Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 1 Episode 4

A Shot in the Dark

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Feb 24, 1993 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

A Shot in the Dark
Bolander and Munch tackle a case, but Stan keeps throwing his old partner's name at John. Evidently the date with Carol didn't go that well, he doesn't want to talk to her or about her. Pembleton (with Felton) and Bayliss follow different hunches in the Watson case. Chris' recovery is amazing, but it will take a lot of therapy and his getting used to being blind. The suspect in Chris' shooting gives himself up, to prevent being the victim of police justice. Lewis isn't as sure as Crosetti that their suspect is the one. Barnfather lets out a key piece of evidence to the media, taking the wind out of Tim's line of questioning for his suspect. Tim lets him know how he feels, and even though he is right, he must apologize. Pembleton and Felton discuss various racial issues while following up their lead. Carol finally catches up with Stan. Munch wants nothing to do with Karaoke at the bar, but finally gives in and enjoys himself. Frank gets hold of evidence that will allow them to follow up on Tim's lead.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • Munch along with an upset Bolander arrive at a shooting. Crosetti and Lewis finally make progress in the Officer Thorman shooting. Bayliss, Pembleton and comapany finally make progress in the Watson murder, just as Bayliss is about ready to give up.moreless

    Paralelling the preceding episode where nothing seems to be going right, "Shot in the dark" finally shows the results of hard work. Two major cases, the Watson murder and the Thorman shooting finally head in the right direction.

    The scenes at the end of this episode were very well done. The celebration at the local bar recognizes the hard work of Lewis and Crosetti (who leave the celebration early and later meet up). While the scene at Bayliss' residence when Pembleton delivers good news on the Watson case is also uplifting. In the aforementioned scene, you can see the chemistry between Bayliss and Pembleton that was talked about in " Homicide - An Interview with Barry Levinson". In this episode ending scene you can hear Andre Braugher's (Pembleton) voice crack, you can tell this is natural and really shows the great chemistry between the two actors. Braugher's voice cracked as he smiled, because he was happy for the much maligned Bayliss.moreless
  • Nothing is gained but that doesn't mean nothing happens

    One of the more daring things about ‘Homicide’ especially in its early years was how it would often have detective processes or investigations that would amount to nothing. Most of the time in police procedurals, an investigative avenue will lead to something substantial that helps lead to some kind of progress being made. Not here.

    Take the central section of ‘A Shot In the Dark’. As the Adena Watson case stretches on (at this point all of the resources of the police force are no longer on it) Detective Felton comes up with a theory as to where the body might have been stored--- a cool dry place like the trunk of a car. One of the residents of Kirke Avenue had a car like that, and Felton believes that may have been key to the killing. Bayliss, who has now focused all his energy on the idea that the Araber (a fruit and vegetable salesman) is the killer doesn’t even consider this possible, but Pembleton (who is just as sure that the Araber is not the killer) decides this is possible and goes out with Felton. Sure enough, the suspect says that he no longer has the car in question, claiming that it was repossessed. Felton and Pembleton begin a long search at the Repo Man’s car lot hoping to not find the car. There is something very Zen about searching for something you don’t want to find, and the search takes on a theater of absurd feel

    Part of the entertainment comes from watching Felton and Pembleton interacting. As we learned in the Pilot, the two men can barely stand each other: Felton thinks Pembleton is an arrogant loner and Pembleton thinks Felton is a sloppy cop. But there is a more obvious difference between the two, in Pembleton’s unspoken belief that Felton is a racist. The dialogue between the two men sparks with electricity. We don’t care as much about the search for the car as long as we see Baldwin and Braugher going at it about this explosive subject.

    Around this search, we follow several other stories from previous episodes as well as a few new twists. Again we witness the smarminess and lazy leadership of Captain Barnfather. First we see him expressing concerns about the two red balls while subtly expressing doubts Gee’s leadership. Then we hear how Barnfather compromised the investigation of Watson’s murder by revealing a critical piece of evidence. This so enrages Bayliss (already miserable with a cold and a fever)that he phones him at home to call him a butthead. And in the matter of police work, Bayliss must apologize to Barnfather not the other the way around.

    The Thorman shooting is also resolved. The suspect that got named in the anonymous tip in the previous episode turns out to not to be the shooter but rather the tipster. This is nearly compromised in Crosetti’s desire for vengeance. It is up to the more detached Detective Lewis to follow through with the investigation when Crosetti’s vision is blurred. We also see learn more about Crosetti’s shooting (hinted at in the previous episode) and more about how that changed him.

    We also learn that Bolander’s romantic pursuit of Dr. Blythe did not end as well as either of them hope. He is grouchier and sterner than in the last episode and is so afraid to deal with her that he leaves the squadroom to pick up a witness rather than talk to her on the phone. Some reviewers would later complain how Ned Beatty’s presence on the show deadened the series. I find that absolutely insane because he was one of the most well developed characters in the shows first seasons. It is rare to meet a character on television who is older than thirty five and has any problems. Stanley Bolander managed to get beyond the cliché of the veteran detective and infuse it with energy and humor. This was a really well drawn character.

    We also get another insight into the character of Frank Pembleton. When he begins the pursuit of the car, it seems that he is more concerned about proving Bayliss wrong then solving the case. We soon realize that this is not true at all and that he is willing to adapt in order to see that justice is done--- even if that means conforming with Bayliss’ point of view

    And of course, there is another murder investigation featuring the best and brightest of the crime faction of Baltimore. The shooting of Joseph Cole is another one of the countless drug related shootings that happen daily. In this case it involves a bodyguard shooting his employer to get to the man who was using him as a human shield. This particularly brilliant man claims he was doing what his employer told him to do. This too has its origins in reality.

    Though there is a lot less happening in this episode then the previous three, this episode gives us a great deal of insight into the characters as well as well-defined look at some of the issues with race and sex from unlikely participants ‘A Shot In The Dark’ is also notable for showing the detectives in the off-hours at a bar and diner called the ‘Wharf Rat’. If nothing else, the episode should be remembered for John Munch’s karioke rendition of ‘Mack The Knife’

    We don’t get insight into Munch’s character, but his personality is beginning to take a more elaborate shape and adds more entertainment to an already entertaining show.

    My score:9

Jennifer Harmon

Jennifer Harmon

Allison Ashley

Guest Star

Tim Caggiano

Tim Caggiano

Orville Warren

Guest Star

David DeBoy

David DeBoy

Rufus Bond

Guest Star

Edie Falco

Edie Falco

Eva Thormann

Recurring Role

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Wendy Hughes

Wendy Hughes

Dr. Carol Blythe

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Pembleton: Look I have listened to you all night, philosophize and criticise. You think you got me pegged, you think you got me all figured out. You think I think like you think. I don't give a damn about Bayliss, I don't give a damn about you. All I want to do is find the man who butchered an eleven-year old girl. If you don't want to do that, go home.

    • Bayliss: Why should the killer even stay in Baltimore anymore?
      Munch: Well, if he is from Baltimore, he won't go. He'll talk about it, but he won't do it.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Felton makes a comment "Frank almost bought a dog for his wife and kid." Frank doesn't have his first child until the end of the fourth season. The little detail of this comment must have been forgotten. Viewer Melinda Miller further points out that in "Night of the Dead Living" a kid asks Frank if he is married or has a kid and Frank says no. I'll further point out that this episode was actually produced after that one. Take note of the production codes (pc:).

    • This episode showcases three actors with recurring or regular roles in Tom Fontana´s cult favorite, Oz. Zejlko Ivanek appears (not often enough) as Governor Devlin, Edie Falco starred in the first three seasons as Correction Officer Diane Whittlesey before joining the cast of The Sopranos, and regular Lee Tergesen shows his amazing depth as an actor in his role as prisoner Tobias Beecher.