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Homicide Life on the Street - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2

4.5 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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(Apr 29, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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 (Gideon's Crossing) and director Barry Levinson (Analyze This, The Perfect Storm, Oz), Homicide boasted a powerhouse ensemble cast featuring Ned Beatty (Network, Deliverance), Yaphet Kotto (Alien, Midnight Run), Richard Belzer (Law & Order: SVU), and breakout star Andre Braugher (Frequency, Gideon's Crossing). Now this Emmy and Peabody Award winner debuts on DVD with this collector's set featuring all 13 episodes from the first two seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street.

Homicide: Life on the Street was always ahead of its time. As this collection of the first two seasons proves--it still is. Crime dramas that have thrived on cable, like The Sopranos, have benefited from the ground Homicide broke--and inherited many of the talents (like Edie Falco) that made it great. To NBC's credit, particularly then-president and fan Warren Littlefield, it supported the show for seven years, despite several cast changes and lukewarm ratings. Fortunately, critics were enthusiastic from the start and fans were loyal. Awards would roll in, too, culminating in a richly deserved Emmy for Andre Braugher (Frank Pembleton).

Homicide was based on the book by David Simon and created by Paul Attanasio (Quiz Show), Tom Fontana (Oz), and Barry Levinson (Diner). It was filmed in Levinson's beloved Charm City and he directed several episodes, including "Gone for Goode," which introduced the case of Adena Watson (and won another Emmy). It would haunt Tim Bayliss (the underrated Kyle Secor) for the rest of the series. The authentic Maryland locations, unusual cases (many based on real-life incidents), groundbreaking camera work, edgy--often humorous--dialogue, and seemingly improvised acting set Homicide apart from everything on TV. Then there were the directors, like Nick Gomez ("Son of a Gun") and Alan Taylor ("A Dog and Pony Show"), and guest stars, like Gwen Verdon ("A Ghost of a Chance") and Robin Williams ("Bop Gun"). Could this really be network TV? Most times, it didn't feel like it. These 13 episodes present the main characters: Lieutenant Al "Gee" Giardello (Yaphet Kotto), Kay Howard (Melissa Leo), Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson), and John Munch (Richard Melzer), whose character would segue to Law & Order: SVU. Ned Beatty, Daniel Baldwin, and Jon Polito also make vivid impressions, but would not remain for the long haul. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • All 13 episodes from the first two seasons on 4 discs
  • "Homicide: Life at the Start": an interview with Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana
  • "To Catch a Killer: Homicide Detectives" episode of A&E's American Justice
  • Super Bowl XXVII commercials for Season 1 premiere
  • Song listing

Product Details

  • Actors: Daniel Baldwin, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Full length, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 29, 2003
  • Run Time: 650 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008PHCZ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,110 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Homicide Life on the Street - The Complete Seasons 1 & 2" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By George McAdams VINE VOICE on April 25, 2003
Verified Purchase
Back in the mid-1990's, I was connected with an organization called "Viewers for Quality Television," or "VQT." It was a group of people championing television programs, especially dramas, that didn't get much attention from the Emmy's, but should have.

"Homicide Life: Life on the Streets" was one of our shows we fought for. While NBC stuck with it, often halfheartedly, for several years while erratically scheduling it alternately in good time slots (following the Superbowl one week, then not showing it for several weeks), then moving it to a different night every couple of months, e.g. January 1993 (Sunday), Feb-March 1993 (Wednesday), then keeping it off the air until January 1994 (Thursday), and then moving it after a few months in October 1994 (Friday), it was doomed to fail, but we watched it anyway...hoping that we'd get to see another episode.

The characters were an odd collection of people who cared about what they did, and we as viewers cared about them: Ned Beatty as Stanley (the Big Man), Richard Belzer as Munch, Daniel Baldwin as Beau Felton, Andre Braugher as Frank, and Yaphet Kotto as Lieutenant Giardello (Gee).

SPOILER ALERT! I could write ten pages about wonderful moments from this show: The "small talk" of Stanley and Munch. The pain Frank felt after the death of Crosetti in December 1994. the shooting of Felton, Kay Howard (Melissa Leo) and Stan in January 1995. The warmth of the snowball fight at the end of one show in December with Christy Hyde singing "Have yourself a very Merry Christmas" in the background.

This was great Television that through the advent of DVD we'll be able to watch again and again. Which only goes to show you that in a world that often, from time-to-time, looks like it is going to hell in a handbasket, something wonderful, like these first two years of Homicide, come along.
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I remember stumbling upon the show sometime around 1993 during what is ultimately one of its truly classic episodes ("Three Men and Adena", an episode solely regarding an interview with a suspect in a horrible murder), and stuck around up until it's eventual cancellation years later. The fact that it survived for as long as it did, despite being rather unconvential in its execution (a cop show not revolving around car chases and gun fights) is a credit indeed. The first 13 episodes (which make up the first two seasons it was on the air) boast some truly powerful stories. As impressive is the cast, boasting Yaphet Kotto as Al Giardello, the tough but level-headed Lieuteant of the unit, Richard Belzer as the manic John Munch, who drives his elder partner (played by Ned Beatty) completely nuts. Then there's the twisted partnership between rookie detective Bayliss (Kyle Secor) and the often volatile Pembleton (Andre Braugher), which creates some of the series' truly chilling moments (such as the aforementioned "3 Men and Adena"). And there's more that plays into the intersting tapestry that is "Homicide: Life On The Street." To say it influenced many of the cop shows today would be more than true. In its genre, the show still stands as one of the best of the best, period.
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The technical complaints about the "Homicide: Seasons 1 & 2" DVD box set are 100% accurate. The typos on the package, and the lack of English captioning (for one of the most dialogue-intensive shows on TV), betray a lack of planning behind this long-awaited (and relatively expensive) release.
However, watching the first 13 episodes of the series removes all other qualms about the set. It's important just to get these shows on DVD and put them back into the public eye. Here's a cop show with no gunfights and no car chases. Although "Law & Order" mostly followed the same rules, here the cops themselves are the attraction, played by a terrific ensemble cast of character actors. Obviously there's Richard Belzer, whose Detective Munch has been used everywhere else from two "Law & Order" series, "The X-Files", and the film epic "A Very Brady Sequel" (!). And Munch is just a minor character in this box set. More prominent cast members (who sadly didn't make it to the show's later, full-season runs) include Ned Beatty as the worn-out Stan Bolander, Daniel Baldwin as good-old-boy Beau Felton, and Jon Polito's Lincoln assassination conspiracy theorist Frank Crosetti. You may remember Polito from his current role as California lieutenant governor Cruz Bustamante.
A good way to judge the quality of a TV show is to scan the cast and production credits and see what became of the team a decade later. Apart from big-name directors Barry Levinson and Bruce Paltrow, two Season 1 episodes were directed by Martin Campbell, who revived the James Bond franchise with "GoldenEye" a few years later.
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Homicide: Life on the Street debuted on NBC, when it's 'sister series' Law & Order was in its 3rd season, taking viewers to Baltimore, with a new group of detectives, played by a great cast!

Leading the squad was Yaphet Kotto (Alien) as Lt. Al Giardello (called G by his officers), with Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton, who took rookie detective Tim Bayliss, played by Kyle Secor, under his wing. Other detectives who partnered up in the first two years of Homicide included Detective Stanley Bolander (Ned Beatty), twice-divorced, cynical wise-cracker Detective John Munch (played by Richard Belzer, who later reprised Munch on Law & Order; Special Victims Unit), Detective Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson), Italian Detective Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito), tough female cop Detective Kay Howard (Melissa Leo), and troubled family man Detective Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin). These varied detectives investigated 2-3 cases in one episode, making a very different style for the series from Law & Order, though it was just as hard-hitting and gritty as the 4-series franchise.

Also filled with recurring support characters, such as politically-minded college educated but inexperienced Col. Barnfather (Clayton LeBoeuf), shot blind Officer Chris Thormann (Lee Tergesen), and sexist/ racist Irish Officer/Detective Roger Gaffney who, IMHO, wouldn't know a murder victim from a Pop Tart. These last 3 characters recurred frequently throughout the entire series, and (to my disappointment) Gaffney never got killed. Oh well.

Special bonus! Robin Williams guest stars in a 2nd season episode as a tourist whose wife is gunned down in front of him and his two kids while vacationing in Baltimore.
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