With dark humor and edgy determination, the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Division battle a murder rate near tops in the nation. Too bad death doesn't follow a schedule. Executive Produced by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Diner) and Tom Fontana (OZ, St. Elsewhere), and created by Paul Attanasio (Gideon's Crossing, Quiz Show), HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET plunged viewers into the uncompromising reality of solving murders. Filmed with hand-held cameras, originality, and verve on the gritty streets of Baltimore, HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET featured a sharp soundtrack and an extraordinary cast highlighted by Yaphet Kotto (Roots), Richard Belzer (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), and Emmy winner Andre Braugher (Gideon's Crossing). This collection includes all 22 episodes from the fifth season of the Emmy and Peabody award-winning series, available on DVD for the first time, featuring the episode TV Guide named "one of the greatest episodes in TV history." "Now for the First Time" WATCH THE EPISODES IN THE ORDER INTENDED BY THE SERIES' PRODUCERS
Big changes were afoot for Baltimore's finest during the fifth season of Homicide
. The fourth season
ended with a shocker--Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) suffering a stroke while interrogating a suspect. In season premiere "Hostage," directed by the late Ted Demme, Pembleton is back on the job, but he's a changed man. His reflexes aren't what they used to be and his pride has taken a beating. Meanwhile, Megan Russert, who had been demoted the previous year, has moved abroad. Never fear, two strong women will join the squad in the form of detective Teri Stivers (Toni Lewis), on loan from narcotics, and medical examiner Julianna Cox (Michelle Forbes, just as formidable as she was on Star Trek: The Next Generation
). This is especially good news for Lewis (Clark Johnson) and Kellerman (Reed Diamond). Alas, Lewis is married and Kellerman has just been accused of police corruption.
Standout episodes include "Documentary", directed by Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple, and "Prison Riot," with Charles S. Dutton and Dean Winters, a precursor to Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana's Oz. (Scott Winters, who appears in the last two episodes, would join brother Dean on that show.) But "Bad Medicine," in which drug kingpin Luther Mahoney (Erik Todd Dellums) makes his first appearance, is the most significant. With the introduction of Mahoney, Homicide would begin to deal with the drug war in earnest. Author David Simon would continue to explore the issue in his HBO series The Wire.
Aside from the brilliant acting, writing, and directing, Homicide was known for its savvy song selections, such as Tom Waits's "Cold, Cold Ground" and "Till the Money Runs Out" in "Bad Medicine." In addition, the episode "The Heart of a Saturday Night", directed by Whit Stillman, was titled after--and inspired by--Waits's composition of the same name. --Kathleen C. Fennessy