“Would you like to sit down or would you prefer internal bleeding?”
Next on our list is Detective Mick Belker, played by Bruce Weitz. Weitz did such a phenomenal job in the role that he found himself typecast for years after Hill Street ended. On the pilot commentary Bochco tells us that when Weitz went in for auditions he was often asked to growl for them. In a way it’s a shame, but can you blame them?
Belker might have been a short guy, but he made up for it with plenty of heart and guts. He’s what my grandfather used to call scrappy. On the surface he looked like a bum…even when he wasn’t under cover. Thick mustache and gloves with the fingers missing were constant trademarks. So was that dog growl that would get the real thing to back down. Belker got some of the best lines of the show. Phrases like dog breath, hairball and dirt bag immediately entered the pop culture. His eating habits were also an iconic part of the character. An onion and anchovy sandwich was one of his mildest favorites. Dill pickles (extra sour) and fish heads were often found on Belker’s lunch menu.
Under all of that exterior was a heart of gold. A running bit on the show had him talking to his mother on the phone while he was trying to book some unsavory suspect. In later seasons he finally found a wife and had a kid. Belker also was fond of strays…people, not dogs. He was drawn to society’s outcasts and had a sympathetic fondness for them. This was, of course, in stark contrast to the various felons with whom he often invited them to internal injuries or an offer to rip out their lungs. And he’d do it, too.
He was loyal to a fault to his Captain and looked to get out of the precinct when it looked like he might lose him to transfer…or worse. But he was basically shy around the other cops on the beat. He never really looked for attention, but somehow it always followed him around. Then there’s the reputation for biting arrest resistors and even a fellow cop who might get out of hand. They didn’t call him Belker the Biter for nothing.
All in all, Belker was one of the most interesting characters ever to grace the television screen. I’m heading into the third season. You still have a couple of weeks to wait. I’d tell you to eat your heart out…but Belker would take something like that literally.
Let’s all synchronize our calendars. There’s an important date, and it’s coming upon us quickly. Shout Factory is about to release one of the most influential series in television history. We’re talking Hill Street Blues, and the complete seven-season series is coming to home video on Tuesday April, 29th. It’s an event worth celebrating, and we here at Upcomingdiscs are going to help you get through these final days with character profiles from the show. I’m hard at work binge-watching episodes as fast as I can to have a full detailed review waiting for you on the 29th. I know. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.