"To get here, I had to run a virtual gauntlet of Christmas cheer.
Bargain-hungry shoppers, mewling kids, carols blasting from diabolically hidden loudspeakers.What kept me going was the thought that once I reached my destination - our sacred inner sanctum - I'd find refuge from this yuletide delirium."
Premiered December 16, 1994.
It's Christmas in Baltimore, Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) arrives at work in Scroog-y mood. He says he hates Christmas and isn't happy to see a Christmas tree in the precinct.
|Munch argues with Bollander about Christmas (check out Stan's Baltimore Orioles scarf).|
Munch and Bollander get a call about a dead body. It turns out to be a Salvation Army Santa. This prompts the cynical Munch to say "Uh-oh, Rudolph's gonna be pissed!" They visit the dead man's home and find a young boy named Fidel (Ryan Goldstein) all by himself. Bollander steps out to make a call, leaving Munch with the burden of telling Fidel about his father's death.
This is the last thing that Munch wants to do, he delays telling Fidel the crushing news for as long as he can. This leads to the two spending Christmas Eve together well into the night, talking about Fidel's father. They wind up visiting a batting cage, where Munch fails to make contact with a single baseball. The tragic death of Fidel's father forces Munch to find some Christmas cheer in his heart.
On the same time, Det. Meldrick Lewis (Clark Johnson) and Lieutenant Megan Russert (Isabella Hoffman) investigate another homicide. They find a woman who has been burned to death.
|The detectives are surprised to learn a deceased drug addict lived in a mansion.|
Back at the station, Det. Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor) is trying to get his fellow detectives to play cards. Bayliss suggests it's just for the sake of building camaraderie on Christmas Eve.
He's turned down by several co-workers.
|Det. Kay Howard (Melissa Leo) isn't interested in playing cards with Bayliss.|
|Giardello accepts Bayliss' challenge to a game of Hearts.|
I was a huge fan of Homicide:Life On The Streets when it aired back in the 90s. It was the best drama of the 90s and it featured one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. I'm a bit biased, because the series took place (and was partially filmed) in Baltimore, one of my favorite cities. Homicide was created by the same people who later produced The Wire and Treme and it helped pave the way for those series.
|Danielle Spright (Gabrielle Goyette) is interviewed about her husband's possible connection to a murder.|
|Bayliss critiques the tree.|
|Det. Frank Pimbleton (Andre Braugher) wishes he was home with his wife on Christmas Eve.|
|Felton wraps a baseball signed by Mike Mussina (I love the Baltimore references on this series!) for his son.|
But For Russert, investigating a murder is preferable to being at home with her family, since they remind her that her husband (whom she first met on Christmas) is dead. Lewis misses his late partner (they spent Christmases together), who has recently committed suicide. There's a nice scene where they share coffee and bond over this.
It's not all grim and depressing. One of the cases has a happier-than-expected ending. Munch's monologues about his hatred of Christmas (and just about everything else, except being a detective) are funny (helped by Belzer's background in stand-up comedy). Bayliss' attempts to engage the other detectives in a game of Hearts helps lighten the mood. And we get a brief but fun scene where the detectives engage in a snowball fight on Christmas morning.
|Howard prepares to hurl a snowball.|
But she keeps decorating her tree, discussing the arts of how to hang different colored bulbs, trying to delay hearing the awful news. When Lewis blurts out "Your daughter's dead" you can practically feel a jolt when Marchand's expression changes.
We also get a nice scene at the morgue. Lewis is surprised to that Scheiner (Ralph Tabakian), the coroner has Hanukkah decorations on display.
|Scheiner explains his Hanukkah decorations.|
|Bayliss gets in a cheap shot!|
"And All Through The House" is a great episode of one of my favorite series. I strongly recommend it, even if it isn't the most "feel-good" Christmas story ever.
|Gee is greeted by a Christmas morning snowfall.|
J.A. Morris' rating:
Four Candy Canes.