Homicide: Life on the Street - Netflix

One of the most critically acclaimed shows in TV history, Homicide: Life on the Street reinvigorated a tired genre by focusing on the grueling work of solving murders instead of an endless succession of bloody crimes and car chases. Inspired by David Simon's Edgar Award-winning account of Baltimore homicide detectives and brought to television by writer Paul Attanasio and director Barry Levinson, Homicide boasted a powerhouse ensemble cast featuring Ned Beatty, Yaphet Kotto, Richard Belzer, and breakout star Andre Braugher.

Homicide: Life on the Street - Netflix

Type: Scripted

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 1993-01-31

Homicide: Life on the Street - Homicide: Life on the Street - Netflix

Homicide: Life on the Street is an American police procedural television series chronicling the work of a fictional version of the Baltimore Police Department's Homicide Unit. It ran for seven seasons (122 episodes) on NBC from 1993 to 1999, and was succeeded by Homicide: The Movie, which also acted as the de facto series finale. The series was originally based on David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. Many of the characters and stories used throughout the show were based on events depicted in the book. While Homicide featured an ensemble cast, Andre Braugher emerged as a breakout star through his portrayal of Detective Frank Pembleton. The show won Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Drama in 1996, 1997, and 1998. It also became the first drama ever to win three Peabody Awards for drama in 1993, 1995, and 1997. It received recognition from the Primetime Emmy Awards, Satellite Awards, Image Awards, Viewers for Quality Television, GLAAD Media Awards and Young Artist Awards. In 1997, the episode “Prison Riot” was ranked No. 32 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. In 2007, it was listed as one of Time magazine's “Best TV Shows of All-TIME.” In 1996, TV Guide named the series 'The Best Show You're Not Watching'. The show placed #46 on Entertainment Weekly's “New TV Classics” list. In 2013, TV Guide ranked it #55 on its list of the 60 Best Series of All Time.

Homicide: Life on the Street - Overview - Netflix

Homicide's purpose was to provide its viewers with a no-nonsense, police procedural-type glimpse into the lives of a squad of inner-city detectives. As opposed to many television shows and movies involving cops, Homicide initially opted for a bleak sort of realism in its depiction of “The Job”, portraying it as repetitive, spiritually draining, an existential threat to one's psyche, often glamour- and glory-free—but, nonetheless, a social necessity. In its attempt to do so, Homicide developed a trademark feel and look that distinguished itself from its contemporaries. For example, the series was filmed with hand-held 16 mm cameras almost entirely on-location in Baltimore (making the idiosyncratic city something of a character itself). It also regularly used music montages, jump cut editing, and the three-times-in-a-row repetition of the same camera shot during particularly crucial moments in the story. The episodes were also noted for interweaving as many as three or four storylines in a single episode. NBC executives often asked the writers to focus on a single homicide case rather than multiple ones, but the show producers tended to resist this advice. Despite premiering in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot, the show opened to lackluster ratings, and cancellation was an immediate threat. However, the show's winning of two Emmy Awards (for Levinson's direction of “Gone for Goode” and Fontana's writing of “Three Men and Adena”) and the success of another police drama—the more sensational NYPD Blue—helped convince NBC to give it another chance beyond the truncated, nine-episode-long first season. Homicide consistently ranked behind ABC's 20/20 and CBS's Nash Bridges in the Nielsen ratings. Despite the poor ratings, reviews were consistently strong from the beginning of the series. Commentators were especially impressed with the high number of strong, complex, well-developed and non-stereotypical African American characters like Pembleton, Lewis and Giardello. The police department scenes were shot at the historic City Recreation Pier in the Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore. Although NBC occasionally pressured the show's producers to write happy endings to the homicide cases, the network gave an unusual amount of freedom for the writers to create darker stories and non-traditional detective story elements, like unsolved cases where criminals escape. Nevertheless, in its attempt to improve Homicide's ratings, NBC often insisted on changes, both cosmetic and thematic. For example, by the beginning of the third season, talented but unphotogenic veteran actor Jon Polito had been ordered dropped from the cast. Considered by critics to be one of television's most authentic police dramas, as well as an excellent dramatic series propelled by a talented ensemble cast, Homicide garnered three straight TCA (Television Critics Association) Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Drama from 1996 to 1998 and was the first drama ever to win three of the prestigious Peabody Awards for best drama (1993, 1995, 1997). The reality of Homicide's low Nielsen ratings hovered over all things, however, and always left the show in a precarious position; it also had a harder time gaining a large audience because fewer viewers are at home watching TV on Friday nights. Despite this, the network managed to keep what TV Guide referred to as “The Best Show You're Not Watching” on the air for five full seasons and seven seasons in all. In July 1997, NBC gave the series producers an ultimatum to make Homicide more popular than Nash Bridges or face cancellation. When this goal was not reached, the studio gave serious consideration to canceling the show, but a number of shocks at NBC increased Homicide's value. Among those factors were the loss of the popular series Seinfeld and the $850 million deal needed to keep ER from leaving the network. Homicide was at one time syndicated on Lifetime and Court TV as well as the all-crime television cable station Sleuth, and airs occasionally on WGN America. Episodes of Homicide have aired on TNT as part of several crossovers the series had with Law & Order, which TNT owns broadcast rights for; in these cases both crossover episodes aired back to back. It was recently televised on the Centric channel. All seven seasons are available on DVD. One DVD set combines the first two seasons. Additional sets contain the complete third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. A boxed set shaped like a filing cabinet features an additional disc containing the Homicide TV movie and the relevant Law & Order crossover episodes – those without this disc had to rely on Law & Order recap clips on the season DVDs. Significantly, the DVDs contain the episodes in the producers' intended order, not the order in which NBC aired them. The show has spawned changes in the real life Baltimore homicide unit. As seen in the show, the unit originally used a dry-erase board in order to visually track detectives' progress at solving crimes. After the show began to air, the Baltimore Police Department discontinued the practice, believing the board, which concentrated on “clearance rates” for crimes, had a negative impact on publicity. It was brought back later at the insistence of the detectives.

Homicide: Life on the Street was adapted from Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, a non-fiction book by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon, based on his experience following a Baltimore Police Department homicide unit. Simon, who became a consultant and producer with the series, said he was particularly interested in the demythification of the American detective. While detectives are typically portrayed as noble characters who care deeply about their victims, Simon believed real detectives regarded violence as a normal aspect of their jobs. Simon sent the book to film director and Baltimore native Barry Levinson with the hopes that it would be adapted into a film, but Levinson thought it would be more appropriate material for television because the stories and characters could be developed over a longer period of time. Levinson believed a television adaptation would bring a fresh and original edge to the police drama genre because the book exploded many of the myths of the police drama genre by highlighting that cops did not always get along with each other, and that criminals occasionally got away with their crimes. Levinson approached screenwriter Paul Attanasio with the material, and Homicide became Attanasio's first foray into television writing. Subsequently, all episodes of Homicide display the credit, “Created by Paul Attanasio” at the end of their opening sequence, a credit which both Eric Overmyer and James Yoshimura dispute on the DVD audio commentary to the season 5 episode, “The Documentary”, claiming instead the show was created by Tom Fontana and Yoshimura. The series title was originally Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, but NBC changed it so that viewers would not believe it was limited to a single year; the network also believed the use of the term “life” would be more reaffirming than the term “killing streets”. Levinson was indifferent to the change, asserting that viewers would probably casually refer to the series as “Homicide” in either case. The opening theme music was composed by Baltimore native Lynn F. Kowal, a graduate of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Homicide: Life on the Street - References - Netflix