I was really thinking about cop shows and movies and if they reflect the times or is it the other way round. I know. I really need to get out of bed once I've woken up !
My memories of most things only go back to a week last Wednesday but for some reason, I do vividly remember watching Dixon Of Dock Green when I "were a lad". I was only 3 when the series started in 1955 but even so, even at that tender age, I did think Jack Warner's character did reflect the times. He was like everyone's favourite uncle and I'm sure he wore a lovely knitted cardy under his uniform. When he politely asked a villain to stop, he'd stop and the most violence we saw was when Jack or one of his colleagues put their hand on someone's shoulder and said "you're nicked, my lad."
There were no high powered car chases (not quite the same using bicycles) and certainly no gun shooting like in just about every cop show these days. Having said that, Jack's Dixon character first appeared in a movie, "The Blue Lamp" in 1950 when stunned audiences watched as he investigated a cinema robbery and was shot and killed by a very young Dirk Bogarde. It was just so shocking for a policeman to be shot at in England at that time. It still is, to be honest.
So fresh from his death, Dixon starred in his long running series and set the standard for cop shows on this side of the pond for the next 21 years. Policemen were respected. They were trusted. And yes, they wore funny helmets. Still do.
Over the decades, the times they were a changing and although UK police shows changed and became a bit more gritty and violent, they still were very tame compared to their US counterparts. Just think of Juliet Bravo, The Bill, Z Cars and even The Sweeney in the mid 70's and none were likely to raise questions about their uber violence. I suppose Heartbeat was borderline at times (!!) but the sweet sounds of the 60's used as the musical background still took us back to Dixon and his gentler policing methods.
We don't have the tv income to splash out on flashy special effects or be able to write off loads of cars in spectacular chases so we concentrate on the plots and with the influx of US cop shows, we can be said to have the best of both worlds.
Once upon a time, America gave us Kojak and we gave them Z Cars. They gave us Miami Vice, we gave them Dempsey & Makepeace. They gave us TJ Hooker and we gave them The Thin Blue Line.
Never mind better plots, I think over the years we've had the better of the deals !