If you’re not already watching Lt. Joe Kenda: Homicide Hunter on Investigate Discovery, you’re not truly living. Joe Kenda is one of our world’s last unspoilt wonders, and I’ve created a list of all of his best moments from Homicide Hunter.
That Time The Producers Sexed Things Up A Bit
Perhaps the most absurd aspect of the show is the jarring incongruity between real-life Joe Kenda and re-enactment Joe Kenda.
It’s clear that producers aimed to sexify the show after Season 1. Re-enactment Joe Kenda trades in his glasses for contacts, smokes more cigarettes per episode, and ditches the cheesy ties for a sleek, all-black get-up in each episode.
Re-enactment Joe Kenda is a Kohl’s Menswear Catalog come to life, and his facial expressions run the gamut from pensive and bored to . . . just pensive. Unlike real-life Joe Kenda, who knits his brows furiously and whose eyes widen with curiosity as he describes gruesome crime scenes, re-enactment Joe Kenda only shows emotion through smoking cigarettes and then stomping them out with his shiny black dress shoes.
Real-life Joe Kenda stares into your soul; re-enactment Joe Kenda stares slightly off-camera and tries not to blink.
The Opening of Every Episode
Starting with Season 2, each episode opens in the foreboding background of an abandoned warehouse with close-ups of Joe Kenda’s steely blue eyes and wrinkled, doughy face. As the ominous background music builds, we get another close up of Kenda holstering a gun as he presumably readies himself to solve another 400 murders.
Every episode opens with his monologue: “There’s only one thing that never changes: murder. A life has been taken. Their stories are now my stories. I’m Lieutenant Joe Kenda and I’ve solved nearly 400 homicides. Somebody has to take control. Somebody has to look out for the victim. I never know where a case is going to lead, but I’ll never stop until it’s solved.” This man is relentless. He ambles through a shadowy, abandoned warehouse and peers at us from behind what appear to be the slats of a wooden pallet. Where are you Joe? Why are you in that warehouse all alone? And what secrets lay hidden in your flabby jowls?
That Time When He Wouldn’t Take No Guff From A Bunch Of Teenagers
In Season 5 Episode 11 (“Too Young To Die”) a group of high school guys shoot a 16 year old boy to death in the parking lot of a local fast food joint. Although Joe Kenda doesn’t have a lot of leads in the beginning of the episode, his thirst for vengeance doesn’t wane: “At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how far you run, because if you look over your shoulder, you’re going to see us.”
Kenda has no qualms expressing his disdain for youth/pop culture as he recounts the events that led up to the shooting: “That evening, all these guys went to see the movie Boyz In The Hood. They’re kids. Movies become reality to them. They come out of this theater all jazzed up about being boys in the hood, and the next thing you know there’s a discussion about going and beating somebody up. And now they get a chance to do it for real.” Kenda does not approve of the influence of movies on young minds, but just listening to him make these kinds of comments gets me all jazzed up about WATCHING MORE JOE KENDA.
That Time He Made Us All Look Lazy
Lt. Joe Kenda transcends the most basic of human needs—food and sleep—because Maslow’s hierarchy of needs does not apply to him. There is only Kenda’s hierarchy of needs, and at the top is a NAME and a FACE.
In Season 4 Episode 9 (“#1 Suspect”) we learn that Joe Kenda doesn’t need to eat. He says: “If I didn’t have to eat I wouldn’t. It just doesn’t mean anything to me. Whatever it is, I order a number one. There’s always a number one. So whatever shows up is what I eat.” While Joe Kenda is not picky about his food, he is picky about how he solves crimes. To Joe Kenda, sleeping and eating are but petty nuisances that get in the way of reaching his real goals: hunting down the most depraved criminals in Colorado Springs.
That Time He Was NOT Intimidated By Lonnie The Drug Dealer
In Season 3 Episode 8 (“My, My, Merry Christmas”), Kenda explains how he solved the murder of Donald Ott, a young man who got caught up in the crossfire of a drug dealer’s rage. After he delivers the bad news to Donald’s family, he asks “How do you suppose Donald would ever run across an individual like this dope salesman?” The mother responds, “That’s his half-brother, Lonnie.” The camera zooms in on Kenda’s widening eyes as he intones sarcastically “Oh, how nice.” Kenda’s dry sarcasm is like sandpaper to my soul, scratching away any hope I had left for humanity.
The family describes Lonnie as a big intimidating guy, but Kenda is not impressed: “Lonnie’s some badass, drug-dealing maniac that everybody is terrified of . . . no matter what Lonnie is I don’t imagine he’s bulletproof. I don’t care how big he is, how bad he is, I need to find him and I need to find him right now.” Joe Kenda cannot, and WILL NOT, be intimidated. Little does Lonnie know that Kenda is the real maniac here–the badass, murder-solving maniac with a penchant for poetic catchphrases.
Every Time He Says “My, my, my”
In that same episode, Kenda describes arriving at the seedy motel where Lonnie is staying and knocking on the door to his room. “And who’s on the other side but Leonard Michael Davis. Well my, my, my Lonnie. What are you doing in this dump?
As a catchphrase, “Well my, my, my” is easy to incorporate into everyday conversation, but to get it right, you really need to lower your voice into the register of Kenda’s gravelly, midwestern drawl. If you drink each time Kenda utters this phrase, you’re drunk after one episode.
That Time He Was No Longer Just a “College Kid”
It’s important to know that Joe Kenda was once a rookie who got razzed by his superiors. In Season 4 Episode 13 (“My First Case”) we get a glimpse into Joe Kenda’s early days on the force. Joe Kenda started in 1977 (he had been working for the Colorado Springs Police Department for 4 years) with a crew of grizzled veterans who had no patience for some “college kid.”
The narrator informs us that “all Kenda’s hard work and determination has earned him is the animosity of a few veteran detectives.” Being one of the first people on the force with a college degree, Kenda suffered insults from his compatriots who looked at him as “the college boy.” As re-enactment Kenda pours himself a cup of coffee, a vet derides him: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you old enough to drink that, college boy? We could probably get you some chocolate milk in the back.” How could they be so mean to Joe?!
Their tirade is interrupted by the sergeant who announces a double homicide on the west side and says he needs all the help we can get. Kenda, of course, volunteers, and ends up solving the case. Joe Kenda is just like us: an underdog who comes through in spite of the haters.