updated 05/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/04/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT
We came to our way of telling the stories out of necessity—we had too many characters to adequately service in any one episode. We had eight or nine regulars, and there is no way you can tell eight or nine stories in an hour. That's when we realized that if you take eight good stories and spread them over two or three episodes, they'll really be meaningful. Sometimes we didn't quite know how we were going to get from A to Z, but we'd just sort of plunge ahead. In the beginning we had one of those school blackboards on rollers, but the characters in the stories just came alive, and we gave that up during the first season. We kept chewing up more story lines in a season than most shows do in five years. Sometimes we would tell very, very competent stories in three or four scenes where most shows would have made a meal on it. It was very exciting. And in the midst of murders and rapes, this woman Faye Furillo would come in haranguing Frank Furillo about a bounced alimony check or that he brought Frank Jr. home from the hockey game with a cold. Real life. When you play to win as opposed to playing not to lose, you can really take some chances, and NBC was playing to win. It was amazing.