Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 2 Episode 4

A Many Splendored Thing

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 27, 1994 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
35 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A Many Splendored Thing
Bolander asks Kay if she would double date with him and Linda, to try to take the pressure off his first real date. A slain phone-sex operator is found clutching a note naming her boss as the perpetrator, Bayliss and Pembleton investigate. Munch has trouble dealing with Bolander's happiness, so he crashes the double date and makes everyone miserable. A man is shot to death over a pen at the library, Lewis and Crosetti investigate and find a man with a pen fetish. As Bayliss looks into the murder he begins to get involved.moreless

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  • Crosetti and Lewis investigate a library shooting. Pembleton and Bayliss appear on the scene of a strangled woman, and find a crumpled up note in her hand. Bolander and his new lady friend go on a double date with Kay, munch decides to crash it.moreless

    Bayliss is put into more of the spotlight in this episode. The often quiet and reserved "fair haired altar boy" at first refuses, but later accepts a gift of a leather jacket from the "goth" type friend of a victim.

    The character of Crosetti is hilarious in this episode, correcting Lewis saying "you don't say insane anymore,you say mental health disorder and you don't say asylum anymore, you say diagnostic center". The bumbling Crosetti appears as he often does, with his trademark handkerchief. In this episode you can see him ashing his cigarette on the floor of a house he and Lewis are at, and quickly glancing on the floor, casually. I'm not 100% sure if the ash and glance were supposed to happen but if it was, thats pure genius. This adds to the character, you would expect good old Crosetti to do something like that. No surprises from Munch in " A many Splendored Thing" he crashes Bolander's double date and scares everyone off except Bolander's lady friend, who takes a liking to the "rabbi" Munch. Kay really seems rattled by Munch's rant on love and relationships, leaving and home alone that night.moreless
  • Love is in the air---- Bang!

    During its seven year run, Homicide would deal with many complicated issues. Most of them surrounded the business of being murder police: grief, race, violence , punishment. However, since a lot of murders are committed for passionate reasons, love and sex are also an integral part of the characters lives. Watching how the character dealt with love---and by insinuation, sex--- would play a vital role in how the characters few life. Very few episodes would portray the kinks and twists of these issues more than ‘A Many Splendored Thing’.

    On the personal level, we see how the promise of love has greatly changed the life of the normally morose Stan Bolander. His relationship with Linda has struck some chord with him in a way that probably surprises even him. As he tells Giardello, he is happier then he ever remembers being. Unlike his relationship with Dr. Blythe which never panned out, this relationship has made him positively buoyant as we see hilariously in the teaser. Munch is absolutely staggered by this, and because of his own misery with Felicia, he can not bear the thought of his partner--- or for that matter anyone--- as being happy. Just because Munch is depressed doesn’t make him stupid, though, and he can spot signs of dissent in the burgeoning relationship between Howard and Ed Danvers (who double date with Stan and Linda). How much of that dissent is brought to the surface by Munch, we will never know for sure but it is notable that in the next seasons, their relationship will no longer be a part of the series.

    Of course, you don’t have to have a relationship---- or for that matter even love a person--- to have problems with love. This is reflected to surprisingly comic effect when Lewis and CRosetti catch on of the odder murders the show would veer deal with . A man at a public library is shot by another man because he refused to give up his pen. Meldrick, though he refers to Baltimore as home of the misdemeanor homicide,thinks that here has to be more to this murder than a dollar forty nine pen—especially when the killer doesn’t take the pen with him. But, it turns out it’s all about the pens. When they visit the killers house, his room is covered from floor to ceiling with pens. Just your average everyday citizen. The disturbed man eventually turns himself in for another pen. Understandably, Meldrick is confused about the kind of devotion that would cause a man to kill for a pen. But it’s not his nature to obsess or brood like some of the other detectives might. Case closed, he’s on to the next murder.

    Obsession plays a greater part in the central storyline of the episode: the murder of Angela Frandina. From the beginning it seems like this case is troubling Bayliss, and the deeper he explores the victims lifestyle the more disturbed he becomes. To be fair Frandina’s life does have some potentially disturbing aspects. She has a fairly active sex life. She works as a saleswoman in a store that sells sexual apparel like leather jackets and chaps. She worked another job giving phone sex. And she liked to hang out at a nightclub where masochistic (possibly sadistic) relationships are pursued. However, the deeper Bayliss gets into the life of Frandina, the more agitated he becomes. By the time he interviews her boyfriend at a nightclub, he’s itching for a fight, and when he finally captures the killer he doesn’t want to hear the extent of the sexual details of it. He is so disturbed by this that you might suspect (and your suspicions would be borne out) that Bayliss is seriously repressed for some reason.

    All of this makes for gripping TV. What elevates this episode to something extraordinary is a sequence between Bayliss and Pembelton after they visit the nightclub. Tim asks Frank if the nature of this crime doesn’t disturb him. It clearly doesn’t. When

    Bayliss tells him that he believes ‘sex equals love’ Pembleton retaliates by saying that no one thinks that way, and if he does: “You’re either a liar or a moron.” Bayliss takes this to mean that this is a further indication that Pembleton doesn’t think that he can cut it as homicide. Pembleton then delivers one of the most memorable speeches he ever would (and that’s saying something):

    “We’re all guilty of something, whether it’s greed or cruelty or going 65 in a 55 miles per hour zone. But you know something? You want to play the fair-haired choirboy you go ahead…. All I’m saying is that you Tim Bayliss have a darker side. You gotta know the uglier darker side of Tim Bayliss. You gotta know them, so they’re not sneaking up on you. You gotta love them because, they along with your virtues, make you who you are. Virtue isn’t virtue unless its tested against vice, so consequently your virtue isn’t worth anything unless its been tested.”

    This is an impressive speech and though it doesn’t affect Bayliss immediately, it does sink in. By the end of the episode, after the owner of the sex shop brings him a leather jacket to thank him for solving the case, he is seen in the last scene , uneasy and flustered but still out there on the block, still trying. It would take several years but Bayliss would eventually be able to face his darkness. The fact that it would take so much time is one of the reasons ‘Homicide’ was such a great show.

    There are also some unusual comic elements in the episode. Perhaps the oddest occurs when Tim and Frank visit a phone sex establishment and find that I operates like a normal business, with scripts and distractions and ennui. Then there is the fabulous sequence at the restaurant when a very romantic mood is spoiled by the arrival of Munch and his very downbeat view on love. This is followed by a scene where Linda manages to momentarily lift even Munch out of the doldrums. But the meat of ‘A Many Splendored Thing’ comes from the two very diverse cases that show the very dysfunctional nature of love. Many of the relationships in the episode are complete failures, but they do show that not only does the course of love not run smooth, a lot of the time it doesn’t run at all.

    My score:9.5

Julianna Margulies

Julianna Margulies


Guest Star

Adrienne Shelly

Adrienne Shelly

Tanya Quinn

Guest Star

Scott Neilson

Scott Neilson

Jeremy Schaab

Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Julie Lauren

Julie Lauren

Officer Anne Schanne

Recurring Role

Herb Levinson

Herb Levinson


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Crosetti: He spent a little time in Spring Grove.
      Lewis: Spring Grove insane asylum?
      Crosetti: You don't say insane anymore, Meldrick, you say mental health disorder.
      Lewis: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
      Crosetti: You don't say asylum anymore you say urh, urh diagnostic center.
      Lewis: Nutcase has done time in the loony bin.
      Crosetti: You got it.

    • Pembleton: Don't you just love it when the victim leaves a note IDing who did it?
      Officer Schanne: She's very considerate.
      Pembleton: Isn't she?
      Bayliss: Ok, so where's the one who found her?
      Officer Schanne: The next door neighbour? She's…next door.

    • Munch: You know, Stanley, this woman, you gotta respect her. Why she goes out with you, I'll never know. As far as I'm concerned, your good fortune hangs right there with great mysteries of life, right along side the whereabouts of the lost tribes of Israel and the true meaning to the lyrics of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

    • Munch: Say what you will about Judas, but he had his good points. If it wasn't for him, the whole show wouldn't have gotten under way in the first place.

    • Pembleton: Virtue isn't virtue unless it slams up against vice. So, consequently, your virtue's not real virtue unless it's been tested…tempted.

    • Crosetti: Either it's murder, or this library has a very strict overdue book policy.

    • Lewis: Baltimore, home of the misdemeanor homicide.

  • NOTES (4)

    • The owner of the sex shop (Tanya) who helps Bayliss awaken his sexuality (by giving him a leather jacket) is played by Adrienne Shelly, the actress who went on to direct the film "Waitress." Bayliss solves the strangulation murder of another character, and at the end, we get this dialog:

      Tanya: It's nice to know that if the same thing happens to me [if I'm murdered], you'll be out there.

      Adrienne Shelly herself was murdered by strangulation in 2006.

    • Jon Polito's last episode, until he appears in Gee's vision at the end of the TV Movie.

    • A local Baltimore viewer notes that in the scenes where Ned and Julianna play at Peabody, they mimed to the efforts of two Peabody students: a brother and sister combo named Zuill (cello) and Allison (violin) Bailey. As a reward, Zuill had a walk on part in "Bop Gun". He can be spotted in a courtroom scene, and at the end of the episode when Williams and Melissa Leo are talking in the courthouse. Tom Fontana would later reuse Zuill as cellist Eugene Dobbins in his HBO prison drama Oz.

    • Music in this episode: Scarlet Bride "Hideaway" & "Out of Time"; Soul Asylum "Whoa" alb: Made to be Broken; Donna Summer "Bad Girls" alb: Bad Girls.


    • The Producers: The landlady's line "I'm the concierge…" is lifted almost word for word from this 1968 comedy film.

    • Munch: Say what you will about Judas, but he had his good points.

      He is referring to the Apostle Judas from The Bible who betrayed Jesus and delivered Him into the hands of his murderers.

    • Angela's boss, Ed, names her previous boyfriend as Chris Novoselic.

      Krist Novoselic (pronounced Chris Novoselic) is the name of the bass player of Nirvana. There are several suspects throughout the series, including this one, who are named after 'grunge' musicians.