Favorite Things -- The Wire

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For about 16 months I have been pretty religious about going on the exercise bike at least 2-4 times a week. My secret is that I have set up a portable DVD player and watch DVDs of TV series that I missed during their first runs. I have picked shows that are more serial in nature so that I am motivated to keep watching. My first show was Battlestar Galactica. Last week I finished five seasons of The Wire.

The Wire played on HBO and was an extremely gritty portrayal of Baltimore, its drug trade and police and government reaction to the drug trade. The show was very cynical as it demonstrated that our institutions are just as corrupt as the drug runners they are responding to. What was really interesting is that each season the show focused on one institution as it responded to the urban ills of the early part of this decade. Season One concentrated on the Police; Two looked at the Unions and dock workers; Three examined City Politics; Season 4 took on the Schools; and 5 focused on the Newspaper industry. All was interwoven with the drug trade in Baltimore, the guys who controlled the drugs and the thugs who sold and controlled the street.

One was drawn into the series because of the characters. Characters, whether Police, drug thug, or politician were shown warts and all and you could be sympathetic to a character even though he was a ruthless murderer, a stats-juking bureaucrat, or a cynical politician. Also there were no sacred cows. Favorite and key characters would be killed off or shown cheating on their spouse. Characters were shown as complex people with conflicting motivations who sometimes made mistakes. Just like people in real life.

Season 4 was especially devastating. It concentrated on the schools, specifically four 8th grade boys as they tried to go to a school that is underfunded and sitting literally sitting in a war zone of the drug trade. My own kid was also in 8th grade as I watched that season and believe me his life is completely different than those kids. These four were also followed in season 5 and only one made it through as anything considered safe. But one became so attached to these kids that it was a kick in the gut to see how they turned out. In fact I even uttered a sad "oh Michael" when one of the kids made his first killing (shooting a street thug who had been on the show from the beginning).

As I mentioned above, The Wire is extremely cynical and dark. Its message really is that our Cities are failing, our institutions are failing, and that we are in an endless loop. We can eliminate some drug thugs, but others are ready to rise up and take their place. We can eliminate our urban slums but the things that make those places slums, just move to someplace else. Good people may try to fix things but The System beats them down and corrupts them so that in the end nothing happens. It sound pretty sad and grim and in a sense it is. But the stories are so rich, the characters so real that I heartedly recommend anyone to seek out The Wire and dive in.

Up next for the Exercise Bike? The Sopranos

19 Comments

I experienced The Wire the same way you did - on DVD after it finished its run on HBO. I was impressed by the quality of the scripts, the attention to detail, and the outstanding acting. I wouldn't have thought it possible to keep it up for 5 seasons without a creative dip. I think the genius and saving grace of the show was taking on a new central theme each year and introducing new and vital characters with each theme.

So Stagger, who were your favorite characters or scenes? Of course Omar Little seems to be a fan fave. Snoop was one scary chick. I'd love to hang with Cutty. I mentioned Michael above, man he broke my heart.

As for scenes, the classic McNulty and Bunk solving a murder only by uttering the word Fuck and its permutations was just plain amazing. Omar's testimony in court. When Bodie and Poot(?) went to Philly and couldn't find a radio station except for A Prairie Home Companion are a few off the top of my head.

I saw it awhile ago so some of it is a little hazy. I really liked the season with the kids although it was also the most heartbreaking. Check out the extras on DVDs. There’s a lot of great info that only made the accomplishment that much more impressive. I really liked the Bubbles character, also Lester. Of course Mcnulty (or ‘Mcnutty’ as Bubbles called him). Prop Joe was a classic. I was surprised how fond I became of some of the ‘bad guys’ (Omar, Joe, Slim Charles, even Wee Bay – man, is his wife a bitch, or what?). I guess that was part of the genius of the show. Check out the ‘and All the Pieces Fit’ ST cd if you get a chance. It’s a nice collection of music from the show plus some of the choice dialogue. You probably noticed that the only music in the show was what was overheard on car stereos, in nightclubs, etc. In other words, no traditional ‘soundtrack’. Anyway, I could go on all night. I should just watch the show again!

I just watched the first season of Mad Men. Totally different, needless to say, but I thought it was worthwile in its own way.

Have not watched The Wire, but like the idea of using the stationary bike to watch shows on DVD. I'd been catching up on shows I'd recorded but now that most of the viewing seasons are over, that's not so much an option.

Now I just have to decide if I want to start with Sopranos or Oz.

I watched "Lost" on the excercise bike. Well, season 1 anyway, then I transfered to the couch for the next several seasons. That's a good serial show. It's last season is coming up.

I watched The Wire the same way that you did. I would order it on Netflix and watch on the treadmill.

I thought season 1 of Heroes was a pretty good treadmill show too. But they lost me in Season 2.

My favorite characters, in some sort of order:

Omar
Bunk
Bodie
Prop Joe
McNutty
Lester

I could go on, but I'll leave it at that.

If you haven't already, you should check out these write-ups on The Wire. http://sepinwall.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Wire%20season%201%20(Veterans)

My favorite characters are:

D'Angelo
Stringer Bell
Omar
McNulty
Lester

Omar was my favorite character in that show BY FAR.

I would have to say that The Wire has been my favorite series. I watch them the same way too- Ill rent the DVDs after the season is done and watch episodes back to back. Its like watching a 10-12 hour movie. The worst is getting into a season when finals are coming around. So hard to peel away and study.

Id say Dexter is another one of my favorites if you haven't watched, start at season one!

There are some movies on a yearly basis that ditch this rule, often restricted-release videos that start in only a few theaters and actually mature their theater count through good word-of-mouth and testimonials.

I never saw that show and I don't think it is on the air anymore. I might just have to rent the series. I like the show Spartacus on Staz. Now that show rocks.

ery well written post. It will be supportive to anybody

We have to defend the school!

So thats a logical explanation, but quite hard to understand the last part.

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This page contains a single entry by Freealonzo published on June 29, 2009 9:45 AM.

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