Richard Belzer, Yaphet Kotto. One of the grittiest and most authentic-feeling cop shows ever aired wraps up its memorable run with this seventh and final season. Includes the last 22 episodes from the Emmy Award-winning series. 6 DVDs. 1998-99/color/17 hrs., 30 min/NR.
Homicide's seventh season was surely its riskiest. Could they go on without Andre Braugher--should they even try? Fortunately, the answer is yes. As good as Braugher was, Homicide wasn't a star vehicle and the ensemble remained strong. Of course, there were a few cast changes, but that was nothing unusual. In season premiere "Famiglia," two new characters are introduced: Det. Renée Sheppard (Michael Michele, Ali) and Sgt. Giardello's FBI agent son, Mike (Giancarlo Esposito, Do the Right Thing), visiting from Arizona. In the follow-up "Brotherly Love," Mike decides to stay and becomes special liaison to the Baltimore PD. In addition, Austin Pendleton (Oz) would appear frequently as Chief ME George Griscom.
As ever, a variety of charismatic performers dropped by during 1998-1999. They include Aerosmith's Joe Perry, Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU), Jena Malone (Donnie Darko), Wallace Shawn (My Dinner With André), and Reed Diamond (Judging Amy), reprising his role as Mike Kellerman. In addition, a crossover with Law & Order ("Sideshow") brought Benjamin Bratt, Jerry Orbach, and Sam Waterston into the fold. Notable seventh season directors include Lisa Cholodenko (High Art), Miguel Arteta (Chuck and Buck), Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost), and Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark).
The general consensus is that Homicide's seventh season was its weakest. Even at its worst, however, it was still the smartest crime drama on network television. Although year seven would turn out to be the last, the show didn't really end until broadcast of Homicide: The Movie the following year. In it, the surviving cast members reunite to solve the attempted assassination of mayoral candidate Giardello. The TV movie also ties up loose ends from series finale "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" (like whether Kyle Secors Tim Bayliss killed a murder suspect). Unfortunately, it isn't included with this 22-episode set. --Kathleen C. Fennessy