DVDs in Review - #31 - Homicide: Life on the Street. The Complete Fourth Series

Category: , , , , By Rev/Views

For the previous reviews in the Homicide series check here:
The Complete First Series (Seasons One and Two)
The Complete Second Series (Season Three)
The Complete Third Series (Season Four)

I'm trying to push on and finish reviewing the last of the two Homicide DVDs currently released in Region 2 before the Fall season hits and reviewing old DVDs becomes a thing of the past. I've only been doing it this summer because it's a slow time for television; there's been precious little to talk about apart from Burn Notice, Psych, Middleman and the excellent Generation Kill.

Richard Belzer as Detective John Munch
Yaphet Kotto as Lieutenant Al Giardello
Kyle Secor as Detective Tim Bayliss
Clark Johnson as Detective Meldrick Lewis
Andre Braugher as Detective Frank Pembleton
Reed Diamond as Detective Mike Kellerman
Melissa Leo as Sergeant Kay Howard
Michelle Forbes as Dr Julianna Cox
Max Perlich as J. H. Brodie

The Show:

The fifth season of Homicide marks the debut of a single new character the new chief medical examiner Dr. Julianna Cox (Michelle Forbes) and the promotion of J. H. Brodie (Max Perlich) from reccuring guest to main cast member. Additionally Megan Russertt (Isabella Hofmann) moves down to reccuring guest star as well.

Set a while after Pembleton's dramatic stroke during the final episode of the previous season he's returned to duty but is currently confined to his desk. Andre Braugher is one of the powerhouse actors in this series and his performance as the still stroke impaired Frank Pembleton is hauntingly powerful. At times it's genuinely uncomfortable to watch him struggle along with things he used to do with ease (mind you, he does recover very quickly and is back up to his original strength - which is a huge break from realism for the show - but it was done because of poor audience reception to the change. )

It's business as usual for the members of Baltimore's Homicide unit as the season runs through the usual mix of cases; including a hostage situation in a school, a prison riot, investigation into Mike Kellerman on charges of corruption and we discover a previous member of the Homicide unit's ultimate fate...

The fifth season continues the standard of exellence raised by the previous seasons and is also the one with the least disruptions when it comes to cast changes, as such the third, fourth and fifth seasons hang together exceptionally well. It's a great set of episodes from a stunning show.

The Other Stuff:

I've always had a slight love/grip relationship with the region 2 Homicide sets from Fremantle Media Enterprises and series four is where the balance tips and my opinion slides off the edge of the see-saw and wallows around in mud and sewage. I do like the members of my boxed sets to sit on the shelf and hang together as a series. I know that not everyone cares about this as much as I do, but I don't think it's too much to ask for a little polished presentation in the product. Some pride you know?

Fremantle on the other hand obviously don't care about getting this season out with any kind of pride. Now I can almost forgive the switch in packaging style to using the generic plastic book style. It's a cost cutting exercise, but it does mean that the newer sets are nearly a full inch shorter than the older three. But they also decided not to include a cardboard dust sleeve, which means that not only are they smaller but they also look completely different on the shelf.

Additionally the back of the boxed set boasts not one, not two but three pictures from entirely the wrong seasons.

From top to bottom you have in picture one Stan Boulander (Ned Beatty) and in picture two Beau Felton (Daniel Baldwin) both of whom left before the start of the previous season and the third picture features both of them and Crosetti (Jon Polito) who left after the first season. Additionally the blurb on the back claims to have "All 22 Episodes of Season 4..." Seriously, Season 4? Do they not have anyone who fact checks this stuff before throwing it out to the printers? It's season 5...

This is all a shame because I actually feel the black and neon styling used on the box art is superior to the American version. It's just a lack of consistency that lets the side down.

None. See previous reviews, I shan't complain again here.

Run Time: 1056 mins approx
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Audio: 2.0 Stereo
Languages: English
Colour: Colour/PAL
Subtitles: English

This time it's HMV who win the price wars with a staggering offer of £11.99 for the complete fourth season. That's the lowest I've ever seen and it comes out at 1.13ppm, that's a new front leader in the highest amount of footage for your money and we're talking about quality footage here, Homicide is one heck of a good show. Seriously, wow. At that price I can ignore the packaging farce and just enjoy the quality of the show.

The Final Word:

I'm torn in two directions by this, the show itself is an undoubted work of art; there's not a single duff episode amongst the lot and it's everything a fan of Homicide of police drama could wish for. But the product put out does not reflect the same standard of excellence. Now the old saying is, never judge a book by it's cover and it holds up here. But still, it's hard to be content with the final product when it has so many annoying gaffes.

Final Score:




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