Homicide: Life on the Street: Season 4, Episode 22

Work Related (17 May 1996)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.0
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Three people are shot during a robbery at a burger place; two die, a teenage girl and a male customer. Pembleton and Bayliss investigate. They discover the other victim (shot in the knee) ... See full summary »

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Sean Whitesell ...
Jeffry Perry Czerbinski ...
Ian McKenzie
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Stephen Angus ...
Paramedic #1
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Julia Pfeiffer
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Storyline

Three people are shot during a robbery at a burger place; two die, a teenage girl and a male customer. Pembleton and Bayliss investigate. They discover the other victim (shot in the knee) was the shooter's friend, and during his interrogation Pembleton has a seizure and is taken to neurosurgery. Meanwhile Lewis and Kellerman investigate "The Bowling Ball Murder"-someone dropped the ball from an overpass. Written by jeaneva

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17 May 1996 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Season 4: Some minor niggles but otherwise it is another strong season that builds on the base of grit that made it in the first place (SPOILERS)
28 November 2007 | by (Birmingham, UK) – See all my reviews

An arson attack turns into a homicide investigation when a body turns up in the ashes, bringing Pembleton and Bayliss into an uneasy working relationship with Arson detective Kellerman, who impresses Giardello with his abilities as an investigator. With the unit already two men down due to the 20-odd week suspension for Bolander and Felton (for a drunken rampage at a detective's conference out of town) Giardello pushes to have Kellerman transferred to the unit. Meanwhile a gas leak in the building causes a mass decamp to a modified bank, with Pembleton particularly affected by the loss of his "box" and Howard's successful sitting of the sergeant's exam sees her role changed in a way that not everyone appreciates. For everyone in the unit of course, the bodies keep coming.

Season three of H:LOTS saw the show move away from the strength of the (admittedly short) season two and the more traditional cop show narrative approach did not sit entirely easily next to the gritty realistic approach of Simon's original source material. From the start of season four, it is clear that the narrative and need to hold viewers for half a year is coming to the fore. This can be seen not only in the ongoing development of the characters but also in the rise of the two-parter episodes and links to themes from previous seasons (most notably the Adena Watson case). All of this does work pretty well though and I don't mean for it to come over as a criticism because although I did like what season two did, I think this was the way to go. Although it does still have an episodic nature to the stories (not as bad as the contained CSI, but not The Wire either) the strands formed by the characters and situations hold the viewer with it, making the squad room the focus rather than any one specific scenario or case.

What made it work for me though is that the grit and reality of life in Homicide is not just forgotten but is instead used as a base that the season is built on. This doesn't always come through and some episodes out of the season are pretty weak (I personally disliked the one at the Motel – the style was all wrong). Later in the season though there is no shortage of examples of how important this base is and it produces many episodes that hold up the complex nature of the job, the pointlessness of many of the murders and the lack of a difference some of the arrests actually make beyond locking up that specific individual. I specifically liked the conclusion to the episode where the doctor allowed the man to die – just like Bayliss, the viewer wants to be able to make a judgement call on it due to circumstance but at the same time knows that it cannot work that way. As a fan of The Wire, I also appreciated how the later episodes saw more of the terraces, the dealers and the street slingers – this world was not really explored up to this point and it was effective to focus several episodes in this area.

Not everything is perfect about the season though. The Law & Order crossover didn't totally convince and, more annoyingly, the DVD only contains the H:LOTS episode. Personally I thought the way they got Felton and Bolander out of the series was clumsy and it didn't help that the temporary nature of suspension meant that the issue did keep coming up. The addition of the character of Brody was also a niggle for me because I struggled to see why he had been added. He randomly videos crime scenes etc, but not all of them and he offers very little in regards the narrative other than having another minor character kicking around. Other than him though the characters continue to be the heart of the show for me and the cast mostly rise to this. As before proceedings are dominated by Kotto's Giardello and Braugher's Pembleton. Both men provide shades to their characters and performances within their characters (eg Frank in the box or G being "mad" at Kellerman) and when they are in a scene it is too easy to focus on them. Leo is better as her character feels more involved with the squad thanks to her story lines. Johnson also engaged me more and is helped by solid partnership with Diamond, who isn't a great actor but does very well with his character. Secor seems more confident and settled and grows with his character while Hofmann benefits from better material this year. Belzer is Munch – need I say more than that? Guests include cameos and those who I know retrospectively as they later were in Oz, The Wire etc - Chris Rock, O'Quinn, Winters, Harden, Patinkin, Jay Leno, Tomlin, Simmons, True-Frost and a few others all do solid work and it was only Leno who I felt was out of place and unnecessary.

Overall then this is another strong season from H:LOTS. The narrative fits more with a traditional cop drama, which it needed to do to fill the longer run seasons, however the foundation and bedrock of the grit and the characters remain in place. While not with niggles, season 4 is another example of why this series is so well regarded even fifteen years later.


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