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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Daniel Baldwin, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo, Isabella Hoffman
Writing Credits:
Various

Synopsis:
Now, for the first time, watch the episodes in the order intended by the series' producers and return to Baltimore's mean streets for the third season of a modern TV classic.

Executive Produced by Barry Levinson (Diner, Tin Men) and Tom Fontana (St. Elsewhere, Oz), and created by Paul Attanasio (Gideon's Crossing, Quiz Show), Homicide: Life On the Street defied the conventions of television police shows with its emphasis on the day-to-day grind of solving cases, instead of sensationalized violence and overwrought melodrama. Powered by deft writing and an extraordinary ensemble cast highlighted by Yaphet Kotto (Alien), Ned Beatty (Deliverance), and Emmy-winner Andre Braugher (Frequency), Homicide consistently delivered what The Wall Street Journal called "simply the best one hour of television."

With all 20 episodes from the award-winning third season on DVD for the first time, this collector's set is a must-have addition to the library of any fan of provocative, intelligent television.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby Stereo
Subtitles:
None
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 999 min.
Price: $99.95
Release Date: 10/28/2003

Bonus:
• Homicide: Life In Season 3 - An Interview With Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Henry Bromell, David Simon, and James Yoshimura. (Narrated by Daniel Baldwin.)
• Commentary with Barry Levinson and Henry Bromell on "Gas Man"
• About "The Board"
• Song Listing
• Cast and Crew Biographies


COMPARE DVD PRICES
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EQUIPMENT
TV - Mitsubishi CS-32310 32"; Subwoofer - JBL PB12; DVD Player - Toshiba SD-4700; Receiver - Sony STR-DE845; Center - Polk Audio CS175i; Front Channels - Polk Audio; Rear Channels - Polk Audio.

RELATED REVIEWS


Homicide: Life On The Street - The Complete Season Three (1995)

Reviewed by David Williams (January 30, 2004)

Here’s a little refresher from my previous review of Homicide: Life on the Street (The Complete Seasons 1 & 2):

Inspired by Baltimore Sun writer David Simon’s award-winning account of Baltimore Homicide Detectives, Homicide: Life on the Street was brought to television by acclaimed director Barry Levinson and St. Elsewhere writer Paul Attanasio. The duo felt very strongly that Simon’s book would make great TV and they were right, as Homicide threw out all of the normal cop show conventions to create something that was truly unique for its time. The show used hand-held camera work and drab palettes and focused more on the emotional and mental toll of solving a murder case rather than the car chases, shootouts, and other tenets of the genre. While the show never received the high viewer ratings it rightfully deserved, it has been rewarded critically with multiple Emmy Awards, Writer’s Guild Awards, and even three Peabody Awards.

But isn’t it funny how all of the great shows on TV can hardly ever manage to stay on the air? Well, that was exactly the case in late 1994, as Homicide: Life on the Streets was living on borrowed time from NBC. Hovering perilously close to cancellation after a couple of abbreviated seasons, Homicide came on strong in what was arguably its best season ever; season three. Without much pomp, circumstance, or push from NBC, the series pressed on and made some changes in front of … and behind the camera in order to capture a larger viewing audience.

Added was a new co-executive producer, Henry Bromell; he was brought in to tighten things up a bit while various directors were encouraged to “mainstream” the show a bit more by polishing up the shooting and editing techniques that made the show somewhat of a groundbreaker in its first two seasons. What this amounted to was essentially doing away with many of the quick edits and hand-held camerawork that punctuated seasons one and two. There was also more of an emphasis on “red ball” cases; cases that required the attention of the entire department; as well as implementing more linear storylines and arcs. Not only did this writing allow for more interesting and drawn-out arcs, but it also allowed for a lot more – and very welcome - character development and expansion.

As far as characters go, there were some drastic changes there as well. Supposedly, over a “contractual dispute” behind the scenes, Detective Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito) would leave the show in grand fashion – and in one of the best arcs of the season. A new face would also be added; Lieutenant Megan Russert (Isabella Hoffman), a second shift commander who added a little sex appeal to the cast, as well as a parallel to returning honcho Al “Gee” Giardello (Yaphet Kotto). The remainder of the cast would remain intact and find themselves dealing with some heavy material. Top-notch detective Kay Howard (Melissa Leo) would find herself needing a break and after escaping the city for some rest and relaxation with family and friends, she would find herself embroiled in another murder investigation; Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) found himself at a spiritual crossroads with his faith and his God when a murderer went unpunished; Bollander (Ned Beatty) would hunt for the killer of a Salvation Army Santa Claus; we find Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin) losing his family and turning to the bottle for relief; and in some comical side stories, Munch (Richard Belzer) and Lewis (Clark Johnson) found that buying a bar wasn’t as easy as they hoped it would be and Bayliss (Kyle Secor) carried on a rather perverse relationship with a fetishist. While many of the plots seemed like nothing more than filler, season three eventually presented some of the strongest material seen during the show’s seven seasons.

The season was also marked with excellent guest appearances that included Steve Buscemi as a suspected shooter; Joe Morton as a crusading journalist; Al Freeman Jr. as a dastardly deputy commissioner; and cameos by Baltimore’s own John Waters and NBC’s Tim Russert. Chris North would also make an appearance by reprising his role of Mike Logan from Law & Order. Marked by strong performances from regulars and guests alike, Homicide: Life on the Street was one of the stronger, more eclectic casts around and it quite simply makes for some of the most riveting television around … even years after the fact.

Following is an episode by episode walkthrough of the glorious third season of the series. However, the episodes have been slightly rearranged to reflect the original intent of the producers and therefore, there’s some slight variation from the order in which they actually aired on NBC. There are also some major spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk.

- Disc One -

Nearer My God to Thee (Original Air Date: October 14, 1994)
In the first part of this three part opener, we learn that a recently named “Samaritan of the Year” has been murdered and found in a dumpster - wearing only a pair of white gloves. An investigation ensues and a new shift commander, Megan Russert, is feeling the heat to solve the case ASAP. Giardello offers her whatever assistance she requires, although they both have problems dealing with lead investigator, Roger Gaffney (Walt MacPherson). Meanwhile, Felton’s marriage is falling apart and Munch and Lewis make plans to buy the Waterfront Bar.

Fits Like A Glove (Original Air Date: October 21, 1994)
The “White Glove” murder investigation continues and things get a bit more interesting when another body is discovered exhibiting the same MO. Pembleton must take the case over when Gaffney screws up royally by insulting Russert. At the same time, all involved are working hard to keep the details of the case out of the press. Meanwhile, Much and Lewis apply for their liquor license and Felton’s estranged wife (Mary B. Ward) wants to reconcile.

Extreme Unction (Original Air Date: October 28, 1994)
A witness (Lucinda Jenney) to the “White Gloves” murder comes forward and after some interrogation and a search of her apartment, many think that she could very possibly be the killer. The end results of the case cause Pembleton to doubt his faith and his belief that God always punishes evildoers. Meanwhile, Felton comes closer to a decision about what to do with his marriage.

- Disc Two -

Crosetti (Original Air Date: December 2, 1994)
The detectives are shocked to learn that one of their own, Detective Steve Crosetti, has died, as his body was found floating in a river. While it looks like a suicide, Lewis has a hard time believing that his partner would kill himself. Pembleton catches grief for not attending the funeral mass and the story follows each of the detectives and they deal with Crosetti’s death in their own, unique way.

The Last of the Watermen (Original Air Date: December 9, 1994)
After the repugnant murder of a local environmentalist, Howard decides that she needs to leave the city for a while to reunite with family and friends in order to escape the pressures of work. However, once she gets there, she finds herself investigating a local murder and she soon realizes that the pressures of day-to-day life can many times be as stressful as those on the job. Pembleton and Felton partner up to solve a case and end up getting along much better than either expected.

A Model Citizen (Original Air Date: November 11, 1994)
Lewis has the hots for a police artist, Emma Zoole (Lauren Tom), although she falls for Bayliss - and it creates some tension between the two. Meanwhile, Pembleton and Russert (Isabella Hoffman) are accused of violating the “White Gloves” killer’s civil rights and Munch has some fun while attending an alcohol awareness class.

Happy To Be Here (Original Air Date: November 18, 1994)
Gee’s friend, Sam Thorne (Joe Morton), is murdered by a teenager in a public venue who exhibits some peculiar moral contradictions. Meanwhile, Bayliss’ relationship with Emma Zoole goes South and he takes his problems out on a convenience store clerk.

- Disc Three -

All Through The House (Original Air Date: December 16, 1994)
On Christmas Eve, the detectives all find themselves working and Bollander and Munch probe the murder of a Salvation Army Santa. Bollander unsuccessfully tries to contact the child welfare department and Much has a hard time breaking the bad news to the murdered man’s son, Fidel (Ryan Todd). Meanwhile, Russert and Lewis investigate the death of a prospective witness while commiserating over their recent losses. Bayliss tries to hustle a card game at the station, but ends up losing to Gee.

Nothing Personal (Original Air Date: March 21, 1995)
Gee gets around to reassigning Crosetti’s unsolved cases and Howard and Felton receive one of the tougher ones. This keeps Howard on her toes, as she really wants to maintain her perfect record of solving cases among her male counterparts. Felton sinks deeper into depression, as well as the bottle, while searching for his wife and kids.

Every Mother’s Son (Original Air Date: January 6, 1995)
Bayliss and Pemberton investigate the shooting death of a thirteen-year-old boy at a local bowling alley and Pemberton takes a personal interest in the case when he learns that the shooter was only fourteen. Much and Lewis learn that George Washington evidently used the restroom at the Waterfront Bar, therefore, making it a national landmark … and much, much harder to purchase.

- Disc Four -

Cradle To Grave (Original Air Date: January 13, 1995)
Pembleton gets himself in a lot of trouble by helping to cover up a trumped-up kidnapping story by blindly trusting the word of Deputy Commissioner James Harris (Al Freeman Jr.). When a prominent congressman reports a kidnapping that evidence simply cannot support, Pembleton is told to drop the case immediately and things only get worse from there. Munch and Lewis, along with the FBI, find themselves investigating the murder of a biker gang member.

Partners (Original Air Date: January 20, 1995)
Russert learns that her former partner, Doug Jones (Robert Clohessy), is beating his wife when she has an accident that seems pretty contrived. As Russert learns more, she insists that Jones go straight to counseling. Pembleton is torn between saving face with the department and their public perception versus telling the truth.

The City That Bleeds (Original Air Date: January 27, 1995)
In a strong and very pivotal three-part episode, Felton, Howard, and Bollander are shot and seriously wounded while serving a pedophile and child murderer with an arrest warrant. Theresa Walker (Gloria Reuben), a sex crimes detective, works with Pembleton in order to find the shooter and Bollander’s former partner, Mitch Drummond (Tony Lo Bianco), returns to the squad after a tour with the bomb squad. (Producers feared that the show might actually be cancelled around this time and created an episode that grabbed the attention of NBC execs when this episode aired. It evidently worked, as Homicde was picked up for the full season.)

Dead End (Original Air Date: February 3, 1995)
While Felton, Howard, and Bollander’s lives hang in the balance, the remaining detectives are still searching for their main suspect in the shooting and after his arrest, it becomes clearer and clearer that they have the wrong person in custody. The powers that be ask that Russert investigate Gee’s managing of the case that caused things to go so wrong that three detectives were shot.

- Disc Five -

End Game (Original Air Date: February 10, 1995)
Steve Buscemi guest stars as Gordon Pratt, a racist loner, who is questioned in the shooting of detectives Felton, Howard and Bollander, and he immediately becomes the new prime suspect. After a forceful interrogation, Pembleton and the others get what they need; a confession. Also, a heated discussion drives a wedge between Munch and Pembleton. (Is it just me, or does Buscemi seem to have the magic touch when he’s in front of … or behind … the camera in a televised series?!?)

Law And Disorder (Original Air Date: February 24, 1995)
Bayliss must investigate the death of Gordon Pratt and he finds his fellow officers less than cooperative. Felton gets a rather rude welcome after returning back to work from his stay in the hospital, as he finds that he may not be able to reassume his role as quickly as he had hoped.

The Old And The Dead (Original Air Date: March 3, 1995)
Gee uncovers some deeply rooted corruption that leads to a shake-up at the highest levels of the department. In Munch’s first case back, he is assigned the role of lead detective, as he and Bollander investigate the grandson of a wealthy couple who were recently found murdered.

- Disc Six -

In Search Of Crimes Past (Original Air Date: April 14, 1995)
The desperate daughter of a death row inmate kidnaps Colonel Barnfather (Clayon LeBouef) in hopes that she can save her father’s life. Bollander, who originally investigated this particular case sixteen years earlier, is forced to re-open and re-investigate the case. Meanwhile, Munch teams up with an off-kilter bartender (Jerry Stiller) to help with his microbrews … and it ends up as expected … like a bad episode of Seinfeld.

Colors (Original Air Date: April 28, 1995)
Bayliss gets more involved in a case than he ever bargained for when his cousin (David Morse) shoots and kills a Turkish exchange student who he thought was breaking into his home. When Pembleton investigates the case as he does any other, it causes some major problems between he and Bayliss. Both sides have valid points and their conflict creates some really intense moments.

The Gas Man (Original Air Date: May 5, 1995)
An embittered ex-con (Bruno Kirby) is released from prison after serving a six-year term and he comes up with a bizarre plot to humiliate – and then kill - the detective who put him away … and unfortunately for Pembleton, it’s him.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The third season of Homicide: Life on the Street is presented in its televised aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Since the show was shot in 16mm, the look and feel of the series was pretty gritty and grainy - with very subdued and washed-out tones - and A&E adequately maintained this look for their transfer to DVD. It was a look that was ahead of its time for television and it still looks impressive ten years after the fact.

While the image was a bit begrimed, it’s the way the creators intended it and very hard to fault A&E for its appearance. Everything from locales to sets are stylistically muted throughout the series and it serves Homicide well. The transfer relays the muted colors and hues nicely to the home viewer and rarely missteps. While this causes black levels to be a little less bold that they otherwise could have been, they still seem adequate for the material at hand and they never come across as murky or muddy. Contrast and balance were spot on and smearing and bleeding were never an issue at any time throughout the third season. Shadow detail and delineation seemed to be a notch above the previous set from A&E, although hardly more than sufficient on most occasions.

While the grain has been cleaned up considerably from the televised images, a decent amount of grain and grit still remains … as it should. An occasional flake and fleck finds its way onto the screen, but they’re far from distracting. I noticed some shimmer on some highly contrasted backgrounds, but like most of the other flaws in A&E’s transfer, it was very minor and nonchalant.

A&E/NBC have done a good job with the series and fans will find very little to complain about, as Homicide: Life on the Street was ultimately a visually gratifying experience.

Homicide: Life on the Street shows up in the same Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that season one was presented in. There’s not much to report on here, as Homicide rarely relies on gun play or car chases or anything of the sort for impact. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave too much for the audio to do. Even so, A&E’s track, while simplistic, is exactly as the show was presented on TV and more than adequate for the material at hand.

While A&E’s track expands the soundstage slightly, there’s not much in the way of directional cues or impressive effects or bombastic moments to be heard. Granted, there are some, but they are far from impressive for those of you who have been into DVDs for any amount of time. The front soundstage is where all of the action takes place and while very centralized, the track had a very balanced sound to it as well.

Homicide displayed excellent dynamics and fidelity and was properly rendered throughout all of the episodes that comprised the third season of the show. Dialogue remained the main thrust of the series and fortunately, it was always crisp, clean, and intelligible. However, with Homicide, music is pretty important as well and it’s used to create an impressive - and always appropriate – soundtrack. Thankfully, A&E’s mix makes sure that it all comes across very rich and powerful when needed.

Far from impressive, but very workman-like and adequate, A&E has put out a track that serves Homicide well and fans should be more than happy with the results.

The vast majority of the supplements included in the set exist on disc six and things start out with Homicide: Life In Season Three (14:27). Narrated by Daniel Baldwin, this supplement contains interviews with many of the principals from the show and it gives us a pretty nice overview of the changes that were made to the show in season three (i.e., the addition of a new co-executive producer, as well as some new writers). We learn the principals’ thoughts on the scheduling changes that NBC made, the “departure” of Crosetti, the addition of a new shift commander (Isabella Hoffman), newly introduced plotlines, and so on. Interviews here are included with Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Henry Bromell, and James Yoshimura and while they’re enlightening, they’re ultimately way too short to pacify hardcore fans of the show like myself.

On disc six, we have an audio commentary for the season finale, “The Gas Man”, that features Barry Levinson and Henry Bromell. Considering the participants, we’re getting the information from those who were most intimately involved with the show during season three. Considering that the duo thought that this episode would surely be their last, they really open up and tell us why there were so many guest stars and characters … and why the focus wasn’t so much on the detectives themselves. While we get some really good information here, it’s not nearly what one would expect when involving two of the head honchos of the show. The commentary is well worth it for fans of the show, but remained ultimately disappointing when you consider this is the only episode containing a commentary.

Each disc contains an extra entitled Song Listing. If you’re curious about what songs were used - to great effect I might add - in the episodes on the disc you’re watching, this is the place for you. In the static pages that make up this extra, you become privy to the song, as well as the artist, for each song used in the show. This was a really nice extra that will save many of you countless minutes on the Internet hunting down song titles and artists from the individual episodes.

Other features in the set include About “The Board”; 5-pages of static text that explain the white board that is featured prominently in the series, as well as the designations seen on it. For example, “red” means an open case, “blue” is for a cold case, and “black” designates a closed case. While the extra itself goes into much more detail, I’m sure you get the general idea of what the extra is attempting to portray.

Finally, we get Cast & Crew Biographies on disc six and this is simply a quick biography/filmography for those associated with the show. Biographies are included for Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Henry Bromell, Daniel Baldwin, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Isabella Hoffman, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo, and Kyle Secor.

While on par with seasons one and two of the series, A&E still fails to deliver any sort of impressive supplements for Homicide. While not a total disappointment, what’s included still falls slightly short of most fans’ expectations.

Soon after season three, defections, beginning with Daniel Baldwin and Ned Beatty, would start to take place from which the show would never quite recover. While Homicide still had incredible moments throughout its incredible seven season run, it would just never seem the same. That’s not to say that the show wasn’t as good later on – it was - it just wasn’t quite the same for that those of us that had cut our teeth on it from the start. (ER anyone?)

As it stands however, Homicide: Life on the Street remains one of the most gritty and realistic police dramas around – especially for its time. Looking back on the show now, as season three is almost a decade behind us, Homicide doesn’t show any signs of age; it is as authentic and relevant and entertaining and fresh as it was in 1994-1995. Make no mistake, Homicide: Life on the Street (Season Three) is worth every penny and here’s looking forward to A&E and NBC teaming up again for season four. Highly recommended.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.45 Stars Number of Votes: 20
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