Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 3 Episode 1

Nearer My God to Thee

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Oct 14, 1994 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
36 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Nearer My God to Thee
When the winner of the city's Good Samaritan Award is murdered, Gee and his staff are called to help the new female night shift commander. Pembleton is at odds with the detective he shares a desk with. Beau and his wife separate and Kay gets caught in the middle. Meldrick and Munch have plans to buy a bar and try to persuade Bolander to also become a partner. Bayliss agrees to become a "silent" partner. In passing, Crosetti is said to be in Atlantic City on a "shots, slots and sluts" dream vacation.moreless

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  • After the winner of a prestigious mayors award is murdered Gee's crew pairs up with another crew to try and track down the killer. Lewis and Munch reveal plans that would see them owning a bar.moreless

    For me, this episode gets a lower than average rating for a few reasons. Crosetti is apparently on vacation in Atlantic City, this is surprising. Also Gee's crew working with Russerts crew doesn't provide for the same family atmosphere as the episodes from season 1 & 2.

    Despite a few changes," Nearer My God to Thee " is still well done beacuse it doesnt stray too far away from the "Homicide:life on the street style". The news of Munch and Lewis opening a bar, and Felton and his troubles with his wife, still allow for the detectives personal lives to be examined, even while investigating a serious case.moreless
  • The gloves come off as Season 3 begins

    Homicide began its third season with an example of how it was going to work things out. Before a show would have several small stories going on simultaneously--- some crime related, some personal. From this point on, there would generally be one major police related story and several personal stories. Furthermore, these major crimes would be related in two or three episode blocks.

    The first of these stories would be the ‘white cotton gloves’ murders. The Samaritan of the Year is found murdered and left in a dumpster behind a church, naked but for a pair of white cotton gloves. However, Lieutenant Giardello is not in charge of this investigation because it has fallen to the second shift headed by he newly appointed Lieutenant Megan Russert.

    From the very beginning people would have problems with Russert. A lot of people found it hard to accept that a woman this young (barely thirty five) could rise to be in charge of a squad of detectives. This is hard but not impossible to accept, because (as regular viewers would have known) Frank Pembleton was considered for her job and he was her age. The real problem is that we have never even seen any sign of the second shift before. Why should we; all the characters we know are on Giardellos. That was the major flaw, trying to force a new character into places that she would normally be. Her rapid rise and subsequent fall within the department would seem more an effort to find a place for the character rather than any real skill on her part.

    Once you get past the problem of Russert’s character, what you see is the same level of intense drama mixed with unusual humor that we have come to expect from the show. This time much of the dramatic tension comes from the interaction of the two shifts--- particularly Pembleton and the primary for the case Roger Gaffney. Pembleton thinks that Gaffney is a sloppy detective and its pretty obvious that Gaffney thinks Pembleton is arrogant. But unlike Felton, who has similar problems, Gaffney is a racist. It’s pretty hard to believe that the two of them might kill each other, but there is a lot of bad blood between them. And Gaffney, unfortunately, isn’t going anywhere.

    For the first time the Homicide writers realized what a strong presence Andre Braugher has, and would begin to shift the balance of power towards him and Bayliss. Of central importance to Pembleton is religion--- he may be the most famous Catholic to appear on TV (with the possible exception of Dana Scully on The X-Files). When most shows fly away at the first sign of religion, ‘Homicide’ would embrace it on many occasions. They do so here through Pembleton and his views . When Bayliss asks Frank where God was when Katherine Goodrich was murdered, Pembleton responds that death is something not to be feared. When asked if he believes that, Frank’s reply is “I wear a bullet-proof vest, don’t I?” This is a troubled man and we will explore this many times---often to tremendous dramatic effect.

    Despite the concentration on the red ball, we do get a couple of subplots that we will be following throughout the season. Beau Felton’s marriage, which has been showing fault lines since the first season, now begins to come apart when his wife Beth throws him out of the house. We meet her for the first time, and its pretty clear that Beth has very deep issues that probably can’t be fixed. Felton is far less concerned with the state of his marriage then that of the kids, and its pretty obvious that he is a better father than he is a husband. He certain has a blasé attitude towards fidelity; when Kay asks him if he is staying with a woman, he says: “My father always said you don’t jump ship without a lifeboat.” It does, however, come as something of shock that the lifeboat turns out to be Russert. As we will see, this relationship also has obstacles that it won’t overcome. Getting stuck in the middle of this is Kay Howard who will be besieged by calls from Beth Felton and the failure of his marriage

    More importantly is what Lewis and Munch are up too. They have decided to buy the Waterfront Bar (which as we will find out, is practically next door to the precinct) Unable to get the seller to lower the price they are forced to obtain another partner. At first, they try Bolander who is adamant in his refusal not to invest his pension in this gamble but eventually they recruit Tim Bayliss. One question that is never answered by anyone is where these three detectives, who make less than $35,000 a year, manage to raise 200,000 dollars to buy the bar. We later find out that they got some kind of loan--- though how they managed to convince the bank is anybody’s guess. The obstacles in buying the bar will take up most of the season. Of course when they get it, there are more problems on the way.

    Another unusual switch is done in the teaser of the episode. In which, we learn nothing about the case but more about how the detectives think. Bolander, Munch and Lewis discuss the sate of TV, the profusion of gratuitous sex and how there are a lot of new channels—while the detectives long for the good old days of ‘Hawaii 5-0’ For most of the third season, the teasers of the episode will deal with comic matters unconnected to being a cop with occasional references to police work. One wonders whether the writers were working out the kinks--- because this would disappear in the shows later seasons.

    There are still some problems that haven’t quite been worked out in ‘Nearer My God to Thee’.Russert and Giardello have a hard time demonstrating who is in charge. And we’re still not quite certain how to deal with the pres (the appearance of reporter Matt Rhodes doesn’t quite jive with the workings of the episode) But ‘Homicide’, after nine months has found its feet again and will be demonstrating that there was still gold to be mined from this show.

    My score 9

Tony Todd

Tony Todd

Matt Rhodes

Guest Star

Mary B. Ward

Mary B. Ward

Beth Felton

Guest Star

Pamela Payton-Wright

Pamela Payton-Wright

Sister Magdalena Weber

Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Walt MacPherson

Walt MacPherson

Roger Gaffney

Recurring Role

Ralph Tabakin

Ralph Tabakin

Dr. Scheiner

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (4)

    • (the detectives watch a love scene on TV, much to Bolander's dismay)
      Bolander: Aw, jeez. That's disgusting.
      Meldrick: Yeah, I'll have a fresh pot ready in just a jiffy, Big Man.
      Bolander: No. No. (points to the TV) That's disgusting. It's gratuitous. Gratuitous sex is disgusting.
      Munch: There's no such thing as gratuitous sex. Gratuitous violence, yes. All violence is gratuitous, but sex cannot and will not ever be gratuitous.
      Meldrick: They make 'em do that, you know.
      Bolander: Who makes who do what?
      Meldrick: The networks make the writers and producers add the sex.
      Bolander: I thought the networks were making the producers take the sex out. I mean, the producers and the writers, they put all that sex in there, then the network cuts it out.
      Meldrick: No. That's nudity. The network takes out the nudity, but they add sex.
      Bolander: How can you have sex without nudity?!
      Munch: Well, Big Man, use your imagination.
      Bolander: Okay. You know, I know that you can have sex without nudity. I mean, I know that. But if you have a choice, wouldn't you really rather be naked? See that? I mean, look at that. Look at it. Is that real? Come on.
      Munch: It's television, Stan. It's not supposed to be real.
      Bolander: Hey! Hey! Can you switch the channel off?
      Meldrick: All they got on there is sitcoms and news magazines.
      Munch: Now, yes. But soon, very soon, there's gonna be like 500 channels. Besides the SportsChannel and the Weather Channel, there'll be the Ballet Channel, the Dog Food Channel, the All-Dreidel Network. There won't be any books or newspapers, no telephones. We'll only be able to communicate with e-mail and QVC. We'll all be interactive. All you need to see in here, you'll see in here without ever having to rise from your Sealy posturepaedic. I'm talkin' about high definition. I'm talkin' about virtual reality. I'm talkin' about living in the fast lane of the electronic information superhighway. Better get ready, 'cause it's coming.
      Bolander: I gotta make a call.
      (he is about to leave)
      Bolander: I wish they'd bring back Hawaii Five-O.

    • Bayliss: Hey what is this, Frank, about this whole three hour mass thing?
      Pembleton: What do you mean?
      Bayliss: You know, I went to this wedding one time and by the time I got up to take the host I had to ask for two because I was starving.
      Pembleton: You're not Catholic and you took communion?
      Bayliss: Yeah. Is that wrong?
      Pembleton: If my God wins, you're screwed.

    • Lt. Giardello: She was found naked except for cotton gloves, white.
      Munch: What kind of gloves does Michael Jackson wear?
      Bayliss: Silver. But he only wears one.
      Munch: Well maybe Tito tried to frame his brother, you know that family is capable of anything.

    • Bayliss: Do you believe in God frank?
      Pembleton: Look at the evidence. This murder is proof that evil exists. If evil exists then surely God must exist.

  • NOTES (2)

    • This episode marks the first appearance of actress Kristin Rohde who later stars in Fontana´s Oz as the slightly psychotic correction officer, Claire Howell.

    • Music in this episode: Abbey Lincoln "When I'm Called Home" alb: You Gotta Pay the Band; Steve McCormick "Too Hot"; Skoota "A Winner".