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A&E Home Video presents
Homicide: Life on the Street—Season 7 (1998-1999)

"That's what's wrong with this job; it ain't got nothing to do with life."
- Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: July 14, 2005

Stars: Richard Belzer, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Gerety, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Toni Lewis, Michael Michelle, Kyle Secor, Jon Seda, Callie Thorne
Other Stars: Delaney Williams, Anthony Joseph Perry, Zeljko Ivanek, Clayton LeBouef, Walt MacPherson, Christopher Meloni, Reed Diamond, Jenna Malone, Benjamin Busch, Benjamin Bratt, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Brooke Smith
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (television material suitable for all but young children)
Run Time: 017h:36m:00s
Release Date: June 28, 2005
UPC: 733961718737
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ B

DVD Review

The sixth season of Homicide: Life on the Street concluded with a surprisingly violent two-part story that could have served as its grand finale. Instead, NBC renewed the series for a seventh year that would prove to be its closing season. This boxed set of 22 episodes ranks as the least effective collection, but it still offers a impressive assortment of interesting tales. Several key actors are nowhere to be found, and the visual tone has again been brightened to move even further away from the original style.

The most extreme change to Homicide’s seventh season is the voluntary departure of centerpiece Frank Pembleton, played wonderfully since the beginning by Andre Braugher. The chaotic events of the past year left the character disillusioned and ready for a career change. The homicide unit feels much different without its fiery, brilliant detective, and this change contributes significantly to the drop-off. The other major loss is the consistently troubled Mike Kellerman (Reed Diamond), who resigned from the force in disgrace. He does return for a two-episode guest appearance, which leads to one of the season’s best stories. Kellerman never truly recovered from his role in the Luther Mahoney shooting, and it’s refreshing to see him at least slightly redeem himself in Kellerman, P.I..

Replacing talented actors on the level of Braugher and Diamond is nearly impossible, which makes the task especially difficult for newcomers Giancarlo Esposito and Michael Michelle. Esposito has proven his acting mettle in diverse performances in films that include Do the Right Thing and Ali. His role as FBI liaison Michael Giardello offers some compelling interaction with his father Al (Yaphet Kotto), as they clash over several cases. Michelle plays Rene Sheppard, a former beauty queen who immediately attracts the romantic attention of her fellow detectives, which seems awkward for this series. A nasty confrontation at mid-season does shake her confidence and introduce an interesting story arc, which alleviates some of Michelle’s early struggles. Toni Lewis also becomes a full-time cast member as Detective Terri Stivers, who has assisted the detectives numerous times in the past few years. The talented actress continues her solid work but isn’t given enough to do as a series regular.

Rebuilding the morale of the homicide unit will not be an easy task this season, especially for Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor), who must deal with the departure of his longtime partner. The once-idealistic detective has changed while recovering from his injuries and become a Buddhist. The premiere La Famiglia depicts his fellow cops’ bewilderment at his new attitude about life. It also showcases an awfully remodeled squad room that has replaced the once-muted colors with a strange blue tone. One positive on the filming side is a new layout for the box, which allows the detectives to view two interview rooms from one centralized area. Unfortunately, this adjustment does remove the claustrophobic environment that helped to elicit confessions from nervous criminals.

The drastic changes also lead to the unfortunate development of Homicide being less unique than in previous years. The season’s second episode Brotherly Love is a generic tale that is not helped by the appearance of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry as a D.C. detective. The early stories of this season follow this trend and rarely move beyond average drama. The lone exception involves Michael Giardello’s struggles to work out his issues with his father Al, which progresses strongly throughout the year. The action does pick up at mid-season with the back-to-back two-parters Wanted, Dead or Alive and Kellerman, P.I.. The former represents the type of violence, car chases, and clichéd plot elements that Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana created the series to combat. However, it also includes a lively performance from Law and Order: SVU star Chris Meloni as a determined bounty hunter. The latter continues the story of former detective Kellerman when a defendant’s family hires him to investigate their case. He immediately butts heads with his past buddies, which helps to generate a powerful dramatic tale.

In typical Homicide fashion, a wide array of stories progress throughout the season and help it to combine into a coherent whole. John Munch (Richard Belzer) and Stu Gharty (Peter Gerety) are in frequent conflict over their differing Vietnam past while competing for the affections of bartender Billie Lou. One of them will marry her by season’s end, but the final result may not be so positive. Sheppard and Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson) also struggle to come to terms with a brutal beat-down from a fleeing suspect. In lighter news, Paul Falzone (Jon Seda) and Laura Ballard (Callie Thorne) begin a romantic relationship that may not sit so well with their superiors.

The series concludes with the somber, riveting tale Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which resolves many ongoing storylines but keeps others open to convey a sense that the detectives’ lives are still moving. And now for the final time, here are episode descriptions and ratings for the entire season:

La Famiglia
Directed by: Nick Gomez
Written by: Tom Fontana
Guest stars: Irma St. Paule as Rosina Giardello, Victor Bevine as Officer Lester Sanders, Donna Marrazzo as Carol Aquino, Barbara Samaras as Diane Panepento, Dawn Spinella as Mary Lynn Roletta, Mary Agnes Shearon as Flora Gharty, Delaney Williams as Joey Grimaldi

Following the tumultuous events of Fallen Heroes, the injured detectives (Ballard, Gharty, and Bayliss) have returned to active duty, but things are a bit different now. Bayliss has become a Buddhist and has baffled his fellow detectives, while Lewis and Falsone are smitten with Sheppard. The romantic entanglements are fairly dull and lack the usual wit of the series’ writing. Luckily, the main story works especially well, with a series of brutal murders striking especially close to home for Giardello. One death leads to the return of his son Michael, who is not on great terms with his father. Their interaction drives this episode and makes it a worthy premiere.

This solid season premiere earns 3.5 out of 5 guns.





Brotherly Love
Directed by: Peter Medak
Written by: Julie Martin
Guest stars: Anthony Joseph Perry as Det. Joe Landrewsky, Mitchell Lichtenstein as Adam Ralston, Zach Cregger as Dean Stamper, Phyllis Somerville as Faye Ann Ralston, Karen Carbone as Angela Soames, Colleen Delany as Susan Dehen, Phil Sawicki as Paul Harris

In one of the series’ more contrived plots, Lewis and Ballard investigate the death of an identical twin with a very obsessed brother. The story moves along in predictable fashion and gives Sheppard the chance to say sexy (and awful) lines. Lewis remains obsessed with becoming romantic with his partner, while Bayliss decides to jump into the fray. In less mind-numbing news, Ballard and Gharty investigate the death of a D.C. teenager. They receive assistance from Detective Joe Landrewsky, played decently enough by Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. This case is far from fascinating, but it retains the mundane quality and stays away from silly sensationalism. The story’s saving grace is again the connection between the Giardellos, as Michael decides to take a job as the FBI liaison to the department.

A classic episode? Dream on. This entry receives 2.5 out of 5 guns.





Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song
Directed by: Leslie Libman, Larry Williams
Written by: Eric Overmyer
Guest stars: O.L. Duke as Alvin Taylor, Maria Broom as Suzanne Taylor, Carlos Juan Gonzalez as Max Silva, Paul Morella as Lee Morganstern, Amen Ra as Lemonhead Boggs, Nick Sanzo as Roger,

Michael Giardello immediately catches a call and must work with Ballard as the primary on the mysterious death of a sports doctor’s sister-in-law. Their investigation gains assistance from Falsone, who takes them to a fight doctor. While there, he does a little sparring and catches Ballard’s eye. In personal matters, Munch faces some serious debts to the IRS while Gharty deals with his impending divorce with his wife. Bayliss also moves forward on his romantic pursuit of Sheppard. There’s nothing particularly awful about this tale, but it lacks the unique tone that inhabits even the series’ mediocre episodes. The continual focus on the detective’s romantic lives could play a role in this dull state.

This mildly interesting episode receives 2 out of 5 guns.





The Twenty Percent Solution
Directed by: Clark Johnson
Written by: David Simon
Guest stars: Patti D'Arbanville as Darlene Everett, Tom Atkins as Grenville Rollins, Carla Bianchi as Claudette, Kevin Jeffrey Cameron as Tony Barger, Patricia Coleman as Jury Forewoman, Dan Delafield as Trooper Groves, Helen Mitchell as Juror Six, Joe Urla as Jake Benedek

In a quirky story that ranks among the all-time worst Homicide episodes, Ballard and Gharty must try to solve an odd whodunit. The wife of a famous spy novel writer appears at the department and claims that her husband is dead, but she has no whereabouts concerning his body. The case also involves the author’s agent and a paranoid CIA operative, with no clear evidence in sight. Meanwhile, Bayliss and Munch investigate the death of an elderly woman but are unsure if it’s actually a homicide. Writer David Simon misses the boat on this uninteresting tale.

The season has really hit a low mark with this episode, which earns 1.5 out of 5 guns.





Red, Red Wine
Directed by: Ed Bianchi
Written by: Sara B. Charno
Guest stars: Greg Wood as FBI Special Agent Gary Thomas, Gary Wheeler as Dr. Brian Harbison), Juliet Vacirca Brown as Evelyn Richardson), Olivia Birkelund as FBI Special Agent Myra Seeling), Pat Hingle as Wally Flynn), Charlie Deppish as Gerald Alberto)

A red-ball ensues when a priest and several parishioners end up dead from poisons included in the church wine. The FBI places Michael Giardello in charge of the case, which brings him into conflict with his father. Al believes that the public should be notified, even with the panic that it could cause. Their conflict helps to raise this story above the so-so premise and make it an enjoyable entry. The show’s energy is finally starting to return, as the writers begin to build the chemistry of the new cast.

This worthy episode deserves 3 out of 5 guns.





Wanted, Dead or Alive, Part 1
Directed by: Robert Harmon
Written by: James Yoshimura
Guest stars: Christopher Meloni as Dennis Knoll, Suzanne Grover as Angie Scales, Kris Arnold as P.J. Johnson, Vic Noto as Jerry Litche, Ralph Tabakin as Scheiner, David Simon as Suspect

An accidental shooting of an innocent man by a group of bounty hunters brings in the homicide unit, who hold little love for their kind. They’re lead by Dennis Knoll (Chris Meloni), who seems like a standup guy by immediately draws the ire of Al Giardello. The escaped fugitive Joe Erico is a direct witness to the killing, so the detectives must also search for him. When everyone’s pursuit leads to a chaotic high-speed chase, the result is a possibly fatal injury. Meanwhile, Gharty’s tales of his Vietnam days rub the activist Munch the wrong way, which brings them into a nasty conflict. This season is finally starting to build momentum with this energetic episode. It does violate several original series tenets, including showing the original murder and utilizing a car chase, but the story retains its dramatic impact.

Those homicide detectives sure spend a lot of time at the hospital. This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 guns.





Wanted, Dead or Alive, Part 2
Directed by: Robert Harmon
Written by: Anya Epstein
Guest stars: Christopher Meloni as Dennis Knoll, Kris Arnold as P.J. Johnson, Marilyn Bennett as Ceily Errico, Conrad Karlson as Charles Bassett, Rico Rosetti as Joe Errico

The conclusion of this exciting two-part story sends Bayliss and Michael Giardello to Miami to work with Knoll in searching for Errico. The aftermath of the previous episode’s car chase still haunts several characters, who try to come to terms with the event. Christopher Meloni’s (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) energetic performance deserves special mention here, as the last few entries had a shortage of worthy guest actors. Knoll comes from a different side of the law, but he does earn the respect of the skeptical detectives.

Anya Epstein’s engaging script earns this episode 4 out of 5 guns.





Kellerman, P.I., Part 1
Directed by: Kenneth Fink
Written by: Joy Lusco
Guest stars: Jena Malone as Debbie Straub, Chris Gunn as Craig Halpern, Reed Diamond as Mike Kellerman, Kristen Nicole Brennan as Leanne Kirby, Yvonne Graetzer as Gina Straub, Timothy Hayes Lynch as Sam Straub, Kimberly Perfetto as Shannon Parker, Kerri Rambow as Vanessa Warren

It’s amazing how a few guest stars can spice up a string of mediocre episodes. Reed Diamond provides an intriguing return for former regular Mike Kellerman, who resigned from the squad in disgrace when the events surrounding the Luther Mahoney shooting were revealed. He now works as a private investigator, a position that brings him into conflict with Falsone and Stivers when a couple hires him to help in defending their daughter. Along with her boyfriend Craig Helpern, teenager Debbie Straus faces charges for the death of her newborn baby, who died soon after his birth. The case is moderately interesting, but it pales in comparison to the tension generated between Kellerman and the homicide detective. His first appearance in the squad room ranks among the pivotal moments of the season

Welcome back Mike! Kellerman’s return earns this episode a strong 4 out of 5 guns.





Kellerman, P.I., Part 2
Directed by: Jay Tobias
Written by: Sean Whitesell
Guest stars: Jena Malone as Debbie Straub, Chris Gunn as Craig Halpern, Reed Diamond as Mike Kellerman, Marilyn Hausfield as Deborah Strauss, Kerri Rambow as Vanessa Warren, Kimberly Schraf as Charlotte Halpern, Alex Webb as Glenn Nellis

The court date arrives for Craig Halpern, who blinds himself to the truth about his girlfriend because he loves her. Falsone tries to break through to the kid, but his efforts may be futile. Kellerman realizes that all may not be right with his investigation, which leads him to dig deeper into the baby’s murder. This compelling story’s conclusion provides at least a sliver of redemption to Kellerman, who still struggles with the resentful feelings of his fellow detectives. It ranks with the finale as the best episodes of the season.

Reed Diamond’s stunning performance earns this episode 4.5 out of 5 guns.





Shades of Grey
Directed by: Adam Bernstein
Written by: T.J. English
Guest stars: Corey Parker Robinson as Yates, Marco St. John as Bus Driver, Sheila Hennessey as Arlene McCusker, Chuck Jeffreys as Desmond Clements, Jeff Mandon as Officer Fred Hellriegel, Sandra Reaves-Phillips as Eunetta Bryce, Jaki Terry as Marletta Manley

Racial tensions reach the breaking point when a white bus driver accidentally strikes a pregnant African-American woman. This event sparks a nasty riot that results the death of a Jamaican man and rampant destruction. Lewis and Sheppard investigate the Jamaican’s death, which may lead to police involvement. Their attempts to reach a witness lead to a vicious struggle that leaves one detective in the hospital. This attack will have major ramifications for one detective throughout the year. Michael Giardello and Gharty clash over their opinions about the racial side of the case, and both detectives offer an understandable viewpoint due their respective backgrounds. This incendiary tale includes wonderful acting from everyone involved, especially Esposito, Gerety, and Johnson.

This tense episode recalls the murkier stories of the series’ heyday. It deserves 4 out of 5 guns.





Bones of Contention
Directed by: Brad Anderson
Written by: James Yoshimura
Guest stars: Skipp Sudduth as Mancini, Rocco Sisto as Sykes, Denise Diggs as Lynda Lusko, Karen Jackson as Tina Reeves, Beau James as Detective Higby, Megan Morgan as Carla Reeves, Skip Sudduth as Mancini, Kara Jackson as Tina Reeves

Lewis and Munch investigate a murder that occurred in the mid ‘80s when a young woman’s bones are discovered. Although they start with almost nothing, the detectives eventually find clues that lead them to a bank robbery. Meanwhile, Al Giardello tells Falsone and Ballard to cease their burgeoning romance or face a transfer to a new department. Neither one wants to leave, but their eventual decision may not be so straightforward. Sheppard returns to the squad and faces desk duty, which frustrates her immediately. This episode tells an interesting story and avoids some the pratfalls of earlier episodes, though the Ballard/Falsone romantic moments bring things down a notch.

This solid episode receives 3 out of 5 guns.





The Same Coin
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Written by: Sharon Guskin
Guest stars: Justin David Fair as Petey Rapallo, Bridget Gethins as Mother, Michael Thornton as Sergeant Nagel

Gharty still has nightmares about his Vietnam days, specifically a nasty incident that he would rather forget. Unfortunately, Munch’s own demons cause him to pull Gharty’s record and re-open past wounds. The end result is a nasty confrontation that showcases some of the season’s best acting. Peter Gerety provides his finest moment of the series while his character relives his personal hell. Meanwhile Sheppard returns to the rotation and does not encounter a warm welcome from her former partner Lewis. Munch and Michael Giardello also work a hit-and-run case that also hearkens back to Vietnam. This story’s cases are overwhelmed by the Munch/Gharty conflict, which reveals two equally painful histories for the detectives.

Excellent acting helps this episode to receive 3.5 out of 5 guns.





Homicide.com
Directed by: Jay Tobias
Written by: Sara B. Charno
Guest stars: Michael Ornstein as Tony Bonaventura, Murphy Guyer as Det. LZ Austin, Benjamin Busch as Luke Ryland, Sandra Gwynn as Andrea Ronsall, David Laundra as Myron Banks, Colynne Manning as Melissa Chambers

Sheppard becomes the primary for the first time since her return and earns her first red ball. A killer is broadcasting his crimes over the Internet and has the technical knowledge to elude the detectives. Barnfather and the bosses pressure Al Giardello to install Bayliss as the primary if things don’t change soon. Sheppard struggles with her self-confidence and wonders if she’s cut out to be a homicide detective. This feels surprisingly dated only six years after its original airdate, and the Internet killer plot has a sensationalistic tone that falls a bit short of the show’s usual content. However, solid work from Michael Michelle and Kyle Secor helps this episode to stay afloat.

The Internet is a crazy place. This episode receives 3 out of 5 guns.





A Case of Do or Die
Directed by: Tim Van Patten
Written by: Anya Epstein
Guest stars: Dan Futterman as Marcus Hume, Amy Ryan as Erika Cullen, David Wiater as Charlie Eichhorn, Wallace Shawn as Frank Hopper, Matthew Boylan as Keith McCain, Leo Marks as Jesse Schotter

A case of a dead bride-to-be hits especially close to home for Ballard, who was engaged during when she lived in Seattle. She partners with Bayliss and attempts to uncover whether the woman was murdered, but the trail is difficult. Meanwhile, Sheppard and Michael Giardello investigate the death of an obnoxious movie theater patron who drew the ire of nearly everyone. This episode returns to the slower case-solving of the series’ heyday and lacks the sensational aspects of many of this year’s tales. This should lead to a strong rating, but this episode lacks the extra touches needed to provide a truly memorable story.

This moderately interesting episode receives 2.5 out of 5 guns.





Sideshow
Directed by: Ed Herin
Written by: David Simon
Guest stars: Benjamin Bratt as Det. Reynaldo "Rey" Curtis, Sam Waterston as Exec ADA Jack McCoy, George Hearn as William Dell, Julie Nathanson as Katherine Rainer, Charles Malik Whitfield as Walter Boyce, Jimmie Ray Weeks as Theodore Dawkins, Tammy Christine Arnold as Carla Bernardi, Adam Grupper as Ned Burks, Marcus Giamatti as Bernard Abrams, Jerry Orbach as Det. Lennie Briscoe

This final Law and Order crossover episode was very topical at the time due with its depiction of the overly zealous independent council William Dell. The investigation of Janine’s McBride’s death eventually leads the detectives all the way to the White House, which definitely interests Dell in his ambitions to destroy the president. Attorneys Ed Danvers (Zeljko Ivanek) and Jack McCoy attempt to raise the heat on the council’s office, but their efforts are mostly futile. Detectives Curtis and Briscoe also return to Baltimore for interaction with the homicide squad. This intriguing episode differs considerably from the series’ usual form but still offers plenty of intriguing moments. Zeljko Ivanek receives a larger role and gives one of his finest performances.

Would Kenneth Starr enjoy this story? This episode receives 3.5 out of 5 guns.





Truth Will Out
Directed by: Keith Samples
Written by: Anya Epstein
Guest stars: Elizabeth Ashley as Madeleine Pitt, Brooke Smith as Josephine Pitt, Richard Barlow as Detective Pilsner, Michael Ford as Sergeant Roger Fisk, Seymour Horowitz as Dr. Mark Harlow

Falsone receives the unique request from a woman who believes she may not have killed her baby brother as a three-year-old girl. His death occurred 27 years earlier, and the event still haunts her dreams. The original investigator was none other than Al Giardello, which inspires him to look back at his shortcoming as a rookie detective. Meanwhile, Bayliss meets a homosexual police officer and appears to have a good time, but the result could be more trouble for the weary detective. When his website becomes common knowledge in the department, the bosses order him to shut it down. Bayliss also faces considerable scrutiny from everyone in the building. This episode moves slowly, but it offers an interesting perspective on the truth and its effect on our life.

I wish things would get better for Bayliss, but he’s only headed for more trouble. This solid episode receives 3 out of 5 guns.





Zen and the Art of Murder
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Written by: Lloyd Rose
Guest stars: John Benjamin Hickey as Dennis Kohler, Gil Deeble as Rupert Dawson, Cynthia Evans as Gwyneth Wright, Nina Hodoruk as Tina Jeffries, Scott Longnecker as Jacko Bragg, Taunya Martin as Sasha Williams, Brian McCarthy as Brian Bailey, Willette Thompson as Coretta Williams, Nina Hoddruk as Tina Jeffries, Greg Provance as Jason Lane

Sparks fly between Lewis and Bayliss during the investigation of the death of a Buddhist monk. Munch initially catches the call with Lewis, but he is willing to give Bayliss a chance to crack the case. Unfortunately, this does not sit well with fellow detective, who believes that Bayliss’ personal involvement will jeopardize the case. The stunning final outcome will lead him to question his personal Buddhist beliefs. Meanwhile, Ballard and Falsone come to a decision regarding their secret relationship. This episode again presents the differences between Bayliss’ more emotional outlook with Lewis’ detached perspective on the cases. It also leads directly to the stunning events of the series finale.

This gripping entry deserves 4 out of 5 guns.





Self Defense
Directed by: Barbara Kopple
Written by: Yaphet Kotto
Guest stars: Haviland Morris as Eleanor Burke, Paul Butler as Clifford Ramsey, William C.J. Aylward as Ezra Greenfield, Michael Noel as Tony

In this plot-heavy episode, Al Giardello receives news from Barnfather that a captain’s position is opening and he will get the promotion. Stivers and Falsone investigate the death of a U.S. attorney’s husband that looks like straight-up murder. However, a possible suspect wants to claim self-defense, which creates a murky situation that could jeopardize Giardello’s promotion. In other cases, Lewis and Ballard investigate a bar stabbing, but still appears reluctant to partner with a female detective. This episode covers multiple areas and offers an interesting story, but it lacks the personal moments that lead to a top-notch entry.

This episode receives 3 out of 5 guns.





Lines of Fire
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Written by: James Yoshimura
Guest stars: Ron Eldard as Emmett Carey, James McCauley as Lt. Wennington, Marianne Hagan as Lucy Carey, Matthew Bernard Nuti as Zack Carey, Shannon Parks as Maureen Feeney, Sarah Stusek as Zoey Carey

In an episode that stands apart from anything previously filmed, Ron Eldard plays the frustrated Emmett Carey, who takes his two young children hostage. Oddly, he actually picks Michael Giardello from television and says he’ll only talk to him. Gharty also appears on the scene to try and calm the easily angered Carey. This story includes excellent performances from Eldard and Esposito, but it seems out of place and more in tuned with other series’ formats. The writers appear to be running out of unique ideas.

The impressive acting saves this entry and earns it 2.5 out of 5 guns.





The Why Chromosome
Directed by: Kyle Secor
Written by: Anya Epstein
Guest stars: J.D. Williams as Casper, Bree Benton as Lizzie Solek, Cloie Wyatt Taylor as Neecee Rayburn, Angel M. Wainwright as Shy K., Starr Walker as Janice Keib, Samatha Brown as Crystal

The girls get the chance to prove their mettle to the skeptical guys when a call occurs with no men around. Ballard and Sheppard partner to investigate the death of a female teenage gang member. This case is especially important for Sheppard, who still is trying to earn Lewis’ trust months after the beating. Meanwhile, Munch comes on a big too strong with the husband of Billie Lou’s neighbor, which leads to a nasty confrontation and a delay for the wedding. The prominent role for the female actors makes this is a decent episode, but the story lacks the punch to generate a better-than-average tale.

This episode receives 2.5 out of 5 guns.





Identity Crisis
Directed by: Joe Berlinger
Written by: Willie Reale
Guest stars: Edoardo Ballerini as Selwyn Weatherby, Melanie Vesey as Patricia Weatherby, Aaron Hearn as Aaron, Rodney Holland as Clayton Mark, Robert M. Kelly as Agent Stickly

Lewis and Falsone’s investigation of a neighborhood death generates some warning signs that more is happening behind the scenes. When the feds become involved in the case, trouble is bound to ensue. Michael Giardello tries to pull some strings and assist the detectives, which leads him into a disturbing conflict with his superiors. Meanwhile, Munch and Bayliss are called into investigating an extra body in the Medical Examiner’s office, which baffles everyone. Gharty also decides that his current life direction may not be the best route. This story again showcases Giancarlo Esposito and sets up his character for an eighth season that never occurred.

This intriguing episode receives 3.5 out of 5 guns.





Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: Tom Fontana
Guest stars: Jessica Hecht as Sister Mary Catherine, Audra McDonald as Teresa, John P. Whitesell as Judge Devilbliss, Benjamin Busch as Luke Ryland, Robert Carlson as Officer Denys, Dan Morgan as Deputy Morgan, Ruth Lawson Walsh

When crafting the finale, Tom Fontana was not certain this would be the last episode, but this story definitely feels like the concluding tale. Its last conversation is the exact same, word for word, as the first discussion between Lewis and Crosetti in the premiere. Numerous story lines are resolved, including the Munch/Billie Lou wedding and another opportunity for Al Giardello to become captain. The story begins with the release of a past criminal due to a technicality, which angers Bayliss and causes him to act rashly. Much of this story involves his evolution from the bright-eyed rookie to a disillusioned veteran. We are unsure of his ultimate decision during this tale, but his future outlook is definitely sad. His final scene includes a stunning montage of clips from past episodes that summarizes the show in nearly perfect fashion.

The series concludes on a perfectly somber note, which earns 5 out of 5 guns.



Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Similar to its past DVD releases, Homicide: Life on the Street—Season 7 provides a solid full-frame transfer that retains the series' grainy look. The events are a bit brighter this time, but that relates to filming decisions made by the producers. Although it's nothing spectacular, the picture does offer an effective presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This collection includes a typical 2.0-channel Dolby Surround track that presents the dialogue in clear fashion. The sound effects and songs project nicely from the front speakers and provide the type of depth available from this type of soundtrack. I can always hope for a more complex audio transfer, but that would not be feasible when you consider the source material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 176 cues
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Tom Fontana, James Yoshimura, and Julie Martin on the series finale Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Packaging: Box Set
6 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Live panel discussion with Tom Fontana, Barry Levinson, James Yoshimura, and David Simon
  2. Barry Levinson's Acceptance Speech for the 2004 Video Software Dealers Association Career Achievement Award
Extras Review: In accordance with the pattern of all the Homicide: Life on the Street DVD boxed sets, this release includes one commentary track and a few other solid features. The primary extra is a one-hour panel discussion with four of the series' most important figures: creators Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, writer David Simon, and producer/writer James Yoshimura. Hosted by David Bianculli of the NY Daily News and NPR, this conversation offers plenty of intriguing material about the series. The discussion does not focus on the seventh season, and instead covers the entire show in more general terms. Each speaker has also brought a strong clip that in some way embodies the overall tone. Memorable clips from Three Men and Adena, Black and Blue, Every Mother's Son, and Bad Medicine all showcase Homicide's best elements. The first two portray classic moments for Pembleton and Bayliss in the box, which showcases the dramatic power of the writing.

The other significant extra is the commentary from Fontana, Yoshimura, and producer/writer Julie Martin on Forgive Us Our Trespasses—the gripping season finale. I was hoping to learn the specific reasons for the decisions made with the story, but surprisingly Fontana was not sure that he was writing the last episode. His recounting of the silly discussions with NBC concerning the show's future reveals the ridiculous conflict between art and network commerce. This disc also includes the three-minute speech from Levinson upon receiving the 2004 Video Software Dealers Association Career Achievement Award. It is slightly interesting but offers few notable details. The only remaining feature is solid cast biographies, which present the careers of all the key players.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

The seventh season of Homicide: Life on the Street appeared to close the book on the beloved series. However, Tom Fontana actually convinced NBC to allow the writers to craft a television movie for airing the following year. It brought together all of the regular cast members from the show's entire run and resolved some of the plotlines left open in the series finale. While not entirely successful, the film works largely due to the reunion of Pembleton and Bayliss and one last traumatic confession. This difficult scene perfectly embodies the complex tone of the series, which presents mulit-faceted, realistic characters with emotional power.

 


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