Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 5 Episode 14

Diener

0
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 31, 1997 on NBC
7.9
out of 10
User Rating
25 votes
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Episode Summary

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Diener
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Kellerman assures Lewis that he is seeking some professional advice; he also takes some time off. Lewis is assigned to work with Pembleton and neither is happy with the situation. Together they investigate the murder of a wealthy woman. They suspect the brother may have had a touch of sibling rivalry. Meanwhile, the brother insists that the police have stolen his sister's diamond ring. Mary tells Frank that she thinks they need to talk to a marriage counselor. Cox investigates whether the missing diamond ring might have been taken by one of her staff. She gets Brodie to help her add some video surveillance to the morgue. Mary asks Tim to be Frank's partner again.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Doesn't deserve further examination

    5.9
    When Homicide began four years ago, Frank Pembleton was the lone wolf on the squad, preferring to work alone. This aspect of his personality was curved when Bayliss began to work with him in the pilot. Now that Tim has decided that he doesn’t want to be partners with him anymore, Frank is back to his old ways. When Meldrick Lewis shows up to back him up in the teaser of ‘Diener’, he is pissed. Part of this is no doubt based on the last case they partnered on (Season 3’s ‘Law and Disorder, which we flash back to a couple of times during the show) but part of this is no doubt due to his single-minded workaholic nature that was present even when he worked with Bayliss.



    It is perhaps because of this that Frank tells his wife that for the first time since his stroke he feels like his old self again. In one sense this is true—Frank is no longer stumbling over words or has a faulty memory. Unfortunately for Frank, his return to normality also means that part of his nature has resurfaced at home. Mary, who has been a pillar of strength for her husband through his long recovery and beyond, is finally reaching the limits of her patience. She now asks to see a marriage counselor but Frank blindly ignores her complaints. He gets a certain amount of support from Meldrick on this (though considering his marital difficulties Frank would perhaps do well to talk to anybody else) but the problems are so visible that Mary comes down to work to talk with Tim.



    Mary knows that being a detective is Frank’s life but she doesn’t know if being the wife of a detective is what she wants to be anymore. When Tim subsequently holds out an olive branch to Frank, however, Pembleton rejects it. This old blindness and arrogance will end up costing Frank very dearly in a matter of weeks.



    The psychology of Frank is always interesting but it is noticeable because this episode doesn’t have a great deal more to offer. The case that is the center of ‘Diener’ --- the murder of a socialite--- is a relatively limp one though it does show a certain amount of sparks to see Frank and Meldrick crossing swords again on who to suspect. Interestingly the situation is somewhat reversed from ‘Law and Disorder’ where Frank suspected someone from an urban setting for a murder while Meldrick suspected someone from a more upscale setting. This time Lewis suspects the lower-stratum suspect while Frank suspects the nearest and dearest--- the socialite’s brother. However, the wrinkle this time comes not from the policework but from a procedural problem when the victims diamond ring disappears from the body. This item could implicate the killer or provide with a defense. However, it turns out that the ring was stolen by someone in the M.E’s office.



    While no doubt things like this happen occasionally on the job, one can’t escape the feeling that this time it happened to once again bring Dr. Cox into the story. As we find out, the thief turns out to be someone that she has recently hired—the diener from the episode’s title. (A diener is an individual who starts and finishes an autopsy procedure) In one sense, this is real Homicide— the thief is exactly who we suspect it is. However, it feels more like an effort to have Juliana feel the same sense of betrayal that is often felt by other detectives on the show--- something similar to Kellerman’s recent travails with the FBI. The whole feeling is one of forcedness that just doesn’t work dramatically.



    Speaking of Kellerman, we only briefly see the detective when he tells Meldrick that he is going to see a therapist in regard to his recent dark night of the soul. He is trying to get past these impulses and appears to succeed--- at least the topic doesn’t come up again this season. (Then again, Mike will have a whole new set of problems to deal with soon enough)



    Overall, this episode is a disappointment as a directorial debut for Secor, though none of the problems with the episode are his fault. The good moments from the episode occur mainly between Braugher and Clark Johnson, along with a fine job by Ami Brabson as Mary. The case that is at the center of the show seems less important than it does most of the time, and while this isn’t necessarily a handicap, this time it doesn’t lead to great fireworks of any kind. Even the musical montages seem second class.



    Ultimately, ‘Diener’ isn’t a bad episode--- it’s just not a very good one. With a mediocre mystery and somewhat forced character revelation the episode is doubly hampered. The one thing that does linger is the problems Frank is having domestically and which he is right now ignoring. But, like on all Homicide’s, the problems don’t go away after the next case.

    My score: 5.9



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Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie (season 5, TVM, recurring previously)

Andre Braugher

Andre Braugher

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

Kyle Secor

Kyle Secor

Tim Bayliss

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Det. John Munch

Michelle Forbes

Michelle Forbes

Dr. Julianna Cox, CME (1996-1998)

Reed Diamond

Reed Diamond

Det. Mike Kellerman (seasons 4-6)

Glenn Fitzgerald

Glenn Fitzgerald

Jeff McGinn

Guest Star

Allan Gray

Allan Gray

Dontae

Guest Star

Charles Matheny

Charles Matheny

Matthew Bridgewell

Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Ami Brabson

Ami Brabson

Mary Pembleton

Recurring Role

Jay Spadaro

Jay Spadaro

Salerno

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Lewis: Nothing's missing so I guess we can rule out a robbery huh?
      Pembleton: We don't guess Meldrick. We hypothesis, we infer, we extrapolate from the evidence we do not guess.
      Lewis: Go easy on me would you, Frank. It's early in the morning I haven't had my first donut yet.
      Brodie: This is no ordinary crack house.
      Pembleton: We got an approximate time of death.
      Cox: Right now I guess between midnight and four am.
      Lewis: She didn't mean guess though Frank, she meant extrapolate.

    • Lewis: "My best extrapolation? Prof. Plum, in the library, with the candlestick."

    • Munch: "Ah, provolone and onion. Bland and zing. Soft and crunch. The Yin and Yang of sandwich filling."
      Brodie: "Only a man with no woman in his life eats extra onion for lunch."

    • (about Pembleton & Lewis)
      Gee: Do I smell the acrid aroma of squad room discord? The breakdown of the corroborative process? Because I hate to think that two of my carefully matched detectives… are finding lumps in the honeymoon mattress.

    • Lewis: "Let me tell you something else, Frank. Love spelled backwards… is 'E-VOL.'"
      Frank: "What?"
      Lewis:"Yeah, E-V-O-L, evil."
      Frank:"That--that's not love spelled backwards. That's live spelled backwards."
      Lewis: "Cut me some poetic slack, would you, Frank?"

  • NOTES (2)

    • The episode's title while a variation of Executive Producer Barry Levinson's film "Diner", actually refers to the individual who starts an autopsy procedure with the Y-shaped abdominal incision and finishes by sewing up the body. In this episode, Jeff McGinn is a diener.

    • Music in this episode: The Eels "Guest List" alb: Beautiful Freak; Big Walter Horton "Trouble in Mind" alb: The Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Collection; William Clarke "A Good Girl is Hard to Find" alb: Groove Time.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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