perfect

While the dog hunt continues things take some interesting turns for the precinct in Phantom of the Hill. Written by Michael Wagner and David Milch from a story by Steven Bochco, Anthony Yerkovich, and Jeffrey Lewis it first aired on 2 December, 1982.

Grace (Barbara Babcock), who we haven’t seen in a while, pops up in this episode because Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) is planning on proposing, and that’s not going to go well.

Furillio (Daniel J. Travanti) learns one of his cases may be in jeopardy because of a mix-up with the coroner, Nydorf (Pat Corley), who has accidentally cremated the body and lost some of the paperwork in the shuffle.

Belker’s (Bruce Weitz) newly created snitch, Eddie (Charles Levin) shows up with a helpful lead on a dealer, someone he knows, Sid (Peter Jurasik). With some help from Washington (Taurean Blacque) and J.D. (Kiel Martin), a meet is set up and Belker is able to make his deal, and they may have everything they need to move forward in their investigation.

Speaking of J.D., he’s running a prank on some of the new rookies, creating a phantom who lives in the sewers, but it goes sideways when one of the officers draws and shoots at him, shaking both J.D. and the rookie, Crawford (Franklyn Seales).

And Renko (Charles Haid) and Teresa (Helen Shaver) break up because she has eyes for Coffey (Ed Marinaro).

I like the stuff with Belker and Eddie, it’s a bit of an odd couple mix, and it works really well because, despite appearances, Belker has a heart of gold.

No Body’s Perfect was written by Wagner and Milch once again from a story by Bochco, Yerkovich and Lewis, it was first broadcast on 9 December, 1982.

While Hill (Michael Warren) deals with Crawford’s shaken confidence, the department is able to bring the missing dog case to a close, but thanks to some goofiness from Howard (James Sikking), not for the better .

Nydorf’s mistakes are being used against him as the city’s governing bodies are pushing for a new coroner, and consequently, the aging coroner finds himself on the stand and taking discrediting hit after discrediting hit.

Renko and Coffey have a blow-up over Teresa, and Lucy (Betty Thomas), Coffey’s partner assumes the worst about him.

Following being let-down by Grace in the previous episode, Esterhaus insists on a clean break, but Grace sweeps into full seduction mode to get him back and keep him, even if she doesn’t want to marry him.

And Belker, J.D. and Washington bust Sid. But more importantly (especially for 80s television at the time) Belker calls out J.D.’s homophobia, it was a brilliant moment, and arguably my favourite piece in the season so far.

I’ve had problems with the racism and the sexism that permeated the first few seasons of the series so far, but they were very much a reflection of society at the time. That’s not an excuse. They were a mirror of things that were actually happening, so to see Belker snap at J.D. and put him in his place, loved it!

This marks the halfway point of season three, but there’s a lot more to come, so hey, let’s be careful out there.

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