Homicide: Life on the Street

Genres: Drama, Police Procedural



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About the Show

Homicide: Life on the Street is an American television police procedural series chronicling the work of a fictional Baltimore Police Department homicide unit.

It ran for seven seasons on the NBC network from 1993 to 1999 and was followed by a 2000 made-for-TV movie.

The series was based on David Simon's nonfiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, and many characters and stories used throughout the show's seven seasons were based on individuals and events depicted in the book.

Homicide: Life on the Street aired in South Africa on the SABC.


Homicide was developed by Paul Attanasio and included film director Barry Levinson as an executive producer, but writer-director Tom Fontana is largely recognized as the guiding hand behind the series.

Homicide's purpose was to provide its viewers with a no-nonsense, police procedural-type glimpse into the lives of a squad of inner-city detectives.

As opposed to many television shows and movies involving cops, Homicide initially opted for a bleak sort of realism in its depiction of the job, portraying it as repetitive, spiritually draining, an existential threat to one's psyche, often glamour- and glory-free, but a social necessity nonetheless.

In its attempt to do so, Homicide developed a trademark feel and look that distinguished itself from its contemporaries.

For example, the series was filmed with hand-held 16mm cameras almost entirely on location in Baltimore (making the idiosyncratic city something of a character, itself) and was also notable for its regular use of music montages, jump-cut editing, and the three-times-in-a-row repetition of a shot when the moment on-screen was particularly crucial.

Despite premiering in the coveted post-Super Bowl time slot, the show opened to lacklustre ratings, and cancellation was an immediate threat.

However, the show's winning of two Emmy Awards (for Levinson's direction and Fontana's writing) and the success of another police drama — the much soapier NYPD Blue — helped convince NBC to give it another chance beyond the truncated, nine-episode-long first season.


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