Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 1 Episode 8

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Mar 24, 1993 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
The building is checked for air quality and later Gee is outraged when the asbestos removal teams come in without his knowledge. While investigating the death of a gang member, Bolander and Munch use an "Electrolyte-Neutron Magnetic Test" to break a boy into giving up the guilty party. Felton and Pembleton can't understand why their partners are trying to quit smoking, again.moreless

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  • This one really light the place up

    This episode is probably my favorite of the first season. Perhaps the most obvious is that it contains some of the biggest laughs that the series would ever do. Rather then dealing with the seriousness of death, this one deals with some of the amusing characteristics of the detectives.

    High on the list is smoking. Those who have been watching the show up to this point will have counted that five of the detectives---- Bayliss, Crosetti, Felton, Howard and Pembleton---- all smoke cigarettes and a sixth--- Bolander--- smokes cigars. Though we now live in a society that has been driving smokers out of everywhere, it is still a vital part of the police atmosphere despite all the risks to a persons health. You need something to get through looking at dead bodies all the time, as Pembleton suggest when he explains why he started smoking again after thinking that he had the habit kicked. But there are all kinds of consequences, particularly with Bayliss who is having all kinds of problems. Two of the funnier sequence involve this, when Bayliss tries to vicariously smoke through Pembleton and during the stakeout where he talks himself into a cigarette.

    However, one of the more hysterical moments of the show occurs when Pembleton asks Howard why she quit smoking. After implying that her affair with Ed Danvers played a role in her quitting, Howard brags in very exacting detail her sex life. This is the kind of thing that guys do all the time, but Howard’s attention to detail unnerves even the mighty Pembleton. (How much of her story is exaggeration is very difficult to say but I think she was stretching things more than a little.)

    But without a doubt the most hilarious sequence comes in relationship to the main murder of the hour, the killing of Percy Howell. Interrogating another one of those brain-dead suspects that seem involved in crime, Detectives Bolander and Munch use an ‘electrolyte neutron magnetic test scanner’--- or in laymans terms, a copy machine--- to determine whether he is lying. The threat of possible sterility due to the radiation panics the young man into a confession . I still can’t watch it without cracking up.

    Despite all the humorous moments of the show, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ also contains some very serious moments. Most of them come from Giardello. When the episode begins, he seems a little depressed. In a conversation with Lewis, he seems to be sad at the loss of his wife (this is the first time that we hear of her or her death) and disturbed by the retirement of Jim Scinta. When he goes upstairs to get a Coke, he seems even more depressed and his mood isn’t helped by the fact that he walks into a room that seems out of a science–fiction movie as men in respiators remove asbestos from the walls. This angers him so much that he berates GRanger and Barnfather into winning concessions for the detectives that work in his unit--- angrier than seems warranted. This improves his mood somewhat and he actually seems chipper andupbeat when he rejects Howard and Byaliss’ suggestion for a non-smoking section of the squad. (There seems to be some contradiction in that he worries about his detectives getting sick from asbestos but not about whether they die of cancer from smoking. Maybe its who's responsible?)

    We also get some more insight into the relationship of Lewis and Crosetti when we learn that Meldrick is building a Cobra from scratch. Crosetti mocks this but in the end he buys him a horn for it. Crosetti and Lewis seem to have close relationship, and given what will ultimately happen to Crosetti, we wonder if they really are as close as they appear to be. Lewis calls his partner ‘the closest thing that he has to a best friend’; was he only fooling himself?

    And then there is the murder that takes up the majority of the episode: Percy Howell, a young teenager who died of complications from the beating. Eventually, we will learn that he was beaten by a member of a local gang as a combination initiation and gesture of affection. This may seem like a real miscarriage, but Howell’s life seemed singularly devoid of happiness. His father seems to be extremely cold and we have no indication that the mother is in the picture at all. He had no real friends and no one seemed to care about him.

    Was this all the affection that he was capable of receiving? It seems that way.

    As Bolander points out: “Murder ain’t what it used to be.”

    Bolander is in a maudlin mood for most of the episode. The death of Howell bothers him but he is also concerned with personal problems. His relationship with Dr. Blythe doesn’t seem to be going as well as he hoped. His wife is finishing the process of moving out of his house, ending twenty two years of marriage. No wonder he seems so depressed at the end of the episode. The sight of Ned Beatty singing to himself over a lonely beer is not a cheerful image (which is one of the reasons that NBC aired it out of sequence) but it does seem to fit the mood of Homicide to a T. It’s a fairly moving moment.

    Technically, this was the ‘end’ of the first season of Homicide. However, other factors have caused me--- as well as many other fans to consider the second season a part of the first. Even so, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ feels like a season ender and resonates very well in the memory.

    My score:9.5

  • Howard and Bayliss try to kick their smoking habits. Gee is furious when he finds out asbestos is in the building. Bolander and Munch investigate the beating of a young boy found dead in a hospital. Howard and Felton investigate a murder on Union square.moreless

    "Smoke gets in your eyes" is yet another great installment in this series. The detectives try to solve cases while getting on each others case.

    The scene when the young girl comes to the precinct with information for Bolander is great. Bolander gets along so well with the child that its surprising he doesn't have any kids of his own.

    Giardello shows that he can be mean, but this is only with good intentions (reoccurring theme). Gee looks out for his subordinates and becomes furious when he finds an asbestos removal in the building, going on secretly. Gee, yelling at Barnfather and Granger, demands that everyone be checked for exposure at the city's cost. Gee's concern is that like the concern a parent would have, looking out for the rest of the family.moreless
Steven Marcus

Steven Marcus

Det. Russ De Silva

Guest Star

Dan Moran

Dan Moran


Guest Star

Joe Fersedi

Joe Fersedi

Colin Dietz

Guest Star

Sean Whitesell

Sean Whitesell

Dr. Eli Devilbliss

Recurring Role

Gerald F. Gough

Gerald F. Gough

Col. Granger

Recurring Role

Clayton LeBouef

Clayton LeBouef

Capt. Barnfather

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (7)

    • Munch: There was a shortage of rope during the war so the government had all the American farmers grow hemp. If fact they made a little film 'Hemp for victory'
      Bayliss: Hemp for victory. I saw that film.
      Munch: Yeah, well they showed it to all the 4H clubs.

    • Munch: Was this Country and Western music on when you got here?
      Man: Yes, sir.
      Munch: This is what killed her you know. The Country and western music.
      Sgt. Gaffney: I don't follow.
      Munch: You don't follow. Listening to songs like 'I'd be better off in a pine box'.
      Sgt. Gaffney: Well I like Country and Western.
      Munch: Sorry to hear that. What do you get when you play a Country and Western song backwards? You get your wife back, you job back and your dog back.

    • Felton: Oh my God, you quit smoking. You committed this madness without consulting me first, are you nuts? No, no, no you're selfish. You ex-smokers are more relentless than AA or the Moonies or those born again vegetarians. Well I tell you what I'm not gonna let you bully me about this. I don't want to hear about how your lungs are pinker than a new born babies or how you're free of mucus and phlegm. It's all a bunch of crap, it's all a bunch of nonsense. I don't want you counting the number of days you go without a cigarette when you're suppossed to be watching my back. You're putting my life on the line.

    • Bolander: Murder ain't what it used to be.

    • Felton: You guys are using the 'Electrolyte-Neutron-Magnetic Test Scanner? I told you guys, I don't want to be in the building when you use this thing.

    • Munch: When you say you don't know him, do you mean 'know' in the philosophical sense like 'No man can know another' or do you mean know in the biblical sense, as in 'Cain knew his wife?'
      Suspect: What the hell is he talking about?

    • Giardello: My Sicilian ancestors believe that revenge is best served cold.

  • NOTES (4)

    • The bartender is Baltimore native and film director John Waters. Also known as the Pope of Trash and Prince of Puke, his early films, such as Multiple Maniacs and Pink Flamingos were notorious as hallmarks of deliberate bad taste. He finally crossed over into more-or-less mainstream with his 1988 film Hairspray. However, he remains with one foot planted firmly in his counterculture roots.

      All of Waters' films are set in Baltimore, in keeping with Homicide's policy of keeping the show all Baltimore all the time.

      He also appears in episode 3-15, "Law and Disorder".

    • A transcript of this episode can be found at http://www.windowseat.org/homicide/scripts/.

    • The "polygraph by copier" was an old trick as cited in David Simon's book (page 204). At the time Simon was writing his book about the homicide unit (1988), use of this trick was a subject of controversy in Detroit.

    • The following description was taken from a TV Guide-type description; however, it did not appear to be a part of this episode or the following one. "A boy is accidentally shot by his sister and Lewis becomes frustrated when he can't get the parents to remove the gun from their house." While the storyline might have been in the original script for this episode, the entire subplot was probably removed for time, since episodes of this series often went over the running time allotted by the network.