A show too good for TV . . . `Homicide': Great series put Baltimore on map for reasons that bring cold comfort.

May 15, 1999

ALL good things must end, even "Homicide: Life on the Street." The television drama set here has been canceled for next season by NBC. That's a business, not artistic, decision and an inevitable one. The 122nd episode, Friday, is to be the last ever.

Seven seasons is not bad for a series that won with critical acclaim. Along the way, it did wonderful things. The hand-held camera brought a gritty realism.

This was notable fiction based on a depressing nonfiction book, "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," by then-Sun reporter David Simon. The writing, acting and directing set standards. It strengthened the small screen's pretensions at high art and remains the best cop show made.

Beyond that, "Homicide" has been full of insider, cultist comments about Baltimore, truths and willful mistakes. It did not just use Baltimore. It moved in. Cast and crew became valuable citizens and local celebrities, even some who are national celebrities. Fells Point developed a niche tourism, attracting fans from afar looking for the scenes portrayed. That's because anyone watching the show felt it just had to be real, and might be found.

The show that made Baltimore proud also made it wince. Who wants to be known as the murder capital of the nation, even when there is some truth to it? "Homicide" showed a squalid and evil side of human nature and, therefore, of Baltimore.

But Baltimore is a big town and can take it. "Homicide" did wonderful things for this city's economy and even in a strange way its self-esteem. It's sad to see "Homicide" end. . . . and too bad

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