Television has undergone tremendous cultural renaissance in recent times with more quality being showcased targeted at a more discerning adult audience. Current television programs have characteristic higher production values with more advanced plot-lines, strong dialogue together with fully developed character roles (Nichols-Pethick, 2012). The police genre, in particular, has experienced significant evolution over the last 3 decades, from Hill Street Blues (1981-87) to NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) in present day.
Hill Street Blues is and American police drama series that aired on NBC from 1981 to 1987. Its hallmark is that it introducesd the ensemble cast into a police drama. Its production innovations inspired lots of subsequent police dramatic television series, including NCIS. Each episode of the drama features a series of intertwined storylines, some of which were exhausted within the episode, but most were developed over in a number of episodes that followed in a season. As such, Hill Street Blues did was not limited to self-contained episodes where the case had to be resolved before rolling of credits. Much play consists of the conflicts between work lives and private lives of individual characters. The action is given a documentary feel through a closely-held camera and rapidly cut action between stories together with much overhead and off-screen dialogue. Instead of studio cameras, the production used hand-held cameras.
Similar to Hill Street Blues, NCIS does not make use of two-dimensional heroic figures with typical car chases, hip comments as well as black and white depiction of good cop versus bad guys. Hill Street Blues introduced the viewer to a gritty police drama from the perspective of character relationships, not merely heroes and villains.
Today’s audience, which NCIS targets, is more analytical and quality-oriented than that of Hill Street Blues back in the 1980’s (Nichols-Pethick, 2012). NCIS features spectacles of all kinds: explosive, natural, urban and sexual (especially in the form of characteristic cut-ins of unnamed erotic dancers or bikini-clad young women. Also, there is use of rapid montage sequences that juxtapose movement, ocean waves, and pursuit. The police genre makes use identifiable spectacular sceneries. It has a distinctive narrative, which strikes to reconstruct events, use forensic formats based in the laboratory accompanied with sidebar explanations of the featured techniques and phenomena (Tasker, 2010). Furthermore, modern-day TV police genre features specialist units that demonstrate certain areas of expertise to the viewer. In conclusion, TV police dramas have changed significantly over the years and affect the manner in which real police, criminals, and the public behave in real life (Nichols-Pethick, 2012).