Mike Kellerman
Homicide series developed for television by Paul Attanasio
Based on the non-fiction book by David Simon

"There's more cheating in Baltimore than there is Kodak film."
-- Kellerman waxes philosophic

One of the best P.I. dramas ever aired on television -- and certainly the best I'd seen in years -- on any -- size screen, were two episodes plopped in the midst of the final season of Homicide: A Life on the Street, NBC's cop drama.

The memorable two-parter dealt with the return and resurrection of fallen angel and disgraced former Baltimore murder cop MIKE KELLERMAN as, of all things, a private eye.

Longtime viewers may remember Kellerman as the once-promising rookie homicide cop who was forced to resign from the force after his involvement in a suspicious shooting. As the long story arc played out, Kellerman, still smarting from previous charges of corruption, slowly watched his personal and professional life fall apart. At the end of the sixth season, it seemed Kellerman was gone for good.

And then, in the middle of the seventh season, Kellerman was suddenly back, now just a bottom feeding private eye, not above a little window-peeping, if it pays the bills. He takes on as his client one of the teenage suspects in the nasty case of the murder of a baby. For Kellerman, it's a chace to do what he considers "real" police work again. But his old co-workers, particularly his nemesis Detective Falsone, don't exactly share Kellerman's joy at him second-guessing one of their cases.

In a show already awash in the dark grit of urban decay, moral rot and personal damnation, this is primal stuff: fear, guilt, betrayal, hate, shame, loyalty and, surprisingly, honour, are all trotted out, and Kellerman's unexpected return to the show tore right into the guts of the show's dark, nasty heart.

Despite the hoary old chestnut of an ex-cop turned private eye, Homicide managed something increasingly rare in network television's typical approach to to private eyes. They worried about maiking Kellerman a real character first (not a watery assemblage of personal quirks and wacky eccentricites) and a private eye second.

It was all handled so well, so potent and gripping, you just had to wonder if this was a dry run for something. A pilot for a possible spin-off, perhaps.

But it wasn't. Kellerman's character slipped back into the shadows, and a few months later, the TV show did as well,

Kellerman did, however make one final appearance, in Homicide: The Movie, a television movie that aired a year later. Kellerman still a private investigator, was one of the former members of the squad to gather when their former boss, Lt. Al Giardello, is shot down. He and Giardello's son Mike, a former FBI agent, team up, and Kellerman uses his contacts to help track down some of Al Giardello's old enemiess in Baltimore's Italian quarter.

Kellerman is last seen in the Waterfront, the Homicide squad's watering hole, having a drink with ex-M.E. Julianna Cox, with whom he once had a relationship.

UNDER OATH

  • "...personally, I was glad to see Kellerman go at the end of last season. The Luther Mahoney plot was just stretched way past breaking point. However, exacty those things that annoyed me about him as a cop work for him as a shady PI, particularly the attitude. It was brilliant opening with him taking adultery pictures through a window, immediately defining him in terms of the genre where "honorable" PIs refuse to take domestic cases. And the totally non-sincere disclaimer ("I advise you not to look at these pictures") reminded me of JJ Gittes in Chinatown."
    -- Mark Sullivan on Rara-Avis

TELEVISION

  • HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET
    (1991-99, NBC)
    Based on Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1991) by David Simon
    Developed for television by
    Paul Attanasio
    Starring
    Richard Belzer, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Gerety, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Toni Lewis, Kyle Secor, Zeljko Ivanek, Michael Michele, Callie Thorne
  • "Kellerman, P.I.: Part One" (December 4, 1998)
    Story by Julie Martin, Tom Fontana
    Teleplay by Joy Lusco
    Directed by Ken Fink
    Guest starring Reed Diamond as MIKE KELLERMAN
    with
    Chris Gunn, Jena Malone, Austin Pendleton, Lynn Schrichte
    .
  • "Kellerman, P.I.: Part Two" (December 11, 1998)
    Story by Eric Overmyer, Tom Fontana
    Teleplay by Sean Whitesell
    Directed by Jay Tobias
    Guest starring Reed Diamond as MIKE KELLERMAN
    with
    Chris Gunn, Jena Malone, Austin Pendleton, Lynn Schrichte
  • HOMICIDE: THE MOVIE
    (February 13, 2000, MBC
    Teleplay by Tom Fontana, Eric Overmyer and James Yoshimura
    Directed by Jean de Segonzac
    Starring
    Yaphet Kotto, Kyle Secor, Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Peter Gerety, Jon Seda, Callie Thorne, Toni Lewis, Michael Michele Giancarlo Esposito, Melissa Leo, Andre Braugher, Ned Beatty, Isabella Hofmann, Max Perlich, Jon Polito, Daniel Baldwin, Zeljko Ivanek, Michelle Forbes
    with Reed Diamond as MIKE KELLERMAN

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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