"The Wire" on HBO

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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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen 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 (eighteen years ago) link

(er, Shakespearean)

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

I mean, I have several friends who work as public defenders who sometimes get drug dealers off on technicalities, and they're not evil at all (even if the narcotics cops probably think they are).

gypsy mothra (gypsy mothra), Wednesday, 23 February 2005 07:10 (eighteen years ago) link

I'd just like to point out that Omar is in the "How We Do" video.

yaydrian (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 03:21 (eighteen years ago) link

I think that public defenders are a different breed from corporate lawyers who defend big time drug dealers though. That said, the evil Jewish lawyer stereotype is kind of tired (it really is the shows only weakness, but it's a minor one so I mostly overlook it. . . plus the Omar vs. Levy court scenes are so delicious.) I wish they had done something more interesting with his character.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 04:58 (eighteen years ago) link

every wire fan should read richard price's "samaritan" and david simon's "homicide" ok bye

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 17:13 (eighteen years ago) link

Agreed. Those are both great books. In fact, I remember when I first saw the wire, I thought Simon finally had a show that captured the depth and complexities of his book in a way that the show "Homicide" never quite could (good as it was). I love how in the The Wire, the cops always drive out to the tracks in their cars and get shit-faced drunk, which was taken from the Homicide book.

Also, I would recommend all of Price's books. Wasn't that Richard Price as the literature teacher in the prison class in Season 2?

Scott CE (Scott CE), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 18:52 (eighteen years ago) link

that indeed was him. what's interesting is how the wire made clockers the film totally irrelevant.

i'm guessing that if season four of the wire happens with its supposed public school-focus, i bet some of the themes of samaritan figure in prominently.

Jams Murphy (ystrickler), Wednesday, 2 March 2005 19:28 (eighteen years ago) link

I've read Pelecanos's Hell to Pay since I posted, and it was really good. Hard for me not to imagine actor Clarke Peters as Derek Strange, though.


Pete Scholtes, Wednesday, 2 March 2005 22:31 (eighteen years ago) link

First episode did not really grip me, it just made me miss Homicide.

I KNEW McNulty was an English guy putting on an American accent as soon as he opened his mouth.

just adam (nordicskilla), Tuesday, 15 March 2005 17:55 (eighteen years ago) link



Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:46 (eighteen years ago) link

Still don't like it.

VIC MACKEY (nordicskilla), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:49 (eighteen years ago) link

He's actually Australian and Adam it's not much of prediction cuz I KNOW it sez it right on the description on the Neflix slipcase.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:51 (eighteen years ago) link

He was born in Sheffield, home of Pulp and Warp records. That's in England.

VIC MACKEY (nordicskilla), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:53 (eighteen years ago) link


j blount (papa la bas), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:54 (eighteen years ago) link

Biography for
Dominic West

6' (1.83 m)

Has brown hair and brown eyes

Was one of seven children - five girls, two boys - born to George & Moya West - his parents divorced in 1996

His father owned a plastics-manufacturing plant and his mother was a homemaker who loved the theater.

Began appearing in community theater by age 9

Once spent four months as a cattle herder in Argentina in 1988 trying to be "different". Afterwards he enrolled at Dublin's Trinity College, graduating in 1993 with a B.A. in English literature.

Has never been married, but has a 3 year old daughter named Martha with former girlfriend Polly Astor

Graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1995.

I don't read the Netflix slipcases. This was no exception.

VIC MACKEY (nordicskilla), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:55 (eighteen years ago) link

Neflix lied to ME! Either way you are crazy for not being into this show.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:57 (eighteen years ago) link

It kicks the Shield's ass six ways from Saturday.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 18 March 2005 21:57 (eighteen years ago) link

Now you are just being inflammatory for the sake of it.

VIC MACKEY (nordicskilla), Friday, 18 March 2005 22:01 (eighteen years ago) link

(I've only seen two Wire episodes)

VIC MACKEY (nordicskilla), Friday, 18 March 2005 22:01 (eighteen years ago) link

I think that The Wire's only peer is The Sopranos.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Friday, 18 March 2005 22:10 (eighteen years ago) link

Me too.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 18 March 2005 22:34 (eighteen years ago) link

Although the first season of Six Feet Under was pretty close.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 18 March 2005 22:41 (eighteen years ago) link

I don't know. I like Six Feet Under a lot, but it has a lot more flaws than The Wire or The Sopranos. It's not nearly as complex and thought-provoking as The Wire, that's for sure.

In a lot of ways I prefer the grand operatic story of The Sopranos, and I sure as hell think that everything from season 3 onward on that show is pretty much as good as it gets, but The Wire is so tight. There's no such thing as a weak episode in this show. Not a moment is wasted.

My personal favorite season of SFU is season 3, actually.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 19 March 2005 02:35 (eighteen years ago) link

the first two seasons of six feet under were mindblowingly great, it's suffered a bit by getting worse as it goes on (the sopronos got worse then got way better; the second season of the wire was really fascinating to me, but I missed the first one and the last one; I like it but, like I've said before, it's so fucking complicated if you miss any of it, you have no idea what is going on. The Sopronos is like this but it usually doesn't matter because the plot is secondary to the characters; the Wire is ALL plot).

kyle (akmonday), Saturday, 19 March 2005 03:46 (eighteen years ago) link

i really should see if season three of the wire is on on-demand now and catch up

kyle (akmonday), Saturday, 19 March 2005 03:48 (eighteen years ago) link

Though I agree that character is secondary to plot in The Wire, I think that it is important to note that the character writing on that show is essential, and there is no shortage of great characters on that show. McNulty, Stringer, Avon, Freamon, Bunk, Frank Sobotka, D'Angelo, Beadie, Prez, Omar - those are amazing characters.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 19 March 2005 05:18 (eighteen years ago) link

2006 is far away :[[[[

I don't think 6FU or the Sopranos really match up to the Wire at all. 6FU was really great starting out, but this last season turned into some bizarro homoerotic grand guignol. Which isn't HALF as awesome as it sounds. Sopranos was always wildly uneven, and for the last couple years the only good eps have been the ones in which important characters are killed. The cardboard hatefulness of the Sopranos pisses me off too, esp. in comparison to The Wire - even the sympathetic characters are monsters. which, yeah, is obviously the point, but it makes it hard to remain invested in the show when everyone drips venality and cruelty. The uneven writing makes it even harder, obv. Things definately did improve last season, but after all the meandering it's difficult to care about how things will conclude. (and for a show in which character comes first [wtf does that mean anyway], the people in it sure are fucking static)

Cabaret Voltron (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS), Saturday, 19 March 2005 16:53 (eighteen years ago) link

No, the entire point of the Sopranos is that the characters never really change, that they only become more and more like themselves. It's a pretty fatalistic narrative. We always know these people are doomed to being themselves.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 19 March 2005 17:08 (eighteen years ago) link

"Character coming first" vs. "plot coming first" is just a reference to the emphasis of the narrative. On SFU and The Sopranos, the story is more about the core cast of characters and what happens to them, whereas in the Wire, it's about this larger system and following what happens in this macrostory. The characters are fleshed out, but the story isn't really about them so much as the system they are. The Sopranos is very clearly the story of Tony Soprano, with the b storyline being the story of Christopher Moltisanti. Six Feet Under is more of a soap opera, and has a more aimless narrative with some central themes that come up again and again.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 19 March 2005 17:14 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah, fair point about the narrative. Watching some reruns not long ago, I was struck by all the things I'd missed viewing the series first time around - there are some exceptionally well-executed episodes, whereas I'd sorta dismissed the whole affair as sloppy my first go through. Still doesn't excuse how many scenes there were in the last two seasons of characters WATCHING TV.

Cabaret Voltron (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS), Saturday, 19 March 2005 18:13 (eighteen years ago) link

But are there really any occasions when characters are watching television, and it doesn't either push the plot along or include some kind of meta comment on the narrative? It's never gratuitous. And people watch a lot of tv, so it's hardly unrealistic.

The only kinda gratuitous tv-watching that I can remember from the last two seasons was that bit in "Cold Cuts" when Tony is getting all freaked out by that 60 Minutes report on how easily terrorists could get stuff into US docks.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Saturday, 19 March 2005 18:43 (eighteen years ago) link

i like the corner and oz.

scg, Saturday, 19 March 2005 18:51 (eighteen years ago) link

'But are there really any occasions when characters are watching television, and it doesn't either push the plot along or include some kind of meta comment on the narrative? It's never gratuitous.'

I guess the only way I can refute this is by going back and looking at those eps, which sounds like a pain in the ass. I know that WHAT they're watching usually has some kind of thematic relevence, but I never felt like it enriched the narrative or contributed much? It also frequently came off as self-parody to me. I guess I just prefer more to be HAPPENING in my tv (cf. the Wire), and this particular trope always felt emblematic of the show's slothfulness.

(and yeah, not unrealistic, but it's hardly a documentary etc blah blah)

Cabaret Voltron (PUNXSUTAWNEY PENIS), Saturday, 19 March 2005 18:57 (eighteen years ago) link

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