Picking Over the Pieces

The last remnants of the award-winning 'Homicide' series -- Frank Pembleton's wool coat, the table from the interview room -- go on sale tomorrow. Thanks for the memories.

March 01, 2000|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,SUN STAFF

The folks who brought you seven years of "Homicide" are prepared to plea bargain with your nostalgia. You might even say they're on the take. Just show up at the detectives' squad room by the Fells Point waterfront tomorrow or Friday, and for $25 in cold cash you can lug home one of the investigators' battered old desks.

Or, for about the same price, walk away in Detective Frank Pembleton's wool houndstooth overcoat, the very one he shivered in through the wee hours while standing over all those fake corpses and their fake pools of blood.

Even better, make an offer on a table from the interview room, the kind that comes equipped with handcuffs. Your dinner party guests need never leave early again.

Such is a mere smidgen of the merchandise that will be available beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m. when items from the "Homicide" set go on sale to all comers. It's just about all that's left -- besides memories -- of the Emmy-winning show that called Baltimore home for seven years, and you can pick through the remains right at "police headquarters," at 1701 Thames St.

Strictly cash and carry. Everything must go.

Well, almost everything. NBC has already claimed the famous big board you saw every week, the one listing the names of murder victims in black, red and blue. Ditto for the Godzilla mascot from the coffee room. Those items and a few others will go to the network's archives.

Otherwise, says "Homicide" set dresser Cris Hastings, "We want to be able to give everything back to the community."

Which is a nice way of saying the show is officially a corpse, so please come to the estate sale to help clean out the attic. In fact, giving money to NBC for "Homicide" artifacts might strike some devoted fans as blood money, like paying the hit man who just bumped off your best friend.

But at least the prices are right.

That's particularly true in the narrow gloomy corridors where wardrobe coordinator Amanda Johnson sorted through a full 60 racks of clothing on a recent afternoon. Most pieces will go for $5 to $10 each, she says -- slacks, jackets, shirts and suits, pressed together in a musty tumble like some star-quality C-Mart.

"There are some nice items, too," Johnson says. "DKNY suits. Calvin Klein. Of course, for some of those we'll charge more like $25."

For the star conscious, the racks are conveniently divvied up actor by actor, which also helps ease any searching for your own sizes. For instance, if you're a tall guy with an empty closet, needing size 16-37 shirts and 44 extra long jackets, you could fill every gap simply by sweeping clean the rack for Detective Tim Bayliss. And bulk buyers should feel free to bargain for even lower prices, Johnson says.

There are still clothes available for most of the long-departed characters, such as Pembleton, and even Detective Stanley Bolander. But fashion plates beware: Avoid the rack with Lt. Al Giardello's clothes. Too many double-knits and sansabelts. And, sorry, but none of the Baltimore City Police Department uniforms that appeared in the show will be for sale, lest buyers begin arresting friends and neighbors.

For those who've always wanted to be a TV gumshoe, now you can do the next best thing by stepping into a TV gumshoe's gumshoes, available literally by the basket, some 500 pairs in all. Unsold shoes and clothes will be donated to local homeless shelters.

Even fans not in a buying mood might want to drop by, if only to stroll through the remains of the set. The squad room is pretty bare, with the photos and plaques stripped from the walls and the desktop bric-a-brac sorted into cardboard boxes. But the desks are there to be seen, and so are the blue walls that caused such a fuss after repainting.

Walk into the interview room, a pretty bare place to begin with, and it can still feel as if you're about to be grilled by a Bayliss-Pembleton tag team. Better hurry if you want to buy the table with the handcuffs, though. There are only two, and Hastings says one has already been claimed by filmmakers working on a sequel to the "Blair Witch Project."

Down in the coffee room sits the tired old "Bunn Pour-Omatic," which has perked its last -- unless you take it home for a few bucks. Almost everywhere you look, in fact, something is for sale. Fake trophies, fake proclamations. Fake kiddie drawings for their fake daddies to post above their desks.

Hastings was the chief architect of the personalized collections of desktop clutter that are for sale. She worked from tips appearing in the script from week to week. When Detective Rene Shepard mentioned she was a basketball fan, Hastings got a small toy hoop for her desk. Detective Laura Ballard was from Seattle, so her junk included a Seattle souvenir plate. That bottle of Rat Bastard Root Beer poking from a box belonged to Detective Meldrick Lewis.

For some items, you'd need to take a truck, such as the two portable basketball goals that once stood out back, or the heavy mahogany-veneer desk and matching credenza in Giardello's office.

One shopper with a special interest in the show got a head start on Monday. That would be Patrick Russell, the owner of Kooper's Tavern, which is right across Thames Street from the "headquarters."

Kooper's, sometimes a watering hole for cast members, is already something of a shrine to the show. Russell already has one of the earlier "big boards" hanging in the bar, and on Monday he picked a few of the choicer framed items from the squad room walls to enhance the effect.

But never fear, Hastings says, there's still plenty for everyone.

Tag sale

What: Items from the "Homicide" set

When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., tomorrow and Friday

Where: 1701 Thames St., Fells Point

Terms: Cash and carry only; all sales final

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