April 13, 2009

Night of the Dead Living in Homicide

Homicide: Life on the Streets is a landmark police series from the 1990s. It's perhaps the most realistic look at cops ever on TV.

Homicide specialized in showing the mundane words and thoughts of its characters. They often digressed on subjects ranging from race to politics to the Lincoln assassination.

I don't recall their ever mentioning Indians, but one episode includes three such references. Here's the story:Episode 9 "Night of the Dead Living," the last from season one, has the unit working the graveyard shift on a hot summer evening. Meanwhile, the squadroom's air-conditioning has broken down and tempers are running as high as the temperature. Remarkably, the episode is little more than characters sitting around talking, complaining, musing. No murders are investigated, and the camera does not leave the squadroom until the final scene, where the detectives gather on the precinct rooftop at sunrise for a spraying from a garden hose wielded by Lt. Giardello.First, a boy refers to the Roanoke story for no reason--telling how the colonists disappeared but left the word "Croatoan."

Next, Detective Lewis makes a stereotypical comment about Indians:What we need is a rain dance. You know, like the Indians used to do in Baltimore before Baltimore was Baltimore.Finally, Detective Bolander notes that Chicago was built on a garlic field--its name comes from the Kickapoo word for "big stink."

Anyway, Homicide is a great show. Check it out on DVD if you haven't seen it.

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

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