Even with the luxury of time, picking a favorite episode
of a series you've written is hard. You like some episodes because the actors
took your work to a whole new level. You like some because the director
filmed the story exceptionally well. And you like others because you dealt
with an issue as honestly you possibly could.
I am proud of "Colors" because it embodies all three elements: outstanding
performances, fine filmmaking and social relevance.
Based on a true story, "Colors" features my old St. Elsewhere colleague David
Morse in the pivotal role: a husband and father who murders a teenager in
order to protect his home. The script also displays another angle of the
complex and volatile relationship between Pembleton and Bayliss.
Director Peter Medak did an excellent job with the Rashomon scenes, as the
truth of the crime is revealed from different perspectives.
But, ultimately, I am putting this episode on the website because I feel
strongly that we, as Americans, need to keep alive our national discourse
on racism. Especially the subtle forms of racism as depicted in "Colors."
I am proud that, on Homicide, we dealt with the issue balls out. In six
seasons, the series never shied away from asking tough questions, hopefully
allowing the viewers to find the answers in their own hearts and minds.
Recently, my partner Barry Levinson was honored by the ACLU for the on-going
celebration of civil liberties in his work. As part of the retrospective
that evening, Barry included scenes from "Colors."
Oh, one more thing. This episode includes a cameo by Tim Russert, who I
went to Canisius High School with in Buffalo. He said to me once that, even
though he's met presidents and popes, his family was more thrilled by his
appearance on Homicide than anything else he's done. He was joking, of course.