Monday, January 18, 2016

Hill Street Blues

TigerBlog watched a good deal of the NFL playoffs this weekend.

In fact, the only thing he watched more of was "Hill Street Blues."

There were four NFL games, two Saturday and two Sunday. There was also a marathon of "Hill Street" on a network called "Decades," and it lasted pretty much all day and night Saturday and yesterday.

TigerBlog will get back to the NFL shortly. For now, his one comment is to wonder how it's possible that NFL coaches and players understand so little about when the clock moves and when it doesn't.

Anyway, if you're, say, 45 or younger, you've probably never seen "Hill Street Blues." And that's a shame, because in TB's opinion, it's the best police show of all-time and, along with "The Sopranos," "Homeland" and "Breaking Bad" one of the four best dramas of all-time.

"Hill Street" is set in a large city, one that is never in the 146 episodes it ran actually identified. The title refers to the police officers of the Hill Street precinct.

TigerBlog hadn't seen "Hill Street Blues" in a long, long time. As the weekend went on, it was harder and harder to switch back to the NFL and away from the police on the hill.

TigerBlog has two very vivid memories of watching "Hill Street Blues." One is that it was a staple of the Thursday night lineup on NBC, one that included legendary sitcoms like "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers" and "Night Court.

The other? This is the only show that TB can remember watching with his mother on a regular basis.

What made the show so great? It developed an outstanding ensemble of characters. It ran its stories in three-part arcs, which added to the drama.

It was well-written and well-acted. It went down roads and tackled issues that were quite controversial in the early 1980s. And it had a great, great piano theme song, one that played over some of the great opening credits you'll ever see on a TV show.  

One of the great characters on the show was Joe Coffey, who was played be Ed Marinaro. Perhaps you remember the name from when he played football at Cornell and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy?

Michael Warren, who played Bobby Hill on the show, was also a standout college athlete. Warren was a basketball player at UCLA and part of the Bruins dynasty as a national champion in 1967 and 1968.

TigerBlog thought that Warren might have played against Princeton, but he didn't, missing it by a year. Princeton actually played UCLA each of the two years after Warren graduated, losing 83-67 in the Holiday Festival in the 1968-69 season and then, in one of the greatest games in Princeton history, losing 76-75 the following year when Sydney Wicks hit a shot at the buzzer. UCLA won the NCAA title in both of those years.

Meanwhile, back at the NFL, TigerBlog noticed something about the "NFL Today" pregame show. Of the five people on the set, three had a strong connection to Princeton basketball.

The first two were James Brown and Tony Gonzalez.

James Brown is tied for 14th all-time at Harvard - with Kyle Casey - in scoring with 1,242 points. Brown graduated in 1973 after going 1-5 against Princeton in his career.

Gonzalez? You might know him as a record-setting NFL tight end, but he also played basketball at Cal.

TigerBlog was in the Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem for the 1997 NCAA tournament game, one that came after Princeton went 24-3 in Bill Carmody's first season as head coach. Cal defeated Princeton 55-52, and Gonzalez was tough, strong and athletic, as you might expect.

Gonzalez finished the game with 13 points and five rebounds; TB thought those numbers were actually higher. Certainly his impact on the game was significant.

Princeton's top two scorers in the game? Current head coach Mitch Henderson (15 points, 7 for 9 shooting, five assists) and assistant coach Brian Earl (13 points).

And the third connection to Princeton? That one was easy. Bill Cowher, whose daughter Meagan Cowher is the second all-time leading scorer at Princeton with 1,671 points, only 12 behind Sandi Bittler's school record.

In fact, only Bittler and Bill Bradley have scored more points at Princeton than Cowher.

Oh, and the football itself?

The end of the Cardinals-Packers game was great, obviously. Carolina looked great.

Oh, and TB was rooting against New England, again. Oh well, there's always next week.

You know, with the conference championship games. And on Decades?

A "Kojak" marathon.

Who loves ya, baby?

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