Cold Case

Season 4 Episode 18

A Dollar, A Dream

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Mar 18, 2007 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
141 votes

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Episode Summary

A Dollar, A Dream
The team re-opens the 1999 case of a murdered homeless woman when her remains are found in a station wagon at the bottom of a lake.

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  • Memorably heartbreaking!

    Along with 'Cora & Arnie' from "St. Elsewhere" (from 1982), and 'Subway' from "Homicide-Life on the Streets" (from 1997), this episode will remain in my memory for many years. Rarely does an episode of a TV show haunt me for several days as this one did. Paula Malcolmson, a grossly underrated and underused artist, created a character in Marlene that was nothing short of heartbreaking. We saw in her someone who could be US....not an irresponsible bum who failed to act in the way that "grownups" act, but instead a woman who was doing absolutely all she could to survive. I can only wonder if I could do as well as she did. "Cold Case" often has me reaching for a tissue box, but this one sent me to the medicine cabinet for Afrin! Bravo!moreless
  • When the car of a missing a woman turns up in a lake with her body inside, the detectives investigate the 1999 murder of the missing homeless woman, Marlene.

    Marlene Bradford was a mother of two and when her husband dies of cancer, overloaded with medical bills, she becomes homeless. She tries her best to provide for her family while living in their car. She goes missing in 1999, on her daughter's tenth birthday.

    And Cold Case excellence strikes again. By far a very powerful episode. It was sad to see Marlene try her best for her family and all she'd get was riducle from her oldest daughter, Natalie. I didn't like that part of the episode. When Natalie would act like a little brat to her mom, I'd get completely thrown out of how sad it was and just think about how mad it made me. I mean, I know what it's like to be that age and o through tough times, I'm not much older than that now, but her mother tried her best and that's more than most parents do.

    Okay. Other than that, I absolutely loved this episode. Oh, and the casting on the older Natalie was just terrible. They looked nothing alike and it's only been 8 years, not twenty. I suppose it's a reflection of the tough times she's been through, but tough times don't make you like 20 years older. The song selection and everything else was great.moreless
  • One of the best episodes this season

    The quality of Cold Case has declined in the past few seasons. Seasons 1 and 2 were great and had excellent, emotionally charged episodes which made you forget about the ridiculous law practices but in season 3, the show just started getting silly. But once in a while, there's an episode which is up to the quality of season 1 & 2 episodes.

    A Dollar, a Dream was a great installment. It showed how fast you could lose everything - your house, your husband and for most people, your dignity. The victim in this episode kept her dignity - she was too proud to ask for help, too proud to stay in a shelter. It was heartbreaking to see her make empty promises to her daughters, about them having a better life. I also liked the dynamic of the family - one girl was optimistic and kept the faith, the other was pessimistic and didn't think the family would have a better life.moreless
  • refreshing and disturbing

    Can I just say... *Sigh*... I love when television shows try to interpret distraught teens, because they can either excel or fail at it. I loved the way that they made the kids complete oposites. One being sure that the mom killed herself, and the other being so sure of the good in the world. And the fact that the homeless guy had so much hope was refreshing and disturbing at the same time. Who could kill someone because they didn't get a million dollars? A life is worth a lot more than a million dollars, not even to mention that "Who doesn't know that you can get smaller amounts of money with the lotto?" Just a thought... So, taht was pretty much it; refreshing and disturbing.moreless
  • Very emotional episode. Shows hope, struggle to keep a family together, dreams.

    This episode shows a mother and her two dauthers and their life after the husband died of cancer. How this family lost everything because the woman was a housewife without school and job experience. They lived in their car, had no home. And sitll Marlene wasn't bitter at all, she was trying to give her dauthers hope. But she wasn't able of save money for a house.

    She had no family nor friends. She met a homeless guy that gave her a lotery ticket, and she won. How sad that she died for 25 dollars. At least the dauthers knew they were not abandon by Marlene.

    The only positive thing is women should never depend entirely of a man. We should be able to support ourselves financially, and emotionally.moreless
Danny Pino

Danny Pino

Scotty Valens

Jeremy Ratchford

Jeremy Ratchford

Det. Nick Vera

John Finn

John Finn

Lt. John Stillman

Kathryn Morris

Kathryn Morris

Det. Lilly Rush

Thom Barry

Thom Barry

Det. Will Jeffries

Tracie Thoms

Tracie Thoms

Kat Miller (Episodes 3.13+; recurring previously)

Paula Malcomson

Paula Malcomson

Marlene Bradford

Guest Star

Melinda Dahl

Melinda Dahl

Natalie Bradford (2007)

Guest Star

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

Abby Bradford (2007)

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Paula Malcomson and Jennifer Lawrence who plays mother and daughter in this episode also play mother and daughter in the 2012 movie "Hunger Games".

    • Marlene Bradford died on November 17, 1999. This was also her daughter Abby's tenth birthday.

    • Nitpick: In the episode, Marlene is seen collecting drink cans from a trash bin and saying that they "hit the jackpot". However, collecting cans is probably not the best way to make extra money since Pennsylvania does not have a can/bottle deposit law.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Will Jeffries: (about his late wife) That night at Dinks', they were playing Miles Davis, her favorite. I... I haven't played one of his records since. It's been twelve years.
      John Stillman: Long time, Will.
      Will Jeffries: Yet it feels like yesterday. (sighs) She's not coming back, is she, John?
      John Stillman: (whispering) No, she's not.

    • Scotty: (about Marlene's station wagon) Environmental group found it testing the bottom of the lake.
      Lilly: For what?
      Scotty: That... stuff... they test for.

    • Lilly Rush: (to Natalie) Things got ugly with you and your mom.
      Kat Miller: "I hate you. Wish you were dead." Harsh words.
      Natalie: I was a kid. Kids mouth off.
      Lilly Rush: The difference is, you had the gun that killed her.
      Natalie: You got something to say, say it.
      Lilly Rush: At fourteen it all seems so black and white. Life sucks because you had a lousy mother.
      Natalie Bradford: What do you know about it?
      Lilly Rush: More than I'd like to.

    • Anil Patel: Land of plenty? Not for people like Marlene.

    • Marlene Bradford: At the end of the month, we'll have a place of our own and all this will be a distant memory.
      Natalie Bradford: That's what you said last month.

    • Will Jeffries: Any idea who might have had it out for your mother?
      Natalie Bradford: Besides the bums, derelicts and drug addicts who populated our new world?

  • NOTES (3)