• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 31, 1993
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7
Homicide: Life on the Street Image
Metascore
94

Universal acclaim - based on 18 Critics What's this?

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8.4

Universal acclaim- based on 13 Ratings

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  • Starring: Andre Braugher, Ned Beatty, Melissa Leo
  • Summary: This series was the most reality-based police drama that has ever aired on television. It was shot entirely with handheld cameras on location in the Fells Point Community of Baltimore, MD. One of the series' executive producers, Barry Levinson, is a Baltimore native. He has written and directed at least three films that take place in Baltimore: "Diner", "Tin Men" & "Avalon". Doing this show was a natural for him.

    The series was based on a book called "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," by David Simon, a writer who spent a year with the members of Baltimore's homicide unit. Some of the series' characters and cases were based on the book.

    This series was unlike most cop shows of that time, in that there were almost no car chases, gunfights and etc. This show was about closing cases and the act of the crime was usually never seen. Generally, the viewer first sees the case when the detective(s) arrive on the scene. Open cases are kept track of on a board, open cases under the primary detective's name are shown in red ink, when the case is closed the red is replaced by black ink. During the first season it aired, it didn't have great ratings and the chances for a second season looked bleak. When Steven Bochco's NYPD Blue premiered in the Fall of '93 and got great ratings, police dramas "were in" and the series was given the go-ahead for a second season (the two Emmy Awards probably didn't hurt either). The better ratings of the second season led to a full third and subsequent seasons. When the Lifetime cable channel picked the show up for syndication in 1997 it helped guarantee that there would be a fifth season. Then NBC made it possible for the series to have a sixth and seventh season.

    With the great cast, acting, writing, and directing the series has won awards including a few Emmy Awards, Writer's Guild Awards and George Foster Peabody Awards. Most of these awards were earned by Tom Fontana, one of the series' executive producers, whose other credits include St. Elsewhere. In the 1995-1996 television season Andre Braugher was finally nominated for Best Actor in a Drama. While he didn't win that year, two years later in the 1997-1998 television season he was again nominated, this time the Television Academy recognized what we already knew, that Andre Braugher was the best actor working in television drama.

    One of the highlights of the series, starting with the second season was the use of music. All varieties of music have been featured throughout the series, most often it was featured in a montage of the detectives conducting their investigation.

    First air date: January 31, 1993
    Last air date: May 21, 1999
    Original air time: Friday 10:00:00 pm (Eastern)
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  • Genre(s): Drama, Suspense
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: David Hiltbrand
    Jun 25, 2013
    100
    The best ensemble cop drama since Hill Street Blues.
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Siegel
    May 12, 2013
    100
    The best new network dramatic series since "Shannon's Deal" and "Twin Peaks" in 1990. [29 Jan 1993, p.21]
  3. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    May 12, 2013
    100
    Much of this is likely to go to waste, though. Homicide, possibly the best police series ever, may prove to be the biggest turnoff since Cop Rock. Imagine a series in which a cop walks up to a potential mugger and tells him, "Hey, we're police. Go rob somebody else." [31 Jan 1993, p.5C]
  4. Reviewed by: Howard Rosenberg
    May 12, 2013
    100
    A cops-and-crime hour reeking of atmosphere, wit and intelligence, an invigorating, essentially nonviolent series about homicide detectives that could be the "Hill Street Blues" of the '90s. [29 Jan 1993, p.F1]
  5. Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    May 12, 2013
    90
    The thrill of Homicide comes in listening to some of the snappiest dialogue on television. David Mamet should admire Attanasio's lines. The show -- filmed in Baltimore -- looks good, but it sounds better. [30 Jan 1993, p.E1]
  6. Reviewed by: Miles Beller
    May 12, 2013
    90
    It isn't as groundbreaking as it would have itself taken. However, in terms of presenting a strong portrayal of cop work out on the urban landscape, the project (inspired by David Simon's "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets") hits with compelling conviction. [29 Jan 1993]
  7. Reviewed by: Richard Zoglin
    Jul 2, 2013
    70
    In the end, however, Homicide doesn't stand out in bold enough relief from TV's background clutter. The characters are too pat, their conflicts too predictable.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jul 6, 2014
    8
    Back in the day, networks stood behind the shows they picked up. They believed in them, they advertised them, they pushed them to do whatever they could to get ratings. Unfortunately, things are much different today, as a new show is given 13 episodes to crack the top 50 on the Nielsen charts, and if they fail, they're gone before they even got started. If this had always been the policy, shows like Cheers, The X-Files, Law & Order, & Homicide: Life On The Street never would have gotten started.

    NBC took a real chance on this show, the cast was all unknowns, except for Ned Beatty, and the rating for the first season were in the toilet. NBC saw the potential though, they realized they had a special cast full of future award winners, and a terrific writing staff, so they made the show more intense. Regular characters could be killed off or added every week, they got big name guest stars, and even had crossover episodes with highly successful shows like Law & Order and The X-Files. With the network behind it, the series soared, completing 7 seasons, winning 4 Emmy's, and it was even turned into a full length feature film.

    Homicide: Life On The Street, follows a unit of Homicide Detectives in one of the worst areas of Baltimore, which at the time, had one of the highest murder rates in the country. We follow the investigation, similar to the way they do in Law & Order, but what's different here, is that Homicide is more character based. The audience gets to intimately know the Detectives, their families, and their lives, but even that wasn't the real strength of the show. What made Homicide unique, an Emmy winner, and the launching point for almost a dozen big named actors was "The box" A.K.A. the interrogation room. Homicide takes us into the interrogation room in a way that has never been done before, showing all the emotion, stress, and everything that comes with the process.

    What I really love about this show is that everyone is used equally and no one is a star! Every member of the cast is important and even the opening credits are in alphabetical order, giving no one top billing. That was how the show was designed, but the truth is that Andre Braugher moved beyond that and become a legend.

    Playing the very complex Detective, Frank Pembelton, Andre Braugher made a name for himself by captivating audiences. Everything that happened was so deep and personal to him, and he put the emotion into everything he did, not only making him the best detective in the squad, but also the best character to watch.

    Homicide takes you inside the interrogation room, but also inside the lives of Homicide Detectives the way that no other show has done before or since. It's a one of a kind show that survived, only because someone important at the network actually watched it and saw how amazing it is. If you're looking for a great show to get into, there are 7 seasons and over 100 episodes, and take my word for it, this show is as addicting as anything I've ever seen!
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  2. Oct 20, 2011
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I watched this after seeing 'The Wire' as this was the first major Baltimore based tv serial, if your going to attempt it stick with it through the first few episodes as it now looks seriously dated. However the characters are great, Pembleton will stick with you forever; when the guy has a stroke I was devastated. The stories engage and surprise you right till the end. Some major stars also make frequent appearances, a few cross ever episodes with 'Law and Order' which pissed me off as I haven't seen it but generally a good cop programme. Expand