TV Shows »Homicide – Life on the Street

I just had to take a look at the quite popular Homicide: Life on the Street after reading David Simon's true crime epic that inspired it. Maybe part of me was hoping to find an expectedly paler substitute for The Wire since we've finished all five seasons now but after three episodes (which I know is not enough to judge properly) we didn't exactly find it.
They actually use a lot of stories from the book in the first episodes, even though Simon was not directly involved in writing them, but it could have benefited from the books structure: where crimes are solved over time, not within a few screen moments.

It is a clearly more gritty take on the genre popularized by Law and Order, where Simon's stories lead the way, but you can actually see when script writers took over and imagine the meeting where they said “Let's find out what these characters are all about” and the result is the third, stilted, show the “human” side episode that turned me off.

But as I said, one episode can't damn seven years of work. Wow, seven years – did anyone else know it was on that long? It must have been immensely popular in it's day with people I've never met. It was ahead of its time, using new wave editing in prime time. It was a hybrid of easy to swallow neatly tied up crime fighting and more bleak, complicated realism that was perfected with The Wire.

While I am not hooked enough to devote months to seeing all seven series in a row, I was intrigued enough to hope against hope it might come to my roku,?if only to substitute more annoying procedurals over dinner. The actors are top notch (you've got Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Yaphet Kotto, and Andre Braugher), the art direction is appropriately florescent and back alley lit, and I would love to see what made it such a hit for nearly a decade.

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Posted on January 12, 2009

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