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The Wire

Finished watching the last episode of HBO's "The Wire" series earlier this week. The series was quality, start to finish. Smarter than any other television I've seen, and smarter than most films, art house or not. And besides that, dramatic and compelling - in the sort of way that you're rooting for everyone, despite them often times going against each other. That is to say, the characters are human, and continually remind you of that, and so they pull you into their lives, their worlds. There is no bad guy — I take that back, there are a few, but they're human too - damaged by life and their own selves.

The series' creators, David Simon and Ed Burns are writers. It shows. But what also surprises me is the effortless style of the camera. It's verité at its best - you don't notice the camera like you do in most shows that are either stylized (ie. adding MSG to the drama by manipulating the presentation) or are trying to seem real by being handheld and gritty (just more MSG). The show just has a determination to follow the story (and it's a big, 60 episode, 5 season story), and everything, the camera included, is subservient to that. Which is how it should be.

That is why HBO dramas such as "The Wire" and "John Adams" are so potent - they dispense with spectacle and put story in charge. And because they're serial dramas where the story doesn't reset every week but constantly develops, they work at the same level of complexity as a novel. When you finish a season of "The Wire" you look back over a distance you just can't get from a two hour movie.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the series than to clue a few others in on this vastly under-celebrated show with some of my favorite moments:

4 comments

Anonymous wrote 8 years 44 weeks ago

Agreed.

The Wire was a fantastic series. I like getting an in depth look at "both sides" of the story (good guys and bad guys). My only complaint was that Season 2 seemed too separate from the other seasons. It felt like it lacked cohesion with the overarching story.

And Omar is the man.

mlsamuelson wrote 8 years 44 weeks ago

Indeed.

Season 2 was a bit of a departure. Ultimately I accepted it, but yeah, it felt a little too far afield. On it's own it stands fine, but with the other seasons, it's the odd man out.

And, yes, Omar was great. But I was rather fond of Bodie, myself.

mlsamuelson

Anonymous wrote 8 years 44 weeks ago

Great Characters

Yes there were many great characters and a wonderful show. It nearly lost me in the dog-fighting episodes as I think the story could have been told in just as powerful a way without some of the very disturbing scenes that added little to the story.

While I didn't mind the second season what did bother me a little more, perhaps because as a sometimes practicing journalist I hoped for more, was the whole Jayson Blair storyline in Season 5. Sure it's "real" but it felt like it belonged more in an hour of Law & Order than central to The Wire.

mlsamuelson wrote 8 years 44 weeks ago

I've read folks having

I've read folks having trouble with the newsroom storyline, but it didn't trouble me too much while watching. In hindsight I can see that storyline wasn't as gray as the others, not so many countervailing forces and motivations at work, so ultimately not as powerful.

mlsamuelson

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