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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Homicide Life on the Street - The Complete Season 7
Homicide Life on the Street - The Complete Season 7
A&E Video // Unrated // June 28, 2005
List Price: $99.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jeffrey Robinson | posted June 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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A U D I O
E X T R A S
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Highly Recommended
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The Seventh Season

Homicide: Life on the Street is a television drama about the lives of a homicide unit in the Baltimore Police Department. The series was adapted from David Simon's novel Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The show is an intense drama about the daily interaction and cases of the homicide unit. The show aired for seven seasons and one full length TV movie. This season is the show's last and it is missing one of its strongest characters, Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher). In the previous seasons, Pembleton has stolen the spotlight as the most dramatic and provocative character. He is one of the reasons I have fallen in love with Homicide. With his decided departure in the season six finale, I was afraid the seventh season would not live up to the high standards set by the previous seasons. As it turns out, season seven is entertaining and intense like previous seasons. What really keeps the show afloat are the strong performances from the previous season characters and a couple of new ones. The bottom line, fans of the series should really enjoy this final season of one the best cop dramas ever created. For more details about this show please feel free to refer to my reviews of season three, season four, season five, and season six.

The sixth season cast returns with detectives Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson), John Munch (Richard Belzer), Laura Ballard (Callie Thorne), Stu Gharty (Peter Gerety), and Terri Stivers (Toni Lewis). Leading the bunch as always is Al "Gee" Giardello (Yaphet Kotto) and ASA Ed Danvers (Zeljko Ivanek) prosecuting their cases. The lineup is missing both Pembleton and Mike Kellerman (Reed Diamond). In their place are two new characters, detective Rene Sheppard (Michael Michele) and FBI Special Agent Mike Giardello (Giancarlo Esposito). Both new characters are pretty interesting and there are more than enough episodes where we get the chance to really know them. By the end of the season, they feel like any of the other characters, as if they've always been there. Of course, none ever come off nearly as strong as Pembleton did.

In this season there are some pretty interesting stories. One of them features former cast member Mike Kellerman. In the close of season six, he left Baltimore PD in disgrace. To get the full details you should really check out season five to see the gruesome story about Luther Mahoney and season six for the aftermath, which ultimately left him in shame. For this season, there is a two-part episode entitled "Kellerman, P.I.". The episode is quite powerful because it displays Kellerman in a completely different light. In seasons four, five, and six we had the opportunity to get to know him and after his disgrace as a cop, he has turned into a dark soul.

This season also has the third crossover episode with popular cop drama Law & Order. It is the conclusion in a two-part episode called "Sideshow", where Law & Order characters det. Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), det. Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt), and ADA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) join the Homicide cast. The story is about corruption in the federal government and it is exciting to see an awesome mix of cast members working together. The unfortunate part is some of the details are missing. The first part of the episode is from season nine of Law & Order, which is not included in this season set. There is a short recap, but all of the details are not there.

Some other exciting events in this story revolve around the new characters. The first has an interesting insight tackled about female officers serving on the streets. With Stivers, Sheppard, and Ballard, a good portion of the homicide unit are female and there is some fear that they can't handle the job like the male detectives. In the episode "Shades Of Gray" Sheppard takes a beating and her gun gets stolen in situation that some think wouldn't have happened if she were a man. The episode produces a tension amongst the unit, which mainly affects Sheppard and Lewis. Sheppard believes everyone doubts her as a detective and Lewis is afraid the female detectives can't hold their own. Considering he has lost partners in the line of duty in the past, it makes sense he is easily afraid. The sheer tension of the situation becomes compelling. Another great story involving Sheppard is "Homicide.com". In this episode she gets her first big case. Someone is murdering women and broadcasting it on the internet. Working together with the FBI, a city wide investigation is launched with a rookie at the helm. Similar to Bayliss' first big case, Adena Watson, the powers that be aren't happy with Gee leaving Sheppard in charge.

The other new character FBI Special Agent Giardello is another nice addition to the cast. At first I wasn't quite sure what to think about him. He is the son of Gee. He introduction came in the season premiere "La Famiglia". Gee's cousin is murdered. Young Giardello returns to Baltimore from Arizona to help with the case. In later episodes, Giardello decides to remain in Baltimore and secures a position as the FBI liaison to Baltimore PD's criminal investigation department, which includes the homicide unit. Within a couple of episodes young Giardello becomes a staple in the cast. His character embodies similar elements of greatness that Pembleton held. An interesting aspect of Giardello is his role in homicide investigations, as he tries to satisfy the brass at Baltimore PD and his bosses at the FBI. Also the relationship he has with his father is an important part of this character. Prior to this season their relationship was unhealthy and not well defined. In this season they slowly develop it into something much more stable, which makes both Giardellos stronger characters.

For the other cast members there are many new character developments. Gharty goes through a messy divorce and tries to understand his purpose in life. Ballard and Falsone have a sordid love affair, which violates department policy and when it they catch Gee's eye, they have to rethink their situation. Munch gets engaged. The woman in question will be his fourth wife. Bayliss comes to term with his sexuality and spiritual belief. As earlier mentioned, Lewis must learn to overcome his fear of losing another partner. Stivers is the exception. She has a fairly small role in the season compared to the other characters. It is a bit unfortunate because when she was first introduced in season five, she was a kick ass no bullshit cop from narcotics.

Overall, the seventh and final season of Homicide is entertaining. Like previous seasons it is successful by developing intricate characters and surrounding them with high amounts of drama and intense stories. However it is definitely not the series' strongest season. For a final season, I thought the series ended in an acceptable manner. In the beginning of the series, it opens with the introduction of a rookie homicide detective, Bayliss. A major portion of the first season is watching him struggle with his first big case trying to make his idealistic ways come true. Season seven concludes on a note with Bayliss, which ties the show together by connecting his novice outlook on homicide to his much changed opinion after seven years. The bottom line is that if you want great drama, look no further. Homicide: Life on the Street is a rollercoaster of excitement, filled with intricate characters and compelling stories.

Episode Guide
1. La Famiglia
2. Brotherly Love
3. Just An Old Fashioned Love Song
4. The Twenty Percent Solution
5. Red, Red Wine
6. Wanted Dead Or Alive (Part 1)
7. Wanted Dead Or Alive (Part 2)
8. Kellerman, P.I. (Part 1)
9. Kellerman, P.I. (Part 2)
10. Shades Of Gray
11. Bones Of Contention
12. The Sane Coin
13. Homicide.com
14. A Case Of Do Or Die
15. Sideshow (Part 2)
16. Truth Will Out
17. Zen And The Art Of Murder
18. Self Defense
19. Lines Of Fire
20. The Why Chromosome
21. Identity Crisis
22. Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The DVD

Video:
This DVD release is presented in its original television aspect of 1.33:1 ratio full frame color. The entire series was filmed using 16mm handheld cameras to give a documentary facade. The picture suffers from a high amount of grain, which is somewhat expected for earlier television series. However, this look gives the show a rough feeling that truly captures the show's dramatic ambience.

Audio:
The audio in this feature is presented in English 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo surround. The dialogue is very crisp and clean with only a slightly noticeable hiss. There are no subtitles presented with this feature, nor is it closed caption enabled.

Extras:
The first special feature included is an audio commentary for the series finale "Forgive Us Our Trespasses". It is with Tom Fontana, James Yoshimura, and Julie Martin. Next there is also "Live Panel Discussion". It consists of approximately fifty-eight minutes of discussion about the series with Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson, James Yoshimura, and David Simon. It is hosted by David Bianculli from New York Daily News. They talk about the series in its entirety. The final extra is "Barry Levinson's Acceptance Speech For the 2004 VSDA Career Achievement Award". The speech is approximately two and a half minutes in length. Overall, I thought the extras were decent. There were some nice insights into the series, but they have very limited replay value.

Final Thoughts:
Originally I was afraid this seventh and final season would not be very good. The show's strongest cast member Frank Pembleton left at the end of season six. In previous seasons, Pembleton had really driven the show. Without the strongest character, I was prepared for the worse. However, it turned out to be pretty good. In fact, I thought this season was very strong. The new characters Rene Sheppard and Mike Giardello were interesting characters and the stories surrounding them were also intriguing. In general, the season was also entertaining because it continued to showcase intricate and compelling stories to the point it left you wanting more. Of course, while this was a strong season, it was not the series' best. Still, fans of Homicide: Life on the Street should not be disappointed. If you are new the series, you should really start at the beginning with the DVD set of seasons 1 & 2 to really get acquainted with one of the best television dramas.

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