Each Wednesday I share what my wife Kim and I are watching in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week, it’s an oldie but a goodie Homicide: Life on the Street.
There is television, then there are those shows that are so far above what should be called “television.” Examples include The Sopranos, of course, and Game of Thrones, but even before that, there were shows like Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere, but in my and my wife’s minds, the show that when you talk about “they don’t make television shows like that anymore” is, and always will be, Homicide: Life on the Street.
The show began in 1993 and ended in 1999 after seven seasons of often struggling to stay on TV, even though it was better than most anything on the air during that time. It was about a homicide unit in Baltimore and based on the book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon. Unlike many other shows, it wasn’t filmed in Hollywood, but in Baltimore — and the city was also a main character in the show. Not that the ensemble cast wasn’t brilliant, because it was, beginning with Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton. Others in the cast included Melissa Leo, Daniel Baldwin, Yaphet Kotto, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, and Kyle Secor.
Then there were the guest stars: Robin Williams, Wilford Brimley, Steve Buscemi, Vincent D’Onofrio, Moses Gunn, Bruno Kirby, J.K. Simmons, Lily Tomlin…I could just go on and on. They didn’t steal the show, but often showed the strengths of the established characters and actors, who at the time weren’t recognized as great as they were. Braugher and Leo are the most notable of the cast that went on to further fame: Braugher in Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Leo in The Fighter for which she won a Best Actress Oscar in 2010.
Kim and I have been waiting to get this on DVD, literally for years. For the longest time, it was hard to find on DVD, with a complete collection costing up to $300. Finally, this past year, it was rereleased through Shout Factory for about $100 and this past Prime Day, we couldn’t pass up a deal to get it at half that price. Since then, we’ve been making our way through it slowly, because this is not the kind of show one wants to devour in a binge-watch. This is the kind of show one wants to savor which we are doing.
Kim says I have to share this clip with Buscemi, so here you go:
For you, what are those shows that shouldn’t really be classified as television because they’re that good?