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“Chicago Story": Annals of Failed Cop Shows About Our Town

An ambitious show in a singularly unambitious era, it was Chicago Hope plus Chicago Code… plus half an hour. Then it disappeared from existence.

In 1982, as schlock TV was building towards its pinnacle—I recently went back and watched the first two episodes of Airwolf and was shocked, now that I live in a golden age of TV, how unfathomably insane it was—a producer named Eric Bercovici had an ambitious idea. The former Hawaii Five-O writer created a gritty Chicago drama about doctors, lawyers, and cops, sort of Chicago Hope plus The Chicago Code, starring then-obscure actors like Dennis Franz and Craig T. Nelson.

And it ran an hour and a half, every week.

Somehow, this wasn’t a recipe for success. It only lasted a season, perhaps because of its length, its cast of unknowns, NBC’s third-place standing, and its Saturday night ”kiss of death slot  opposite Love Boat and Fantasy Island” (subsequently shifted to Friday against Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas). Running a bottle episode as its first episode was probably also a bad idea.

But it didn’t just fail: it vanished from existence. Even in the Internet’s age of plenty the closest I’ve come to an episode was an expired listing for a script on eBay Italy. Fortunately, someone did manage to put the opening on YouTube.

Then again, maybe it was doomed from the theme song.

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