Hill Street Blues (1983/1984) – The Russians Are Coming, Ratman and Bobbin

There definitely seems to be an upswing in melodrama for this season of Hill Street Blues, and The Russians Are Coming is no exception. Written by Dennis Cooper from an idea by Cooper and Jeffrey Lewis and an unpublished story by Stanley N. Wellborn, this episode first debuted on 15 December, 1983.

This episode marks the final appearance of Michael Conrad’s Esterhaus. It was the last one filmed before his untimely passing.

Fay (Barbara Bosson) and Goldblume (Joe Spano) are continuing their relationship. Though they aren’t ready to tell Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) about it yet, he may have just clued in.

There are a trio of Russians visiting the precinct to have a look at policing and the justice system in America. One of them uses the opportunity to ask for asylum, but it’s actually just a plea for attention, and to help resolve a different situation.

Renko (Charles Haid) and Hill (Michael Warren) are involved in the arrest of a man, Tyrone (Richard Brooks) at a restaurant after creating a disturbance. And while Joyce (Veronica Hamel) is able to get him released, it doesn’t prevent a much more tragic incident later with Tyrone and his dog.

Belker (Bruce Weitz) is undercover as an ambulance driver and connects with the driver Louis (Bruno Kirby) who seems to be the paramedic answer to Belker’s police officer. Louis is constantly timing his runs, but it’s Belker that wins the day.

And finally, J.D.;s (Kiel Martin) brother-in-law is picked up for soliciting by Officer Nichols (Lynne Moody) but no matter which way J.D. works things, he won’t be thanked, and it will blow up in his face.

Ratman and Bobbin sees Goldblume taking over the morning roll call, and also confirm to Furillo that he and Fay are in a relationship. Unfortunately, the precinct seems to be temporarily infested with rats, and there’s a series of cop killings taking place.

And the melodrama continues in this episode. Written by Jeffrey Lewis, Michael Wagner, Karen Hall and Mark Frost from a story by Steven Bochco, Lewis, and David Milch, this episode debuted on 12 January, 1984.

J.D. and Washington (Taurean Blacque) are staking out a restaurant in hopes of a lead on the cop killings as well as other crimes, and who strolls in but Joe Pantoliano as Sonny Orsini who may be tied up in a lot of nefarious activities.

The precinct needs to be cleaned out of rats, but they don’t want to kill them, despite Howard (James Sikking) blowing one away while he’s on the toilet, and they hire a pest removal expert who wants to use acoustics, specifically music… on an accordion. Enter Ron Rifkin as Monty.

Joyce and Furillo are looking for a new place to live, and they think they may have found one, but it forces Joyce to reveal that she can’t have children. Something Furillo seems to take in stride, and has no real issue with, even as he pulls over to stop a holdup, but you can tell it’s going to weigh heavily over their relationship because it is important to Joyce.

We’ll see how roll call, and more, play out next week but until then, let’s be careful out there.

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