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Old 8th Jan 2008, 13:06   #11
amner
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Default Re: The Wire

For reference, I'm only on ep9 of series 1, so try and use tags, please.
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Old 8th Jan 2008, 13:44   #12
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Default Re: The Wire

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Originally Posted by amner View Post
For reference, I'm only on ep9 of series 1, so try and use tags, please.
And it just gets better from there - I actually thought the first series was merely pretty good when I first watched it, the show just keeps adding layers with each episode. The best way I can describe it is something like this: the whole show is one giant crane shot, starting on the micro level of a Baltimore street - cops and drug dealers - and then slowly zooming out and out and out over five seasons, keeping the same characters in focus but at the same time connecting the dots from the street all the way into the highest echelons of power and back again... with the possible exception of The Sopranos, it's the most literary thing I've ever seen on a TV screen.
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Old 8th Jan 2008, 20:45   #13
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Default Re: The Wire

I've just got seasons one and two all ready to stick under my belt. I've only seen the very first episode - about a year ago, courtesy of a friend - so I'm looking forward to this a great deal.
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Old 14th Jan 2008, 10:49   #14
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Default Re: The Wire

Oh, man...season One of The Wire now done, and like Bubs the junkie I'm itching and scratching to get my mitts on the next one, and the one after that.

How can they leave it like they did? Goddamnit...I can see meself popping out and getting season Two this lunchtime.

"Fucking brilliant," as the man says (no spoilers in link).
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Old 14th Jan 2008, 11:08   #15
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Default Re: The Wire

The Wire is far and away the best thing I have ever seen on the tube! Also the best I ever expect to see. And yes, beer good, it does make The Sopranos look more like, erm, amateur hour.
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Old 14th Jan 2008, 11:31   #16
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Default Re: The Wire

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Originally Posted by Russell View Post
And yes, beer good, it does make The Sopranos look more like, erm, amateur hour.
Thank heaven for that! I've felt like a cultural pariah ever since buying Sopranos season 1 on DVD, not liking the first episode, and giving it to a friend. And let's not forget Curb Your Enthusiasm...
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Old 14th Jan 2008, 12:18   #17
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Default Re: The Wire

A little more meat on the bones, but I'm all too aware that trying to sum up the reach and ambition of The Wire in a few digestible soundbites will do the show a significant injustice.

OK, so yeah, we're talking about the struggles and interactions of a) a group of detectives in the Baltimore Police Department, and b) a gang of drug dealers in that city's low-rise Projects area...that's the hook you get in episode one, but within a very short period of time you're soaring over some very wide-ranging issues and subjects indeed.

It's about the city, for a start, about the ebbs and flows of life in a claustraphobic town; it's about people dealing with other people, it's about economics; it's about how groups have an affect on the individual. It's massive. This first season was Time Magazine's best TV show of the year ("in 13 episodes, the series captured in pointillist detail the machinations of a bureaucracy-plagued police investigation and the drug dealers — portrayed, for once, in bold 3-D — it targeted. An eloquent lament for wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives.") and many other august journals have jumped on board with similar plaudits. Wonderfully, they're right. It really is as good as people say.

I think the thing that appeals most to me is the scope of the damn thing. Like Ellroy with his reinvention of LA, David Simon (The Wire's creator) has taken Baltimore and expanded on every little bit of it; nothing here happens in a bubble. When 'crime' stuff sucks - which is 99.99% of the time - then a big reason behind that is because it's all neatly compartmentalised; here we get ripples in the pond, connections everywhere and more shades of grey than there are, well, shades of grey.

I'm delighted to read in Miriam's linked Obsever piece at the start of the thread, that Simon envisaged The Wire from the start as a 5 Series beast...this hasn't been casually tacked on with new ideas, all of this was imagined top down to begin with, and that's just great. I'm only a fifth of the way through, but it's already visionary stuff.

Follow...
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Old 14th Jan 2008, 17:21   #18
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Default Re: The Wire

Watched three episodes and its already one of my favourite programmes ever.
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Old 28th Jan 2008, 9:49   #19
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Default Re: The Wire

Charlie Brooker went into full-on can't-turn-back-now effusive mode in Saturday's Gaurdian:

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High on the wire

After taking on the police, the politicians and the dealers, The Wire is now gunning for the media. As the final season kicks off in the US, Charlie Brooker meets its main players

Saturday January 26, 2008


A while ago, I reviewed The Wire on my low budget, miserabilist BBC4 show Screen Wipe, calling it "the best TV show of the past decade" in the process. I was wrong. I hadn't seen the fourth season then, which subsequently convinced me it's the best TV show since the invention of radio.How good is it? Put it this way: The Wire's so good, I've lost count of the number of people who've approached or emailed me just to thank ME for convincing THEM to watch it. The Wire's so good, I'm jealous of anyone who hasn't seen it yet, because they get to discover it anew. The Wire's so good, it's come to an end. Because that's what good things do, the bastards. The fifth and final season is currently airing in the US: it makes it to Britain later this year - although some of you may have already spotted the first seven episodes lurking on the internet.

A few weeks ago, I went to New York for the premiere and got to interview several members of the cast. It's odd meeting them in the flesh because they're simultaneously like and unlike the characters they portray. Wendell Pierce speaks with Bunk's voice - baritone, like an oak blowjob - but also discusses his recent stage appearance in Waiting For Godot. And Andre Royo sounds like Bubbles - that signature stuttering slur - yet seems scarcely recognisable in sharp clothes and designer specs. Incidentally, both Bubbles and Omar recognised me, having seen the Screen Wipe segment on YouTube. And yes, I'm bragging about that. As Wire devotees will understand, it was possibly the most thrilling moment of my life.

What's the secret of the show's success?

Andre Royo (Bubbles): "It makes people think. And they're so happy to fuckin' watch a show that makes them think."
Wendell Pierce ("Bunk" Moreland): "The humanity. The more specific you are, the more universal it becomes. People want to know the truth, and there's authenticity to our show. That's what people are responding to; that's why there's such diversity in our audience too. Everyone thinks the show speaks only to them, for them, because of that authenticity."
Sonja Sohn (Det. Kima Greggs): "It validates the experiences of a large group of people. Walking down the street I could be approached by lawyers, cops, dealers all saying 'That's exactly how it is. Finally there's something that shows what we go through, every day'."

In fact, it's so true-to-life, some of the criminal tactics portrayed on the show have been copied in real life.

Jamie Hector (Marlo Stanfield): "The cellphone strategy was used in the Queensbridge Projects in Brooklyn."
WP: "Dumping phones? Yeah, the cops got mad. The New York cops called HBO and said 'Wait a minute man, they're using that'."
JH: "And vice versa, because the cats on the street were like 'Damn, I see how we're getting set up now...'"
WP: "Some cops visited the set and said 'You know they talk about you on the wire? On the real wire that we have?' One time, they were sitting on this wire, and it was quiet for a real long time, and finally somebody called, and the first thing this guy said was 'Motherfucker, what did I say? Don't call when The Wire's on.'"

So the show's authentic. It's also complex. By taking in so many aspects of society - with characters ranging from corner boys (young street dealer) to schoolteachers to Congressmen, all intermingling within this immense, malfunctioning social machine, battered by each other's agendas - The Wire offers a bleakly convincing portrayal of both Why Things Mess Up and Why That Won't Change...

Clarke Peters (Det. Lester Freamon): "It doesn't answer any questions. But in holding the mirror up, you get a broader picture of how one aspect of your local government affects another aspect of your local government and so on... It allows you to see how these have a knock-on effect in Baltimore, and how the same stuff might be resonating in your own environment."

What's more, with each season, The Wire adds an additional institution to its already sprawling virtual Baltimore, bringing an influx of fresh characters with it. This time round, it's the media's turn: a fictional version of the (real) Baltimore Sun newsroom lies at the heart of the story...

Lance Reddick (Col. Daniels): "One of the questions that's always asked in the show is: how do you reconcile ethics with necessity? This season, with the media - what's their responsibility? To tell the truth or sell papers? It's the same compromise between the two. And it's the same thing with the police department, with City Hall, the streets... this season, they're all intertwined."

So is The Wire proof that fiction can sometimes be a substitute for journalism?

LR: "I'm struck by the question and can't help thinking it's a sign of the times. Art is art, and journalism is journalism. But [head writer] David Simon is a journalist. And historically, when you think about how many great novelists were journalists - did Dickens have a political agenda when he wrote Oliver Twist? Absolutely. And did he try to make it as realistic as possible, based on his experience? Absolutely. It's not journalism... but the show is unique because as a piece of art it does its job amidst a sea of entertainment created to pacify people and get them to buy stuff . I can only speak as an American, but most journalism here isn't doing its job any more. It's about selling stuff ."

Not many actors get to work on a bona-fide masterpiece. Has the show spoiled you?

WP: "Oh, definitely."
AR: "I did an episode of Law & Order... My character's got a gun in the house. Now when the cops come in, and I see a clear hallway? I run out. And they're like, 'Cut, cut... Listen... We're not as smart as The Wire.' You know, I get it. It serves its purpose and it's a great show. But when I read a script now? I'm a little spoiled. Because not only was [The Wire's] writing great, but I don't know if you're going to see this many people of colour on one show. With characters. Not just walkbys. It felt great, man. You didn't really realise for the first couple of episodes. You're just happy to be working. But then you're looking round the table one lunchtime, and you're like: hey, there's a lot of black people here, wow! And we all have characters. Will it ever be like this again? I don't know, but you gotta hope."

If nothing else, The Wire's roll call of well-rounded black characters - making up the majority of the cast - highlights just how clueless most TV shows are on this front...

WP: "To see the images of young black folks in the inner city coming from Hollywood? Pfff. Those little paper dolls they send out, those one-dimensional stereotypes of us... That's bullshit compared to the real in-depth investigation of these people. Sometimes it's little things, you know? I had a part once on a show, and one of my lines was 'I came home that day and I saw mother dead.' That got a rewrite to: 'I came home that day and I saw momma dead'. And I said, 'Black people say mother! You don't have to be afraid of that! It doesn't have to be momma just because I'm black!" And they were like, 'Are you sure?' Now that may seem silly, but I've been on shows where we literally had executives ask, 'Uh, do black men kiss their kids?' They actually said that! It's like - do you think we're not human or something? So if [The Wire] actually changes people's perceptions, that's very important."

And now it's finally over? Clarke Peters describes it as "like experiencing a death". Lance Reddick admits to "crying like a baby" after his final scene. Sonja Sohn is more upbeat...

SS: "We all felt that this was a mission. We all realised how important this show was. And that we got to be a part of it, we got to bring some sort of enlightenment...We got to move people. Just knowing that you served a brilliant purpose in your life for five years - on a television show? It was tremendous."

Pity about the lack of awards, though.

WP: "It'd be great to get the awards, but you know man... years from now, when people look back and start calling off the best shows? We're gonna be on that list. We're gonna be like The Bicycle Thief of television."
When he says that, everybody laughs, Pierce included. Partly because the tongue-in-cheek way he says it is just naturally funny. But also because it's true.

A few key characters

The Wire has tons of brilliant characters. Here are just a few of them.

Omar Little

Played by Michael K Williams
If The Wire is a cult, Omar Little is a cult within a cult. The laconic stick-up man is one of the show's most popular characters, especially amongst its real-life gangster fans. That a violent fictional criminal has become a thugs' pin-up might not surprise you... except Omar also happens to be gay.
"In my community, growing up in Brooklyn, in the projects, homophobia is part of the culture," says Michael K Williams. "And it astounds me how that just got overlooked. Omar is not going to be remembered for who he went to bed with. That's such a small part of who we are as human beings anyway. People are more concerned with whether they're in the way of his shotgun."
In season five: "This season it's all about the code for Omar. He wants things to change. He sees people like Marlo as a problem in the community... it's not about the money this season. He puts his heart out there."
Fun fact: Michael K Williams also played "the cop" in R Kelly's Trapped In The Closet.

Detective Lester Freamon

Played by Clarke Peters
Methodical, patient, and strangely calming, Lester Freamon is the one man you'd want to be next to during a nuclear holocaust. Because chances are, he'd know what to do, and he'd do it calmly. At the end of the fourth season - SPOILER ALERT! - he uncovered 22 dead bodies tucked away in abandoned row houses, much to the chagrin of his superiors - because the resultant spike in murder statistics made them look bad.
In season five: "Lester's going to find out who's responsible for those bodies by any means necessary..."
Fun fact(s): Clarke Peters lives in London. He wrote the musical Five Guys Named Moe.

Bubbles

Played by Andre Royo
The agonising travails of luckless junkie Bubbles make the average Greek tragedy look like High School Musical. You want to lurch into the screen and hug him, provided he took a bath first. Last season Bubbles reached rock bottom. Now he's trying to stay clean.
In season five: "Bubbles has to find out what his purpose is, or if he even wants to have a purpose. Who do I serve now, but me? And I'm scared of myself."
Fun fact: While researching the role, Andre Royo decided to deny himself certain vices to find out how it felt to have an itching, aching need. "Anything I liked to do, I stopped doing it. So no watching TV, drinking Coca-Cola, having sex... Five months without that, you're scratching."


ยท The Wire Season 5 is on FX in July; Season 4 DVD is out Mar 10
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Old 28th Jan 2008, 10:10   #20
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Default Re: The Wire

Sometimes I see the word "Spoiler" and it holds no fear for me - just now I almost strained my eyes looking away from the screen. I've watched the first two series now, and after a suspicious wobble in the face of all the "Polacks" I've come to the conclusion that both are fantastic and this may be my actual favourite show of all time. My g/f has now started too, struggling valiantly against the accents, and finished series one claiming that she loves The Wire - which is great, although she has also started saying Yo in a "Baltimore" street accent at the end of her sentences (such as "Pass me the bread, yo") and laughing like a loon...

I'se goena have slap her upside the hade, yo. Doentcha knoe.
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