Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Homicide: Life on the Street
Homicide: Life on the Street is an American television drama series chronicling the life of a fictional Baltimore police homicide unit. It ran for seven seasons on the NBC network from 1993 to 1999, plus a 2000 TV-movie. The series was based on David Simon's nonfiction book , and many characters and plots in the series are directly based on individuals and events depicted in the book.
Homicide was developed by Paul Attanasio and included film director Barry Levinson as an executive producer, but Tom Fontana is largely recognized as the guiding hand behind the series. With its no-nonsense look at the workings of a homicide unit, from the nuts and bolts of answering calls and how crimes are solved, to the professional and personal drama in the unit, to the dominant use of handheld cameras to film the series, Homicide developed a trademark feel and look that distinguished itself from its contemporary series. The series was also filmed entirely on location in Baltimore, which practically became a character on the show. Homicide was responsible for several television innovations, including being the first show to regularly use the technique of playing a musical number over a montage of scenes.
The series got off to a shaky start on the schedule with a nine-episode first season. Despite premiering in the coveted post Super Bowl timeslot, the show had lackluster ratings. Two Emmy Awards (Barry Levinson for directing and Tom Fontana for writing) and the success of NYPD Blue were responsible for NBC giving it another chance, though the four episode pick up was the smallest in network television history. Though ratings continued to be bad, NBC kept it on the air for five full seasons after that. However, NBC would never stop meddling with the series, mandating that Jon Polito be dropped from the cast, clamoring for more romance and violence, and sometimes airing episodes out of order, usually in an order that made no sense to the ongoing storylines.
Hailed by many critics as one of the best,most realistic cop shows and one of the very finest dramas ever produced and propelled by strong writing and a stellar ensemble cast, the show garnered three straight television critics awards for outstanding drama from 1996 to 1998 and was the first drama ever to win three of the prestigious Peabody Awards for best drama (1993, 1995, 1997).
The series has been re-run on Lifetime and Court TV, and the first six seasons are available on DVD. One DVD set combines the first two seasons, while separate sets contain the complete third, fourth, fifth, and sixth seasons. The DVDs contain the episodes in the producers' intended order, and not necessarily the order in which NBC aired them.
The series opens with Detective Tim Bayliss being assigned to Lt. Al Giardello's unit and partnered with Detective Frank Pembleton. Pembleton resents having his style cramped with a partner, and Tim, nervous and a little scared, isn't sure he's up to the job. His first case is the murder of a young girl, Adena Watson, full of publicity and pressure from all sides. The story culminates in the first-season episode, "Three Men and Adena", throwing several actors in a box to talk, argue and shout their way through an interrogation.
"Night of the Dead Living", also from season one, shows the unit working the graveyard shift in the middle of a hot summer when the building's air conditioning has broken down and tempers are running high.
Homicide saw its cast rotate, as most TV series do, and it dealt with these changes with varying degrees of effectiveness. The first major cast member to leave saw his character die, and the exploration of what happened and how the unit reacts to it is the focus of the season three episode "Crosetti".
The third season also featured a three-part episode in which several detectives are seriously injured, two of them near to death, while the rest of the unit copes with the loss and hunts down the attacker.
"All Through the House" was a special Christmas episode in the third season, Homicide-style.
Homicide often mixed its characters' personal lives with their professional lives, including several affairs among department officers. Despite this uncompromising approach, the series always felt slightly uncomfortable dealing with romance, and predictably the affairs tended to end badly.
The fourth season saw the departure of two other cast members, and the addition of arson investigator Mike Kellerman. Kellerman became the central figure of the main storyline during the fifth and sixth seasons, involving the death of an underworld crime boss and the gang war that rocks the city in the wake of his death.
The sixth season is also notable for the acclaimed "Subway" episode, which centered on a man trapped between a subway car and the edge of the platform. Although he was still alive, he would die from his injuries the moment the car was removed from his body. The homicide unit was called in to investigate whether the man fell by accident or was deliberately pushed from the platform (as it turned out, he was pushed); two of its members tried in vain to find the victim's girlfriend before his death. Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton and Vincent D'Onofrio as the doomed victim John Lange would earn Emmy nominations for their performances in this episode.
The seventh season is widely regarded as the weakest, as it lacked an overarching storyline and the characters—following a major cast overhaul, including Braugher's departure—felt less dynamic and the stories less inventive than earlier episodes.
In the 2000 TV movie, Giardello runs for mayor and is shot, and the whole unit turns out to find the shooter. Every regular from the series—including those whose characters died—returns for this final chapter in the story.
- Charm City (L&O ep 6-13)/For God and Country (H:LotS ep 4-12)
- Baby, it's You Part I (L&O ep 8-6)/Baby, it's You Part II (H:LotS ep 6-5)
- Sideshow Part I (L&O ep 9-14)/Sideshow Part II (H:LotS ep 7-15)
- Yaphet Kotto as Lt. Al "Gee" Giardello
- Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton (seasons 1-6)
- Kyle Secor as Detective Tim Bayliss
- Ned Beatty as Detective Stanley Bolander (seasons 1-3)
- Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch
- Clark Johnson as Detective Meldrick Lewis
- Jon Polito as Detective Steve Crosetti (seasons 1-2)
- Melissa Leo as Detective Kay Howard (seasons 1-5)
- Daniel Baldwin as Detective Beau Felton (seasons 1-3)
- Isabella Hofmann as Lt. Megan Russert (seasons 3-4)
- Reed Diamond as Detective Mike Kellerman (seasons 4-6)
- Max Perlich as J. H. Brodie (seasons 4-5)
- Michelle Forbes as Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Julianna Cox (seasons 5-6)
- Peter Gerety as Detective Stuart Gharty (seasons 6-7)
- Jon Seda as Detective Paul Falsone (seasons 6-7)
- Callie Thorne as Detective Laura Ballard (seasons 6-7)
- Toni Lewis as Detective Terri Stivers (seasons 5-7)
- Giancarlo Esposito as FBI Agent Michael Giardello (season 7)
- Michael Michele as Detective Rene Sheppard (season 7)
- Željko Ivanek as Assistant District Attorney Ed Danvers
- Clayton LeBouef as Captain/Colonel George Barnfather
- Walt MacPherson as Det./Lt./Captain Roger Gaffney
- Ralph Tabakin as Medical Examiner Dr. Scheiner
- Ami Brabson as Mary Pembleton
- Richard Belzer has played John Munch on six different TV series: Homicide, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Trial By Jury, The X-Files, and the short-lived UPN series The Beat.
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