Finding out a new acquaintance is a fellow rabid fan of “Homicide: Life On The Street” is akin to when that little girl dressed like a bee in Blind Melon’s “No Rain” video discovers a whole welcoming village of bee folk: It’s meeting your people.

It’s an especially precious relationship based on a mutual love of a Baltimore-set show that went off the air 24 years ago, has only been sporadically available in reruns and is completely absent from streaming platforms. But a new podcast, hosted by a former crew member and a super fan in conversation with writers, directors, actors, camera people and others involved in the series is my new auditory happy place.

Finally, I can listen to discussions between people who get my love of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning show, answering questions I’ve had for decades from the people who were there. During the 1993-1999 run of the show, “Homicide” felt like visiting my hometown, so I’ve always felt an affection for the creatives who gave that gift to me.

“Across the board, there was really a special confluence of people and ideas” on the NBC series, said Susan C. Ingram, a former camera assistant on the show and co-host of “Homicide: Life On The Set.” “It got it more than right.”

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The podcast’s third episode, which drops Thursday, features actor Kyle Secor, who portrayed initially fresh-faced Detective Tim Bayliss. Bayliss ― who partnered with intense series standout Detective Frank Pembleton, played by the still thoroughly missed, late Andre Braugher ― was so much my favorite that I named my 1999 Toyota Corolla after him. (I told you I was a fan.)

Ingram met her co-host Chris Carr, a British-born filmmaker and podcaster, self-described “Americaphile” and “Homicide” aficionado, when he reached out to her and other police show veterans in February 2023 for input while he was writing a script for one of his own. As the two bonded over their mutual love of the show, Ingram remembered Carr saying, “Hey, maybe we should do a podcast about this?”

Ingram started reaching out to her former “Homicide” colleagues right away, including director of photography Jean de Segonzac, showrunner Tom Fontana and producer Julie Martin. “Everyone was so excited when we started talking,” she said. Ingram and Carr were repeatedly told that it had been one of the best, if not the absolute best, gigs in each person’s career.

Unlike Ingram, who grew up here, Carr had never really heard of Baltimore before discovering “Homicide” as a teenager back in Witley, a village in Surrey, England, that “was more like ‘The X Files,’ with lots of pine trees, than Baltimore.”

Even in that faraway, rural place, he said he grew to prefer the relative lack of gore and gratuitous violence of “Homicide” compared to other crime shows like “Criminal Minds.” That CBS procedural even got to be too much for original star Mandy Patinkin, who left after three seasons because in “the show every week was another murdered woman. ‘Homicide’ never was,” Carr said. “I did a massive rewatch before my dad died, and I don’t know why, but when I was talking to the coroner after he died, it felt like ‘Homicide.’ It gave me some comfort. It was a show about death, where they talked about life.”

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That relationship of opposites took many forms on the show, which was at once dark and funny, poignant and hard, with speckles of Baltimore-flavored light. On the second episode of the podcast, Fontana talks about how creator Barry Levinson insisted on recreating David Simon’s book “Homicide: A Year On the Killing Streets” as a cop show with no car chases and no shootouts, which production upheld until much later in the series.

Camera assistant Susan C. Ingram on the set of “Homicide: Life on the Street.” (Courtesy of Susan C. Ingram)

As a Baltimorean, I was so shocked at how much the show captured the city, a place outsiders didn’t always know anything about until “The Wire” — and honestly, some of them still get it wrong. Ingram, who grew up in Woodlawn and now lives in Randallstown, said the production was set apart by “a love and understanding of the city,” whose residents grew to understand the show’s purpose.

“The thing I appreciated the most was when we went to underrepresented areas in the city, and here’s 99.9% white people descending on them,” she remembered. “We would talk to people on their stoops. Even when we went to the projects, the kids would come out, and we would let the kids sometimes help us out. There was a feeling that people were being seen.”

The show also created a sense of camaraderie that could be felt through the screen because Fontana insisted every member of the cast and crew live in Baltimore, rather than just parachute in and then head back to New York or Los Angeles.

“The fact that they were able to immerse themselves enough to get it? They captured the heart of the city. Other people who aren’t from here don’t understand why we love it,” Ingram said. The show never felt like “it exploited the people or the issues here in order to make a buck. I always felt like it did a great job of showing what Baltimore was, good or bad. They wanted to tell not just the story of the struggle of the homicide detectives, but the struggles of living in Baltimore.”

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Although Carr wasn’t there on set, as a podcaster and a fan he’s loved hearing about the friendships and working relationships between cast and crew. “It sounded like things could be a little tense, because they were all taking their work very seriously, but it seems like a very interesting, fun show to be on,” he said. “The closest I’ll ever be is to hear the stories.”

Listening to the podcast and talking to Carr and Ingram, I, too, felt like I was going back in time to the set, vividly remembering the city’s recreation pier, now occupied by the swanky Sagamore Pendry hotel. The closest I ever got to the set myself though was visiting right after the show’s cancellation to purchase mementos, including a “French Connection” shirt worn by Michael Michele’s Detective Rene Sheppard. (It was later stolen with the other contents of my gym bag, including a brand new pair of running shoes. I was sadder about the shirt.)

The thorn in every “Homicide” fan’s side is the fact you can’t find it anywhere. For a while it was shown on Court TV, and if you’re watching a “Law and Order” marathon, you might catch the “L&O” halves of several crossover episodes with “Homicide.” The problem has long been suspected to be the expensive nature of securing the rights of the music used on the episodes, which Simon also seemed to allude to in a recent post on X, but on the podcast, Fontana said he and Levinson still haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer.

Ingram believes it would be a shame if it didn’t eventually make its way online.

“I’m not saying there are not other brilliantly written shows,” she said, “but this one, 30 years later, is above and beyond.”

This column has been updated.

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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