DVDs in Review - #20 - Homidice: Life on the Street - The Complete Second Series

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

Read the review of the first series here.
It also makes an appearance in My Top 50 Shows.

The Show:

Homicide: Life on the Streets - The Complete Second Series contains the complete third season of Homicide (Series One contains both Season One and Two). The third season was the first one to get a complete episode run of 20 episodes and marked the arrival of a new detective called Megan Russert (played by Isabella Hoffmann). It also marked the final times two other detectives would appear in the show, one of whom was cut because of network pressure.

The episodes are 17 standalone episodes (some of which are linked in part) and a three parter containing a guest starring spot from the excellent Steve Buscemi. During the course of this season the members of the Baltimore Homicide unit deal with a serial killer who leaves white gloves at the scene of the crime, suicide, the murder of a street side Santa Claus (Ho-Ho-Homicide!), Motorcycle clubs, police corruption, an ex-con seeking revenge and the difficulties of buying a bar.

The third season is the season where Homicide really begins to find its feet, it's able to provide standalone cases alongside ongoing meta plot with great ease. Making the events of one week feel natural in their progression to the next. Some shows are exceptionally ham-fisted about their ongoing stories, but Homicide never suffers from that. David Simon's influence can be felt throughout the season, bringing everything down to a natural level of storytelling and realism.

Performances from the cast continue to be strong, it's hard to pick out my favourite from amongst them all but Andre Braugher as Frank Pembleton, Kyle Secor as Tim Bayliss and Clark Johnson as Meldrick Lewis are up there. The story lines are shared out between them pretty well, and every member of the cast gets their time to stand up and be counted.

The Other Stuff:

The packaging for the region two releases continues to be superior to the region one version. The imagery on the box is iconic and just evokes film noir. It's a fold out book contained within a cardboard dust sleeve and the only real complaint I have is that the photographs on the back of the box are not from the third season, one of them is in fact from the sixth season. That's pretty poor quality control right there (not to mention the risk of unintentional spoilers).

The extras are once again completely non-existent, our American cousins get a full set of extras with all sorts of interesting stuff but over here in Europe we get nothing. It's probably a cost cutting exercise, but considering the absurd price they want for the boxed sets I can't see why they cut any of it.

It is possible right now to get the complete second series (and in fact all of them released so far) from HMV for £15 a pop, which is a superb deal as this series has a 16 hour playing time (1.56p per minute!) but normally the price is a rather over inflated £40 per boxed set. I'd recommend picking this up for anything under £30, that feels like the right price - but don't go paying the full whack if you can avoid it. The show is good, but the product put out here leaves a bit to be desired - with a little more work it could have been excellent, but it seems the quality control is just phoning it in.

As I said in my review of the first series, if you want the extras it's worth just investing in a region free DVD player and picking up the American versions from Amazon.

Final Word:

Despite the flaws in the production of this product, the show contained within it is still worth purchasing. Homicide is a triple Peabody winning show (quite an honour) and it remains one of the big genre challenging shows in media. The Second Series (Third Season) has 16 hours of tight scripting, exciting plots, excellent acting and gripping scenes to keep you entertained. It's well worth the investment and should be an automatic purchase if you enjoy police shows (or bought the first series).

Final Score:

If you like Homicide: Life on the Street, check out "The Wire".


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