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Yeah, this week's log is heavy on Homicide: Life on the Street stuff. I can't help it. All too soon there'll be no news whatsoever re Homicide to report. Sigh. If any of my rambling gets you curious about the show, I'd be happy to advise you on where to start with it. I've even been known to mail people tapes . . .

May 16-21, 1999

Court TV is airing the pilot episode of Homicide: Life on the Street tonight right after the series finale airs on NBC. "Gone for Goode" airs at 10pm CST on Court TV. Series finale is tonight on NBC at 9pm CST.

David Zurawik has written a fabulous piece about the Homicide finale and the end of this series. Yet another one. It does contain major spoilers. It also contains this bit, which so closely echoes how I've been feeling and acting this week that it's scary:

I have been replaying "Homicide" tapes like "The Gas Man" for almost a week now. I tell myself I have to do it for background, but I think there's something else going on. I've reached the point where -- like the character in Dennis Potter's "The Singing Detective" -- pieces of scenes, memories, real-life interviews and snatches of dialogue from the series are playing in a stream-of-consciousness loop in my head.

I started out searching for one crystal-clear, distilled image on which I would end this piece. Like Lewis in the alley, I felt if I could just find that thing, I could lay "Homicide" to rest in my mind.

And he concludes his piece with some fine words:

But, in the end, the scenes all merge together for me: Pembleton struck down by the gods plays straight into Bruno Kirby's character who just wants to get down, get down tonight.

And, maybe, that's the answer, the truth that Levinson and Fontana captured in this Peabody Award-winning series. Maybe we all live at the intersection of the cosmic and the comic -- that place we first found ourselves on the night of Jan. 31, 1993, when this gift from the gods, "Homicide: Life on the Street," debuted after the Super Bowl:

He finishes with quotes from the first scene from the pilot episode (that I quoted earlier in the week). And mentions how it's echoed in (and ends) the finale.

You it's very true-- my love of this show has much more to do with the cosmic and comic issues than the police work. There are laugh out loud funny moments, there are moments that made me cry, and-- most importantly of all-- there have been moments that made me think about interesting stuff. Or rethink how I feel about certain things. The phrase "thought provoking" might've been invented to describe this show.

Howard Rosenberg on the Homicide: Life on the Street finale:

Yet tonight's Fontana-written finale will intensify fans' sense of loss, for "Forgive Us Our Trespasses" is one of "Homicide's" better hours, dark, brooding, untidy and full of disquietude as always, a quasi-farewell that typically mingles irony and enigma.

Video clips relating to the Homicide finale.

Excellent piece by Tom Shales about the Homicide finale (warning: contains major spoilers). He manages to accurately sum up the difference between two famous dramas with one sentence:

"NYPD Blue" is more about cops, "Homicide" more about life.

I like this, too:

Does "Homicide" go out in a burst of glory? Yup, but it's been a burst of glory every week for seven years.

And reason enough to tape this episode (if you weren't already planning to):

Before the show is over, Bayliss will see not his whole life pass before him but his whole life on the homicide squad. That dazzling flashback sequence compresses seven years into about 45 seconds. It's a sequence that might be seen as homage to Slavko Vorkapich, master montage maker of the old movie days ("San Francisco," "What Price Hollywood?"), and it is brilliant.

Mike Duffy on the Homicide finale (contains spoilers):

"Homicide: Life on the Street" isn't merely good.

You also have to add unique, risky, audacious and frequently unforgettable television. It's television that has captured the human condition through a gritty prism of real deal police work in Baltimore.

David Bianculli begs for at least a Homicide movie next year to wrap things up, raves about the finale (includes minor spoilers and a big tease).

To those who have watched "Homicide" unfold over the years, like chapters in a very involved novel, the path taken by Bayliss has been a long and tortured one (back to his first unsolved murder case, of the child Adena Watson). "Homicide" not only retraces that path, but steers Bayliss toward a whole new one.

If only we could follow . . .

New York Post review of the Homicide finale has major spoilers (IMHO). But I love this closing line:

The death of "Homicide" means it's no longer safe to stay home on Friday nights.

Yes, I (as well as a zillion other people) saw a little movie called Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace (or something like that). I went in a bit worried that the effects might overpower the characters/story. That Jar Jar might be annoyingly cute and ruin it for me. That the dialogue would be crummy. That there was no way it could live up to the other films. Concerned about all the negative stuff critics have been ranting about for the last week or so.

And I really really liked the movie.

It is, without a doubt, a Star Wars movie. I'd somehow worried that it wouldn't be. I'm so happy that I needn't have worried.

It has flaws, of course, yes. And there were some things that they could've (and perhaps should've) shown that would make the film work better as a whole IMHO. It sets up a lot of stuff for the next two films. Kindof strange but in the Big Scheme of Things what seems to be the main plot of the film isn't ultimately, yet the repercussions go on and on. I won't say more 'cuz I don't want to spoil things.

Lots of nods to fans (but not annoyingly obvious like sticking Boba Fett in the special editions). The acting was just fine, thank you. The effects are amazing for the most part. The story zips right along. Jar Jar was a bit obnoxious, but not nearly as bad as I'd feared . . . he provided some needed (and unneeded) comic relief. Plenty of new creatures and characters to see. A new planet. Plus a good look (at long last) at Coruscant (again, something more significant to geeks like me who read some of the books and comics and so forth). New ships, new toys. And some old friends (R2-D2! C3PO!).

I'll go see it again within the next couple of days to see if it holds up on a second viewing (and to catch bits that I'm sure I missed). And I'll likely post a more detailed review after that, aimed at folks who have seen it already or don't mind some spoilers.

Definitely worth seeing on a big screen.

Thank God (or somebody) for the gang at I really really needed to hear their take on the awful new NBC lineup. And Philip Michaels delivers. Read it.

I had to single out this quote because I've been thinking along these same lines every time I see the title of this show:

Then, there's Law & Order: SVU. At first, I thought that was a typo, and the show was actually Law & Order: SUV -- a delightful spin-off where Detective Lenny Briscoe drives around the mean streets of New York in a gas-guzzling Chevy Blazer, kicking the ass of assorted criminals and, occasionally, running them over.

Reports from the lines. Fans like it, ctitics don't. Must be a Star Wars movie. ;-p Okay, that's an overgeneralization.

William Shatner has a big giant head. Or is he really Stone Phillips? Oh just read the article if you care re Shatnerology and/or Third Rock from the Sun.

Excellent article about David Kelley and the changes he's making to Chicago Hope-- bringing in two new doctors played by Carla Gugino and Natasha Gregson Wagner (!). The article does tell which docs are fired, which quit-- if you don't want to know before watching the episode on Wednesday night, don't read the piece.

Mandy Patinkin will be in 13 of 22 episodes of Chicago Hope next year. Yay! :-)

Also: if you watch The Practice and haven't yet watched the season finale. Or plan to catch up with this season's episodes later-- don't read the sidebar in this article re The Practice-- it contains a major spoiler (which would wreck your fun if you haven't been following the show).

Fall lineups for ABC and the WB announced.

Have I mentioned that I hate salon's new design? I hate it. But I managed to find this salon interview with Neal Stephenson anyway.

Charles Taylor (of salon) reviews The Phantom Menace. He didn't like it. I'm not gonna quote from it 'cuz I don't wanna rain on parades or post spoilers, read the review if you like.

Jim Aquino's Tribute to Homicide.

How'd I manage to miss this fabulous page? Speculation on Homicide crossovers with South Park, Ally McBeal, MST3K, and other shows. Plus a Frank Pembleton action figure! And some really nice images for desktop use. I also got a kick out of this page re various TV and movie addictions. Not that I relate or anything:

SYMPTOMS: Those with the H:LOTS gene show extreme addiction to NBC's critically acclaimed program, "Homicide: Life on the Street." Whenever confronted with the quality of any other program these addicts tend to get very angry and must defend the program by proclaiming "It's the best damn show on TV!" These addicts also tend to question every decision made by Executive Producer Tom Fontana, particularly casting decisions, and can get very snarky if rubbed the wrong way.

Homicide and Deep Space Nine leaving the airwaves after 7 seasons. They're both great shows, and they have other things in common, as well.

Some more oldies (but goodies) from the Links site:
Homicide soundfiles, anyone? And there's ye olde Homicide drinking game. The Board.

I've been far too amused by the various Star Wars candy related items to properly write about them. (I own a Darth Maul lightsaber candy dispenser. No, really). Beth Hansen emailed me about another item and I just had to quote it here ('cuz it made me laugh):

As I was checking out with my bag of gummy bears (I like the tiny ones) at my favorite candy store, my eye brushed across image of Liam Neeson in plastic Jedi garb, light saber in hand....with a tootsie pop sticking out of his head.

When you press the button, the sucker twirls and our intrepid Jedi strikes out with his light saber warding off any candy stealers from the dark side.

Unfortunately, I did not have the $8.00 in my pocket required to purchase this lovely homage to Mr. Neeson. Maybe next time.

Homicide cancellation, Dr. Quinn movie the latest signs of net confusion

Too true. Good article.

If the new Star Wars movie disappoints me, I bet it'll be because it lacks the finger. :-) (I linked to this page in my weblog in November 1998. That's also when the first trailer hit. Seems like just yesterday).

Excellent: R2D2 at MIT.

I love the Restoration Hardware catalog. Was happy to see that they've now got a store here in Minnesota, so I visited it today. Had to buy one of their record album frames. And gaze at all the other cool stuff.

A list of drinks named after characters on Homicide: Life on the Street. What better drinks to drink during the series finale? Here's just a sampling:

A bottle of red wine. Preferably unpoisoned.

A bottle of beer in the morgue after a long day.
ALTERNATIVE: Dom Perignon after Ballard helps the Cutters defeat the Resuscitators. Ah, sweet victory.

In a 6-ounce highball glass, pour 2 ounces of Jim Beam, then float a tiny toy boat in it. As you drink the JB, the boat will founder and sink.

Look, what does it matter what you drink--or how much--as long as you're having fun?
ALTERNATIVE: Sip a snifter of brandy while your (admittedly, difficult) boyfriend is cleaning his boat.

In a highball glass, combine 1 ounce vodka, 1 ounce Kahlua, 1 ounce Bailey's Irish Cream, and 1/2 ounce of cream. Strong, sweet, and smooth, baby, smooth. Drink while listening to your favorite Teddy Pendergrass album.

Excellent article detailing NBC's atrocious new schedule, the upfronts, and possible reasons why "Homicide, one of the best-written, best-acted series in the history of television, will air its final episode Friday:"

When NBC announced last week that "Homicide: Life on the Street" was being canceled, it was no doubt looking to keep grumping about the death of a critical darling from overshadowing the excitement of its fall schedule announcement.


The folks at The Daily Instigator came awfully close to making me laugh out loud (a tough thing) with this ad for Guvna's Own T-shirts.

Aaron Barnhart is in New York covering the presentation of the new lineups for the various networks. Check out his notebook if you're interested in gory details of the gaudy presentations.

APB Online article compares Homicide to Law & Order again.

Is Homicide really dead? I thought so, but . . .

"Homicide" may not be quite dead yet. The N-B-C television show's director, Barry Levinson, says the show... shot in Baltimore and which got the official word last week that it was not being renewed... could reappear on another network if a deal with N-B-C can be worked out. Levinson blamed the cancellation of the critically-acclaimed show on a lack of promotion by N-B-C.

Yahoo! Full Coverage of Homicide cancellation.

Baltimore mourns the loss of Homicide. With quotes from David Simon, Richard Belzer, and Clark Johnson.

Awww. A Homicide fan posted this quote recently to

"The great characters of fiction live as truly as the memories of dead men. For the life after death, it is not necessary that a man or woman should have lived." --Samuel Butler.

Joyce Millman on Camryn Manheim's book Wake Up, I'm Fat. Excellent look at Manheim, the book, and Manheim's role on The Practice.

Minnesota's fishing opener was this past weekend. Here's why Lileks doesn't fish:

I don't fish. It seems unfair. Say you're hungry, and you walk into a restaurant. The waitress puts down the burger; you bite -- and suddenly you're hauled through the roof of the cafe by a hook. Huge, scaly creatures cut you loose and throw you in a box. And there's a bunch of other guys in the box, too. Why, that's Bob from the tire store. You'd think: I just wanted lunch, and now I'm going to have my head sawed off and fried in beer. Didn't see that one coming. I won't fish until it's a fair fight. When fish develop the skill to knock me off the boat, drag me down and eat me, then I'll go fishing.

Backfence does Star Wars, reader Eric (Road) Fish wrote the first paragraph, Lileks wrote the rest:

Will it be worth the fuss its likely to raise? No, but neither was the original. Cast your mind back -- it was the '70s. We were bored stiff. It's no wonder we overreacted to a movie that was basically big, noisy fun -- we had nothing else to do.

He's right. Seventies sci-fi was one depressing story after another, most of which contained large, hollering slabs of Charlton Heston. I admired Mr. Heston, but I came to associate him with the miserable future into which I'd soon be pitched. "Soylent Green:" In the future, everyone will be packed into sweaty, filthy cities and subsist on snack crackers made out of Grandpa. Omega Man: In the future, everyone will be dead, because a biological war killed everyone except for Charlton Heston and some rotten-faced albino zombies. "Planet of the Apes," another Heston vehicle: In the future, everyone will be apes. Downside: the smell. Upside: The phrase He's such a nitpicker will actually have a positive connotation. "Logan's Run:" The world had been taken over by Seventeen magazine editors, so everyone had to commit suicide at age 30 to keep the world pretty and wrinkle-free.

Compared with this miserable sludge, "Star Wars" was like shoving your mouth full of Fizzies and sucking on a seltzer bottle. The opening trumpet fanfare, the way the title crashed onto the screen: It was the movie's way of saying, "No Heston here, lads. Enjoy."

Al Roker tells me what I wanna hear:

If you are a fan of the middle three episodes of the Star Wars saga, you will love this movie. If you weren't crazy about the flicks, you'll feel the same way about this one. Deborah was never a huge Star Wars fan, maybe saw one out of the three, so she didn't get it. Really liked the effects, but it didn't do too much for her.

Courtney and I were another story. The characters were great, the special effects are unlike anything you've ever seen. Whole worlds were created via computer and digital effects and you will be amazed.

Star Wars Stuff:
Mr. Showbiz coverage
Variety report on one of the premieres
Jedi Nights and Days (yet another Line story)

An EW quiz: Which director never directed an episode of Homicide? You'd be surprised who has . . . It's an incredibly impressive list.

Today's the day NBC announces it's new lineups: Variety report / Broadcasting & Cable report / Nando report

Proof that the people running NBC are idiots: They cancelled Newsradio and Homicide, yet kept Jesse, Veronica's Closet, and Suddenly Susan-- three shows considered by most people (myself included) to be the worst sitcoms on the air right now. And they added yet another hour of Dateline if I count correctly. And let's not forget how they cancelled Another World after it'd been on the air for 35 (!) years. Bleah.

I don't know about this, sure didn't work for Mystery Science Theater 3000 when they tried something similar. But this is Ally McBeal and David Kelley we're talking about. Still:

According to reports, Fox is considering giving viewers two weekly helpings of the reality-challenged lawyer series.

Under the plan (reputedly dreamed up by Ally creator David E. Kelley), a half-hour version of the hit show would air Tuesdays--one night after the regular, ol' hourlong version.

The new show would be made up of unused and rescrambled footage--sort of Ally McBeal: The Dance Mix.

Sigh. :-( More bad news:

Andy Dick, an actor on the television sitcom "NewsRadio," was arrested on drunk driving and drug possession charges after his car crashed into a utility pole in an upscale section of Los Angeles, a police spokeswoman said Sunday.

An excellent "Newbie testimonial" from John Pilgrim. Good tribute to Homicide, suitable for fans, new fans, and non fans alike:

I had told my friends, "I hate cop shows," but part of me was drawn to this one. Still, I had questions. Why had I never heard of this show before? Why was it stuck in the worst time slot of the week, and why did NBC show *zero* commercials to promote it?

Talks of how he watched episodes and how it took a while for him to "get it". And of his transformation into a fan. And how he mourns the loss of a TV show that was somehow more than just a TV show.

Wow! Finally someone interviews Chris Tergeson, Homicide's music supervisor.

Alan Sepinwall talked with Tom Fontana (exec producer and sometime writer of Homicide) about the season, now series finale:

But in retrospect, he's almost glad he didn't know he was writing a series send-off at the time.

"When I was writing it, I was going, 'Well, if I find out it's the last one, I'm going to change this or change that,' " he says. "But when I saw it cut together, I said, 'This is the last episode.' It answers a lot of questions, but it opens up more questions. To me, that is a 'Homicide' episode and the best way to go out. It would have been horrible for (former character) Kay Howard to show up and have a drink and toast everybody. It would have been hoary and clichéd. (The finale) is what it is, and that's life."

Excellent continuing coverage of the cancellation of Homicide and it's long run, at the Baltimore Sun.

Joyce Millman (of salon) on the cancellation of Homicide:

For much of its run, "Homicide" was the best written, best acted drama on television. The meaty dialogue, by turns cop-terse and poetic, became one of the show's trademarks. These cops, a wonderfully eclectic bunch that included Braugher's proud, God-respecting Pembleton, Kyle Secor's bisexual Buddhist Tim Bayliss, Richard Belzer's cynical, conspiracy-theorizing lapsed-Jew John Munch, Yaphet Kotto's workaholic, iconoclastic Lt. Al Giardello and Clark Johnson's rock-solid, yet commitment-phobic Meldrick Lewis, engaged in some of the best philosophical discussions ever seen on TV, debating everything from the existence of God to the comparative coolness of black and Italian entertainers.

Vote for your favorite episode(s) of Homicide: Life on the Street, then watch a marathon of the top 15 vote getters on Court TV on Memorial Day. Hosted by Yaphet Kotto, Clark Johnson, and Michael Michelle. (Anyone who gets Court TV want to tape this for me? Please?)

Deadline for votes is May 24.

I watched the pilot episode ("Gone for Goode") of Homicide for probably the 100th time over the weekend. I still maintain that it's the best pilot episode of a TV show ever. And I took pains to transcribe the first scene and sent it to Kinda weird then to seethe scene echoed in the preview for the series finale of the show. Putting the scene here in the log so I don't lose it:

[Two detectives-- played by Clark Johnson and Jon Polito-- wander a dark, wet, alley of a crime scene looking for a bullet]
Meldrick Lewis: If I could just find this damn thing, I could go home.
Steve Crosetti: Life is a mystery, just accept it.
Lewis: You're in your own world, Crosetti.
Crosetti: The quest is what matters, not finding-- looking. I read about it in this book.
Lewis: Since when did you ever read a book?
Crosetti: I read this book . . . an excerpt of this book.
Lewis: See that's what I'm saying, man. You said you read a book, but you didn't read nothing but an excerpt.
Crosetti: Says that you never really find what you're looking for 'cuz the whole point is looking for it. So if you find it, it defeats it's own purpose.
Lewis: You know you're in your own little world 'cuz don't nobody else want to live there with you.
Crosetti: You try to explain everything, you know, but there are things you cannot explain.

A set of three videotapes of three of the best episodes of the show, including "Gone for Goode," is still available from those nasty folks at NBC. Tapes include interviews with cast/producers, too. Is a nice set.

Kristin Schmidt's "Feel Free to Watch Homicide", yet another take on the Wear Sunscreen speech (yes I know it's origins, yes I know it's now a "song" by Baz Luhrman):

Ignore Falsone.

If I could offer you only one tip for Homicide viewing, ignoring Falsone would be it. The long-term benefits of ignoring Falsone have been proven by viewers, whereas the rest of my advice has no more basis more reliable than my own meandering opinion. I will dispense this advice now.

Perhaps the finest tribute to Homicide: Life on the Street yet, posted by Manyone to Brought tears to my eyes, at least. If you're a fan of the show, it's a must-read (and save).

I want to quote from it, but I think then I'd end up quoting the entire thing. Just read it already. She put into words the stuff I've been thinking about ever since I heard the news.

I'd heard from a friend that Christine Lahti was leaving Chicago Hope next season. I knew that David Kelley had promised to be more involved with the show. And had heard rumors that Mandy Patinkin would be back more and that other cast members would leave. But I hadn't yet found any news sources online with all the gory details.

Here's a link to an Enquirer story about the shakeup that sounds legit to me [thanks to Steve Bogart for emailing it to me].

There are spoilers in it, naturally. If you don't want to know going into the season finale which characters will likely be leaving, don't read it. I already gave the Lahti bit away but I can't imagine not shouting that from the rooftops.

Don't miss if you're in/near Minneapolis: John Wesley Harding at the 400 Bar tonight (Sunday, May 16). With Ellis Paul.

Lots more coverage of the cancellation of Homicide: Life on the Street in last week's log.

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