DVDs: Cops on TV

Hill Street Blues Season 1 20th Century Fox
Series •••½ Picture/Sound ••• Extras ••
NYPD Blue Season 3 20th Century Fox
Series ••• Picture/Sound •••½ Extras ••
Sex, violence, alcoholism, anti-Semitism, and more, all shot with hand-held cameras and played to the hilt by a crackerjack cast of ensemble players - standard by today's fare, but when Hill Street Blues premiered in 1981, it was shockingly innovative. Creator Steven Bocho broke the rules and created new ones that producers and actors still follow. NYPD Blue (1993), also produced by Bocho, was one such series, less comically edged but with more intense stories.

The episodes in both sets have natural-colored pictures that show the gritty surroundings of the old precinct buildings with great accuracy, right down to the dust and dirt. Hill has clean mono sound, while NYPD's Dolby Surround helps place you more inside the action. Neither has much bass, but the music is well balanced and clear. Both sets are shy on extras, each providing commentaries for only two episodes. Hill also has a mildly interesting discussion by eight surviving cast members. NYPD offers three featurettes. Hill Street Blues: [NR] English, French, and Spanish, Dolby Digital 2-channel mono; full frame (1.33:1); three two-sided discs. NYPD Blue: [NR] English, French, and Spanish, Dolby Surround; full frame (1.33:1); four two-sided discs.