When the hit series Hill Street Blues was about to premier in 1980, NBC sent an internal memo to writer & show runner Stephen Bochco with a list of their concerns following a focus group testing of the program: “The most prevalent audience reaction indicated that the program was depressing, violent and confusing. Too much was crammed into the story. The main characters were perceived as being not capable and having flawed personalities. Professionally, they were never completely successful in doing their jobs and personally their lives were in a mess. Audiences found the ending unsatisfying. Too many loose ends…” - etc;
In other words, this memo was an entirely unwitting blueprint not only for what made Hill Street Blues such a historic program, but for all the shows that make up this Third Golden Age.
If those executives had had their way the road would have never been paved for The Sopranos, Rescue Me, Weeds, Homeland, Dexter, Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Damages, Sons of Anarchy, Oz, The Wire, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and House of Cards.
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