GUEST ARTICLE: From the home of TV excellence; HBO, comes The Wire, a show that leaves no character; no matter how small, by the wayside.
Cops and robbers, you thought those great shows like Hill street blues were done and dusted didn’t you? You were thinking all we get nowadays is ‘cop only’ shows like Law & Order and a few bitey English dramas, well draw a breath, wipe your schedule and think again. The ante is way up. And so is the score.
From the opening scenes where we find McNulty (Dominic West) shouldering curbside in the night with the despondent friends of a most recently deceased kid named ‘Snot’, to just the third episode where we meet Omar Little (Obama’s favourite character; played by Michael K. Williams), a menacing, lone-wolf stick-up artist who never hits anyone not ‘in the game’, staking-out a drug stash, we become spellbound with this look at the American City. Baltimore City.
Written mainly by the show’s creator David Simon; a Baltimore journalist with the Baltimore Sun, and Ed Burns; a former Baltimore police detective, The Wire carries the viewer through every crack in the fence as the city struggles with it’s incumbent order of police and drug dealers, ports and politicians, children and teachers, homeless and mayoral candidacies.
The moment you slip the second disc into the player you will be sleeping less than Churchill, as the story moves from the players on the street; both cops and dealers, up a level through the hierarchy of the illicit business of narcotics and the bureacracy of it’s enforcement, then spiralling down the City’s Halls of injustice chasing every crooks motive. And by now those working the street are no longer the crooks…
Packing the punch of five concurrent seasons, The Wire draws much of its life from the character actors, extras and locals fitting seemlessly into rolês alongside those of the pre-cast ensemble to provide the never so correctly used description of ‘gritty realism’.
With a soundscape that acts as an extra character, one that is often silent, Blake Leyh’s musical direction heads off the need for any catchy ‘soundtrack’ by anchoring any music firmly to the environment, to the location, to just what you would hear ‘on the corner’, almost in symbiosis with the sound effects themselves.
The Wire’s creator, David Simon, poignantly chooses his former profession; Journalism, as the burdened vehicle to carry the increased gravity of the fifth and final series. Having beloved and decried all facets of the city’s people, Simon now leans on The Baltimore Sun to shed its crippled and lopsided light on the story.
With out-of-town ownership, budget cuts and a dwindling regard for quality journalism, the paper too, struggles to protect and inform. A theme that carries through every episode of each series as one does what one must to get by.
“It’s all in the Game” – Omar.
Other People’s Reviews of The Wire
If Charles Dickens was alive today he probably would have created The Wire. It tells stories of injustice, of the poor and the disenfranchised and their struggle against the big end of town. Unlike Dickens, though, The Wire creators David Simon and Ed Burns do it without a hint of sentimentality.
- Sydney Morning Herald
When television history is written, little else will rival “The Wire,” a series of such extraordinary depth and ambition that it is, perhaps inevitably, savored only by an appreciative few. Layering each season upon the previous ones, creator David Simon conveys the decaying infrastructure of his hometown Baltimore in searing and sobering fashion — constructing a show that’s surely as impenetrable to the uninitiated as it is intoxicating to the faithful.
The Wire is arguably the greatest television programme ever made … Its central character isn’t a cop or a criminal but a city: the faded industrial port of Baltimore, Maryland. Over the course of 60 episodes and multiple storylines, The Wire portrays Baltimore – and by extension urban America as a whole – through the eyes of dozens of characters.
Each series focuses on a different facet of the city, including the drug-ravaged housing projects, down-at-heel docks, crumbling public schools and corrupt political administration. Regardless of whether its characters are running drugs or running for office, The Wire refuses to make black-and-white judgements about them. Its prevailing moral universe is grey.
- Telegraph UK
The Wire, which has just begun its fourth season on HBO, is surely the best TV show ever broadcast in America. This claim isn’t based on my having seen all the possible rivals for the title, but on the premise that no other program has ever done anything remotely like what this one does, namely to portray the social, political, and economic life of an American city with the scope, observational precision, and moral vision of great literature.
This guest article has been written by my friend Simon Tracey (@Zagundo on Twitter). Simon manages the food/wine operations at Potts Point Liquor & Deli.
If you’re a blogger or an expert about a topic I cover on this blog I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your guest article here including generous attribution and back links back to your website as thanks for your contribution