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It was a gloomy day when NBC cancelled this amazing show, but
not enough viewers were watching. It can now be viewed in syndication - as
of January 1999 it is shown on Court-TV weeknights. "Homicide" was an Emmy
and Peabody-award-winning show. Because of its unique shooting style,
magnificent writers, and terrific actors, it is the best show I ever
watched. Other cop shows are no comparison. In fact, no other drama on
network television had such a racially diverse cast. This is the only
I have seen with African-American actors in leading roles. It is a sad
that there aren't other shows like it out now.
This show truly did duck the "system" of other dramas, staying true to the source and portraying realistic characters. Anguish, joy, anger, humiliation, and respect are evident in the faces of the characters in assorted episodes. The first few seasons were the best, in my opinion, but the other seasons were still better than anything else on the networks. I shudder to think that "Nash Bridges" beat this amazing show in the ratings. If you are at all interested, try to find this show on television in your area. There is no middle ground with this show; you will either hate it or love it. All that I know have become addicted to it.
The reason this fine show was canceled was due to much of the public. Most
people were unable to properly digest the great substance of this show.
There is an extreme difference in reading a book of substance such as "In
Cold Blood", by Truman Capote, and reading a frivolous, coffee table book
such as "Sex" by Madonna. Likewise, there is a difference between watching
a program like "Homicide" and watching a program like "The A-Team". The
show was so deep, people didn't watch.
The characters were outstanding. It's always good to watch excellent drama in which characters have strengths and weaknesses. Their weaknesses were were emphasized greatly to show realism. Naturally, the stories were great.
Another thing I miss was the crossover between "Homicide" and "Law and Order". These shows retained their individual styles while bringing the characters together so nicely.
It's too bad that it's gone.
Sorry Law and Order, but there's just something special about this show and
there's more of a place for it in my heart, and it has nothing to do with
the fact it takes place in my home state (well OK, that's does have
something to do with it). It had an unconventional style different from
that of L & O, but there were times I found it to be more
There was never a bad episode, and the casting was all good, especially Andre Braugher, Yaphet Kotto, Kyle Secor, and Richard Belzer. It's too bad that some cast members left earlier than they should of (Ned Beatty, Jon Polito), but they were ably replaced.
It's really a shame that more people didn't watch this show which led to its cancellation, and appreciate it more with some of the crap that's on TV these days, which is a sad commentary on TV viewers as a whole. Oh well, there's always the reruns on Court TV.
This show is an excellent drama of which you will rarely find on network TV(perhaps NYPD Blue in its first five or six years,St.Elsewhere,L.A.Law,Hill Street Blues might compare). This show,set in the Homicide division(of course) of the Baltimore Police Department and centered around the elite detectives of the precinct was an edgy,intense show which took some big-time chances(For example:One episode was set exclusively around two of the detectives grilling a suspect)and it's time slot,Friday nights at 10 eastern/9 central,made this a constant candidate for the cancellation blocks,but the loyal viewer-ship and the loud protestations of TV critics helped keep this show afloat for the six and a half years it ran. The acting and writing were by far some of the best on network t.v.,the characters fleshed out by Andre Braugher,Yaphett Kotto(As the chief),Ned Beatty,Melissa Leo,Isabella Hoffman,Clark Johnson,Daniel Baldwin,Kyle Secor,Reed Diamond and long-time stand-up comedian Richard Belzer,who has found his niche as a dramatic actor(and as the SAME character,Detective John Munch,in no fewer than five TV shows,now on Law and Order:Special Victims UNit)stand out maybe the most! I believe they could even revive this show someday in the future with some different characters in the roles and,with roughly the same writing and exactly the same kind of no-hold-barred risk-taking,could be at least half as good,if not equal.
I have never been a big fan of police serials, but this is my all time
favourite. I have nothing to add to the earlier comments, other than that
a time with complicated racial conflicts, poverty induced crime and the
problems stemming from social inequality, this show tried to comment on the
real problems facing the modern society.
And it was exciting too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is easily the highest quality television drama to ever be produced
from the US or anywhere else for that matter. Forget NYPD Blue, forget
CSI, forget The Shield, and dare I say it forget Hill Street Blues.
They're all good in their own right but not a scratch on HLOTS.
WARNING MILD SPOILERS BELLOW
Filmed on location in Baltimore (which to a foreigner like myself is a lesser know and more interesting city) with no soundstages (the first two seasons used an actual morgue before the actors got too sick being in there) the show had the grittiest edge of any television show (being a Brit this appeals to me), using 100% hand-held camera work, not using glamorous supermodels to play the detectives (at least not till the slip in the final season) this show achieved a new level in authenticity. And yet next to this the characters portrayed and the way they act is almost theatrical at times making for a nice contrast. The interrogations in particular are often like watching poetry in motion because along with realism of mumbled lines and characters talking over each other, there is a very clear arena where almost anything goes "the box" the place where the show really happens, the heart if you will. Some of the most memorable scenes have occurred in the room, and the intensity and intelligence of the dialogue "God is greater that that which we can imagine, we can not imagine God therefore God exists" is the selling point of the show. So rare are car chases and shootouts in this show that when they do occur it is a very intense experience. The shootout in the squad room in season six's 'Fallen heroes' is a good example. That scene shocked me to my core because we had never seen anything that violent or brutal on homicide before. Keeping these elements as a once or twice a season treat made them ten times more effective than in a cop show where it happens every week.
The actors are sensational; Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Kyle Secor, and Yaphett Kotto are incredible. But the awards for the best have to go to Andre Braugher who managed to portray an entirely different black cop to Clark Johnson's and was entirely mesmerizing for the six seasons he was present each season bringing something new and interesting to the character (his stroke at the end of the fourth season for example). And the other unsung great of Homicide, Reed Diamond, who effectively portrayed the slow erosion of Det. Mike Kellerman from nice good guy cop, to a completely dirty cop who executed a criminal he couldn't convict and blackmailed a crooked judge to his whims and then just for the hell of it got said judge killed too.
Homicide is intelligent, dark, and humorous in places, often touching, sometimes depressingly human in its display of man's often-casual attitude to murder. More than that it is a character driven show rather than narrative, and these are the more memorable of shows on television, interesting a complex characters like Jon Polito's conspiracy nut, who was secretly suicidal, Crosetti or the workaholic (only woman in the squad) Det. Howard. The characters lie, they cheat, the change their opinions and as in real life it isn't a big deal. An incredible success which was about ten years ahead of it's times.
END OF SPOILERS
Reviews of the seasons:
Season One and Two - (effectively the same season) the subtlest and most original of the seasons, some misjudged episodes early on when the writers were finding the ground but some standout episodes "Three Men and Adena" and "Black and Blue" being the best two. ****
Season Three - The most dramatic of the seasons, intense character developments and a non-stop tour de force of pain and misery for most of the squad. Best Episodes "The Gas Man" and "Colors". *****
Season Four - Some more sensational plots that didn't quite work at the time (the sniper two-parter) and yet now seems creepily realistic after Washington sniper attacks. However a solid season with some interesting single episodes. Best episodes "The Damage Done" and "Requiem For Adena" ****
Season Five - The best season with incredible opportunity for the writers (They'd been renewed a season ahead so they could do just about anything they want for this season) Pembleton's stroke, and Kellerman's court cases being high up the list and of course the all important Luther Mahoney plot. Best Episodes "Blood Wedding" and "Deception" *****
Season Six - The Mahoney story continues to dizzy and destructive heights it was a pleasure and a tense story to watch where you never really new how it would resolve. Some weaker additions to the cast let it down slightly but this is definitely the most watchable season. Best Episodes "Subway" and "Fallen Hero's" *****
Season Seven - The weakest season, Braugher and Diamond had left and the plots were becoming far too sensational with some more weak additions to the cast, it was still amazing to watch but some part of the viewers longed for it to have finished on the high note of "Fallen Heroes" Best Episodes "Homicide.com" ***
Homicide: The Movie - Wraps things up nicely but could have done with being about twice as long as all the characters are there but seven seasons of issues are not dealt with properly. **
If you get a chance to see any of it watch it, even better now that it's on DVD why not invest in it because trust me you won't be disappointed.
Ever since first encountering this Series, its title has held a certain
fascination for this writer. First of all we have HOMICIDE, now that
makes perfect sense. We've all heard that term used in countless
Feature Films, Radio Dramas, TV Series, Pulp Magazines, Detective
Then we have the second part of the Title, "Life on the Streets", the Sub-Title if you will. This is also a very descriptive, loaded phrase. The discussion of being "on the Street" is certainly an authentic phrase, used by the "Real Police" as much as by any authors.
But try putting the two together, as has been done here in this series and in the book that proceeded it, and what do you get? "HOMICIDE:Life On The Streets", is our answer but of course. But this is one Title that appears to be an instant oxymoron, for the juxtaposition of the two elements just doesn't blend. It would be much like blending Fire and Water, this Homicide & Life.
And yet, we do see what the Series creator Paul Attinsano is driving at. Either term by itself would not be adequate. It's just another case of the sum of the parts equaling more than the total.
Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let's start off by saying that there has never been a dramatic series that has started out to have such a high quality of story line and writing, and maintained the same as did Producer Barry Levinson's Baltimore Cop Show.
Starting off with the Cast, there was a certain vigilance observed to insure that there would be no 2 dimensional, stereotype cops and robbers situations. he actors charged with this task would all have to be first rate and selfless, as the series wasn't afraid to portray characters with "warts". You know, we see the thorns, as well as the roses.
Starting at the top, we have Unit Commander, Al Giardello(Yaphett Kotto), the product of a bi-racial marriage, having had an Italian Father and a Black Mother; Al navigates through the lexicons and cultural pools of either. Detective Steve Crosetti(John Polito) a truly grizzled veteran Cop/Detective. He would not move 2 feet if 1 1/2 feet would suffice. Very and obviously an Italian Ethnic, he is sometimes taken to be Lt. Giardello, as in the 1st episode. Det. John Munch(Richard Belzer), a guy who has wanted to be a Detective ever since he was a kid, though this would seemingly fly in the face of his Jewish heritage and upbringing. Being that he is well educated, extremely intelligent and street smart, he is doing this Detective business because he wants it, not because he failed at something else.* Others of the original Duty Roster are: Det. Frank Pembleton(Andre Braugher), a Black Guy who both grew up in the inner-city, but also can boast of being very well educated, by the Jesuits, yet. A manic when it comes to work, which is to a point to which he almost destroys his own health. Det. Tim Bayliss(Kyle Secor), new to the Detective Division. Smart, eager to learn he gets teamed with Pembleton. Formerly had some (Empty Holster)job in the Commissioner's Office. Melissa Leo as Det., a status seeker, works, slaves and studies hard to become a Detective/Sgt. of Police. Captain Megan Russert(Isabella Hoffman-Woo, woo, woo, woo!)now get this, she is a fictional cousin of NBC Newsman & Moderator of "MEET THE PRESS", Tim Russert(honest, that's what the series says!)
Rounding out the original "work sheets" are:Det. Stan Bolander(Ned Beatty)seemingly a sort of "dull blade', the blue collar guy found a great interest in classical music, even learning to play the Cello!Det. Meldrick Lewis(Clark Johnson)grew up in the Public Housing Project, Street Smart, Easy Going, Get's along with anybody and can work with anyone. My personal favourite Characterization.**ASA Ed Danvers(Zeliko Ivanek)excellent portrayal of Prosecutor and their relationship with "The Fuzz!" (Remember, in some States and the Federal Court System it's ADA(Assistant District Attorney), whereas such States as Maryland & my own Illinois use Assistant States' Attorney( ASA ).
Like so many series that last for any length of time, there were many, many changes in the line-up, more than most. Look it up! No more space will be allotted here! "HOMICIDE" truly dared to be different, and remained so through the course of its run. It made use of some multi-shot repeating fade-ins, all seen from slightly different angles,donned with accompanying sound of a short, blunt musical queue. (It has to be seen & heard).
Also, each and every "HOMICIDE" episode is much like a feature film. That is, each is able to stand on its own. And yes, there are a lot of continued story lines and ideas that carry from week to week, and it is better to follow the series week to week, but it's not necessary.
And it has the quality of sets, cinematography and really great, haunting music, both in theme and incidental music by Douglas J. Cuomo and Jeff Rona.
The whole story was neatly wrapped up with the 2 hour Made for TV HOMICIDE: The Movie(2000), which maintained the flavor of the series, yet still dared to be different.
NOTE: * Richard Belzer re-prised Det.Munch for "LAW & ORDER: Special Victims Unit. Munch has many 'crossover' appearances on the various other "LAW & ORDER" 'offspring'.
NOTE: ** In this author's 35 years on the Chicago Police Dept.,I met and worked with a lot of guys like 'Meldrick', but this was in my own "series"(my life on the streets!).
I loved this show, and still do in re-runs. Featuring one of the best casts ever assembled on tv, some great scripts and interesting direction, this show never let me down. Why'd they cancel it? Probably too much quality. It always had great guest stars too, I'm disappointed I can't find them listed here. Oh well, there's probably too many to name, but it was a great show and if you get a chance check it out late at night. Maybe it'll come out on DVD!
This is a fantastic drama. It features great performances, especially by Andre Braugher, Richard Belzer, and Yaphett Kotto, and excellent writing. I started watching when they showed the sniper episodes, and have been hooked since. The show's quality dipped slightly after Braugher left, but it was still going strong.
Like everybody before me told, this is THE best police story ever
The photography, the personages, the direction and last but not least the music. It's the first series where I noticed that a song was completely played, while all the actors kept moving, doing what they have to do, but without dialogues. If you are a scriptwriter it's a dream when you can accomplish this. The action counts. But then, as a cherry on a pie, the dialogues are perfect too.
Too bad we get this only once a week and then at a past midnight hour.
I was very surprised to learn this series originated from a book. Got that information from this web-site. I'm still full of praise but on the go for the Amazon book store. :-)
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