Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 3 Episode 12

The City That Bleeds (1)

1
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 27, 1995 on NBC
9.6
out of 10
User Rating
39 votes
2

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Episode Summary

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The City That Bleeds (1)
AIRED:
Bolander, Munch, Howard and Felton all meet to serve a warrant, but Bolander, Howard and Felton are shot in an ambush. Pembleton becomes the primary in the investigation and is partnered with a detective who specializes in the psychology of their prime suspect: a pedophile. Stan's ex-partner Mitch Drummond offers his help. Kay's father and Beau's wife and the kids come to the hospital. A clerical error is discovered to be the cause of why the detectives went to the door marked 201, instead of 210.moreless

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Howard, Felton, Bolander and Munch , strapped with bullet proof vests, execute a search warrant on a pedophile but three of the four detectives are shot and left in critical condition.moreless

    10
    One of the greatest "Homicide: life on the street" episodes in the series' history.



    The previous episode did a great job leading up to "the city that bleeds". The night before the detectives were all at one of their highest points of the series, drinking, laughing and having a great time at Munch, Lewis and Bayliss' new bars grand opening.



    In this episode we see the detectives put on bulletproof vests for the first time, this proves to be ominous as a bloodbath ensues. This is the first time in the series that we see any detective shot, and it comes in bunches.



    "The Last of the Watermen" already did a good job of introducing Kay's family to the audience, so we are not surprised when we see her father at the hospital.moreless
  • Interesting idea, but it put them down a rocky road

    9.4
    Putting the life of a character on a TV show iin jeopardy is a fairly common practice. But one wonders how seriously one can consider these threats to be considering that creators of television dramas are attached to a character. There are exceptions to this rule (David E. Kelley has made something of a career of killing regulars on his series) but for the most part they don’t kill them because they want to consider the possibilities of bringing them back.



    The creators of Homicide clearly didn’t have a problem killing a character off. And they no doubt realized from the emotional drama that they had managed to mine from ‘Crosetti’ showed that there was enormous potential in playing with the characters. They did, however, have a problem with using violence. Indeed Tom Fontana was very reluctant to having a gun fired on the show, must less having three of his characters get shot. It seemed out of sync with the original plan to keep Homicide from becoming a typical police drama relying on guns being fired. But the show was coming to the end of its third season (NBC was only committed to 13 episodes; they later added seven more) and the ratings were still mediocre. So, probably to goose the ratings more than anything else, a three part story arc was written involving the shooting of three of the series regulars while they went to serve an arrest warrant.



    The strategy worked; the episode got some of the highest ratings in the show’s history, but no one on the staff was particularly thrilled about what was done in order to get these numbers. For the next three years, they would stay away from the detectives being hurt while on the job.



    As reluctant as the writers were probably to write the opening teaser in ‘The City That Bleeds’ one can not deny that it is a very effective scene. Everything seems to be going perfectly normal as Bolander, Felton, Howard and Munch go to arrest a pedophile for the murder of a ten year old. They talk about last night at The Waterfriont; Felton makes a show of letting Howard walk in first. Then suddenly, in a series of fast cuts we see the detectives fired upon. Interestingly enough, though we see the gun fired and the detectives going down, we never actually see them get shot.. In this way Homicide is playing against the grain.



    A similar pattern occurs when Gee hears about the shooting. Hearing that three of his men are shot Gee runs to the hospital but he makes it clear that the few who remain must get themselves ready to catch the shooter. Bayliss and Lewis are particularly rocked by what has happened . Tim feels despair and guilt that he wasn’t shot. Pembleton, however, shows the same cold and professional detachment that he would as if the three detectives who had been shot were strangers and seems annoyed when Bayliss says he does. He knows that this is wrong, but he can’t let himself think about whether people he worked with may never come back. It is how he works. (It will eventually hit him but not in this episode.)



    Some detectives bear their feelings in odd ways. As in the case with Detective Mitch Drummond. Bolander’s former partner (one who Munch was always being unfavorably compared to in the first season) leaves his normal assignment to try and catch the man who did this. He may not have always gotten along with Stan but he’s pretty sure that his partner would do the same for him.



    His current partner is quite understandably rattled by what has happened. When Gee goes to visit the detectives in the hospital Munch is as close to going to pieces as he gets. He obsesses about the fact that his friends blood is on his shoes, and the way the doctors refer to the condition Stan’s in (how they say ‘when he wakes up’ when its really ‘if’)



    The strongest reaction, and perhaps the most stunning is Giardello. He seems all right on his first couple of trips to the hospital, even puts up a brave face for Feltons kids when his mother arrives but it soon becomes clear that this is the façade. When he learns from Meldrick that the detectives went to the wrong address because the case report was mistyped he demands that the woman who botched it be fired. He then praises the strength and fortitude of his detectives while driving back. Than he asks Meldrick to stop the car and he has a minor meltdown. He compares the helplessness and the pain that he’s feeling to that of an incident that happened to his daughter Charise (his favorite daughter) eighteen years ago. He is responsible for his detectives but he can not help them through their darkest hour.



    And speaking of the detectives after the shootings we don’t see a great deal of them after they get shot. The writers know that while they care about the conditions of their friends, they are police first and they want to get the man who shot them. The obvious candidate for that title is Glenn Holton a repeat sex offender who committed the murder of a ten year old boy. This leads into an dark matter that crime shows don’t normally traffic in: child molestation. This is a darker sin even than murder: even some of the criminals who they investigation think that there’s something perverse about pedophilia. (This is brought out in the one funny moment in the show; when the owner of a pornographic theater says she wouldn’t cater to this sort of individual.)We get more insight from sex crimes Detective Theresa Walker, an expert on these sorts of people. She is a strong forceful person, one who is not even afraid to go head to head with Pembleton.



    It is events like these that can even unify the bosses. Captain Bonfather comes down to publicly offer support to Lieutenant Russert and even holds a press conference in which he prays for them (But look how quickly he does an about face in the next episode )



    It is not until the end of the episode that we get any idea how the detectives are doing. Bolander was shot in the head and will not even be conscious until two episodes later. Howard was shot in the heart and is barely clinging to life. Felton escapes with minor injuries and is conscious by the episodes end. His first concern is for his partner, and he is already feeling guilt for what happened. This is how detectives think they are always concerned for their partners.



    ‘The City That Bleeds’ ends with a major operation to capture Holton at a train station but they come up empty. Again ‘Homicide’ goes against the grain. Most other police shows that deals with police getting shot would have suspect in custody b the end of the episode. ‘Homicide’ does not. And as we will learn in later, they will have spent a couple of days searching for the wrong man. Aside from the violence, almost everything related to the crime is spot on.

    My sscre:9.25

    Fans rank: 13th

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Andre Braugher

Andre Braugher

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

Kyle Secor

Kyle Secor

Tim Bayliss

Richard Belzer

Richard Belzer

Det. John Munch

Ned Beatty

Ned Beatty

Stan Bolander (Seasons 1-3)

Daniel Baldwin

Daniel Baldwin

Beau Felton (Seasons 1-3, recurring subsequently, TVM)

Isabella Hofmann

Isabella Hofmann

Megan Russert (Seasons 3-4, recurring otherwise)

Tony Lo Bianco

Tony Lo Bianco

Mitch Drummond

Guest Star

Mary B. Ward

Mary B. Ward

Beth Felton

Guest Star

Michael Currie

Michael Currie

Wesley Howard

Guest Star

Clayton LeBouef

Clayton LeBouef

Col. Barnfather

Recurring Role

Peggy Yates

Peggy Yates

Maria Delgado

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Lewis: …so the bear says, 'You didn't really come here to hunt, did you?'

      Lewis says this when Gee comes into the squad room and announces that Bolander, Felton and Howard have been shot. This is the punch line to an off-color joke Lewis tells more than once in the series (the joke itself is never heard). It was first heard in episode 66/5-11, "The Documentary" with Lewis telling it to Kellerman on the way to the Waterfront, in episode 68/5-13, "Have A Conscience", Kellerman asks Lewis about the joke, with Kellerman saying the line and in episode 99/6-22, "Fallen Heroes (1)".

    • I noticed something interesting while watching this episode. During the major shooting sequence in which 3 detectives are shot, you never see the shooters face. However, if you view this sequence frame by frame (like I did on my DVD player), there's a single frame in which you can see the shooter's face through the stair railings. It isn't Gordon Pratt - the man accused of the shooting in part 3 of this sequence of episodes. Was the actor not available during the filming of this episode? ...or did the producers have something else planned that they never followed up on?

  • QUOTES (4)

  • NOTES (1)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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