City detectives like real feel of new series

January 31, 1993|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

Baltimore homicide Detective David John Brown saw a snea preview of "Homicide" last month, and he liked it -- but it may not be for everybody, he readily admits.

"It's going to be a TV show that people are going to have to pay attention to. It goes from one case to another, and there are no machine guns, no Ferraris," says Detective Brown, 41, a six-year veteran of the Baltimore homicide unit.

"But for people who want to see reality on television, this is it. You see detectives not in shootouts, but in very difficult, mind-bending situations, trying to solve a case," Detective Brown said. "And that's what we do. Let's face it, we're typewriter cops, and we've got Chevy Cavaliers."

In fact, one of the early scenes in tonight's first episode involves a pair of detectives whimsically trying to find their assigned car in a police garage full of the plain white Cavaliers. The bit of humor is relief before the detectives head off to the dark city streets.

It is the very removal of the "Miami Vice" sort of glitter that is most appealing to the detectives.

Capt. Gary D'Addario, 51, who was a lieutenant in homicide while David Simon wrote the book on which the TV series is based, said the show "is very definitely set apart from the run-of-the-mill TV detective stories, which are for the most part uninteresting, with phony acting."

Real-life city homicide detectives all had high praise for the acting in the series. All of the characters in the show are based on the personalities of the actual detectives, although they have different names.

Detective Harry Edgerton, 44, said he was amazed at how much actual character detail was demanded by actors. Andre Braugher, whose character in the show is loosely based on Detective Edgerton, "was always asking me things like, 'Would you wear this hat?' " the detective recalled.

"Even Barry [Levinson] was trying to get a real feel for what we're like. I gave him some music that I listen to, some early Bruce Springsteen with the real big sax sound," Detective Edgerton said.

"It's music that I've cruised to; it's street music. I respected that he wanted to listen to it."

Also realistic is the setting, Detective Edgerton said. Actors and crewmen with hand-held cameras went to the same violence-ridden neighborhoods that homicide detectives visit almost nightly.

He added, "One night we were filming on 22nd Street in East Baltimore, and we heard gunshots. The people on the set asked me, 'Is that real?' And I said, 'Yeah, that's the real thing.' "

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