Three Men and Adena

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"Three Men and Adena"
Homicide: Life on the Street episode
Homicide life on the street three men and adena.jpg
Tucker is interrogated by Pembleton and Bayliss
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 5
Directed by Martin Campbell
Written by Tom Fontana
Cinematography by Wayne Ewing
Production code106
Original air dateMarch 3, 1993
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"A Shot in the Dark"
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"A Dog and Pony Show"
Homicide: Life on the Street (season 1)
List of Homicide: Life on the Street episodes

"Three Men and Adena" is the fifth episode of the first season of the American police drama television series Homicide: Life on the Street . It originally aired on NBC in the United States on March 3, 1993. The episode was written by executive producer Tom Fontana and directed by Martin Campbell. In the episode, Pembleton and Bayliss have a 12-hour limit to elicit a confession from Risley Tucker for the murder of 11-year-old Adena Watson. The episode takes place almost entirely within the confines of the police interrogation room with the three actors.

<i>Homicide: Life on the Street</i> (season 1) Season of television series

The first season of Homicide: Life on the Street, an American police procedural drama television series, originally aired in the United States on NBC between January 31 and March 31, 1993. The show was created by Paul Attanasio, with film director Barry Levinson and television writer and producer Tom Fontana serving as executive producers. Adapted from David Simon's 1991 non-fiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the season followed the fictional detectives of Baltimore Police Department homicide unit and the murder cases they investigate. The show was broadcast on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, with the exception of the series premiere, which aired immediately after Super Bowl XXVII.

NBC American television and radio network

The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.

Tom Fontana is an American writer and producer. An Emmy winner, Fontana worked on NBC's Homicide: Life on the Street and created HBO's Oz.

Contents

Tucker was played by actor Moses Gunn, which was his final acting role before his death in December 1993. "Three Men and Adena" was seen by 7.08 million households in its original broadcast, which was among the lowest-rated network shows from that evening. However, the episode received positive reviews; it is considered one of the classic Homicide episodes, and ranked number 74 in an Entertainment Weekly list of the 100 greatest television moments. Tom Fontana won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode's script.

Moses Gunn American stage and screen actor

Moses Gunn was an American actor of stage and screen. An Obie Award-winning stage player, he co-founded the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1960s. His 1962 Off-Broadway debut was in Jean Genet's The Blacks, and his Broadway debut was in A Hand is on the Gate, an evening of African-American poetry. He was nominated for a 1976 Tony Award as Best Actor (Play) for The Poison Tree and played Othello on Broadway in 1970.

<i>Entertainment Weekly</i> American entertainment magazine published by Meredith Corporation

Entertainment Weekly is an American magazine, published by Meredith Corporation, that covers film, television, music, Broadway theatre, books and popular culture.

Emmy Award American television production award

An Emmy Award, or simply Emmy, is an American award that recognizes excellence in the television industry. It is presented at numerous annual events held throughout the calendar year, each honoring one of the various sectors of the television industry. The two ceremonies that receive the most media coverage are the Primetime Emmy Awards and the Daytime Emmy Awards, which recognize outstanding work in American primetime and daytime entertainment programming, respectively. Other notable Emmy events include those honoring national sports programming, national news and documentary shows, and technological and engineering achievements in television, including the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards. Regional Emmy Awards are also presented throughout the country at various times through the year, recognizing excellence in local and statewide television. In addition, the International Emmy Awards honor excellence in TV programming produced and initially aired outside the United States.

Plot summary

Bayliss (Kyle Secor) and Pembleton (Andre Braugher) prepare to interview Risley Tucker (Moses Gunn), an elderly arabber. Bayliss is convinced Tucker murdered 11-year-old Adena Watson, but Pembleton is less confident. Since they have already interviewed Tucker multiple times, the court will not allow him to be bothered anymore if he does not confess after this interview, and the detectives have only 12 hours to elicit a confession before Tucker walks free. Pembleton starts off acting friendly while Bayliss, who has taken the Watson case very personally, is more aggressive. Adena used to work for Tucker, taking care of his horse. Pembleton brings up Tucker's alcoholism, but Tucker said he gave up drinking because he used to black out, insisting he hasn't had a drink in 16 months. Tucker also insists he hadn't seen Adena for three days before she died, but Bayliss shows him she had soot on her skirt that matched soot from Tucker's barn, indicating she was there the day she was killed.

Tim Bayliss

Timothy "Tim" Bayliss is a fictional character on Homicide: Life on the Street, played by Kyle Secor and one of the few main characters to last the entire run of the show. He was loosely based on real-life Baltimore homicide detective Thomas Pellegrini, featured in David Simon's book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, though Pellegrini was reportedly not at all a fan of his fictional alter ego. The character also appeared in the Law & Order episode "Charm City."

Kyle Ivan Secor is an American television and film actor. He is known for portraying Detective Tim Bayliss on the crime drama series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999).

Frank Pembleton fictional homicide detective

Francis Xavier "Frank" Pembleton is a fictional homicide detective on the television drama series Homicide: Life on the Street portrayed by Emmy Award winning actor Andre Braugher. He is a primary character of the show through the first six seasons. Although the show featured an ensemble cast, Pembleton would become a fan favorite and is often identified by them as the show's signature character. He is based on Baltimore Police Department Detective Harry Edgerton, who, like Pembleton, was an eccentric New York bred African American detective in the BPD homicide unit featured in David Simon's book. Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. The character also appeared in the Law & Order episode "Charm City".

During a moment of anger, Bayliss nearly presses Tucker's face against a hot pipe on the wall, but Pembleton stops him. Tucker still angrily insists he did not kill her, and he agrees to submit to a polygraph test. When Bayliss leaves, Pembleton speaks to Tucker in a soft and comforting tone, trying to get Tucker to trust him. Pembleton suggests Tucker had a drink and blacked out the night he killed Adena, and he seems close to getting a confession before Tucker once again insists he is innocent. With four hours left before the deadline, Bayliss returns and says Tucker failed the polygraph test. Bayliss and Pembleton then aggressively team up on Tucker, talking quickly and intimidating him with repeated questions. They bring up a previously dropped statutory rape charge against Tucker involving a 14-year-old girl, then suggest he attempted to have sex with Adena and killed her because she resisted. They confront Tucker with gruesome crime scene photos of Adena and ask him if he is sure he didn't kill her, to which a frightened and confused Tucker replies, "Not right now, I'm not."

Polygraph device or procedure that attempts to infer lying by measuring physiological indicators

A polygraph, popularly referred to as a lie detector test, is a device or procedure that measures and records several physiological indicators such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while a person is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief underpinning the use of the polygraph is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers. There are, however, no specific physiological reactions associated with lying, making it difficult to identify factors that separate liars from truth tellers. Polygraph examiners also prefer to use their own individual scoring method, as opposed to computerized techniques, as they may more easily defend their own evaluations.

With less than an hour left and still without a confession, the detectives are exhausted, and Tucker turns the table on them. He claims Pembleton has the attitude of a man trying to distance himself from his African American heritage because he is ashamed to be black. Tucker also accuses Bayliss of hiding a "dark side" inside him that he is afraid to embrace. Eventually, Tucker admits he harbored pedophilic feelings for Adena, and feels shame that the "one great love of my life was an 11-year-old girl". He breaks down and cries, but still insists he did not kill her. The 12-hour time limit elapses and the detectives fail to get a confession. Tucker is released and Bayliss is miserable he was unable to close the case. Pembleton, who has a new respect for Bayliss, tries to comfort him by saying he is now convinced Tucker is the killer, but Bayliss is no longer so sure.

Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. Although girls typically begin the process of puberty at age 10 or 11, and boys at age 11 or 12, criteria for pedophilia extend the cut-off point for prepubescence to age 13. A person must be at least 16 years old, and at least five years older than the prepubescent child, for the attraction to be diagnosed as pedophilia.

Production

The episode was the final acting role of Moses Gunn (pictured). Moses Gunn 1974.jpg
The episode was the final acting role of Moses Gunn (pictured).

"Three Men and Adena" was directed by Martin Campbell and written by Tom Fontana, executive producer of Homicide: Life on the Street. The interrogation room at the homicide division, colloquially referred to by detectives as "The Box", is a setting that appears in almost every episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. While filming an interrogation scene there in "Gone for Goode", the first episode of the first season, director Barry Levinson commented to Fontana that the acting from Andre Braugher and Kyle Secor was so effective, an entire episode could be filmed revolving strictly around an interrogation. The comments partially inspired Fontana to write "Three Men and Adena". [1] Fontana said, "I only had the courage to write that episode based on the fact that I had seen what (Braugher and Secor) could do in the pilot episode". [2] Almost the entire episode of "Three Men and Adena" takes place within the confines of the police interrogation room with Braugher, Secor and Moses Gunn, the actor who guest starred as Risley Tucker. It was Gunn's final acting role before his death in December 1993. [3] Fontana acknowledged a certain amount of risk in producing such an unusual episode in only the fifth week of the show, but he said, "It was important for Barry Levinson and I to establish that we weren't going to do the same old show every week." [4]

Martin Campbell New Zealand film and television director

Martin Campbell is a New Zealand film and television director based in the United Kingdom. He is best known for directing the highly-regarded British miniseries Edge of Darkness (1985), for which he won a BAFTA, and the Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and Casino Royale (2006). He also directed The Mask of Zorro (1998), The Legend of Zorro (2005), Green Lantern (2011), and The Foreigner (2017).

Gone for Goode 1st episode of the first season of Homicide: Life on the Street

"Gone for Goode" is the first episode of the first season of the American police drama television series Homicide: Life on the Street. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on January 31, 1993, immediately following Super Bowl XXVII. The episode was written by series creator Paul Attanasio and directed by executive producer Barry Levinson. "Gone for Goode" introduced regular cast members Daniel Baldwin, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Wendy Hughes, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo, Jon Polito and Kyle Secor.

Barry Levinson American screenwriter, film director, actor, and producer

Barry Levinson is an American filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. Levinson's best-known works are mid-budget comedy-drama and drama films such as Diner (1982); The Natural (1984); Good Morning, Vietnam (1987); Bugsy (1991); and Wag the Dog (1997). He won the Academy Award for Best Director for Rain Man (1988), which also won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

"Three Men and Adena" marked the conclusion of the Adena Watson murder case, a story arc which began at the start of the first season. [3] The Watson case was based on the real-life 1988 Baltimore slaying of Latonya Kim Wallace, [5] which is chronicled in Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets , the 1991 David Simon non-fiction book that served as the basis of the Homicide series. Elements of the interview in "Three Men and Adena" were incorporated from real-life police interrogations in that case. The Wallace case was never solved, and Fontana insisted that the Watson case in Homicide remain unsolved as well, despite pressure from NBC for a more satisfying conclusion. Fontana said, "We never solved it because we felt that it would be a disservice to the real girl, to have this fake TV solution. Because it's not O.K. that she died, that no one took responsibility." [6] The scene when Tucker admits for a moment he is not sure in his own mind that he didn't commit the murder was inspired by a similar real-life interaction Fontana found in a police interrogation transcript during his research. Fontana said, "It was so chilling (and) I was like, 'Oh man, how do you get there?'" [6]

In essence, we were doing a play. We were doing a drama in which it was just as dangerous, in a certain way, as if we were on stage and it was happening right there before our very eyes. And we got a lot of very interesting, spontaneous human emotion by filming it that way, and I loved it. I absolutely adored it.

Andre Braugher , actor [2]

Martin Campbell spent three days of preparation on the "Box" set, analyzing it from every angle to learn the feel of the room. [2] Fontana comes from a playwriting background, and "Three Men and Adena" involves long lengths of dialogue in a single setting, much like a play. The actors shot about 14 pages of dialogue each day, [2] and had a very small amount of rehearsal time before shooting. According to Fontana, Campbell never shot a scene from the same angle twice, "So the entire hour keeps changing the point of view of the camera, so that you never get tired of being in that room." [2] While filming the episode, Campbell would shoot single scenes with multiple pages of long dialogue, then film the scene again from another angle. Braugher said the experience felt more like staging a play than shooting a television episode, and allowed for a feeling of spontaneous human emotion in the performances. [2] Although the dialogue in the final episode did not stray from the original script, Fontana said Campbell and the actors came up with the rhythm and pacing of the performances largely on their own, particularly during the fast-paced questions when Pembleton and Bayliss team up on Tucker. [2]

The fact that Tucker goes free upholds a common theme in Homicide: Life on the Street – that life is not always fair, and that criminals sometimes get away with their crimes, a conviction that often put the show's producers at odds with NBC executives. [7] Fontana deliberately wrote the script so that it would remain ambiguous whether Tucker committed the murder or not. He wanted the character to have a genuine feeling of love for Adena Watson, but the strong feelings do not specifically mean he killed the girl. Braugher praised Fontana for creating such a three-dimensional character in Tucker, and said, "Fontana's genius is that we are never quite certain as to what it is that we have on our hands." [2] Fontana also wanted Pembleton and Bayliss to have different interpretations of the same interrogation; Bayliss begins the interview convinced of the man's guilt and becomes uncertain by the end, and Pembleton has the opposite experience. [2] Multiple police departments have requested copies of "Three Men and Adena" for use in training sessions due to its accurate portrayal of the intricacies of the police interrogation process. [6] The interrogation included several police tactics not typically featured in television dramas, including the presentation of false evidence in an attempt to get a confession. [8]

During the opening scene of the episode, Bayliss watches the music video for "Surround", by the British band Bleach. [9]

Reception

Ratings

In its original American broadcast on March 3, 1993, "Three Men and Adena" was watched by 7.08 million households, according to Nielsen ratings. The episode received a 7.6 rating/12 share. [10] [11] It was among the lowest-rated major network shows from that evening, in part due to heavy competition from ABC's broadcast of the Sixth Annual American Comedy Awards, which was seen by 14.7 million households. [10] [12] "Three Men and Adena" was also outperformed by CBS's two-hour broadcast of In the Heat of the Night , which was seen by 11.82 million households and Fox's Beverly Hills, 90210 , which was seen by 10.33 million households. Also on NBC that day, the series premiere of the new Crime and Punishment fared better than Homicide, capturing 8.47 million viewers. In the Washington, D.C.-based affiliate WRC-TV's market alone, the episode was watched by 122,166 viewers, which locally was also the lowest rating of the evening. [10]

Reviews

"Three Men and Adena" received positive reviews and has been described as one of the "classic episodes" of Homicide: Life on the Street. [3] [13] [14] [15] "Three Men and Adena" ranked number 74 in an Entertainment Weekly list of the 100 greatest television moments, and number 15 among the top television moments from the 1990s. [4] It was also identified by The Baltimore Sun as one of the ten best episodes of the series. Sun writer David Zurawik said Fontana's playwriting background was deeply infused in the episode, which he called a "landmark hour" that it "put (three men) and a few sticks of battle-scarred, municipal-green furniture and somehow managed to show us the human soul and the heart of darkness". [14] Additionally, "Three Men and Adena" was among a 1999 Court TV marathon of the top 15 Homicide episodes, as voted on by 20,000 visitors to the channels website. [5] [16] [17] David Bianculli of the New York Daily News said the episode "remains one of TV's best drama hours ever", [18] and he ranked it the second-best television episode ever made, behind the Taxi episode where Reverend Jim gets his driver's license. [19] Entertainment Weekly writer Bruce Fretts said the episode was "one of the most powerful prime-time hours ever" [4] and called Andre Braugher's performance a "tour de police force". [20] Alex Strachan of The Vancouver Sun described "Three Men and Adena" as "one of Homicide's finest moments". He called the episode "claustrophobic, cynical and ultimately painful" and particularly praised the performances of Braugher and Secor, and the fact that it was not a happy ending. [21] David P. Kalat, writer of Homicide: Life on the Street: The Unofficial Companion, described the episode as "an astonishing tour de force of writing and acting that demonstrates all of Homicide's best qualities". He also praised the chemistry between Braugher and Secor, particularly when they found a common voice during the interrogation. [22]

Rocky Mountain News critic Dusty Saunders said the episode was "as good as dramatic television gets", and showed how the quality of Homicide is anchored in strong writing and acting rather than action. [23] John Leonard, a literary and television critic, called it "the most extraordinary thing I've ever seen in a television hour". Leonard praised the tension, the setting and the writing, particularly when Tucker turned the tables on the detectives. [24] He said the episode was better than such works as Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden and author Don DeLillo's books about men in small rooms. [24] [25] Lon Grahnke of the Chicago Sun-Times called it a "relentless masterpiece". [26] Manuel Mendoza of The Dallas Morning News considered "Three Men and Adena" one of the best Homicide episodes and particularly praised the performance of Moses Gunn. Mendoza also said, "The claustrophobia of The Box contributes to the palpable tension. [3] The Baltimore Sun television critic David Zurawik said the episode established The Box as "the main stage for Pembleton and the moral center of the Homicide universe". Zurawik also said, "Stark and minimalist, the episode was musical theater as much as television, a celebration and explosion of language; an angry, urban opera with the voices of Bayliss and Pembleton coming together and then falling back as Tucker sings a final aria of rage and contempt." [13] Calgary Herald writer Bruce Weir said the episode "is Homicide at its finest: brilliantly written, intensely acted and continuously surprising." [7] Emily Nussbaum of The New York Times called "Three Men and Adena" the standout episode of the series, and described it as "a potent showcase for the series' smartly mordant dialogue, and its willingness to explore the cliches of TV detectives instead of merely repeating them". [6] Los Angeles Times writer Howard Rosenberg described it as a "mesmerizing (and) complex character study", and said Gunn delivered the best guest performance of the television season. [27] Grant Tinker, former CEO of NBC, said of the episode, "I thought it was stunning." [28]

Awards and DVD release

Tom Fontana won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for his "Three Men and Adena" script. It was one of two Emmys Homicide: Life on the Street received during the 45th Primetime Emmy Awards season, with Barry Levinson also winning an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for the episode "Gone for Goode". [29] "Three Men and Adena" and the rest of the first and second season episodes were included in the four-DVD box-set "Homicide: Life on the Street: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2", which was released by A&E Home Video on May 27, 2003 for $69.95. [30]

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References

  1. Levinson, Barry (2003). Homicide Life on the Street - The Seasons 1 & 2(Audio commentary)|format= requires |url= (help) (DVD). A&E Home Video.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Bianculli, David (March 23, 2006). "Actor Andre Braugher discusses his career and new show "Thief" on FX". Fresh Air. New York City. Event occurs at 12:00–12:10 p.m. National Public Radio.
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  4. 1 2 3 Fretts, Bruce (February 19, 1999). "1990s; As the 20th century comes to a close, the TV nation has grown into one big unhappy family". Entertainment Weekly . p. 96.
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  7. 1 2 Weir, Bruce (June 27, 2008). "Escape the Summer TV Drought; Why suffer through lame summer reruns when television's masterpieces are available now on DVD for your viewing pleasure? We go back to the Vault to rave about eight unforgettable series". Calgary Herald . p. SW22.
  8. Stevens, Dennis J. (2009). Media and Criminal Justice: The CSI Effect. Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. p. 246. ISBN   978-0-7637-5531-7.
  9. Homicide Life on the Street - The Seasons 1 & 2(Special Features: Song Listing)|format= requires |url= (help) (DVD). A&E Home Video. 2003.
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  11. "Nielsen Ratings/March 1-7". Press-Telegram . March 10, 1993. p. D5.
  12. Holloway, Diane (March 8, 1993). "'I'll Fly Away' may be bound for PBS". Austin American-Statesman . p. B10.
  13. 1 2 Zurawik, David (May 14, 1999). "Number's up for "Homicide"; NBC kills acclaimed Baltimore cop drama after seven seasons; A victim of poor ratings". The Baltimore Sun . p. 1A.
  14. 1 2 Zurawik, David; Kaltenbach, Chris (May 16, 1999). ""Homicide": The best of the best". The Baltimore Sun . p. 5F.
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