THE THEME TO HILL STREET BLUES - TOTP
Original Broadcast Date: 25/02/1982
Dancers: Anita, Eddie, Julie , Lance , Mary , Steve, Vanessa & Wesley
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhtABVmSkGc ____________________________________________________________________________________
Hill Street Precinct - Roll Call 6.53AM
… and finally, item 16. Some guy using the alias P4PM, a member of the notorious OFTD mob, has recently completed 20,000 posts on their site. The Miscellaneous Comments host has decided to honour this achievement by granting a request made by P4PM previously. The host though would like to make it clear that it may take 25,000 posts before we see John Denver. These OFTD guys could be dangerous and should be approached with caution. So get going and hey, let’s be careful out there.
I always wanted to watch Hill St Blues but never did. I think it coincided with the news, which my parents would want to watch, and in those days we only had one telly and no VCR. I have watched a couple of episodes recently and thought it was quite good, although it’s now retro rather than cutting edge TV.
Mike Post had worked previously with country music legend, Kenny Rogers, but is best known for composing themes for numerous TV programmes. There are too many to list them all here but they included The A Team, The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. His theme to Hill Street Blues won the Grammy award in 1981 for best instrumental performance. It peaked at No.10 in the US and 25 in the UK.
His collaborator Larry Carlton also had an accomplished career as a session musician, where he has worked with numerous artists including Michael Jackson, Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. He has a few solo albums of his own but his solo career suffered a major setback in 1988 when he was shot in the throat. He did thankfully make a full recovery.
I have been looking at a list of all the TV theme tunes that have reached the charts. There are loads more than I expected. Eye Level was the first to top the charts in the UK followed by Suicide Is Painless. In more recent years the most successful have been The Teletubbies and Bob The Builder.
My own favourite is The theme to Who Pays The Ferryman by Yannis Markopoulos but alas it only got as far as No.11 in the UK. It would have made a good tune for Legs & Co to dance to.
Anyway I digress. The most notable thing from the dance to Hill Street Blues is the return of Anita and Mary.
I will leave the task of identifying the dancers to Doc in his series, but I am assuming that Mary is the girl in the red dress. She performs a very delicate manoeuvre of having her leg on Wesley's shoulder and her head almost touching the ground, with great skill and poise. I would like to have seen Dancer recreate that in the playground. Actually on second thoughts, I probably wouldn’t.
Only 8 dancers were credited for this show but there seems to be a lot more than 8 here so I assume that we have some cheerleaders making up the numbers.
It is always good to see Anita and she is given pole position for this performance. I do wonder if the lifting and spinning around of the female dancers is perhaps a little overdone, but who am I to criticise Flick’s choreography.
The costumes are fine and there is a nice ambience created for this performance.
I will score it a middle of the road 7.75 out of 10
I look forward to receiving your ratings and also, please let us know what your favourite theme tune is.
Let’s do it to them before they do it to us!
Ive never watched a single episode of Hill Street Blues in my life, infact i dont think ive watched a single minute. As for the routine, well i really like some Zoo, dislike some Zoo, and have some Zoo in the middle and this is certainly in the middle. To many dancers are on show, certainly more than eight, but i guess some hanger-onners are involved which may explain the large turn-out.
Enjoyed the Anita and partner stuff, the glimpses of Mary and always a pleasure to see Julie B. I think they perform well to the music, but i wouldn't have been choosing to play it again on the VCR back in 1982 or again now on the iplayer some 36 years later.
I reckon 6.75 out of 10 is about right for my rating.
I am honoured OGW and thanks so much for choosing this Dance, which is far and away my favourite Zoo outing. I love the Boy-Girl approach Flick has taken to choreographing this rather challenging slow piece of music. I did watch some of the original Hill St Blues at the time and found it to be a well made series too (not that that has much effect on my appreciation for this Dance honestly but there it is). I think Anita and her partner are just on fire here and they have a great smouldering chemistry going on in this number in their lovely duet part which includes some fine spins and lifts in my unqualified opinion. Overall I just find this is another of those times when Flick interpreted a piece of music perfectly and I am going to give this 10/10 as I thoroughly enjoy it every time I watch. Thanks again OGW. DotD ANITA ANITA ANITA
Some Dancers who gave a good time, broke all the rules, played all the fools, yeah yeah yeah they blew our minds
Surprising to say I have a folder of Zoo routines, and equally surprising that this one isn't in it. Which is a pity as I quite liked it. The lilting theme lends a carefully air to the light caress of the choreography, although I'd have preferred less, much less, of the duet and more of the troupe. A less rag bag tag collection of outfits and a spot more light would also have helped so its a 6.75.
Whatever Anita lacks in matching undergarments (go black!), she more than makes up with in smouldering passion. SHe conveys so much 'heat', it's advisable to have a Fire bucket close at hand to douse the inferno. Anita and her partner's central duet gives the chance for the rest to step away from their roles in what , overall, is a dance floor routine consisting of smitten couples lost in time - the camera playing the roll of either observer or participant, so close that there's almost accidental contact. This is one occasion where the sheer volume of 'Zooists' is a distinct advantage.
Oh, and thanks to the always benign Sgt. Esterhaus for the Roll Call. With late nights in the bar and Roll Calls pre 7am, how much sleep did the cops on that precinct ever get?
I remember Hill Street Blues debuting on British TV and thinking, blimey, this is different. Innovative TV aimed at the young urban professional; a show, as it were, for the 1980s. The theme music is still highly evocative to me even now. And without HSBs sending TV crime drama in a new direction surely the groundwork could not have been laid for modern classics such as The Wire.
This dance is different too. Anita and Mary might be there, but Flick seems determined to make a statement that this is no longer Legs or Pans, but a performance aimed at a more sophisticated audience. Personally, I don't like it. The stage is too crowded and it looks a bit of a mess. It has a sassy confidence about it, I admit that, but it lacks joy; there again, I suppose that was the point, an avante-garde dance for an avante-garde TV show.
And in the tradition of that upwardly mobile ethos so apparent at the time, it seems to be saying, like me...or get left behind.
What's going on here then? Something different that's for sure and, I feel, among the best examples of Flick stretching her creative wings with her new large pool of beautiful people. The mellow piano-led theme, agreeable enough but hardly an open goal for riveting choreography, gets coated in romance and imaginative sensuality and I'm very much drawn into this lush affair.
Word on the street is a matched line of blurred distinction is to form between troupe and cheerleaders. To pivot around one pair of the love birds, the girl of reassuringly familiar plumage exquisitely suspended in the tender arms of her besuited beau. Be like them and make no mistake: they swirl right in the cream of TOTP duets. A demanding and sensitive interpretation, guitar licks light the spark and our Anita smoulders with epicurean taste.
One could easily believe that the night is young, not all over in about three minutes. So it's just as well that there's a real vibe of sharing and relishing the moment going round here - young people knowing the world is literally at their feet - and I find it very appealing. Most eye-catching support is provided by the prime pairing of Eddie, and cute in polka dots that cracker(jack) Julie with the heart-melting smile, who if there's ever a poll of fave Zoo member it would be difficult to envisage a challenger. Then there's the oh-what-might-have-been returnee in red, demonstrating some of the talent which we so lost out on watching develop...and which now in fruition we have but a scant sample.
Much and everything to enjoy. Well everything apart from Craig Fairbrass - wouldn't you just know? - getting his macho mug in it. So unfathomably prized was he that when Toni Basil brought a surprise cheerleader smash to the studio and needed home opposition to spar with it just had to be this burliest of cheerleaders, didn't it? But never mind him, taking onboard all the evidence which it seems so far only the Platoon is fully able/willing to appreciate, I reckon this amounts to a 10/10. DOTD of course would be an echo of P4PM's ecstatic nomination.
Fave TV theme? Thunderbirds! But so many from the golden age which coincided like much else with that of TOTP dancers.
Ooh, I forgot my fave TV theme. There have been so many fantastic ones. The ITC action shows had amazing themes. Department S, Man In A Suitcase, The Adventurer, Radall & Hopkirk are all incredible. Then there was the genius music of Gerry Anderson collaborator Barry Gray. Just listen to the closing credits of Joe 90. Sublime. But fave of all time. Has to be the man himself, the guvnor, Mr John Barry and his brilliant theme to The Persauders.
Hill Street Blues was unmissable tv for me back in the 80s, and I often left the pub early on a Friday to get home to watch it. One of the best American made tv series ever in my mind.
This dance sequence from Zoo tells a story too. In the nightclub, the boys are lined up facing the girls and they partner each other. Anita’s boldness wins her the man she was seeking and he certainly sweeps her off her feet. Will they listen to Sgt. Esterhaus’s warning to “be careful out there”? With those amazing lifts and spins it certainly looks a bit risqué from our angle.
Great interpretation of such a melancholy song with wonderful choreography to match 10/10
Favourite theme tune? I like the theme to The Sweeney - the way it blasts out following the opening pre-titles sequence, but my favouite of all time, (and with a tape that’s going to self-destruct in 5 seconds) :-
All bound for Lulu Land in an E Type Jag (but more likely to be an E reg)
Thanks to all those who have responded so far. There is quite a diverse range of opinions and scores which always keeps it interesting. Thanks also to those that shared their favourite TV themes. I wonder who it will be who will be supplying the tenth rating for this routine?
I'm not a fan of crowded routines, but the solo spots are quite good here, and of course it is nice to welcome Mary back. The best thing about this dance though is the great guitar work of one Larry Carlton which alone makes it a pleasure to watch.
Because of its musical merits I will award this routine 7 out of 10. A not-so-crowded Legs & Co version might have been a 10.
My favourite TV theme is either the theme to "Raumpatrouille" by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchester (a late 60s German sci-fi series which was a must-watch at the time) or Mike Post's "The Rockford Files". I can't make up my mind really.
And when the stewardess is near do not show any fear
This is a more laid back affair than we are used to but it certainly works. There are quite a few Zoo folk on duty but the focus couple is clearly Anita and partner and occasionally Mary and partner, the rest are more background participants a lot of the time, perhaps to give a kind of nightclub feel.
The filming here is great, real 'in the thick of it' action and giving a 360 style view of the studio. I do wonder how long Flick had to rehearse these with dancers she may have not known and therefore having the TOTP experienced Anita was an easy choice of lead and perhaps a little bonus as this was her final appearance i believe.
Thanks to Vin and Mikey for their reviews and to P4PM for his theme. CSI is another series / franchise that I have never got around to watching. I quite like the music for Raumpatrouille as well.
Also thanks to Ryan for giving this thread a plug with his forum headers.