Best police series?

Willie Oleson

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And I mean the traditional ones with a police station and co-workers, not the murder detectives or the glossy crime-solving couples like Dempsey & Makepeace or Miami Vice or Moonlighting.

I've only watched Cagney & Lacey and The Shield - both very good of course - and I wonder if there are other ones with gritty and intense drama? (not just the action/car chasing stuff because that doesn't excite me). Preferably from the 1970s and 1980s.
 

James from London

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Homicide Life on the Street is my favourite, that's from the '90s. NYPD Blue from the same era is great too, especially the first season which is one self-contained story arc, but next to Homicide looks kinda slick and glossy.
 

Willie Oleson

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I'm thinking of buying The Gentle Touch boxset. Hopefully it has that England-in-the-early-80s vibe that appeals to me.

 
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James from London

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I don't remember much about The Gentle Touch, but it's sure to scratch your England-in-the-early-80s itch. Oh speaking of English, have you ever seen Prime Suspect or Cracker? Again both '90s, but both unreservedly brilliant.
 

Willie Oleson

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Gosh, only £13 for the complete Prime Suspect DVD. It's almost criminal not to buy it.
But apparently the stories are not divided into episodes as shown on television, each series is one long movie. Is that going to be annoying?
 

Mel O'Drama

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I'm thinking of buying The Gentle Touch boxset. Hopefully it has that England-in-the-early-80s vibe that appeals to me.
I don't remember much about The Gentle Touch, but it's sure to scratch your England-in-the-early-80s itch.

It's brilliant. Well worth a look.

And very early-Eighties. With a little bit of Seventies hangover, since it began in April 1980. There's a rawness to it. A seediness and a gloom that hangs over it. Some scenes are just downright creepy.

Like Cagney & Lacey, it focusses on the main character's home life a little as she tries to find balance, and she also has to contend with sexism in her career.

I last watched the entire series the best part of a decade ago, so I'm due a rewatch soon. I may join you.



There was a series which ran at the same time called Juliet Bravo which had similar themes, but the DVDs are sadly now long OOP and very expensive. I keep hoping Network will get their hands on it now they're doing BBC series.


In other early-Eighties Britishness there's also The Bill, which started out as an hour long procedural drama but was later reformatted into a more serialised continuing drama. Those first three series were compiled in one DVD set, but are also now quite expensive.




Columbo is great, albeit more along murder-mystery lines and perhaps not gritty enough to hit the spot for you. It's very cleverly written though.
 

James from London

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But apparently the stories are not divided into episodes as shown on television, each series is one long movie. Is that going to be annoying?

I wouldn't think so. Each (mini) series is a self-contained story so that should work fine.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I'm thinking of buying The Gentle Touch boxset. Hopefully it has that England-in-the-early-80s vibe that appeals to me

Oh - it also has the best theme tune of any police series ever (starts at 1 min):

 

James from London

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Oh - it also has the best theme tune of any police series ever (starts at 1 min):

I just found a lovely brass band arrangement of it as part of a charmingly sexist 'Lady Detectives' medley by the Durham Constabulary Brass Band on Apple Music. No sign of it on YouTube sadly.
 

Barbara Fan

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USA - NYPD BLue, Dennis Franz and Jimmy Sniths were for me the best actors out in the 1990s and i loved their scenes together.

Jimmy Smits death as Bobby Simone still makes me cry no matter how many times i watch it
 

Michael Torrance

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I loved Hill Street Blues--it started the trend of police shows being also about the personal lives of the police, and also was the first non-soap drama to introduce serialization after Dallas set the trend. I also liked how it introduced tension between the police and the D.A.'s office regarding procedures etc., also a first. But, as I remember you mentioning from other threads, I have to warn you about another trend it started: hand-held cameras. FYI, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue are both Bochco shows--he loved using "blue" in the titles of his police dramas.
 

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I take it that this probably rules out The Professionals and The Sweeney?

Standard police formulaic shows never really did it for me, I much preferred Dempsey and Makepeace and The Professionals.

Also the comedy The Detectives with Jasper Carrott and Robert Powell.

Swami
 

Mel O'Drama

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I just found a lovely brass band arrangement of it as part of a charmingly sexist 'Lady Detectives' medley by the Durham Constabulary Brass Band on Apple Music. No sign of it on YouTube sadly.

Oh ha. I too have that one. I'm intrigued by the Midnight Reverie description they use for The Gentle Touch section. I haven't seen that name associated with the tune elsewhere.

If you like your brass, there's a similar medley called The Detectives by The Band Of The Royal Air Force Regiment which is worth it for [spoiler alert] the fake-out ending alone.


I've just checked and it's still available to buy.



On the subject of unusual choices for TV themes, I LOVE this alt-rock arrangement of Juliet Bravo:
 

Mel O'Drama

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The Professionals.

This is on my bucket list. Especially now there's a gorgeous restoration on Blu-ray.

I'm hoping if I bide my time there'll be a good offer on it one of these days.
 

Willie Oleson

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With a little bit of Seventies hangover, since it began in April 1980. There's a rawness to it. A seediness and a gloom that hangs over it. Some scenes are just downright creepy.
Seems like my cup of earl grey.

And maybe, if I would unravel the psychological forces that caused me to start this very thread in the first place, it could hark back to the Jill Gascoine thread posted a few weeks ago.
I knew the name and the face (with that characteristic "Adrienne Barbeau" perm) and yet I couldn't remember if I had seen her in anything.
I didn't find anything on IMDB that rang a bell and I even don't remember her role in The Onedin Line.
It's possible that all this time it has been bugging me, albeit subconsciously. And then you also used The Gentle Touch as your avatar and signature, as a reminder that I still hadn't solved this mystery (not your fault, obviously).

Also, I wonder if Prime Suspect is on Netflix.
 

Canon

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Another vote for Homicide: Life on the Street and NYPD Blue. Also Third Watch but I'm not sure how available it is as I think it may be tied up due to music rights.

And from recent years SouthLAnd.
 
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Mel O'Drama

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And maybe, if I would unravel the psychological forces that caused me to start this very thread in the first place, it could hark back to the Jill Gascoine thread posted a few weeks ago.
I knew the name and the face (with that characteristic "Adrienne Barbeau" perm) and yet I couldn't remember if I had seen her in anything.
I didn't find anything on IMDB that rang a bell and I even don't remember her role in The Onedin Line.
It's possible that all this time it has been bugging me, albeit subconsciously. And then you also used The Gentle Touch as your avatar and signature, as a reminder that I still hadn't solved this mystery (not your fault, obviously).

How intriguing. And how exciting for me to have unwittingly added to the mystery. It's the closest I've got to being a signpost character in a Christie novel.


I wonder if Prime Suspect is on Netflix.

As well as being a forerunner, The Gentle Touch is almost directly responsible for Prime Suspect:

[The Gentle Touch] proved to be highly influential, even unexpectedly so. In the episode 'Something Blue' (tx 5/9/80) Forbes tries to speak candidly to a prostitute, saying "We really should talk, woman to woman - my name is Maggie". However the other actress (Lynda Marchal) and Gascoine kept corpsing when it came for the riposte, "All right, call me Juanita." Marchal felt she could write more believable dialogue herself and, encouraged by Gascoine, went on to prove this spectacularly, using the pseudonym Lynda La Plante.

(some Gentle spoilers included in the full text):
http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/976412/index.html

Speaking of things La Plante, her pre-Prime Suspect mini-series Widows (and its sequels) might appeal to you. Though it's not a police series (it's actually the reverse: a crime procedural), I remember it as having that gritty, British early-Eighties vibe in spades. I haven't watched it in decades though, so perhaps the memory is playing tricks. The trailers look promising at least:


 

Willie Oleson

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Speaking of things La Plante, her pre-Prime Suspect mini-series Widows
Ah, that Lynda La Plante. I keep confusing her with author Belva Plain (from the Evergreen mini-series, starring Lesley Ann Warren).
I haven't watched it in decades though, so perhaps the memory is playing tricks.
I loved Widows when it was on TV, but I found the re-watch on DVD a little disappointing. Didn't bother with the series 2 DVD.
But somehow I think I would like it again the third time round.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I loved Widows when it was on TV, but I found the re-watch on DVD a little disappointing. Didn't bother with the series 2 DVD.
But somehow I think I would like it again the third time round.

In that case I'll keep expectations lowered if and when I get round to rewatching.

And be sure to let us know if the third time is the charm.
 
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