Posts Tagged ‘Steven Bochco’

Bay City Blues

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Five years before Ron Shelton turned his script for Bull Durham into his directorial dbut, NBC aired Bay City Blues, which introduced millions of people to the pleasures, idiosyncrasies, and slightly desperate aura surrounding the minor leagues.  NBC’s prime time lineup began the 1983-84 television season with several shows that looked promising, but quickly fell to cancellation, e.g., BooneMr. SmithManimal.  As well, Bay City Blues struck out.

NBC brought Bay City Blues to prime time in the wake of an abundance of critical acclaim surrounding its groundbreaking police drama Hill Street Blues and medical drama St. Elsewhereboth produced by MTM Enterprises.  Television critic Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “‘Bay City Blues’ applies the ‘Hill Street’ formulaan ensemble cast of eccentric characters bouncing their troubles off a firm but sensitive and understanding father figureto a new set of engaging circumstances.”

Bay City Blues revolved around the Bay City Bluebirds, a Double-A team in northern California.  Steven Bochco and Jeffrey Lewis created the show; Hill Street Blues was another Bochco co-creation, hence the parallel described by Rosenberg and other critics.  With the minor leagues serving as a limbo of dreams from which the Bluebirds seek a reprieve, Bay City Blues showcased future stars:  Sharon Stone’s legs launched a thousand sexual fantasies in Basic Instinct; Ken Olin represented the angst of baby boomers in thirtysomething; Michele Green transitioned from mousy to mighty as an attorney in L.A. Law; Mykelti Williamson befriended Tom Hanks as Bubba and Forrest respectively, in Forrest Gump; and Michael Nouri built an outstanding career as a character actor.

In New York magazine, John Leonard wrote, “When Bay City roots for its Bluebirds, it is rooting for youth and heroism, the lucky break, a last chance, grace under pressure, justice, and nostalgia.  Baseball, at least for the man-child in this promised land, is so American Dreamy because it’s so helplessly nostalgic.  Before we die, we want to steal second base.  This game, in theory, could go on forever.”

Fantasies of a better life comprise a cornerstone of the minor leagues portrayed in popular culture.  Cecil “Stud” Cantrell mourns the lost opportunity to compete with Stan Musial for a spot on the Cardinals when he suffered in injuries in World War II preventing him from going further than the Tampico Stogies in the novel Long Gone and the eponymous tv-movie.  Crash Davis embodies grace at home plate while he mentors a deeply talented but crucially ignorant pitcher pitcher in Bull Durham.  Hal Hinson of the Washington Post wrote, “What [Bull Durham] has is flavor, reality, a sense that the game is played by actual people, boys mostly, and not heroes.”  Pastime explored a similar mentor-mentee paradigm.

Built in the San Fernando Valley for Bay City Blues, Bluebird Field also appeared in the 1985 movie Brewster’s Millions.  In 1989, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power tore down the field, which also served Mission College and Village Christian High School.

NBC dropped Bay City Blues from its prime time lineup after four episodes aired.

A version of this article appeared on wwwthesportspost.com on November 15, 2015.

Thursdays at 10

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

RemingtonFor nearly 30 years, from 1981 to 2009, NBC defined quality television programming in the 10:00 p.m. time slot.  Hill Street Blues debuted in 1981 and changed the production of television drama.

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Furillo, Esterhaus, et al.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

RemingtonHill Street Blues began NBC’s tradition of quality drama in the 1o:00 p.m. time slot on Thursday nights.  This tradition lasted nearly three decades, ending in 2009 when The Jay Leno Show occupied the hour.

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The Many Faces of Dennis Franz

Friday, May 8th, 2015

RemingtonDennis Franz stayed with NYPD Blue for its entire run on ABC from 1993 to 2005.  But before he won Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Detective Andy Sipowicz, Franz starred in several television series.  Some may be long forgotten.

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A Cartoon Bible

Monday, March 30th, 2015

RemingtonWho was the voice of Harry Boyle, the father in Wait Til Your Father Gets Home?

When did The Jetsons initially air?

What was the name of the prime time cartoon series that Steven Bochco produced?

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The Big Three

Friday, February 27th, 2015

RemingtonIn the 1980s, America’s three television networks changed hands.

ABC to Capital Cities.  NBC to General Electric.  CBS to Loews.

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“L.A. Law” Retrospective (Part 6 of 8)

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

In Teleliteracy is Here…So Telefriend, Chapter 14 of his 1992 book Teleliteracy, television critic David Bianculli raises the issue of television programming rivaling literature for intelligence.

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“L.A. Law” Retrospective (Part 3 of 8)

Friday, October 4th, 2013

L.A. Law pushed the boundaries of network television with dialogue.  The writers employed their creativity to evade censors while maintaining script quality.  For example, the premiere episode contains a scene with Arnie Becker and a private investigator discussing the P.I.’s photographs of Barry Graham (played by John McCook), the soon-to-be-ex-husband of Arnie’s client, Lydia Graham (played by Shannon Wilcox).

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“L.A. Law” Retrospective (Part 1 of 8)

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Media historians will likely document the 1980s as the Decade of the Peacock.  As television approached its 40th anniversary since Milton Berle launched the medium into mass status in 1948 with Texaco Star Theatre, NBC’s avian emblem emerged like a phoenix, symbolizing pride throughout the environs of network headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, 3000 West Alameda Avenue in beautiful, downtown Burbank, and approximately 200 NBC stations.

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