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When the Cast of Hill Street Blues Showed Up...in Firestorm?

This is Foggy Ruins of Time, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

Recently, I wrote a piece about how Cliff Carmichael, the jerk who bullied Ronnie Raymond throughout Firestorm, went a step beyond bullying when it turned out that he had sabotaged Ronnie Raymond's football helmet while they were both in college together. Cliff's own cousin, Hugo, absent-mindedly grabbed Ronnie's helmet by mistake and during the big game, Hugo's chinstrap broke and his helmet came off and thus, Hugo was unprotected when he fell to the ground and he snapped his neck.

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Writer Gerry Conway left the story unresolved and new writer, John Ostrander, resolved it in Firestorm #60 (by Ostrander, Joe Brozowski and Dennis Janke) by having Cliff Carmichael try to kill himself. Firestorm saved his life and when Cliff was taken into custody, he insisted on confessing at the local police precinct. Ronnie and Ronnie's girlfriend, Dorrie, who both went to high school with Cliff, were brought in to witness the confession to see if it seemed believable to them.

Oddly enough, Ostrander decided to base the entire police precinct part of the storyline on the then-still-airing Hill Street Blues. Hill Street Blues was a Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco created drama about the day shift at an inner city police department.

The show's heroic lead, Captain Furillo, was played by Daniel Trevanti...

His girlfriend (and later wife) was hotshot public defender, Joyce Davenport (played by Veronica Hamel)...

A lot of the drama of the show was about him putting criminals behind bars while she defended them.

Other supporting characters included Lt. Henry Goldblume (played by Joe Spano) and Assistant District Attorney Irwin Bernstein (played by George Wyner)...

Ostrander then basically just had an scene from Hill Street Blues play out in the next six pages, with Cliff's confession (while Joy Ravenport tries to tell him to shut up and stop confessing)...

Obviously, at the time this was a clear riff on Hill Street Blues (which won a ton of Emmys back in the day), but now it is sort of lost to time.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a future edition of Foggy Ruins of Time, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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