Homicide: Life On The Street began when Baltimore reporter David Simon spent an entire year with the day shift of Baltimore’s Homicide Squad. His subsequent book was a New York Times Best Seller and drew tremendous critical acclaim. Barry Levinson, Paul Attansio and Tom Fontana took the spirit of that book and created the NBC series. The first two seasons were spotty and featured only a handful of episodes each year. Season 3 marks the first full season of this remarkable show. Simon’s book detailed the psychology of…the detectives as much as the killers, and the series drew heavily from that work. Unlike most cop shows, Homicide didn’t contain car chases and the typical action sequences. Instead, this show counted on smart writing. The City of Baltimore is wisely used as a character on the program. Richard Beltzer’s Munch now appears on Law and Order’s SVU.
You’ll find a pretty typical television 2.0 audio track on these discs. Dialogue is always clear even if some of the background sounds tend to be muddy and lack any dynamic range. The music is usually source material and can range greatly in quality.
Each Homicide episode is presented in its original television 1.33:1 full frame format. Most of this show is very dark Look to find a good amount of grain. This grain is the result of the low lighting and the use of super 16 film. There’s an obvious attempt to be gritty and dark. The few bright shots often seem out of placed and too saturated. Colors and tones are even if not stand out. Darks seem to contain a bit of artifacting at times.
This is a 6 disc set. The DVDs are contained in slim cases all kept in a box. I’m disappointed in the lack of a booklet. There are a couple of commentaries with staff and crew, most notably Barry Levinson. Up-and-above these commentaries, this set has the following extras…
- “Homicide Life In Season 3” is hosted by Daniel Baldwin who had his final year with this season. It’s a look at the style of the show. You’ll find mention of the major cast changes in this first full season.
- “About The Board” is a text feature that explains how the “Board” works. For those unfamiliar, the Board is a central theme in the series. It’s a white eraser board where cases are tracked.
- A nice feature is a listing of the songs used for each episode. Many television programs that used a lot of songs got bogged down in rights issues. This has caused more than a few shows to end up MIA on DVD. Through the use of A&E these sets have navigated those waters better than some.
The typical cast and crew bios round out a healthy collection of extras. More cast commentaries would be the best improvement in future sets.
This season started with a bang. When the body of Crossetti was dragged from the harbor it set a somber tone for this already dark series. Character exploration is much more finely tuned this year. At mid-season there was a real chance the show was going to be axed, so three of the squad’s detectives were gunned down in dramatic style. It was to be the series finale. A last minute reprieve by the NBC President, himself a big fan, kept the show running many seasons more. This one’s a keeper. Buy this one today. “That’s an order.”
Special Features List
- Commentary by Barry Levinson and Henry Bromell on “The Gas Man”
- “Homicide: Life in Season 3”–an interview with Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Henry Bromell, David Simon, and James Yoshimura, narrated by Daniel Baldwin
- About “The Board”
- Song listing