9 TV Cop Dramas That Took a Bite Out of Crime

Steven Bochco’s seminal cop drama Hill Street Blues has been out of print and hard to find for years. Its first two seasons were released on DVD in 2006, but the final five seasons (many would argue the show got better as it went) have been highly valued collector’s items, circulating on poor-quality VHS scans. Now, the fine folks at Shout! Factory have released a massive collector’s edition box set of the entire series. We look back at some of the finest television cop dramas, a genre Hill Street Blues reinvented.


1. Dragnet
Baritone-voiced actor/writer/producer Jack Webb transcribed his popular radio program into a popular television program in 1952. Webb plays Joe Friday, a “just the facts,” straight-shooting detective who stands in stark contrast to the current wave of television anti-heroes. Known for its verisimilitude and ripped-from-the-headlines stories, Dragnet is the proper progenitor of cop dramas, inspiring everything from Lee Marvin’s M Squad to the satirical Police Squad! to Law & Order.