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Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 17

Full Moon

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Apr 05, 1996 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
30 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Full Moon
Kellerman and Lewis (with Brodie) investigate a shooting at the New Moon motel, where everyone there has a motive for the crime. They split up and canvass the denizens of the motel; Lewis also searches for the victim's missing boot. The murder is just one of the many crimes that has occurred or is occurring at this establishment.moreless

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  • A murder investigated by the light of the moon

    In the biggest shift of continuity of the fourth season, though ‘Full Moon’ was chronologically next in sequence NBC executives held it back until the season was nearly over. The main reason was they wanted to have the more sensational episode at the head of the season and save the off-beat ones for last. This conclusion leads to me believe that the powers that be at NBC had no idea what Homicide was all about because, as the constant viewers knows, the ‘weird’, more daring episodes are often the best. ‘Full Moon’ isn’t quite of the level of, say, ‘Bop Gun’ or ‘A Dolls Eyes’ but one can certainly not fault it for being one of the most daring episodes in the show’s history.

    For one thing, almost the entire episode is spent outside the squad room. For another, we only see three of the shows regulars (Kellerman, Lewis and Munch). And lastly, the episode is set almost entirely at one location--- the New Moon Hotel in the outskirts of Baltimore, an establishment that deals with the lowest in society. As we find out, 98% of the residents have some kind of criminal record (and two of the people who don’t are using false names).

    The victim, not surprisingly, is an ex-con named Charlie Wells. As

    ex-cons go, he is slightly more eccentric than the usual junkie. He has spent the last several months trying to ‘secede’ from the U.S., getting rid of almost every kind of government ID, from his Social Security car to the license plate on his vintage bike. He has a very unusual tattoo that relates to his mother. And when he is found he has only one boot on. Meldrick spends much of the episode agonizing over this, only to find that the deceased only wore one at a time--- “Not every shoe has a mate” as his daughter puts it. Despite these eccentricities, Wells will not be missed by the world. Nevertheless Lewis and Kellerman spent the episode, combing the motel trying to find out who killed him.

    Even for crappy motels the New Moon is low on the odometer--- the walls are so thin that a bullet passes through three rooms when fired, the water comes out green and there is a fairly high level of criminal activity going on. Among the assemblage of guests, are a family of illegal immigrants, a meth head junkie, a prostitute still doing business and two out of state robbers still in hiding. There is so much crime that in the course of the investigation Lewis and Kellerman solve two completely unrelated murders.

    If the investigation involved Bayliss and Pembleton this might have been a fairly dark and grim episode. However, since it involves Lewis and Kellerman, the episode unfolds in a slow, rambling, digressive way. It is a character study, like many Homicide’s but it has a much lighter tone. Serious subjects are discussed, to be sure--- Mike complaining about the illegal alien problem, Meldrick’s dismay at the demolition of the housing court project that he grew up in--- but these things don’t seem as dire. Indeed, the murder itself seems a little less important than the people the detectives meet in the course of the investigation.

    The most memorable characters are Ramona, a prostitute who likes to swim nude in the motel pool and who had a thing for Wells and Lonnie Askew, a Native American who served ten years for killing one of his friends in a drunken car accident. Askew seems the most obvious suspect but as it turns out he is a more sad character than the others--- in many ways he is still a prisoner of the death he caused. However, he is one of the only residents of the New Moon who there is hope for--- at the episode’s end he checks out of the motel to find a better place to live.

    Like many of the episodes of Homicide this is an experimental show. And while the experiment is not quite as successful one has to give it points for originality as well as being an example of some of the better work that Clark Johnson and Reed Diamond would do this year. In later seasons, both characters will be traveling into dark territory so it’s rather nice to see the two of them do lighter stuff very well. The episode also has one of the better musical scores, particularly a lonely guitar which seems to be playing through out the show. However, there are at three or four times during the episode that it tries to go into more serious drama that doesn’t quite mesh with the overall mood. The most old school element of the show comes when Mike and Meldrick arrest the man who seems like the most likely suspect who has the right weapon--- only to find out that while the weapon was used in a murder, it wasn’t used to kill Charlie Wells.

    ‘Full Moon’ works most of the time--- especially in that the murder is never solved--- but the episode never quite reaches the great level that we have come to expect of Homicide. It’s interesting and its amusing but, just like the victims, its very hard to care about the episode. But even as an exercise it works well enough to make it enjoyable.

    My score:8.25

Ron Brice

Ron Brice

Michael Evans

Guest Star

Charisse Brown

Charisse Brown

Moira Evans

Guest Star

Timothi-Jane Graham

Timothi-Jane Graham

Ramona Rostenkowski

Guest Star

Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions