R.I.P. “Hill Street Blues,” L.A. Law,” “NYPD Blue” TV Pioneer Steven Bochco

If you’ve watched television over the last four decades, you are more than familiar with the work of pioneering creative talent Steven Bochco. Having cut his teeth in Hollywood writing for a variety of megahit series such as Columbo and McMillan and Wife, he went on to develop a number of programs that pushed the boundaries of television drama, most notably Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. (The latter was especially a magnet for controversy due how the series challenged networks to rethink their approach to language, nudity and violence at a time when cable television was rapidly evolving). Flawed and deeply human characters were Bocho’s specialty, and the realistic nature of his shows reverberated through the television industry and can still be felt to this day.

Never afraid to take risks, Bocho aligned himself with projects that seemed risky (the wunderkind young doctor of Doogie Howser, M.D. being the most obvious example) yet were successes nevertheless. Even his lesser appreciated works were fascinating, such as the underrated John Ritter “dramedy” Hooperman and Cop Rock — a musical series about police officers that was a notorious failure when it debuted in 1990 but has undergone something of a critical re-evaluation in recent years. Bochco died of leukemia yesterday at the age of 74, and while his passing is tragic he leaves behind a legacy that has, and will continue to, influence the artistic potential of television.

Here’s Bochco discussing Hill Street Blues:

In this interview, he reflects upon how L.A. Law came to be:

Here he candidly talks about Cop Rock:

Finally, here’s Bocho providing insight on the creation of NYPD Blue:

What was your favorite Steven Bochco show? Share your memories of his work below.