Homicide: Life on the Street

Season 4 Episode 10

The Hat

Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 19, 1996 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
34 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

The Hat
Gee is sent upstairs to see Barnfather and everyone speculates about the vacant Captain's position. Lewis and Kellerman are sent to Pennsylvania to extradite a woman back to Baltimore where she is a suspect in the murder of her husband. Munch tries to find a videotape in Brodie's pile. Later after reviewing the tape, they discover a key piece of evidence isn't contained on the tape. Munch wants the tape erased, but Brodie delivers the tape to court and that results in the outcome Munch feared. On the trip back from Harrisburg, Kellerman convinces Lewis that they have time to stop at Neptune's Castle and they lose the suspect, for a moment. Later they lose her again but find her at the house of her dead husband's mistress, delivering a hat. Much to everyone's surprise but not the viewers Gaffney is promoted to Captain over Gee. Captain Gaffney lays down the law.moreless

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  • An episode of "Homicide" which featured a true professional actress as a guest star. Lily Tomlin deserved the Emmy nomination for this episode.

    I was an extra in this episode. Look for me. As Lily sits in the backseat of the police car, look through the rear window at the ugly, yellow Chevy Impala station wagon behind her. That's me and my car. I was also in the scene where the car hits the fire hydrant. Wow! Fifteen seconds of fame! Anyway, having watched Ms. Tomlin prepare for her scenes, she is a true professional. Don't let that crazy comic persona fool you. It was obvious to me that she was determined to put on a first-class performance. And the final results proved I was right. I can't imagine how she managed to get through the scene in the mock-car, on a busy highway, and maintain the kind of concentration an actor needs to be believable. I didn't get to schmooze with her during breaks or at breakfast, but the rest of the cast was incredible. Very down to earth and not at all standoffish. Good experience.moreless
  • The detectives throw a party for Gee, who they think has been named Captain. Lewis and Kellerman encounter some problems when picking up a suspect from Pennsylvania. Cameraman Brodie disobeys Munch, causing problems in a murder trial.moreless

    You never know what is around the corner in this episode, with some surprises, a wacky adventure and a few unfortunate outcomes "the hat" delivers and is exactly why i watch this series.

    The biggest among many surprises in this episode is Roger Gaffney's promotion to Captain. The detectives were sure that Gee would get the promotion, Gee shares the same thoughts and can be seen pummeling a locker with his bare hands.

    Lewis and Kellerman's wacky adventure is great, taking the detectives and a murder suspect to the Enchanted Forest and later for tuna melts. With Lewis on the case, predicting something will go wrong we are not surprised when murder suspect Rose Halligan escapes after going to the lady's room.

    Munch and Brodie's relationship sours as a tape Munch told Brodie to destroy ends up going to court. Typical Munch, decides to rub Brodie's nose in his mistake, handing him a tape of a not guilty verdict for him to add to his collection of videos.moreless
  • A diversion, of sorts...with Lily Tomlin and a mermaid?

    Lily Tomlin guest stars in this interesting installment of my favorite cop drama.

    Kellerman and Lewis are sent to pick up the escaped Rose Halligan. This was an interrogation of a different sort, which made it an interesting diversion. Instead of the criminal lying to get away from their, she was actively involved in trying to get away from her crime physically. Mike's softness for his youth, his boyishness came across throughout the series manytimes, got them into deeper trouble than they should have been. What's shocking is what Rose does once she's out, which I still didn't expect.

    The telling glances, the wonderful strong moment between the boys and Kay was excellently played and shined more light on the characters and their respect for each other.

    Just a really nice little episode that took us a road trip and got us out of Baltimore for awhile. With a city as a character, it's good to give the city the day off every now and again.

    Great work!moreless
  • On the road to Baltimore with Meldrick, Mike and Rose

    The team of Meldrick Lewis and Mike Kellerman would investigate some of the more eccentric murders with some of the quirkier criminals, leading to an unusual mix of comedy and drama. Perhaps the quintessential episode of their work together would be ‘The Hat’ which is essentially a ‘Road To Baltimore’ story featuring Lewis, Kellerman and Rose Halligan, one of the most harmless looking criminals that the series would produce. The comedy aspect is played up even more considering that Rose is played by comedy legend Lily Tomlin.

    Rose Halligan seems like such an innocuous woman (we first see here crashing into a fire hydrant) Meldrick and Mike drive all the way out to Pennsylvania to escort this very proper middle-aged woman and she seems like a chatty, convivial and cultured woman--- certainly not the kind of person who would bludgeon her husband to death. She seems more concerned that she won’t have another tuna melt rather than the fact she’s going to prison. When we finally learn the reason that she killed her husband, it is hard not to feel a certain degree of sympathy for her as Meldrick does. Unfortunately, none of this doesn’t mean that she’s less dangerous--- as she manages to escape in order to commit a second murder.

    But Lewis and Kellerman have been playing sloppy for the entire episode. They go through improper procedure in picking Halligan up, take a side trip to the Enchanted Forest to see the world’s largest swordfish and then almost lose her there. (The funniest moment of the episode comes when Lewis and Kellerman frantically return to the car to find Rose patiently waiting for them there) Then they take the old lady out to dinner and let her go to the bathroom by herself. Considering how badly they bungle this, it’s amazing that Howard or Giardello doesn’t bounce them from the squad.

    Then again, maybe they’re distracted by what’s going on back in Baltimore. Megan Russert’s demotion has left and opening in the captains position. The squad becomes convinced that Gee has finally won the promotion that his leadership and seniority have entitled him to. Which is why it becomes an incredible shock that the job goes to the small-minded and bullying Roger Gaffney. Gaffney, as you recall, was bounced by Russert from Homicide to Missing Persons. Somehow he has managed to earn a promotion to Lieutenant and now for reason wish pass understanding he earns the promotion.(As it turns out this was done on purpose, though we will not learn why until nearly a year later) Gaffney is probably the most loathsome and unlikable character on the show but, unlike Gee or Russert he does not make waves and he follows the chain of command. That is how real life politics work, not only in the Baltimore police department but just about everywhere and it is a credit to the show that the creators are loyal to that idea.

    Giardello is respectful enough not to make a public scene. In private, he is royally pissed and hammers the crap out of a locker. The other detectives (particularly Pembleton) are openly disdainful of this. They will tolerate Gaffney but they will not serve him.

    And in real life, killers walk on technicalities too. Munch is scheduled to testify on the trial of an attorney who has killed his partner. However, footage of the crime scene reveals that there was a mistake in the handling of evidence. Munch is more than willing to destroy the evidence. Unfortunately Brodie shot the footage and his ultra-sensitivity to being honest makes him turn the tape over to the defense—a result that leads to the murderer’s acquittal.

    ‘Despite all this comedy, the most shocking moment comes when Kellerman makes a personal revelation.--- when he learned that his wife was cheating on him he seriously considered shooting her. This does more than indicate how fidelity and hostile action can happen in an instant. It also illustrates how emotional a personality Mike Kellerman really is, an attitude that will lead to his eventual fate in the department.

    ‘The Hat’ is not quite a classic but in it’s mixture of comedy, drama, and real life politics, headed up with Lily Tomlin’s Emmy-nominated work, it is one of the better episodes of the fourth season and possibly the best work that Diamond and Johnson will do in the fourth season. (There are better moments ahead for both of them in the future.)


Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin

Rose Halligan

Guest Star

Madeline L. Austin

Madeline L. Austin

Officer Parla

Guest Star

Mary Carole Curran

Mary Carole Curran


Guest Star

Zeljko Ivanek

Zeljko Ivanek

ASA Ed Danvers

Recurring Role

Max Perlich

Max Perlich

J.H. Brodie

Recurring Role

Walt MacPherson

Walt MacPherson

Roger Gaffney

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Pennsylvania Police Officer: Regulations stipulate that a police woman escort a female prisoner.
      Lewis (Motioning to Kellerman): Meet Det. Michelle Kellerman.
      Kellerman: Hi.
      Pennsylvania Police Officer: You're not a woman.
      Kellerman: But I used to be.

  • NOTES (5)

    • This is an update on information about Enchanted Forest. The children's amusement park actually closed in 1989, not due to bankruptcy but simply because it was bought out by a company who wanted to replace it with a shopping center. It reopened briefly in the mid-1990s, before "The Hat" was filmed there. Enchanted Forest is indeed located in Ellicott City, near Baltimore. There is no "Neptune's Castle" at Enchanted Forest, and nobody keeps the grounds clean. The Enchanted Forest Preservation Society - http://www.enchantedforestmd.org/ - is currently working to restore what remains of the park. The diner across the street is the Forest Diner.

    • "What fascinated me was there there really was an 'Enchanted Forest.' Located about 10 miles west of Baltimore on Route 40 in Ellicott City, MD, the theme went backrupt in 1986. It sits behind the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center behind chain link fence. Somebody keeps the grounds clean. Apparently the production company fixed the building for Neptune's Castle and 'borrowed' it for the day. The diner 'Lily and company' drove to is across the road. The 'Harrisburg' scenes were in beautiful downtown Ellicott City, a delightful little Maryland village set into a hill and ridge."

    • King Neptune (Will Monahan) sent me these comments about the location used for the episode.

    • Lily Tomlin was nominated for (but lost) an Emmy Award for her performance.

    • Music in this episode: Dame Joan Sutherland, Luciano Pavarotti, National Philharmonic "Ahno Credea Mirati Si Presto Espino" alb: La Sonnambula (opera); Price, Vickers, Gorr, Merrill, Sir Georg Solti, Rome Opera Orchestra "Ritorna Vincitor" alb: Aida (opera).