The Wire: way down in the hole

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The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by LMSx » 2009-06-19 03:06am

Did a quick search and there was no recent thread here. The only other one I remember was flushed away in Testing several months ago, and I've just finished all 5 seasons, so why not? I think big spoilers like late-series deaths should be tagged but I don't really want to skim around the main flow of the plot. In short: The Wire's really good, not tongue-bathingly good like some reviews spill themselves. For 4+ of the 5 seasons it's great at conveying the corrupting relationship of people and institutions, but becomes mediocre when it comes to personal/human relations. I think a good example of the latter is how The Wire treats McNulty and Kima with their SOs. It's not terrible, but really not what the writers are talented at.

Sydnor: Who the hell was he? It wasn't until the end of season 4 that I even bothered trying to remember his name, and besides his brief central moment in Season 5 he was always That Other Guy. It wasn't until I checked The Wire Wiki that I remembered he was part of the S1 Barksdale detail.

Marlo: For 3 whole seasons Jamie Hector plays Marlo almost sedate, but the payoff in the second to last episode when he heard Omar was disrespecting his name pulls the character together from a one-note slate. Omar picked on his one weakness, Marlo's obsession with not just wearing the crown but making sure everyone knew he was better then them. Case in point: stealing the lollipop from the supermarket merely to provoke the security guard. Case in point: Vondas, in S2: "my name...is not my name". Smart businessman. I'm assuming they set up Marlo with the picture phones so the police would bust him, as a bit of payback for losing their trusted Spoiler
Prop Joe
...And how sad was Marlo's last little escape from the developer's meeting? I think there's a free market pendulum at work between the "traditional" gangsters like Avon and Joe versus the "hard" breed like Marlo- Joe might find it easier to maintain power, but they're vulnerable to a ruthless Marlo type upstart, until Marlo's excesses start bringing unwanted police attention.

Season 5: I loved the meta call out in the newspaper meeting when the editors discuss a series on the schools: (paraphrased)

"maybe we should pull back, and discuss the greater context that leads to this problem?"
"no, that'll bore the audience. Keep it narrow!"

Honorable mention of the FBI profiler's projection of the serial killer's personality. :lol:

Despite those moments, however, I'd rank Season 5 as the worst relative to the others. In terms of tone and plot execution it felt like the series was canceled after S4, then revived a couple years later. It's got the same familiar, comforting motions, but there's something off that just doesn't sit right. Specifically, I'd say way too little of the lovely Alma Gutierrez, too much of the vanilla Jayson Blair, too obvious that David Simon wanted to settle some scores with anvil-subtle monologues from middle aged newspaper editors about the decline of the newspaper business. Oh yeah, and the whole McNulty plot. He barely escaped thanks to bureaucratic bullshit, but it seems more like writer's fiat that he's not in jail and avoided the multitude of ways to pollute Marlo's prosecution.

Also a word for the oft-derided Season 2: I love the Sobotkas, even the Ziggy one. Beadie, Vondas, The "Greek". Too bad their S5 cameos were often inexplicable: isn't Nick Sobotka in witness protection? Why would the super-cautious Vondas and The Greek return to the same bar the police found several years before? Just wondering. What else....Carver is the man. Now that the man has become The Man, though, I don't think he would be quite as awesome with actual responsibility to shoulder.

I think there's a law that makes you ask this question for every Wire topic, so I'll finish it off with this: what were your favorite seasons and intros? 4/3/2/1/5 and 3/5/4/1/2
Last edited by LMSx on 2009-06-19 04:41am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by thejester » 2009-06-19 03:39am

Yeah, the DVDs for Seasons 1-4 went cheap in Aus around Christmas time and so far have gotten through 2 and 3; I'm halfway through 1 and 4. This Canadian guy who came through Halls told me about it, but didn't really pay any attention until I had seen Generation Kill. Smashed through 2 and 3 in about a week each, real life has got in the way of watching 4 in a similar timeframe.

Fuck me it's good, and makes me weep bitterly for the quality of Australian television when I see it. Omar is surely one of the best characters to ever grace the screen - that scene where he shoots down Barksdale's lawyer in S2 is jaw-achingly awesome. Also love Cutty'd character; even if there's a bit of handwavium about him he marks something of a bright note in a pretty tragic tale.

And Season 2 is oft-derided? I didn't see anything wrong with, and surely the war on working-class America is just as important a subject as the War on Drugs?
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by LMSx » 2009-06-19 03:48am

thejester wrote: And Season 2 is oft-derided? I didn't see anything wrong with, and surely the war on working-class America is just as important a subject as the War on Drugs?
Just a sense I've picked up from some reviews. I wonder if part of it is the split between viewers already knowing going in that each season is a part of Baltimore, versus viewers who saw it on first broadcast who had no idea why the Barksdales were being dropped for some Polish dudes. Whatever it was though, I ended up liking S2. It's been a little while since I've seen it but I thought that ending montage was the best in the series.
Last edited by LMSx on 2009-06-19 04:42am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by weemadando » 2009-06-19 04:38am

I really love The Wire and feel that it's the most consistently brilliant show that I've ever seen.

I've spouted my love for it many times in the past here - notably when I first saw the first season. And watched one ep. And then watched all the rest, because I was that impressed, hooked and amazed.

And yes - Australian television is a pale, withered imitation of this.

Season 2 was very strong in my mind - but I mean, if you have to chose a weakest of the 5 it would be that as the media plotline in s5 was so good, it's not like you can tell that David Simon's background is in the Baltimore Sun newsroom...

Well, before I gush too much more I'll just reiterate - if you haven't seen The Wire - you really fucking need to. And my local JB needs to get 3, 4 and 5 in.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Phantasee » 2009-06-19 09:37pm

I'm still stuck on Season 2 (sorry, LMSx!). I haven't found the time to finish watching it. I'm happy to know that it stays fairly strong through, but that kind of makes it more daunting to get through.
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Dread Not » 2009-06-20 03:29pm

LMSx wrote:In short: The Wire's really good, not tongue-bathingly good like some reviews spill themselves.
LIES! :lol: Although in all seriousness I would say the Wire is the only show in recent memory that I enjoyed as much as TV critics did.
For 4+ of the 5 seasons it's great at conveying the corrupting relationship of people and institutions, but becomes mediocre when it comes to personal/human relations. I think a good example of the latter is how The Wire treats McNulty and Kima with their SOs. It's not terrible, but really not what the writers are talented at.
If you simply mean romantic relationships I might understand, given how romance is normally portrayed on television, not to mention that the writers had better things to focus on. However I would say the human relationships on the show were overall brilliant. Examples I can think of are the numerous torn loyalties between Stringer, Avon and D'Angelo, or the same with Bodie, Poot and Wallace at the end of Season 1, or Michael's protectiveness towards his brother (their goodbye scene had me blubbering hysterically). I don't think the examples you give are really indicative of any shortcomings of the writers but rather how relevant it was to the subject matter.
Marlo: For 3 whole seasons Jamie Hector plays Marlo almost sedate, but the payoff in the second to last episode when he heard Omar was disrespecting his name pulls the character together from a one-note slate. Omar picked on his one weakness, Marlo's obsession with not just wearing the crown but making sure everyone knew he was better then them.
I feel that was quite similar to Idris Elba's performance as Stringer in the first two seasons (though I would say he brought much more charisma and depth to the character than what we saw of Marlo) compared to season 3. The situations Stringer was put into that season really made for a far more pronounced and riveting performance.
Despite those moments, however, I'd rank Season 5 as the worst relative to the others. In terms of tone and plot execution it felt like the series was canceled after S4, then revived a couple years later. It's got the same familiar, comforting motions, but there's something off that just doesn't sit right. Specifically, I'd say way too little of the lovely Alma Gutierrez, too much of the vanilla Jayson Blair, too obvious that David Simon wanted to settle some scores with anvil-subtle monologues from middle aged newspaper editors about the decline of the newspaper business.
I would call season 5 the weakest simply because it only had ten episodes. :lol: I know quality is more important than quality but as David Simon himself would tell you, you can only do less with less.
Oh yeah, and the whole McNulty plot. He barely escaped thanks to bureaucratic bullshit, but it seems more like writer's fiat that he's not in jail and avoided the multitude of ways to pollute Marlo's prosecution.
I would say the series finale was as depressing as it needed to be.
Also a word for the oft-derided Season 2: I love the Sobotkas, even the Ziggy one. Beadie, Vondas, The "Greek". Too bad their S5 cameos were often inexplicable: isn't Nick Sobotka in witness protection?
David Simon has explained that he left witness protection after missing his old life. Besides, given the number of witnesses who were offed during the course of the series he might be better off. :lol:
Why would the super-cautious Vondas and The Greek return to the same bar the police found several years before? Just wondering.
An odd oversight, though the Greek always has his man in the FBI to tell him when there's trouble.
What else....Carver is the man. Now that the man has become The Man, though, I don't think he would be quite as awesome with actual responsibility to shoulder.
Given the hints about Daniels' past I think Carver's reformation and promotion are meant to reflect Daniels in the way Dukie mirrors Bubbles etc.
I think there's a law that makes you ask this question for every Wire topic, so I'll finish it off with this: what were your favorite seasons and intros? 4/3/2/1/5 and 3/5/4/1/2
Seasons: 4/3/1/2/5 Intros: 5/4/2/1/3
There is also a law that compels you to say that the Wire is the sheeeeit.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by LMSx » 2009-06-20 05:02pm

Romantic is probably the word I was reaching for. The writers sort of skimmed past why McNulty would breakdown with Beadie during S5, for example. We can speculate that it could have been some combination of the bad habits of Homicide and the failing police department, but Beadie and Bunk both say/admit later that casework isn't really an excuse for Jimmy's behavior. Mastering his demons over 3 painful seasons finally led McNulty to a decent life with Beadie in S4, I felt like hitting the reset button as they did requires a little more explanation then we got.
Marlo: For 3 whole seasons Jamie Hector plays Marlo almost sedate, but the payoff in the second to last episode when he heard Omar was disrespecting his name pulls the character together from a one-note slate. Omar picked on his one weakness, Marlo's obsession with not just wearing the crown but making sure everyone knew he was better then them.
I feel that was quite similar to Idris Elba's performance as Stringer in the first two seasons (though I would say he brought much more charisma and depth to the character than what we saw of Marlo) compared to season 3. The situations Stringer was put into that season really made for a far more pronounced and riveting performance.
After a while I concluded that Hector was either a weak actor or "casual dismissal" was the specific portrayal he was going for. I liked his jail performance because it both justified the latter and suggested that his underlings had been working hard trying to contain some of his sociopathic tendencies towards stupid killings. That nuance probably could have come a little sooner then it did, but...hey.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Nieztchean Uber-Amoeba » 2009-06-20 11:00pm

I liked Hector's portrayal of Marlo as a contrast to the other gangsters'. He has a total economy of motion. He plays the Game for keeps.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by The Yosemite Bear » 2009-06-20 11:43pm

The Wire is like a constant in the SDN universe. And Omar lovin is part of that constant, so's Snoop's bad self, and Cops trying to cope with McNulty....
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by NeoGoomba » 2009-06-21 12:28am

I thought Bodie was a very tragic character, and his evolution as a character (which I guess mirrors the real life Bodie Barksdale) was really well done.

Bottom line, it was a great fucking show. First TV series I bought in its entirety.
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Raskolnikov » 2009-06-23 04:03pm

Great show. I agree with th

The second season started out exceptionally slowly, but developed into a great arc and character movement. I actually got quite invested in the dock characters, and the final fates of both Frank and Ziggy were awesomely tragic. The Greek made a great villain, I believe David Simon called him "the pure embodiment of capitalism", all about business and squeezing out a profit by any means necessary. Marlo had great acting and was often menacing, but it feels like we ultimately saw too much of him, and his specific actions lacked punch.

Stringer Bell was probably an even greater character. Less of a villain, though, he was always at least somewhat appealing if not admirable. Loved his economics classes and setting up the Co-op. Still, at some level he had to die after having D'Angelo killed so coldly.

I thought S4 was a bit weaker than the preceding three, although a lot better than all the nonsense in S5 with the news room and the serial killer. The school angle was solid, although Bunny's return presence felt unnecessary. My problem was the end of the Carcetti reform angle, he seemed altogether too quick to transparently sell out his constituent interests and become a terrible mayor. There were some seeds of him being effective laid from the beginning, but as it developed we spent almost two full seasons with him building up to becoming mayor, and then within a few episodes he screwed everyone over. That level of cynicism in analysis of politics can be well and good as a commentary, but it didn't feel earned.

I didn't like McNulty much, or find him very interesting. Didn't seem to be as smart as he was constantly described as being, and that made it hard to put up with his arrogance and general dysfunction.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by LMSx » 2009-06-24 12:31am

The Complete Series arrived today*, so I cracked open the S1 disc and started playing the first couple minutes of The Target- whoa! Recognizing Levy and Stringer in the courtroom was satisfying, but the best was noticing Wee-bey among the goons filing in to intimidate the witnesses. Admittedly, turning a narrative scene into foreshadowing on repeat viewings is a simple trick but it's already got me interested on revisiting the series.

I also forgot they tried the "security cam" aesthetic several times. That didn't really develop anywhere, did it?

*I wonder what kind of poor sap would have bought from the HBO store, for a cool $250 vs. Amazon at $140?

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Tolya » 2009-06-24 06:45am

I loved The Wire not only for the acting and the brilliant story and writing, but also for how the 5 seasons constitute a "complete" package. In many other TV shows after season 4 usually it begins to feel... forced. As if someone was struggling to put the story together in an interesting way to keep the show going. This happened in many of my favourite shows, like The Shield or House. Nothing like that ever happened in The Wire. Or I never noticed it.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Big Orange » 2009-06-26 01:57pm

I sometimes feel like this guy in the glasses in this YouTube clip:

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by neoolong » 2009-06-26 02:21pm

As you should. As you should.
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by LMSx » 2009-06-26 08:48pm

Big Orange wrote:I sometimes feel like this guy in the glasses in this YouTube clip:

Rest assured, we are all giving you that look.

To be fair, it took me a while to get around to seeing it, and it wasn't until I found out a friend had the Season DVD sets that I got off my ass and started watching . . . and sat down again, but whatever. The "has it been on normal telly?" comment has a bit of truth to it.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by RogueIce » 2009-06-26 09:48pm

Big Orange wrote:I sometimes feel like this guy in the glasses in this YouTube clip:

The fat guy almost looks like Sgt Landsman. :D
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Dread Not » 2009-06-27 11:20pm

LMSx wrote:The "has it been on normal telly?" comment has a bit of truth to it.
I recall a cartoon of a man watching a TV screen which says "the following program has been rendered meaningless for network television." Some kind of twat indeed. :lol:

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by MKSheppard » 2018-06-10 06:08pm

So I just got around to watching the wire on Blu Ray and Sheeeeeeeit, it was great.

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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by B5B7 » 2018-06-10 11:29pm

I haven't seen 'The Wire' but not all Australian TV series are as bad as some posts are saying. Sure, there is a lot of crap (just like there are bad US and UK shows, as well as a lot of great US and UK shows). The posters should watch some ABC or SBS shows. There have been some really great ones such as MDA, Frontline, and others.
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Re: The Wire: way down in the hole

Post by Knife » 2018-06-18 01:09am

B5B7 wrote:
2018-06-10 11:29pm
I haven't seen 'The Wire' but not all Australian TV series are as bad as some posts are saying. Sure, there is a lot of crap (just like there are bad US and UK shows, as well as a lot of great US and UK shows). The posters should watch some ABC or SBS shows. There have been some really great ones such as MDA, Frontline, and others.
I'm digging the US version of Animal Kingdom. Never watched the Aussie version, or I guess the original version, but it's a good show.

Anyways, I loved the Wire.

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