"The Wire" on HBO

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did you watch it martin?

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Friday, 14 January 2005 17:28 (nineteen years ago) link

Yes, and I'm impressed. It obviously isn't going to overtake Homicide in my affections after one episode, but I certainly see why it's so loved.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Friday, 14 January 2005 17:52 (nineteen years ago) link

was it season one?

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Friday, 14 January 2005 18:06 (nineteen years ago) link

"A key break in the investigation occurred in August when police followed Ferguson to Las Vegas, where he was trying to drum up business for his line of urban wear."

Whoever Posts Below This is Gay (Adrian Langston), Saturday, 15 January 2005 21:58 (nineteen years ago) link

"this is still the greatest show ever ya know"

yes. yes i do know. even though I missed most of this last season :[[[[ After not catching a bunch of eps in a row I basically gave up and decided to wait for the reruns, but the beginning of the third run wasn't quite as arresting as what came before, one had the sense that the show had found a groove and was settling into it (i think by tackling so many Big Ideas™ in the second season they ended up neutering themselves in terms of how far they could expand the scope of the story) (not necessarily a bad thing) but there was still quite a bit of interesting stuff going on. and I had no idea that Stringer bell was one of those rappin' limeys!! They should get Dizzee on there.

Whoever Posts Below This is Gay (Adrian Langston), Saturday, 15 January 2005 22:16 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah, as far as I could tell they were starting from the very beginning, so I know there is lots to come.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Tuesday, 18 January 2005 13:23 (nineteen years ago) link

"The one woman charged in the case, Melissa Wakefield, 26, has an apparent infinity for high-end shoes, such as Prada and Gucci."

dave225 (Dave225), Tuesday, 18 January 2005 13:31 (nineteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
I'm obsessed with this show. I only discovered it late last year, on DVD, and am finishing the second season now. Blockbuster doesn't carry it in Baltimore. (Gee, I wonder why?) I'm also checking out George Pelecanos's books (he's one of the show's best writers).

Here's my review of Season One in City Pages:

HBO Home Video

Only some of The Wire's greatness can be measured by how thoroughly it demolishes the "realism" of other TV public dick shows and gangsta soaps. Every trick of television verisimilitude has a freshness date, and makes way for a new set of clichés (think of the shaky camerawork in the now rote Law & Order franchise). Even FX's The Shield, once the cutting edge of morally ambiguous cop heroes, demonstrates the diminishing returns of constantly defying viewer expectations. In the end, its extremism is about nothing but other cop shows.

HBO's The Wire, however, is about work. And the genre it subverts isn't just the crime one, but the nameless category of TV and film that might be labeled "people who are great at their jobs and work like maniacs." Most characters in this emergent genre of the overworked '90s and '00s are judged by how well they serve their institutions. Yet in The Wire, it's the institutions that are the problem--including the illegal ones. Running a housing project in West Baltimore like a death squad might run a food court, local gang members adhere to a demeaning organizational hierarchy. There's no Bonnie and Clyde fantasy of freedom to this murderous pecking order, which exists only to perpetuate itself. (In one poetic touch, the kingpin's right-hand man takes macroeconomics at the community college. At the core, he's a company man.)

The narcotics detectives have their own parts to play, and it doesn't seem remotely heroic when they buck authority. McNulty, the romantic lead among cops (he carries a liquor bottle and spits when he talks), admits at one point that he's pursuing the gang as an ego trip. If characters find dignity anywhere in the Sisyphean drug war, it's in their duties to each other, and in their craft.

Created by a former Baltimore Sun reporter (David Simon, who also gave us Homicide: Life on the Streets) and a former Baltimore Police detective (Ed Burns), The Wire is clearly a work of journalism. But it never pretends that the truth can set you free. --Peter S. Scholtes


Pete Scholtes, Sunday, 6 February 2005 23:24 (nineteen years ago) link

i can't wait to see this show

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Sunday, 6 February 2005 23:44 (nineteen years ago) link

I started from the beginning last week and I'm halfway through the first season right now, and I'm totally astonished by how good this show is. It's exactly the kind of show I want to see right now, at least in terms of realistic fiction.

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 01:44 (nineteen years ago) link

does it have all the "documentary" stylistic aspects of law and order? i.e. shaky camera and abrupt camera movements, ostentatiously overlapping dialogue etc.? or is it more reserved?

Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 7 February 2005 01:46 (nineteen years ago) link

I can't agree with the people who go for the "best tv show ever" thing though - I still think that Arrested Development and The Sopranos are better shows, though this is all very apples-and-oranges. It's definitely one of the best shows ever, though, and most certainly the finest show about cops and crime ever. (The Sopranos is more of a grand tragedy than a straight crime show.)

Amateurist, The Wire is the most naturalistic show I've ever seen on television. Yeah, some shaky camera etc but only when it suits the scene. It's not very stylized, most of the technical filmmaking stuff is pretty subtle.

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 01:50 (nineteen years ago) link

The style is more cinematic than documentary, which I think is all to the good. It's very well paced and edited, but not in a way that makes you notice -- it's all at the service of the story (or stories, actually), so that what seems good after two episodes seems great after four or six or eight as the various threads wind around each other and the characters get deeper and richer.

It allows itself occasional flashy touches (like Bunk and McNulty's great "Fuck" scene, where the dialogue consists entirely of "Fuck" said with a dozen or more different inflections), but those come as sort of welcome bonuses -- easter eggs for dedicated viewers or something.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 7 February 2005 01:55 (nineteen years ago) link

Also, I know this an obvious point, but the fact that characters in The Wire can say "Fuck" -- or anything else they want -- makes a lot of difference. Profanity has always been a glass ceiling on "realism" in TV drama, especially TV cop drama. Even NYPD Blue's alleged envelope-pushing -- "asshole," etc. -- just made obvious how restricted the show's writing still was by FCC codes.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 7 February 2005 01:58 (nineteen years ago) link

yeah the fuck scene probably does count as 'flash' for the wire and it's decidedly not that flashy!

j blount (papa la bas), Monday, 7 February 2005 01:59 (nineteen years ago) link

And besides, it's not all "fuck." There's a lot of "motherfucker" and "fuck me" in that scene!

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 02:03 (nineteen years ago) link


Amateur(ist) (Amateur(ist)), Monday, 7 February 2005 02:45 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm also checking out George Pelecanos's books (he's one of the show's best writers).

Agreed. After I devoured the season one DVD set I picked up a stack of Pelecanos novels and fell in love with his work pretty much immediately. A Firing Offense, his first one, is pretty stiff, but King Suckerman and The Sweet Forever are genius -- lots of great music references and layered characters and observations about race. His work on The Wire is starting to inform his writing pretty obviously; I just finished an advance of his next book, Drama City, and it has a very Wire-y structure. There's less music stuff, but it's still good stuff. (Comes out in March.)

m.e.a. (m.e.a.), Monday, 7 February 2005 03:07 (nineteen years ago) link

So good...just finished watching season two on DVD last night. The second season takes a lot longer to really get going, then it seems like it goes really fast for the last few episodes, but it was still really good. There are so many great characters in this show: Stringer Bell, D'Angelo, Frank Sobotka (the actor who plays him is INCREDIBLE, why the fuck isn't he everywhere?), and especially Omar.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 16:40 (nineteen years ago) link

The level of moral fluidity on this show is pretty amazing for a cop show, there are really no "good" guys or "bad" guys at all.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 16:43 (nineteen years ago) link

I think the show takes the entirely moral stand that this is what you get when you criminalize drug use. And the show is definitely not amoral when it comes to the choices made by these characters: D has some hope for redemption. Stringer is the devil as CEO.

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 7 February 2005 18:21 (nineteen years ago) link

you think stringer is the devil??? i think that cleary the writers have a palpable affection for stringer -- there's honor in his turning slinging into just another brick and mortar store. there are no devils on the wire, in large part because the writing team obviously LOVES every one of their creations, even rawls. don't forget that more than anything the wire is a show by and for writers.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 18:24 (nineteen years ago) link

I haven't seen that far ahead, but I think that there's definitely a difference between the writers loving a character and that character also being irredeemably evil. From what I've seen, Stringer is obvs evil, but realistically so. The whole show is a big grey scale of morality, and Stringer is in the darkest end of the spectrum.

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 19:58 (nineteen years ago) link

how is stringer evil??? i seriously fail to see this. avon is far more violent. stringer is just cuthroat and smart.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 19:59 (nineteen years ago) link

I agree with Yancey. I think Stringer is perceived as being "evil" just because he's less emotional, or less demonstrative in his emotions. It's easier to forgive Avon because he breaks down occasionally, but Avon does things that are a lot worse. Hell, if you want to take the perspective that the show is anti-drug-criminalization, then Stringer is essentially blameless.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:03 (nineteen years ago) link

OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:05 (nineteen years ago) link

That's probably exactly why I percieve Stringer to be a worse person, though I think Avon is a pretty cruel bastard too. Again, I'm only 8 episodes into the show, plus a few episodes from season 3.

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 20:08 (nineteen years ago) link

within the frameworks of the wire, i don't think anyone we see could be called evil -- these are the people at the bottom of the power theory pyramids, and they are simply making do with the reality that they have been dealt. any accusation of "evil" should clearly be moved farther up the chain to people high in power who are willing to milk the lower class' lives and livelihood to maintain their source of strength, a la every hegemony theory ever.

but what makes the wire so great is that it never gauchely strikes out at the status quo (see: everything bad about michael moore); instead it accepts that it is reality and shows how people work within it: what they bend, what they break, how they cope, how they don't. and so all of the action that we are presented with are people bristling and bumping up against the limitations of life itself. that's where you get the hyper-realism. there are no master criminals or puppetmasters or cops. i mean, jimmy mcnulty is don quixote with a drinking problem and that's that. he's not special; he's smart and he's well trained.

and nick i'm with you that frank sobotka (he's currently on the espn poker show tilt) was a great character. i really can't think of a character that i didn't like. even prez gets his moments!

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:29 (nineteen years ago) link

(and for the record i have watched season 1 three times, season 2 three times and season three once. yes i should marry it.)

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:31 (nineteen years ago) link

(also i think i might have now passed like 50,000 words written about the show.)

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:33 (nineteen years ago) link

The one character I can't stand: Ziggy. Yes, I understand he's supposed to be a fuck-up, and he has a couple of good tender moments, but overall I found him hard to sympathize with.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:34 (nineteen years ago) link

Yancey, you're the entire reason I'm into this show right now, so I'm glad that you've written so much about it.

I don't know, regardless of the societal reasons that lead people to do awful things, I have a hard time forgiving extreme cruelty, violence, and murder. It's easier for me to feel bad for guys like D'Angelo Barksdale, but not so much for powerful puppet masters like Stringer and Avon.

Matthew "Flux" Perpetua, Monday, 7 February 2005 20:40 (nineteen years ago) link

i'm with you ziggy, nick. i think what keeps us from totally turning on him is that we all know someone like him.

and matthew i'm psyched to hear that! that's great.

if anyone's interested in a cheap copy of s2 ($60!), i may end up having two copies of it on dvd shortly. i bought it when it came out but i think i'm getting another copy from hbo cuz i reviewed it for blender. if it does arrive (i never count on these things) i'll post notice here.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:45 (nineteen years ago) link


I think one of the many things that's great about the series is that it shows rather than tells in making its case. We hear about dumb Pollocks, then notice some of them being smarter than the characters using that phrase. Stringer and his boys call Omar a cocksucker and a faggot, but we see him having more heart (in every sense) than any of them. In season two, one of the young dock workers talks about project niggers, but ends up doing essentially the same business as them, but with less smarts.

Now, you could make the argument that there is "honor" in Stringer's taking an Econ class and attempting to invest drug money in "legitimate" stocks and other businesses, schooling his employees in the realities of capitalism that have to be faced before a gun is drawn. You can definitely make the argument that he's a great character, and the show's writers love him.

But to me, he's the essence of a soulless rational maximizer. He takes what he can get. He kills characters I like, because they might hurt him down the road as informants. Once you extend the idea of "honor" to self-preservation at all costs, you have adopted Michael Corleone's morality, my friend.

Plus, he doesn't like go-go music!

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 7 February 2005 20:48 (nineteen years ago) link

OK little SPOILER alert for anyone who's not seen season 3, but I think Stringer is your basic Shakespearen tragic hero type. Or tragic antihero, maybe. Point being that he is undone by the same things that allow him to succeed -- ruthless pragmatism, eye on the bottom line, and a strong but imperfect grasp of how the world works. So I don't think he's evil, exactly; I think the writers are as fascinated by him as the audience is (and as the other characters in the show are, too -- McNulty's pursuit of him is as much out of curiosity as antagonism).

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:50 (nineteen years ago) link

(er, Shakespearean)

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:51 (nineteen years ago) link

the most shakesperean character by far, i think, is lil ziggy. he's a tragedy wrapped in ugly-ass italian leather.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:55 (nineteen years ago) link

bumping up against the limitations of life itself

Life itself? I think if you don't see a radical critique of the various systems on display in front of us, you're trying not to see it. Check out this interview with the show's creator:


Pete Scholtes, Monday, 7 February 2005 20:56 (nineteen years ago) link

pete of course there's a critique of the systems. but it's not spelled out nor does it take on the individuals in power. instead it shows how those policies and decisions affect people actually on the ground. show not tell and all that.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Monday, 7 February 2005 20:59 (nineteen years ago) link

Poor Ziggy. The scene where he tries to get the dudes to take his coat as payment and they just make fun of it is one of the funniest and most pathetic in the whole series.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Monday, 7 February 2005 21:01 (nineteen years ago) link

The two good scenes with Ziggy: out on the docks with his dad late at night, smoking a cigarette together, and when his dad comes to see him in prison, and Ziggy leaves the interview room and is immediately engulfed in a crowd of huge scary prisoners.

n/a (Nick A.), Monday, 7 February 2005 21:07 (nineteen years ago) link

Sorry to be grumpy. Another great Ziggy scene: "Bad advice! You guys gave me bad advice!"

Pete Scholtes, Monday, 7 February 2005 23:35 (nineteen years ago) link

Huh. It's kinda weird to read this article after seeing The Wire. I mean...

At a review of crime statistics last week at the police headquarters, computerized maps flashed onto screens as ranking officers sharply questioned precinct commanders on crime trends. Forests of blue icons pinpointed drug-dealing hot spots, many accompanied by red X's to denote homicides.

Yet as the maps showed killings increasing in some places, they also showed that other reported crimes, including rape, robbery, aggravated assault and burglary, were down in most precincts.

"As I ride down the street, I'd have to say the city is safer," Acting Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm said.

Not everyone is so sure. Some criminologists have questioned the statistics, arguing that some precinct commanders may be downgrading serious crimes to lesser categories to make their districts look better.

And then there's this, which Simon's gotta be kicking himself for not thinking of first:

"Baltimore is actually a very safe city if you are not involved in the drug trade," Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson said.

And look at the photo -- it's Carcetti and Burrell!

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 9 February 2005 06:28 (nineteen years ago) link

Okay I just finished Season One and I am completely in love with this show (although I think it may PALE ever so slightly next to the first three Prime Suspects--which is no insult as I consider those perhaps the finest television ever produced.) Is Season 2 as good? Is getting the "team" back together uber-contrived? The first Season ends so perfectly (the little closing codas--esp. Stringer's--are done so well) that it's a little hard to imagine a natural continuation from there.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 05:50 (nineteen years ago) link

I think Season 2's just as good as 1. They were smart to take a sort of left-turn away from just the drug ring. I would say there's a slight drop-off in Season 3 -- because some of the devices start to wear thin, and also because the tackling of "issues" is a little more transparent -- but only slight. All 3 seasons are completely worth watching.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 06:09 (nineteen years ago) link

I just started season 2, and I think the "getting the gang back together thing" is actually a little contrived, but that is more than made up for by the fact that the reason for the existence of the main investigations in the first place is one of the greatest pieces of plotting I have ever seen or read.

I've been telling lots of people that Season 1 was the best season of TV I have ever seen, and after giving that a lot of thought, I'm pretty sure I agree with myself. I think it's aided somewhat by being only 12 episodes, so there are no duds, but still. If you love THE NOVEL, you'll love The Wire. Season 1 is not only the best TV shows ever, it's also one of the best novels I've ever, uh, witnessed.

Scott CE (Scott CE), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 06:33 (nineteen years ago) link

Actually, if there is one thing about the show that is pervasively BULLSHIT (this after I just said it's the best show ever), it's the depiction of the Barksdale crew's lawyer. I realize that, for reasons owing generally to the public's ignorance and paranoia, we'll never see an even-handed or compassionate portrayal of a realistic criminal defense lawyer.

But do we really need any more of these evil, conspiratorial, slimy, and yes, JEWISH defense lawyers who seem to LOOOOOOOVE crime and misery? This "Maury Levy" (UGH) is the only real full on caruacature on the show. Give me a fucking break already with the smirking and the evil-ness.

Still the best show ever, though.

Scott CE (Scott CE), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 06:38 (nineteen years ago) link

caruacature? No, that's not a word. I meant it, like, with an "i."

Scott CE (Scott CE), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 06:40 (nineteen years ago) link

Yeah, I agree with that. A drug dealer's lawyer could be a much more interesting character, and on that show should be, since everyone else is given way more than one dimension.

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 07:06 (nineteen years ago) link

god, Avon was so bad at running shit. not that Stringer didn't fuck up on his own, but talk about having literally all the wrong priorities.

Fash Gordon (Neanderthal), Thursday, 15 December 2022 03:32 (one year ago) link

does it make you feel better about your "stupid annoying co-workers" Neando?

sarahell, Thursday, 15 December 2022 16:07 (one year ago) link

yeah at least mine won't get me killed

Fash Gordon (Neanderthal), Thursday, 15 December 2022 16:08 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

Fuck. Heartbroken.

peace, man, Friday, 17 March 2023 22:14 (one year ago) link


The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Friday, 17 March 2023 22:55 (one year ago) link


werewolves of laudanum (VegemiteGrrl), Friday, 17 March 2023 23:11 (one year ago) link

Good police

— Drew Lawrence (@by_drew) March 17, 2023

The Triumphant Return of Bernard & Stubbs (Raymond Cummings), Saturday, 18 March 2023 00:01 (one year ago) link

Love him in everything he's been in, RIP

Vinnie, Saturday, 18 March 2023 00:10 (one year ago) link

Shirtless Daniels reveal is one of the most memorable moments from the HBO Golden Age.

papal hotwife (milo z), Saturday, 18 March 2023 01:07 (one year ago) link

Lance Reddick originally read for the part of Bubbles on the show, which I’m sure he would have nailed, no mean feat since he completely embodied the Lt. Daniels relationship role.

henry s, Saturday, 18 March 2023 01:22 (one year ago) link

I think he would have been really mediocre to bad as a homeless drug addict character and the correct casting decision was made. It's fair to say he wasn't a rangy actor, but excelled in one particular type of role. Without any disrespect.

calzino, Saturday, 18 March 2023 01:39 (one year ago) link

Didn't he pay a drug fiend on The Corner?

Shartreuse (Leee), Saturday, 18 March 2023 02:23 (one year ago) link

he did yeah, but I'll keep my bad opinions on David Simon off this thread cos I think everything he touches is unbearable garbage

calzino, Saturday, 18 March 2023 07:35 (one year ago) link

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