Homicide: Life on the Street: Season 1, Episode 9

The Night of the Dead Living (31 Mar. 1993)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.9
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The homicide team pulls the graveyard shift on the hottest night of the year. Bayliss is consumed by the Adena Watson case... See full synopsis »

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Title: The Night of the Dead Living (31 Mar 1993)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Loretta Kenyatta (as N'bushe Wright)
Kenn Michael ...
James Hill (as Kenny Blank)
Denise Morgan ...
Social Services Official
Cleve Wall ...
Sharon Ziman ...
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Storyline

The homicide team pulls the graveyard shift on the hottest night of the year. Bayliss is consumed by the Adena Watson case... See full synopsis »

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31 March 1993 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

This episode takes place in September 1992. See more »

Quotes

Det. Beau Felton: Every night someone lights this candle by the board.
Lt. Al 'Gee' Giardello: You're a detective. Solve it.
Det. Beau Felton: A homicide detective. If the candle killed someone, I'd close the case.
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Connections

References Night of the Living Dead (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

Season 1: Niggles with the development of the characters and stories perhaps but still a superior cop drama with big credit to Simons' material
15 June 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A gritty look into the workings of the Baltimore homicide department as experienced by the shift of Lt. Al Giardello. The crimes vary – from dunkers where bodies are found in the murderers basement, to high profile redballs involving police shootings or the murder of children. Against a backdrop of death and murderers, G's shift carries a typical gallows humour which conceals some of the internal tensions and problems within the team.

On holiday recently I read David Simons' "year on the killing streets" for the first time and it motivated me to try and start to watch Homicide again. On a whim a year ago I bought season 1 and 2 on DVD but had never gotten round to it. When I originally watched Homicide, it did end under a cloud as Channel 4 in the UK started it on a primetime evening slot but then gradually moved it to a very late regular slot before then just throwing it out at 2am on irregular nights and then dropping it altogether for the final season. However starting on the first season was a good place to be in regards what the series first became famous for, which is the gritty and realistic look at the job. It looks even better now as we have more and more sexy and glossy shows that bare little resemblance to real police work.

On this level it is really enjoyable as the characters have a convincing gallows humour and approach that you get from Simons' time with his homicide squad but in a way this was also a weakness. In the book we are introduced gradually and learn the characters as we go; also with the cases, they are used to illustrate life in the unit and are interesting as such while also being engaging as a "narrative". With more of a TV drama narrative requirement, H:LOTS draws heavily on the book throughout season 1 and seemed to use a lot of the material up really quickly. While this helps with the convincing stories, it does make each episode feel contained and prevented a building narrative that perhaps makes better use of the cases. Compare it to The Wire, which is infinitely better, the one case is used to do so much whereas with H:LOTS the cases come thick and fast. This was a bit of a problem for me but perhaps it bugged me more because (with sexes and/or names changed) these are the cases in the book that had been given more time and had more detail. Outside of this, the dialogue and stories that come out are strong as a result with plenty of interest and a good look at the investigations in a "working man" sort of fashion. All the episodes are good with no real weak points but it goes without saying that the "Three Men & Adena" episode is a brilliant one and could only have been better if the season had taken longer to build the Watson case and shown more of the frustrating with interviewing the Araber.

The character development also struggles a bit with the "suddenly we are here" approach that filming the book brought. Everyone starts with their characters more or less where they spend most of the first season, with the exception of Bayliss – although even his breakdown suffered from being done in a very short time as opposed to the year long obsession that the case was in the book. Fortunately, just taking a cutout of each of the real people from the book is more than adequate at producing characters that are convincing. Braugher is the strongest of the lot as he has the best character and the best scenes, particularly in the integration room. Belzer is fun on the simple level that his character works – he is best on this level and it is seen by how far his character has run on this approach. Secor is good but is perhaps not that convincing because of the speed that he is asked to go. The move to rookie to broken obsession is too rapid and we have not even had time to get to know him as the new guy (they are all "new guys" to us) before we have to move further than this. Leo is OK but I must admit not really taking to her character even though she works well with a good turn from Baldwin. Johnson and Polito were good together and made for good characters. Kotto was strong and did well to bring a lot to his character without that many words – working off the ball as it were. Beatty was good as Stan and the smaller support roles were not only good but also provided lots of "oh look it's…" moments with the likes of Falco, Tergesen, Gilliard, Waters, Bai, Gunn and a few others I'm sure I didn't spot.

Overall then, a good start to the series. Using the cases and dialogue out of Simons' book as often as possible gives the show immediate access to convincing characters – which is at once a strength and a weakness as the characters lack the development across the season that I, as a viewer, like to see (eg The Wire). Still, I think any niggles I had came from just being familiar with the book and liking it more than the TV show but even with these it is a superior cop drama.


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