Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 6 Episode 17

Abduction

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Mar 27, 1998 on NBC
8.0
out of 10
User Rating
23 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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Abduction
AIRED:
A four-year-old boy is abducted while riding a merry-go-round in the park under the supervision of his mother. The Homicide unit, which helps in the investigation of all child abductions, is called in and Falsone is the primary. When the boy's father has an alibi that checks out, the detectives beginning to check on known pedophiles and later they receive a call from the possible kidnapper. When that doesn't pan out, they start over. The host of a nationwide television program, This Weeks Wanted, suggests that they hypnotize the little girl who was riding on the horse next to the boy. Hypnosis reveals a partial plate number and that leads to a lucky break. Ballard and Stivers discuss motherhood and Falsone checks on his son.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Definite change in tone, but a little too life-affirming

    6.3
    As we learned in passing in the previous episode, in addition to working murders the Homicide unit of Baltimore also investigates extortion, bribery and kidnapping. We have never seen them working one of these cases but ‘Abduction’ shows how the detectives work in kidnapping, when a four-year named Paul Marshall disappears in front of his mother at a merry-go-round near the inner harbor. This episode takes place before these kinds of cases were supervised by the FBI (pre Amber Alert) so the case is run like a red ball. And at the forefront of this episode, like so many in season 6 Detective Falsone is at the forefront.



    The entire squad is called in to work the crime, and we see the same kind of pressure that the detectives go through even when there is no body. If anything, the stress is greater because there is a chance that the victim is alive, and the odds get lower every additional hour the child is missing. It is also interesting to see how the unit behaves in regard to the media. Every time there is a homicide involving a child, the detectives think that the media’s presence hinders the chances of a successful result. When the child is abducted, they rely on the mass media to help them in their efforts to search for the victim.



    Indeed, this episode adds a second level by having the detectives use the host of a weekly realty show, ‘This Week’s Wanted’ help them look for Paul Marshall. The host of the show even suggests bringing in a hypnotist to work with a witness (a seven-year old who was also on the merry-go-round) in order to get a lead and are physically in the room when the child is rescued. Obviously, the show is based on America’s Most Wanted, complete with the host modeled after John Walsh (both figures suffered the loss of a child several years ago) and we know that these shows are helpful in aiding the capture of felons and recovering missing children. Yet despite this, it seems to go against the realism we have come to expect of Homicide that the detectives and the brass are willing to go along with this, and it adds a certain disconnect.



    Because the episode is so focused on the hunt for Paul Marshall, a lot of the character related stories that we have come to expect from the show also get lost in the shuffle. It is true that we see the focus on Falsone’s character and his own stress when a child around the same age as his son has been taken. In that way, he has a mixture of concern and anger involved in capturing the perpetrator and making sure that his son is safe. He also shares a certain amount of empathy with the abductee’s father, considering the custody arrangements that they both have. Yet this is all too familiar territory that we have been exploring over the past several episodes, and it seems a tad repetitive. We also don’t get a great deal of focus on any of the other detectives and their opinions. The episode shows Ballard and Bayliss both have desires to have children, yet gives no attention to Pembleton and Gharty, who actually have kids and might have this nightmare.



    Much in the same way that many of the murders on Homicide are actually committed by the most likely person, the investigation kidnapping unfolds the same way. There are false leads as the detectives root out the answers, and the kidnapping turns out to have been committed by the person the evidence leads to---- in this case, to a deluded woman who believed Paul Marshall would be better off in her care than in his parents. This sounds real, yet it also has a very stagy quality to it. It just seems very false.



    Perhaps the best summary about ‘Abduction’ comes when the case is closed and the people at ‘This Weeks Wanted’ decide to air the Marshall story because of its positive resolution . Falsone jokes that the reason they show life-affirming stories some times for better ratings. One cannot help but wonder if ‘Abduction’ was written and produced for those exact same reasons--- to give Homicide a more ‘life-affirming’ story. Well, it doesn’t quite work and after four straight episodes which have not centered on murders, we’re all but looking forward to a stone whodunit. Fortunately, this being Baltimore we’re finally going to get some.

    My score:6.3moreless
Andre Braugher

Andre Braugher

Det. Frank Pembleton (seasons 1-6, TVM)

Kyle Secor

Kyle Secor

Tim Bayliss

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Det. John Munch

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Det. Mike Kellerman (seasons 4-6)

Peter Gerety

Peter Gerety

Stu Gharty (Seasons 6-7, recurring previously, TVM)

Clark Johnson

Clark Johnson

Det. Meldrick Lewis

Robert John Burke

Robert John Burke

Jeffrey Andrews

Guest Star

Elizabeth Marvel

Elizabeth Marvel

Amy Marshall

Guest Star

Bray Poor

Bray Poor

David Marshall

Guest Star

Toni Lewis

Toni Lewis

Terri Stivers

Recurring Role

Monica Trombetta

Monica Trombetta

Janine

Recurring Role

Gary D'Addario

Gary D'Addario

Lt. Jasper

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Falsone: You're not going to go for this Gee, are you?
      Gee: At this stage in the game, I'd take help from that woman on 'Profiler'. How quickly can we air the story?

  • NOTES (3)

    • The character of Jeffrey Andrews is a sort creative license on John Walsh, who hosts a 'This Week's Wanted' broadcast of his own, "America's Most Wanted." Stivers mentions that Andrew's character, similar to Walsh, lost a child some time in the past, which most likely prompted him to create his 'Wanted' show to help aide in the pursuits of other missing children.

    • It was pointed out to me that Elizabeth Marvel, the actress who played the missing child's mother in this episode, played a child kidnapper in an episode of New York Undercover that aired the previous night. Ironically the father in this episode played a child kidnapper on that series the year before.

    • Clark Johnson does not appear in this episode.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Gee: At this stage in the game, I'd take help from that woman on Profiler.
      Giardello is obviously referring to actress Ally Walker, who played a character named Samantha Waters on NBC's Profiler from 1996-1999 (though the series continued for a season after Walker left). Waters had an ability as a seer, which made her privy to crimes via the actual perpetrator's eyes, the sort of fantastic twist the creators of 'H:LOTS' didn't appreciate.