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The Wire (2002-2008)


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I'm two episodes shy of finishing the first season of HBO's the Wire. It's probably the best thing I've ever seen on TV, but it's also a show that requires some warnings; it's chock-full of vulgarity and violence (and a tiny bit of nudity, which seems like a requirement for HBO).

The Wire was created by David Simon, who was responsible for the book that started one of my favorite shows (Homicide: Life on the Streets). The Wire is similar: it also takes place in present-day Baltimore, focusing on the police and drug-runners. It's ultra-realistic, almost unsettlingly so. But that's one of its virtues--focusing on the people, their lives and their flaws also provide ample for grace and character development.

The thirteen episodes act almost as one giant 780-minute story, and I'm literally hooked. Anyone else like it (or hate it, for that matter)?

I haven't made it this far yet, but the fourth season has probably the highest rating for a TV on Metacritic (a whopping 98!)
 

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I can't believe I haven't started a thread on this show already. (Maybe after the poor response to my Deadwood thread I figured my TV taste was too different from most A+Fers.) Jason, I agree, this show is amazing and disconcertingly realistic. It takes a while to adapt to a TV world that doesn't stereotype it's characters, lumping them into good guys and bad guys but instead locates that struggle firmly inside each character amidst an often ambiguous external conflict.

The thirteen episodes act almost as one giant 780-minute story, and I'm literally hooked.
Just wait till you've caught up with the most recent seasons! While each season incorporates a slightly different focus (

Season 1 focuses on the streets, Season 2 introduces the harbour and the higher levels of drug supply, Season 3 brings in police politics, and Season 4 looks at the schools and city/state politics

) they all fit together, so far, to create an epic narrative in four acts. I can't wait till the fifth!

One thing I would say, though, is if you decide to give it a chance, don't give up after one or two episodes. Because the story has such a grand scale, it takes a while to set up and get moving. Commit to watching 5 or 6 episodes and you won't be disappointed.

PS - Omar is one of my favorite "villains" of all time

PPS - there are some good podcast interviews on itunes. Just search for The Wire. The one with director David Simon is especially insightful but I haven't listened to it for a while and there might be spoilers so I wouldn't listen to it until you're up to date with your viewing.

Edited by yank_eh

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PS - Omar is one of my favorite "villains" of all time

What an interesting, interesting character! I agree--out of all of the characters, he's the one that's hardest to lump into a stereotype. That said, he's immensely watchable.

Actually, all of the characters are rich. Watching them grow--especially Prez, Herc, Carver, Bubbles and D'Angelo--is just unbelievable. I've never seen a show like this.

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The thirteen episodes act almost as one giant 780-minute story, and I'm literally hooked. Anyone else like it (or hate it, for that matter)?

This wasn't just bad grammar usage, by the way--I'm connected to my TV by a hook and fishing line.

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I love it. HBO OnDemand has been running through the previous seasons so that you can "reup" on The Wire before the last season begins in January. Right now, they are showing season 3. They will show season 4 in December. I would love to have an active thread on The Wire while season 5 is airing. The institution that it will focus on is the press.

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Hands down the best show on tv (imho of course). And with the possible exception of season 2, it's the rare show where every season gets better and better. As the metacritic ratings point out, season 4 is nothing short of brilliant television. But yes, viewer beware of course. That "tiny bit of nudity" makes way for some fairly graphic episodes a bit further down the line. (Though in an unusual turnabout, I believe season 4 was virtually sex/nudity free. And still somehow got great reviews...)

One of my actor friends from a previous film I did has been cast as a regular in Season 5 as well. As if I needed an additional reason to watch season 5.

My biggest frustration with the series has been that I don't know a single person that watches the show, so there's no one to share the experience with it. Other than that, it's a true diamond in the rough.

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My biggest frustration with the series has been that I don't know a single person that watches the show, so there's no one to share the experience with it. Other than that, it's a true diamond in the rough.

Now you know three others. :D

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Well, crap. Just getting comfortable with lurking and someone has to bring this up.

This show is the best argument for television-as-art that I've seen. It just plain works on every level. Instead of continuing to heap praise on the series, I'll continue the recommendation to watch through. The fourth season structure broke from the series norm in a rather jarring way, but the characters and tone have been consistent and have developed realistically throughout. I guess now I'll shut back up and see where the conversation goes.

And Omar is...epic. I also grew fonder of Carcetti during season four.

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Just finished the first season last night. The ending was...well, probably the most realistic ending for a season I've ever seen on TV. It's not that other shows don't leave things open-ended, but the way they handled it on the Wire felt more like real life than, well, real life.

The scene where Poot and Bodie kill Wallace was incredibly heartbreaking. I nearly wept.

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Woo, hoo! Season 5 is here. Well, the season premier officially airs on Sunday, but starting today it is on HBO OnDemand. I'm planning to watch it later today or tomorrow.

Considering that the season will begin in the midst of the writer's strike, I hope The Wire gets the attention it deserves. It will help that one of the subjects is the media, which should guarantee that the media will pay attention.

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My housemates and I got a free year of HBO, so--while I'm desperately trying to catch up--I plan on DVRing the fifth season and watch as soon as I'm done cramming in the other seasons. I'm excited!

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Anyone watching yet?

Like the previous seasons, Season 5 starts slow. I think it suffers a bit from HBO shortening the season from 13 episodes down to 10. There is a lot more exposition that I remember from earlier seasons. Episode 3, which was on last night, really starts to pick things up. I watched episode 4 today on HBO OnDemand, and it's great! I'd say more with the spoiler tags, but if nobody else has watched any of season 5, then I'll wait for you to catch up.

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I've been recording it on DVR, but because Comcast is so [strikethrough]terrible[/strikethrough] awesome, I can't actually watch any of the episodes. They're there, they just won't play.

I finished up the second season this past week. I was almost in tears by the final episode. I grew so attached to the characters, especially the stevedores --

I especially felt terrible for Frank; while he was up to no good, I really think he realized how neck-deep in trouble he was in the end. When Beady was tearing up as they found his body, I was almost doing the same.

I was surprised at the amount of nudity, though. Ziggy, man...geez.

The whole mail-the-photos-to-Valchek gimmick was hilarious, I must say.

Edited by Jason Panella

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I finished up the second season this past week. I was almost in tears by the final episode. I grew so attached to the characters, especially the stevedores --

I especially felt terrible for Frank; while he was up to no good, I really think he realized how neck-deep in trouble he was in the end. When Beady was tearing up as they found his body, I was almost doing the same.

I was surprised at the amount of nudity, though. Ziggy, man...geez.

The whole mail-the-photos-to-Valchek gimmick was hilarious, I must say.

The good news for you, is that season 2 is generaly considered to be the weakest. It only gets better for you as you watch the rest of the series! And watching the entire series in a relatively short amount of time is a great way to do it. There have been several things from season 2 that have popped up again in the current season. Some are central to the narrative, and one that I caught in episode 4 is just a character from season 2 showing up in the background of a scene. There's no attention paid to it, but just his presence continues the

stevedores

storyline.

One of them is now homeless, but rather than screaming "see what happens to the stevedores," he's just in the background. I bet a lot of fans wouldn't even recognize him. I only did because I rewatched the entire series over the last couple of months.

I have noticed that the amount of sex and nudity has decreased as the series continued. I don't know how much of that is Simon getting the freedom of being on HBO out of his system, and how much is

moving away from the Barksdale crew and McNulty getting sober (for at least one season - I think that the only sex in season 5 has been from him falling off the wagon)

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I've heard that too about the second season -- you know a series is good when the sophomore slump is still better than anything else on television.

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Just finished season three.

Incredible. 5.0/5

I loved the first two seasons, but this was ... this was something else. The writing is pitch-perfect, and this is the first time I really felt connected to the characters.

I can say I felt like McNulty when they found Stringer's body -- I took it hard, but I didn't even know the man.

Every time I see George Pelecanos or Richard Price's names pop up for writing credits, I know I'm in for a treat.

The changing dynamics and power struggles with the various political groups is fascinating, as is Cutty's struggle to get off of the streets and do something with his life.

I was shocked to find out the real story behind the actor who plays the Deacon -- he was a Baltimore drug kingpin that Ed Burns and David Simon tangled with in the '80s

.

And the biggest surprise --

Rawls drinking in the gay bar!

I did

feel horribly for Prez -- he's grown to become my favorite character, and the way the rest of the force thinks of him just makes me sad.

The season-end wrap-up was incredible, too; the look on Jimmy's face as he walked the beat (and, as he talked to Beady the night before) made me grin from ear to ear.

What a great show. Episodes from the four season should be arriving soon. Can't wait!

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I finished season four last week. Definitely 5.0/5, and if I could give six stars I would. The introduction of the kids to the overall plot works immensely. I really appreciated the focus on Prez, since he's one of the show's most sympathetic characters. The bond that grows between Namond and Colvin was great, as was the rate at which Carver is maturing.

I started catching up with season five (my housemates and I have free HBO for a year). While I'm only four episodes in, this last season just doesn't ring as true as the other four.

The scenes with Omar and Marlo 'abroad' felt unnecessary, and the direction McNulty's faked case is taking seems gimmicky (and his infidelity makes me want to shoot him -- I LIKED the happy Jimmy from season four!). I hope this doesn't turn into what

Homicide became in its last few seasons: good but not as great as what happened before.

That said, it's starting to pick up. The newsroom stuff is great, and the political maneuvering between Carcetti and the police brass is compelling.

And Marlo offing both Butchie and Prop Joe ... wow, that takes things in an interesting direction.

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It does pick up mid way through the season, but hasn't that been true in the previous seasons, too? One of the two themes of the season, do more with less, certainly applies. Simon is trying to wrap up the series

(and he gives cameos to a lot of favorite characters from previous seasons)

, and bring a number of different plot threads to a conclusion, all the while HBO cut him back from 13 episodes down to 10. That's having a big impact of the show, I think. There was more exposition in the first couple of episodes than I am used to from The Wire, and I can see how the compressed schedule forced the writers to tell more than show. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to judge a season of The Wire in midstream. I have watched through episode 8, and have a feeling that the final two episodes will determine if the entire season is a success or not.

What I like about

the fake serial killer plot, is that the best criticism of it comes from within the show in the words of Bunk. He seems to stand in for the skeptical audience.

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It does pick up mid way through the season, but hasn't that been true in the previous seasons, too? One of the two themes of the season, do more with less, certainly applies. Simon is trying to wrap up the series

(and he gives cameos to a lot of favorite characters from previous seasons)

, and bring a number of different plot threads to a conclusion, all the while HBO cut him back from 13 episodes down to 10. That's having a big impact of the show, I think. There was more exposition in the first couple of episodes than I am used to from The Wire, and I can see how the compressed schedule forced the writers to tell more than show. Nevertheless, it is almost impossible to judge a season of The Wire in midstream. I have watched through episode 8, and have a feeling that the final two episodes will determine if the entire season is a success or not.

I just finished the five episode, and I'm sold that this season is solid. It just took longer to click, I guess.

The BS battle between Jimmy and Templeton was pretty amazing, and I think at that moment Simon had me perfectly within his grasp.

I'm looking forward to this. It seriously is a 59-episode novel.

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R.I.P. Omar.

I'm honestly still in shock, and I found out about it in a very spoiler-ish way in Entertainment Weekly.

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What did you think of it, Alan? I started watching the first season again with some friends, and I'll now admit

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The first season was rushed in the end, but I think intentionally

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The Wire's War on the Drug War

By Ed Burns, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David Simon

http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1719872,00.html

I have to say that I agree with this editorial and their approach.

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Awesome article, Thoreau. I think I'm on their side, too. I think their opinion has come across loud and clear on the show (Hamsterdam, anyone?).

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Fans of the Wire: if you haven't had a chance to watch the two short documentaries ("The Wire: the Last Word" and "The Wire Odyssey"), they're up on HBO's website.

They're FILLED with spoilers, so avoid if you haven't caught up to the fifth season. But they are ever so worth it.

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