Homicide: Life on the Street

NBC (ended 1999)


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Homicide: Life on the Street
out of 10
User Rating
745 votes

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Show Summary

This series was the most reality-based police drama that has ever aired on television. It was shot entirely with handheld cameras on location in the Fells Point Community of Baltimore, MD. One of the series' executive producers, Barry Levinson, is a Baltimore native. He has written and directed at least three films that take place in Baltimore: "Diner", "Tin Men" & "Avalon". Doing this show was a natural for him. The series was based on a book called "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," by David Simon, a writer who spent a year with the members of Baltimore's homicide unit. Some of the series' characters and cases were based on the book. This series was unlike most cop shows of that time, in that there were almost no car chases, gunfights and etc. This show was about closing cases and the act of the crime was usually never seen. Generally, the viewer first sees the case when the detective(s) arrive on the scene. Open cases are kept track of on a board, open cases under the primary detective's name are shown in red ink, when the case is closed the red is replaced by black ink. During the first season it aired, it didn't have great ratings and the chances for a second season looked bleak. When Steven Bochco's NYPD Blue premiered in the Fall of '93 and got great ratings, police dramas "were in" and the series was given the go-ahead for a second season (the two Emmy Awards probably didn't hurt either). The better ratings of the second season led to a full third and subsequent seasons. When the Lifetime cable channel picked the show up for syndication in 1997 it helped guarantee that there would be a fifth season. Then NBC made it possible for the series to have a sixth and seventh season. With the great cast, acting, writing, and directing the series has won awards including a four Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series - Gone for Goode, Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series - Three Men and Adena, Outstanding Casting for a Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series - Andre Braugher. Writer's Guild Awards and George Foster Peabody Awards. Most of these awards were earned by Tom Fontana, one of the series' executive producers, whose other credits include St. Elsewhere. In the 1995-1996 television season Andre Braugher was finally nominated for Best Actor in a Drama. While he didn't win that year, two years later in the 1997-1998 television season he was again nominated, this time the Television Academy recognized what we already knew, that Andre Braugher was the best actor working in television drama. One of the highlights of the series, starting with the second season was the use of music. All varieties of music have been featured throughout the series, most often it was featured in a montage of the detectives conducting their investigation.

Jon Polito

Jon Polito

Steve Crosetti

Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson

Det. Meldrick Lewis

Isabella Hofmann

Isabella Hofmann

Megan Russert

Ned Beatty

Ned Beatty

Stan Bolander

Melissa Leo (I)

Melissa Leo (I)

Kay Howard

Michelle Forbes

Michelle Forbes

Dr. Julianna Cox, CME

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  • best police drama ever aired. follow the homicide dept of baltimore md as they investigate charm city's worst crimes.

    gritty and realistic. barry levinson insisted on using hand held cameras to film the show on location in baltimore. that contibuted in the realistic almost reality show feeling of the program. baltimore's homicide unit is headed up by lt al giardello. his squad-detectives frank pembleton, his rookie partner tim bayliss, kay howard, beau felton, steve crosetti, meldrick lewis, stan bolander(played by the legendary ned beatty), and john munch(brilliantly portrayed by richard belzer). after a while a few characters left or were killed off and more detectives are added, lt/capt/det megan russert, mike kellerman(personal fav) and others. state prosecuter ed danvers was a semi regular, played by previously underrated zeljko ivanek is great. an interesting fact, richard belzer has played john much in 8 different programs, including all 4 law & orders. homicide also took you into the personal lives of the detectives, which many times provided explanations on why they react they way they do in each case. it showed that cops aren't mechanical drones, but human beings w/feelings fand personal demons and fears. the crossover eps w/law & order were great. the interaction between munch and briscoe was priceless. the show ended nicely with the homicide movie. it was great to see all the living characters brought together to solve gee's murder.moreless
  • Best...cop...show...EVER!!

    Forget the Law & Order franchise; forget the CSI chain of shows; forget NYPD Blue. THIS is the police drama that any actual police detective will tell you is the most accurate depiction of life in the robbery/homicide department is like. Each officer who makes it into the elite squad of homicide detectives comes into it with an ideal of putting the bad guys away for what they have done, of avenging the slain and protecting society from those who would do them harm. Over time, the delusion washes away and reality sets in. No matter how many murderers and psychopaths they put away, there are always more. As the years pile on, a jaded attitude (Det. Munch) is the only defense these detectives have against becoming self destructive (Det. Felton), suicidal (Det. Crosetti) or becoming vigilantes (Det. Kellerman and Bayliss). The characters in this show are so remarkably human that you can't help but empathize with them. You can feel their anger and frustration when an arch-criminal like Luther Mahoney walks free...again. You feel their despair when a child is tortured to death they can't solve the case. You share their sense of victory when a thrill-killer is taken down and convicted. No other show I've ever seen before or since has managed to extract so many emotions from me. Law & Order SVU comes close, but that's mainly because of the transition character of John Munch and the fact that most of Homicide's writers now work at SVU.moreless
  • Hands down the best police drama's ever written.

    I personally feel this is one of the best shows ever on TV! There are so many areas of this show that were before its time. From the simple aspect of the camera work; this was one of the best characteristics. The way the show was filmed was refreshing and added to the intensity of the plot lines. I'm still angry how they ended the show and it's been how many years!? To me that is excellent writing; to keep the show in someones mind so many years later. There wasn't a single character I didn't like; they were all awesome in their way. Munch was one of my favorites. I thought it was totally kool when Richard Belzer came to Law & Order as Detective Munch; it was a great tribute to a great show. I wish they would air re-runs of the show so people of a different generation could appreciate the show. I truly miss this show it is one the greatest! Applause to one the greatest casts of TV. You won't be forgotten!!moreless
  • Great show. A classic

    This is a great and magnificent serial. It is very very praiseworthy.. The action and the drama is so intriguing.. it just cathes you within the first seconds. The show is also along my top favorites police action serial ever: csi and third watch. It's very interesting and mellow and captivanting. I've seen every episode and I don't regret the time spent for seeing them (it was always after arriving home from school and even if I had loaths of homework I still watched it) and I'm so freakin' proud. It's a good show. Just watch it and you will love it.moreless
  • A thinking man's crime show delving into the psychology of the criminals and the detectives seeking them.

    This is my favorite show. While the writing and production faded into crime show cliches in it's final season (season 7 by the way) it was a look at real life police work, where detectives are human and crimes are not always solved.

    The beauty of this show is that there are no chase scenes and no shootings. The big thrill is when detectives get perps into "the box", the room where interrogation takes place.

    Initially in this series there was a collection of top notch character actors spending time in the box. The biggest names (though not huge stars) were Yaphet Kotto, Ned Beatty anad comedian Richard Belzer. But it is not a star driven series. It's more like Hill Street Blues in that vein. WHat the show did have from time to time was a famous guest star such as Robin Williams. He is stirring in Episode 10-"Bop Gun" as a husband who wife is murdered while on vacation.

    The show initially was filmed in a very jumpy fashion, cutting cameras in something of a stilted cuting edge way. This added to the tension of the show. Add in the haunting opening music and occasional music underscores (for example Joan Osbornes "What If God Were One Of Us") and it made for an engaging Friday Night at 10 that I never missed.

    Best show ever. Thank goodness I read David Bianculli's review before the Super Bowl.moreless

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    More Info About This Show


    high stake situations, illegal activities, life vs. death, gritty cinematography, not for the faint of heart