Homicide: Life on the Street

NBC (ended 1999)


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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.



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    Jon Polito

    Steve Crosetti

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    Ned Beatty

    Ned Beatty

    Stan Bolander

    Giancarlo Esposito

    Giancarlo Esposito

    Mike Giardello

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    Melissa Leo (I)

    Kay Howard

    Michelle Forbes

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    Dr. Julianna Cox, CME

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    • Groundbreaking Television

      This show was, only second to shows like . and All in the Family and other such shows broke into new areas where so many shows of it's time were nothing but formulaic pollution we had to cough our way through to get to shows like this. I ended up catching the full series only AFTER it was syndicated out to Court TV, but their scheduling was horrible so I had to make the investment and get all of them. It was well worth it. I am also a fan of "OZ", also another groundbreaking show. This was during an era where cable networks like HBO and others were pushing broadcast television into areas it never thought it would go. But, to keep any kind of pace, they had to go scouting these cable producers and artists for broadcast television. In this case, IT ALL WORKED! I cannot believe when I watch the show just how THICK it is with talent. Another fave of mine is NYPD Blue which I've almost memorized the first 7 seasons or . So, this is in that same fare imho where things don't feel perfectly timed and people have to repeat themselves, "Did she say Apt. 2H?" Sipowitz would ask Simone. I had never seen lines written to be repeated because humans do lose track, get distracted, and do have to ask questions sometimes. So small of an effect used in all these shows I've mentioned, but this small dab of paint, this general effect made a regular show into more of a Live Play being aired Live. You just never knew how things were going to twist in the show. I really enjoyed it and believe many others would find it possibly dated but only in the fact there aren't a bunch of smart phones than that, it's like any other day in any Detective Squad and they speak it as real as it can be spoken on Broadcast TV. Great people made and acted in this production and went on to great careers or already had great careers. If you haven't watched the show, give it a real good shot to be the show you will most assuredly become obsessed with imho.moreless
    • Love it

      Agree with Tss about how networks used to take chances on shows, and so many good shows would not have 'made it' by today's unfortunate standards.

      This has been a favorite of mine for many years. Like many people I think the writing suffered toward the end, but I am glad to have the entire series on DVD. The show holds up over time, and I hope to enjoy watching for a long time to come. I like the movie, too.moreless
    • The Ultimate Movie Review! -- @tss5078

      Back in the day, networks stood behind the shows they picked up. They believed in them, they advertised them, they pushed them to do whatever they could to get ratings. Unfortunately, things are much different today, as a new show is given 13 episodes to crack the top 50 on the Nielsen charts, and if they fail, they're gone before they even got started. If this had always been the policy, shows like Cheers, The X-Files, Law & Order, & Homicide: Life On The Street never would have gotten started.

      NBC took a real chance on this show, the cast was all unknowns, except for Ned Beatty, and the rating for the first season were in the toilet. NBC saw the potential though, they realized they had a special cast full of future award winners, and a terrific writing staff, so they made the show more intense. Regular characters could be killed off or added every week, they got big name guest stars, and even had crossover episodes with highly successful shows like Law & Order and The X-Files. With the network behind it, the series soared, completing 7 seasons, winning 4 Emmy's, and it was even turned into a full length feature film.

      Homicide: Life On The Street, follows a unit of Homicide Detectives in one of the worst areas of Baltimore, which at the time, had one of the highest murder rates in the country. We follow the investigation, similar to the way they do in Law & Order, but what's different here, is that Homicide is more character based. The audience gets to intimately know the Detectives, their families, and their lives, but even that wasn't the real strength of the show. What made Homicide unique, an Emmy winner, and the launching point for almost a dozen big named actors was "The box" . the interrogation room. Homicide takes us into the interrogation room in a way that has never been done before, showing all the emotion, stress, and everything that comes with the process.

      What I really love about this show is that everyone is used equally and no one is a star! Every member of the cast is important and even the opening credits are in alphabetical order, giving no one top billing. That was how the show was designed, but the truth is that Andre Braugher moved beyond that and become a legend.

      Playing the very complex Detective, Frank Pembelton, Andre Braugher made a name for himself by captivating audiences. Everything that happened was so deep and personal to him, and he put the emotion into everything he did, not only making him the best detective in the squad, but also the best character to watch.

      Homicide takes you inside the interrogation room, but also inside the lives of Homicide Detectives the way that no other show has done before or since. It's a one of a kind show that survived, only because someone important at the network actually watched it and saw how amazing it is. If you're looking for a great show to get into, there are 7 seasons and over 100 episodes, and take my word for it, this show is as addicting as anything I've ever seen!moreless
    • 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
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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