Worst episodes of the best TV shows
When '24,' 'Battlestar Galactica' 'ER,' 'Buffy,' and other series slipped up
"Homicide: Life on the Street"
Episode: "Wu's On First" (Season 5, episode 15)
AKA: "The One With Babe Ruth's Uniform"
"Homicide" made plenty of miscalculations in its later seasons: evil drug lords, helicopter chases, trading in Melissa Leo for Jon Seda and Callie Thorne, etc. But among the "Homicide"-adoring group of friends I've had for 20 years, no episode invites a shudder faster than "Wu's On First." It's co-written by David Simon, who was presumably going for something autobiographical in telling the story of the relationship between Pembleton and the Baltimore Sun's new police reporter. But that story is completely undercut by the casting of Joan Chen, whose clunky line delivery sticks out particularly when working opposite the great Andre Braugher. And the B-story, with Kellerman's brothers (guest stars Eric Stoltz and Tate Donovan) stealing an old uniform of Babe Ruth's to pay a gambling debt, isn't as ridiculous as various shootouts between the Homicide unit and arch-nemesis Luther Mahoney, but it's so goofy that it feels worse; the Mahoney stuff was at least reaching for something big and missing, you know?