Homicide: Life on the Screen


236 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55022-358-5
DDC 791.45'72






Reviewed by Tamara Jones

Tamara Jones, a former production stage manager/operations supervisor in
the Entertainment Department of Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, has
relocated to Burlington, Vermont.


Hoffman begins this comprehensive look at Homicide by comparing the
critically acclaimed television series with David Simon’s book
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, which recounts the history of
the Baltimore City Police homicide unit. Although he describes both TV
show and book as “penetrating exploration[s] of American life through
the tales of how we kill each other,” he points out that the latter
details the difficulties of translating biographical narrative to
television and television’s relationship to society.

Hoffman illustrates the unique properties that differentiate Homicide
from other police shows: innovative camera work, long takes, aggressive
editing, a refusal to water down its subject matter, and a willingness
to take risks with its characters. All these things, in Hoffman’s
view, are characteristics of a show that “has striven to be art.”
His book, which is based on interviews with the Homicide cast and
producers as well as with David Simon and the police he wrote about,
goes beyond a nuts-and-bolts look at a particular television show in
offering reflections on violence in society and explanations for the
popularity of the crime drama as a form of entertainment.


Hoffman, Tod., “Homicide: Life on the Screen,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/429.