Police Story is an anthology television crime drama that aired on NBC from 1973 through 1978. The show was the brainchild of author and former policeman Joseph Wambaugh and represented a major step forwardin the realistic depiction of police work and violence on network TV. It was produced by David Gerber and Mel Swope.
Although it was an anthology, there were certain things that all episodes had in common; for instance, the main character in each episode was a police officer. The setting was always Los Angeles and the characters always worked for some branch of the LAPD. Notwithstanding the anthology format, there were recurring characters. Scott Brady appeared in more than a dozen episodes as “Vinnie,” a former cop who, upon retirement, had opened a bar catering to police officers, and who acted as a sort of Greek chorus during the run of the series, commenting on the characters and plots. Tony Lo Bianco and Don Meredith made several appearances as Robbery–Homicide Division partners Tony Calabrese and Bert Jameson. Other recurring characters included surveillance specialist Joe LaFrieda, played by Vic Morrow, and vice officer turned homicide detective Charlie Czonka, played by James Farentino. Chuck Connors also starred in various episodes.
The anthology format allowed the show to try out characters and settings for series development, and, during its broadcast run, Police Story generated three spin-offs. A first-season episode, “The Gamble,” starring Angie Dickinson, became the pilot for the successful Police Woman series, which ran from 1974-1978. “The Return of Joe Forrester,” a second-season episode starring Lloyd Bridges, was developed into the weekly series Joe Forrester. Finally, “A Chance to Live,” a special episode from the fifth season starring David Cassidy, was spun off into the series Man Undercover. That series didn’t do as well, and lasted only ten episodes.
In later seasons, perhaps because of the expense of maintaining the anthology format on a weekly basis, Police Story became a series of irregularly scheduled TV movies.
Police Story was a precursor to later shows such as NBC’s Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), Law & Order (1990-2010), ABC’s NYPD Blue and NBC’s Homicide: Life on the Street (both latters started in 1993).
Police Story (1973-1978) This was a series anthology created by once police officer and author Joseph Wambaugh, who had a non fiction best seller the same year with The Onion Field. It was the first police series done in “realism” and responsible for subsequent acclaimed crime series such as Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue and Homicide: Life on the Street.This was one of the more realistic police series to be seen on television, created by former Los Angeles policeman Joseph Wambaugh. He served as a consultant to this series, insuring that everything was treated with utmost authenticity. Stories covered the more mundane aspects of police work as well as the excitement. They dealt with how their jobs affected their families, and personal problems. Wambaugh’s LAPD badge #178 – 1960-1974 pictured below.