Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 29

Thread: The Wire: the best show you've never heard of

  1. #1
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    135

    Default The Wire: the best show you've never heard of

    From Newsweek:

    Good Mourning, Baltimore
    For five seasons, critics have worshiped 'The Wire'—and lamented that more people don't. Now's your last chance to catch what may be TV's best drama ever.

    By Devin Gordon
    NEWSWEEK
    Updated: 1:10 PM ET Jan 5, 2008
    We ' re building something here. And all the pieces matter.
    —Det. Lester Freamon
    About 3,000 miles away from Hollywood, in a crusty dive called Kavanagh's on the corner of East Lexington and Guilford Avenue in downtown Baltimore, one of the most highly praised dramas on television is coming to an end. The bar is set up for a policeman's wake—a framed photograph, rosary beads, a bottle of Jameson—and soon, in this smothering August heat, the place will be filled with large men pretending to be drunk. It is the last scene on the last day of filming on the last season of "The Wire," the HBO series that started out in 2002 as a drama about a single West Baltimore detective unit but has evolved, with furious ambition, into the story of an entire city in decline. The show is legendary here—many of the characters are based on people plucked from the city's recent past—and the cast and crew are often treated like folk heroes.
    On the sidewalk outside Kavanagh's, the creator of "The Wire," former Baltimore Sun crime reporter David Simon, a salty, pugnacious guy with a bald head, thick chest and the kind of pale pink skin that catches fire in any kind of sun, chats with a black teenager with a gold grill in his teeth and dreadlocks spilling out from underneath a lopsided Baltimore Ravens cap. He came by to give Simon a T shirt that he'd made. "Did you see this?" Simon asks a visiting journalist. "This is what they're selling in West Baltimore now." The shirt features a photo of one of the show's most fabled characters, a female assassin named Snoop, played by former Baltimore gang member Felicia Pearson, who spent six years in prison on a juvenile murder conviction. Very few people watch "The Wire"—about 4 million per episode, about half what the mighty "Sopranos" drew—and this pleases Simon enormously because it appeals to his underdog instincts, and his conviction that bare-knuckled authenticity isn't for everyone. And besides, he's got the fans he really wants. "I'd rather have the allegiance of these people than all the viewers in the world," he says. "Mainstream America has 100 shows to love. The other America has this one. I'm proud of that. That's why this"—he holds up the shirt—"makes me so happy. Because you know what this is? This is subversive."
    If you've never seen an episode of "The Wire," which began its final season on Jan. 6, by now you're probably sick of hearing about what a fool you are for missing it. The show has become an object of worship among critics and culture snobs (Barack Obama told TV Guide that it's his favorite show) and they—OK, we—can be flat-out annoying in our zeal for it, as if there are only two types of people: enlightened fans of "The Wire," and everyone else. Worse, with all our talk about the show's Dickensian cast of nearly 30 principal characters, its novelistic, episode-opening epigrams, its street-level patois and labyrinthine detail about city bureaucracy, we tend to make "The Wire" sound like homework. In fact, the show is riveting, infuriating and funny as hell. (In one scene last year, a schoolteacher locks his keys in his car and one of his 13-year-old students, already an accomplished car thief, helpfully jimmies the door open for him.) Baltimore's ruling class has complicated feelings about "The Wire"—there's more to their city, they complain, than crime and blight—but its embrace by Baltimore's underclass hints at its uncomfortable truth. "There is a sense around here that someone finally said, 'Your lives are worthy of the same degree of drama and meaning as beautiful housewives'," says Simon. "That's a simple thing, but it becomes profound. It becomes a bit of connective tissue between these two Americas that are going their separate ways."
    Simon and his writing staff, made up largely of urban-crime novelists such as George Pelecanos ("The Night Gardener") and Dennis Lehane ("Mystic River"), as well as old pals from the Sun, like Bill Zorzi, who spent 20 years covering courts, cops and city politics, are not optimistic people. "The Wire" is filled with revelations, but its authors aren't holding their breath waiting for a new day. "I think 'The Wire' is going into the archive as an artifact of where we were as a country when we fell on our a–– and became a second-rate society," says Simon from his trailer near the set, parked just across a courtyard from city hall. As he talks, the mayor's office looms over his shoulder through the window behind him. Each new season of "The Wire" has focused on a different organ in Baltimore's flat-lining civic physiology, with the aim of articulating "why an American city can no longer solve its problems," says Simon. Season one explored the justice system through the prism of a prolonged wiretap case against a powerful drug dealer named Avon Barksdale. Season two shifted focus to the city's waterfront, profiling its eroding community of blue-collar dockworkers. Season three examined city politics in the heat of a mayoral election, while the show's standout fourth season followed a group of boys through Baltimore's overmatched school system. "David has a social conscience, but he's never ax-grinding," says Dominic West, a British actor who plays combustible Det. Jimmy McNulty. "Very rarely in life are there out-and-out villains. People do things for reasons. And you see those reasons on this show."
    In this fifth and final season, "The Wire's" probing eye focuses on the media, a subject that Simon knows intimately from his years as a newspaperman. The Baltimore Sun's leadership gave HBO permission to film in its newsroom, and in a scene during the first episode, a pair of actual Sun veterans—including Simon's wife, Laura Lippman, who no longer works at the paper—watch from the window as a fire blazes a mile or two away. After a minute, the paper's city editor, Augustus (Gus) Haynes (a superbly gruff Clark Johnson), comes over and suggests that maybe they should find out what's going on. "What kind of people stand around watching a fire? That's some shameful s––t right here," Haynes says. The scene is vintage "Wire," delivering a bitter-pill message with a healthy dose of gallows humor. "The next and last argument we wanted to have," says Simon, explaining the season's media focus, "is about why nothing ever gets fixed. While the American empire slipped off its pedestal, what the f––– were we paying attention to?"
    Serial killers, mostly. In one of the show's most grandiose storylines yet, a homicidal maniac with a thirst for homeless men is loose in Baltimore during season five—only not really, because the killer is actually a fiction created by McNulty and fed-up fellow Det. Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters). It's all a brazen publicity stunt designed to shame the mayor into funneling a few more pennies into a police force so strapped for cash that it had to shutter its wiretap investigation into a soft-spoken but brutal drug kingpin named Marlo Stanfield (Jamie Hector). As fanciful as the phony-killer plotline may sound, it is executed with "The Wire's" customary verisimilitude, and Simon's point is never far from the surface. The story is "very much a critique [of] the fixation that Americans have with the pornography of violence, as opposed to the root causes of violence," Simon wrote in a December e-mail. "We have zero interest in why the vast majority of violence actually happens and what might be done to address the issue. But give us a killer doing twisted s––t or, better still, doing it to pretty white girls, and the media and its consumers lose all perspective." (Simon and his creative partner, Ed Burns, a former Baltimore cop and schoolteacher, have been declining all media interviews for months in deference to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike; Simon agreed to answer follow-up questions about the new season for NEWSWEEK BECAUSE the principal reporting for this story occurred prior to the strike.)
    For all of Simon's passion on the subject of journalism—and maybe because of it—the fifth season of "The Wire" doesn't quite match the power of the fourth. Simon accepted a buyout from the Sun in 1995. Several more rounds of staff cuts have shrunk the paper's newsroom from about 450 reporters to fewer than 300, and Simon believes the reductions have crippled a proud institution. But fury has a way of flattening people into caricature, and some of the key personalities in Simon's fictional newsroom lack the lively mind and tangle of motivations that other characters on "The Wire," even the rotten ones, possess in spades. A callow young reporter with ethics issues, played by Tom McCarthy, is almost robotic in his deceit, and the top editor who coddles him is a naive blowhard in prissy suspenders. Simon vigorously disputes this criticism, though to give him his full say would require spilling major plot points. He does point out, correctly, that "the vast majority" of his newsroom "is made of ordinary souls, professional and trying to find their way through ... I believe people in [real] newsrooms will recognize the dynamics and characters and issues throughout. If I'm wrong, you won't be the only guy I hear from." The character of Haynes, in particular, is a healthy antidote. On set, Johnson, who has also directed several episodes, calls Haynes "the editor that every reporter dreams of having," and Simon's fondness for him is clear: he gets all the best lines. "You know what a healthy newsroom is?" Haynes says at one point. "It's a magical place where people argue about everything, all the time."
    The media storyline is just one of a dozen or so that "The Wire" will wrap up over the next three months. Old faces will reappear, including an imprisoned, though no less influential, Avon Barksdale ("I'm what you might call an authority figure around here"), and season two's elusive crime lord known as the Greek. When the finale airs in March, the culture will not convulse the way it did after the sudden end of "The Sopranos," but fans of "The Wire," who adamantly believe they've got the better show, are likely to feel a deeper, more personal sense of loss. Simon promises he won't pour salt in the wound with a "Sopranos"-style snap to black. "I actually thought that was a great ending," he says. "But this is a different show. We'll pay out what we've set in motion."
    Across town from Kavanagh's, at a farmers market in the parking lot of the racetrack in Pimlico, a second unit is finishing up the last scene for a character named Bubbles, a homeless heroin addict who has struggled, with little success, to get clean since the first episode of "The Wire." (Simon and Burns covered similar narrative terrain in 2000 with their Emmy-winning series for HBO, "The Corner.") Bubbles is a figure of weakness and decency on the show, and his crushing ups and downs have made him into a fan favorite. Between takes, Andre Royo, the actor who plays Bubbles, breaks out a script of the final episode with the front page covered in signatures from the cast and crew—a parting gift to himself. "When my manager first got the call about this part, I didn't want to go in for it," Royo says. "A junkie snitch named Bubbles? I was upset, actually. I was, like, 'Are white people still doing that?' But to come from that moment, where I was in my life then, to this moment five years later—it's very emotional. This was my biggest break. Bubbles will stay in my heart forever."
    Royo, like nearly every other actor on "The Wire," had no high-profile credits before he joined the show—and hardly any since. Only the rakishly handsome Dominic West has been able to cross over into major movie work, playing supporting roles in a few "trashy films," as he calls them, such as "300" and "Mona Lisa Smile." Lance Reddick, a regular on "The Wire," can now be seen doing Cadillac ads and bit parts on "Numb3ers" and "CSI: Miami." After every season, Clarke Peters, who plays Freamon, gets back on a plane for London, where he lives and works as a stage actor. "Let me indict Hollywood as much as I can on this one," says Simon. "We have more working black actors in key roles than pretty much all the other shows on the air. And yet you still hear people claim they can't find good African-American actors. That's why race-neutral shows and movies turn out lily-white."
    None of the actors on "The Wire" has ever been nominated for an Emmy. Overall, the show has earned just one nomination in four seasons. (Pelecanos and Simon, for writing. They lost.) What really steamed Simon, though, was a story two years ago in Emmy Magazine, the Academy's trade publication, about diversity in television. The story made no mention of "The Wire." "Nothing," says Simon. "Not in the whole issue." The silent treatment from Hollywood, though, has cultivated a theater-company camaraderie around the show, a nervy pride in what can be accomplished by unheralded artists in a supposed backwater like Baltimore. "You get a lot of cachet from being the underdog," says West. "And I rather enjoy that feeling—that you're a cult thing, a secret delight. That means a lot more than an Emmy." Simon is less diplomatic. "I don't give a f––– if we ever win one of their little trinkets. I don't care if they ever figure out we're here in Baltimore," he says. "Secretly, we all know we get more ink for being shut out. So at this point, we wanna be shut out. We wanna go down in flames together, holding hands all the way. It's fun. And it's a good way to go out—throwing them the finger from 3,000 miles away."

  2. #2
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    fellow traveller
    Posts
    51,894

    Default

    i love 'the wire'. possibly the best written and smartest show on tv right now.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

  3. #3
    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Greece
    Posts
    8,899

    Default

    It's been on my 'to watch' list for a while, but after reading this, I might have to move it higher up on the list.
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

  4. #4
    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Middle America
    Posts
    11,928

    Default

    I did watch the first 2 seasons, then missed the premiere of the third, so I got a little lost. I was an excellent show. I kind of developed a crush on Dominc West (McNulty).
    RELIGION: Treat it like it's your genitalia. Don't show it off in public, and don't shove it down your children's throats.

  5. #5
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    fellow traveller
    Posts
    51,894

    Default

    mcnulty is the sex.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

  6. #6
    Elite Member *DIVA!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    15,742

    Default

    The Wire is awesome, gritty, real, and well written. If you can't tell it's my favorite show of all time, I have never missed an episode, and even catch the early premieres on On Demand. In fact I've seen next Sunday's episode already, and I love how this last season is shaping up. The Creators of The Wire are brilliant in the way they bring Baltimore's crime, and issues to the for front. The way the show shed light on how the Governor stiffed the Baltimore city schools was the truth..this year the things that happen with the Baltimore Sun..really did happen!!
    Baltimore O's ​Fan!

    I don''t know if she really fucked the board though. Maybe just put the tip in. -Mrs. Dark

  7. #7
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,764

    Default

    I loved the wire up until season 4. That season focused on the early part of the drug-dealing cycle: it followed some boys in middle school and showed how they get into it. It broke my heart. I couldn't watch it after 3 or so episodes. Too real and too depressing to see innocence shattered like that.

    My husband is from Baltimore and he wants to get back into watching it again, but I don't know, I can only take so much ya know?

    The mini series the show and 1st season was based on, The Corner (if I recall correctly) was good but also slightly depressing.

    I love the characters, especially Omar, and Bubbles. I remember my favorite part was when the police created "Hamsterdam" (that cracked me the FUCK UP! ) and it WORKED! Great humor on that season.

    And again, I really, really, really love Omar. Like Dexter, he's a bad guy that you can't help but root for because he definitely takes out the trash and comes up with so many gems of truth, real pearls of wisdom. I just recently read one of my favorite quotes from Omar: "Money ain't got no owners, only spenders."

  8. #8
    Elite Member *DIVA!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    15,742

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    I loved the wire up until season 4. That season focused on the early part of the drug-dealing cycle: it followed some boys in middle school and showed how they get into it. It broke my heart. I couldn't watch it after 3 or so episodes. Too real and too depressing to see innocence shattered like that.

    My husband is from Baltimore and he wants to get back into watching it again, but I don't know, I can only take so much ya know?

    The mini series the show and 1st season was based on, The Corner (if I recall correctly) was good but also slightly depressing.

    I love the characters, especially Omar, and Bubbles. I remember my favorite part was when the police created "Hamsterdam" (that cracked me the FUCK UP! ) and it WORKED! Great humor on that season.

    And again, I really, really, really love Omar. Like Dexter, he's a bad guy that you can't help but root for because he definitely takes out the trash and comes up with so many gems of truth, real pearls of wisdom. I just recently read one of my favorite quotes from Omar: "Money ain't got no owners, only spenders."
    I recommend that you watch it...all the four seasons are coming together!! Omar is the best, I love him. A hip-hop modern day Robin-hood! All of the characters are great...even if you don't watch the whole thing, you have to check out the new bubbles!!
    Last edited by *DIVA!; January 8th, 2008 at 03:18 AM.
    Baltimore O's ​Fan!

    I don''t know if she really fucked the board though. Maybe just put the tip in. -Mrs. Dark

  9. #9
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,764

    Default

    Omg, did Bubbles get clean?? I'm rooting for him so much!

    My husband mentioned the wire again today so I think I will end up watching it. Especially since I didn't realize until I read this article that this season will be the last. I'll just have to put my big girl pants on!

  10. #10
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    135

    Default

    I don't have HBO and I just finished watching the fourth season.

    What happens to those poor kids is heartbreaking.

    I was a lot more indifferent to the conditions that poor black people live in. Not any more. I was also fairly judgmental about poor drug addicts. Not after watching Bubbles be a way way better father to Sherrod than most pompous middle-class dads. Bubbles' kindness, concern and tenderness to that kid really made me open my eyes to the fact that behind every 'junkie' is a real person with a real story and real concerns. And that assholes are everywhere. In ghettoes and fancy dinner parties. And so are good people.

    Bubbles deserves as much respect and courtesy, if not more, as any white-collar professional.

    And Carcetti's betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of small children because he was too proud to beg for more money from the Governor is as despicable as the damage Avon Barksdale and Stanfield brought to the ghettoes.

    I credit the Wire with teaching me that lesson. That there's way too much consideration for the circumstances of one's birth and upbringing. The son of a doctor is intrinsically no better than Sherrod. And it's best to be humble because with a little twist of fate, we could all be born in the ghettoes of Baltimore with very little way out.

  11. #11
    Elite Member *DIVA!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    15,742

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Elyse View Post

    And Carcetti's betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of small children because he was too proud to beg for more money from the Governor
    That actually happened, but the Governor of Maryland wanted to take over Baltimore City school's if he gave up the money....
    Baltimore O's ​Fan!

    I don''t know if she really fucked the board though. Maybe just put the tip in. -Mrs. Dark

  12. #12
    Bronze Member lane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Sea-town
    Posts
    15

    Default

    On a completely fannish note, my girlfriend saw Bubbles at LAX. She knows I'm a HUGE fan so she went up to him and told him how great he is in the show. She says he was really good-looking when not dressed as a crackhead. He was very nice to her. He shook her hand, thanked her, and was genuinely pleased to get positive feedback about the show and his performance. Unfortunately, she left her cell phone and so couldn't ask for a picture. Shucks!

    I never see anyone when I travel. Unless Loni Anderson counts. She smiled a lot. In the airport. Freaked me out.

  13. #13
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,764

    Default

    Oh that is so cool that your friend saw Bubbles at LAX!!! I would have been too chicken to go up to him. I'm more of a stare and whisper kind of girl, mostly because I'm never sure if the person is really who I think it is.

    I'm starting to watch season 4 again. My heart is breaking every episode from watching those kids get ruined by drugs and the lifestyle that comes with it. I'm on episode four and it just gets hard to watch anything good get crushed, any sense of hope get snuffed out so early in their lives.

    That scene with the girl who cut the other girl's face up because she was messing with her, and Randy mentioning that she lives in a group home where "she eats cats," then someone else mentioning that where she lives, you don't have to eat cats to go crazy--that's messed up. Bubbles' new apprentice getting pushed into 8th grade when he didn't even finish 5th--messed up. Everyone ragging on Dookie because he's dirty and too poor to have good hygiene or clean clothes--extremely sad and messed up. Michael, the boy who refused Marlo's money, has junkie parents but shows promising potential and boxing talent, takes care of his little brother and walks him to school, has such great critical thinking skills and street smarts that Marlo is actively trying to recruit him--I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop, something bad is gonna happen to him.

    It's all very emotionally exhausting to watch sometimes.

  14. #14
    Elite Member *DIVA!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    15,742

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    Oh that is so cool that your friend saw Bubbles at LAX!!! I would have been too chicken to go up to him. I'm more of a stare and whisper kind of girl, mostly because I'm never sure if the person is really who I think it is.

    I'm starting to watch season 4 again. My heart is breaking every episode from watching those kids get ruined by drugs and the lifestyle that comes with it. I'm on episode four and it just gets hard to watch anything good get crushed, any sense of hope get snuffed out so early in their lives.

    That scene with the girl who cut the other girl's face up because she was messing with her, and Randy mentioning that she lives in a group home where "she eats cats," then someone else mentioning that where she lives, you don't have to eat cats to go crazy--that's messed up. Bubbles' new apprentice getting pushed into 8th grade when he didn't even finish 5th--messed up. Everyone ragging on Dookie because he's dirty and too poor to have good hygiene or clean clothes--extremely sad and messed up. Michael, the boy who refused Marlo's money, has junkie parents but shows promising potential and boxing talent, takes care of his little brother and walks him to school, has such great critical thinking skills and street smarts that Marlo is actively trying to recruit him--I'm just waiting for the shoe to drop, something bad is gonna happen to him.

    It's all very emotionally exhausting to watch sometimes.
    Aww Suga, it gets more emotionally challenging and exhausting each and every episode that follows...
    Baltimore O's ​Fan!

    I don''t know if she really fucked the board though. Maybe just put the tip in. -Mrs. Dark

  15. #15
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    27,764

    Default

    I'm know, I'm starting to have a drink with each episode. Just finished ep 7 last night. Looks like Dookie is all sorts of smart, he was the only one in class who was playing with the computer and he figured out how Marlo's crew is making people disappear. He's probably smart enough to get himself outta that lifestyle...Which of course means something horrible is gonna happen to him...*sigh*

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 4
    Last Post: April 8th, 2006, 10:32 AM
  2. Do you remember/have you heard of M2M?
    By gonflable in forum Music and Music Videos
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: March 7th, 2006, 11:49 AM
  3. Heard about the pics..
    By melagoo in forum New Members
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: December 17th, 2005, 06:53 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •