Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 5 Episode 4

Bad Medicine

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 25, 1996 on NBC
8.6
out of 10
User Rating
28 votes
1

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Bad Medicine
AIRED:
More drug-related homicides are occurring. Pembleton is still relegated to desk duty and now so is Kellerman. A federal grand jury investigation is being conducted that goes back to the time when Mike was in the arson unit. Frank is still not taking his medicine and getting ready for the range test. Brodie moves out of Munch's place and into Bayliss'. Lewis finds out that the witness to his drug homicide has been brought downtown. He goes after him and meets Stivers, a female detective in narcotics. Lewis's witness points toward Luther Mahoney as the initiator of the contract. They go to find the executor, who's been executed. Stivers pages Mahoney and he comes in for questioning, but they can't make a case that Danvers thinks will stick. Frank misses a passing grade on his test by four points.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • It's dark and verydepressing but its still rivetingg

    9.1
    Homicide is a very dark show. You can’t deal with death day in and day out and be happy about it. Murder is not fun. But few episodes of the series are as dark and depressing as ‘Bad Medicine’. Almost every character suffers some disappointment and most of our going through pain that will follow them for much of the season. We are witness to the true mortality of the narcotics business. Three killings that will never be solved go on the board. And the musical pieces for the show just make the show seem truly disheartening. Yet, despite all this, the show as grimly fascinating and brilliant as ever.



    For starters Pembleton is trying to pass the firing exam even though he has been off his medicine and even though it is clear that he is still just not ready to be back on the street. This becomes clear when Frank announces to Gee that his aim was true but he failed on the reloads because of his problem with the word ‘magazine’. Despite that, he all but begs his lieutenant to get him back on the job. But Giardello, loyal to Frank as he is, will not bend the rules this time.



    But then again Giardello has a much bigger problem to deal with. Kellerman is put under investigation by the FBI when he is accused by Matthew Roland (the high-level slumlord we briefly met in ‘Fire’ way back in season 4) of taking bribes while he was in Arson. Mike insists that he is innocent, but Homicide provides no independent verification of it. We are just asked to take his word for it. Kellerman, like Pembleton, is put on administrative duty which is bad enough but a scarlet letter is put on his chest. The whispering and gossiping about Mike has already begun, and it doesn’t help matters that his union lawyer advises him NOT to talk to anybody about it. The process that will eventually lead to the destruction of Mike Kellerman begins with this story and will forever change the detective from the smiling, cheerful man we met a year ago.



    All this and we haven’t even gone out on the street yet. As we see in the teaser, people are overdosing on heroin left and right. But because there obviously not murders, the detectives don’t give a shit--- until someone gets murdered. In this case, a minor druglord named Bo Jack Reed, who has been responsible for the overdoses by lacing his packages of heroin with Scopolamine. This is bad business, but what makes it worse is that he was doing this on purpose to try and drive a competitor out of the market. Bad idea, especially when the business rival is Luther Mahoney.



    The Mahoney saga begins in earnest with these murders. Adding to the mix is a new character, Narcotics detective Terri STivers. Stivers will be the pipeline to the Mahoney organization for much of the next two years. It is clear that she has already got a history with Luther--- he has even given her his pager number. Working in concert with Meldrick Lewis, her interest right now is in getting the bad drugs off the street. Reed’s murder complicates things, and they get even more complicated when her informant, an addict named Vernon Troy, has his name on the arrest warrant for Mahoney.

    Unfortunately, they then send him back on the street to get a fix. Which is an example of bad planning when Luther ends up beating the wrap. Troy then disappears—only to turn up a day later with a bullet in his head. Troy is the first bystander in the drug war to get killed. He won’t be the last.



    All of these stories are dark and serious. Yet they are not the reason this episode stays in the memory for me. The musical set pieces for Homicide are usually brilliant. In this episode, however, the singer is the gravelly voiced Tom Waits. If ever a man was meant to sing for this show, Waits is that man. His rendition of ‘Cold, Cold Ground’, accompanied by the wailing of a lone harmonica, over the montage of Stivers and Lewis drowning their sorrows at the Waterfront, Munch and Howard discovering Vernon Troy’s body and Pembleton’s return home is one of the most brilliant combinations of music and scene that I have ever seen on television. Never has Homicide made it more clear that a policeman’s lot is not a happy one than in the last minutes of this episode.



    Some truly fine acting occurs in ‘Bad Medicine’. There is the usual high caliber work of Braugher, of course, as well as fine stuff by Diamond. Erik Todd Dellums makes his first impact as Luther. The smarminess and oiliness of his character really becomes clear, not the mention is underlying amusement with the charges that he is being faced with. In his scene with Stivers and Lewis, he does a combo flirtation/discussion which must be seen to be believed. Equally impressive is jittery/anxiety-prone Akili Prince’s work as the doomed Vernon Troy. Of all the drug-taking characters on Homicide

    this is perhaps the most memorable one.



    For all the darkness in the show, there are some light moments. Most of them are tied to Brodie. The videographer opts to move out of Munch’s apartment (something in Munch’s medicine cabinet scared him off) and he moves in with Bayliss. We get a rare look at him off the-job as we see him in a large purple bathrobe watching Mighty Mouse. Its pretty obvious this isn’t going to work out for long



    But ‘Bad Medicine’ is otherwise a very dark episode. Not just because of the OD’s, the three killings, or the music. The two snakes that will end up swallowing Mike Kellerman’s career appear in the episode and when they are finished, the entire squad will be shaken forever. For that reason, you can’t help but look at this episode with a sense of dread.

    My score:9

    moreless
Akili Prince

Akili Prince

Vernon Troy

Guest Star

Barnett Lloyd

Barnett Lloyd

Range Sergeant

Guest Star

Cleo Reginald Pizana

Cleo Reginald Pizana

Det. Bob Connelly

Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Ami Brabson

Ami Brabson

Mary Pembleton

Recurring Role

Toni Lewis

Toni Lewis

Terri Stivers

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Bayliss: Hum, not taking your medicine are ya? I'm a detective Frank, I'm a keen observer of the human condition. I pick up on the subtlest clues. I react to the slightest suggestion. In short I detect.
      Pembleton: Who told you?
      Bayliss: Brodie. You gotta take your pills, Frank. If you don't take your pills your head is gonna blow up.

  • NOTES (1)

    • Music in this episode: Tom Waits "Till the Money Runs Out" alb: Heartattack and Vine; Tom Waits "Cold, Cold Ground" alb: Frank's Wild Years.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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