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The Wire (2002-2008)


Jason Panella
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How does Season 3 rate against the other seasons of this show? How 'bout Season 4?

I'd heard -- maybe I've posted about this already; will have to check if this post is redundant -- that Season 4 was a letdown, but then I heard elsewhere that Season 4 was great. I've heard Season 2 is the best. But based on the three seasons I've seen so far, I think Season 3 is the strongest.

I'm willing to be argued out of this, not having had more than 12 hours to ruminate on this topic since completing Season 3.

If you haven't previously posted your ranking of the different seasons, please do so.

Oh -- is there a Season 5? I saw a single-disc labeled Season 5 and thought to myself, "Didn't The Wire last only four seasons?"

My ranking for the first four seasons (yes, there is a season 5, but I've only just started it because I wanted to re-watch all of the first four seasons first) is either 2, 1, 3, 4 (where 2 is the worse, up to 4 being the best) or 1-4, with all four seasons getting progressively better. I'm a little torn on whether I like 1 or 2 better, but there's not question I liked 3 better than either of those, and 4 the best of all.

Btw, here's the metacritic page for season 4. An AVERAGE of 98 out of 100. If you read through the little review blurbs, it doesn't look like many people shared the "letdown" view of season 4. Enjoy!

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Thanks, popechild. I was just adding an EDIT to my previous post when your post "crossed" in the thread.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 1 month later...
David Simon, on the Baltimore police and a press that's far from dogged.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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My rating would be:

(Season 3) - Reformation theme is great! I love it the story arcs of Stringer and Bunny.

(Season 4) - Education, Michael, Namond, Dukie, Randy, Chris, Snoop, Marlo, Prop Joe, the vacants... I can't stop. This is as close to Shakespeare as TV has ever come.

(Season 1) - Where's Wallace? Huh? Where's Wallace, String? String? String? Where's Wallace String?

(Season 2) - Curiously enough, of all the opening versions of the theme song, Waits is the best, but I felt like this season felt more like an HBO show than the others. It felt like the Sopranos as time. McNulty's dumping the bodies on Rawls is hilarious.

(Season 5) - Speaking of hilarious, this is the closest the show comes to comedy. Maybe it is because I have a close friend that reminds me very much of McNulty, and there were too many scenes that cracked me up, simply because there were direct parallels between my friend and Jimmy. I laughed hard at some of Jimmy and Lester's antic. I rank it last, but it is hard to say anything this good is last in anything.

Edited by Michael Todd

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

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FWIW, Michael, my wife uttered the words "jump the shark" during one of the episodes we watched (we're still only halfway through), because she doesn't believe that

McNulty would feed a fake story to the press to get funding

. I find it a stretch myself, but I wonder if it's based in fact. Does Simon know that something like this happened in Baltimore? I'm curious.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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FWIW, Michael, my wife uttered the words "jump the shark" during one of the episodes we watched (we're still only halfway through), because she doesn't believe that

McNulty would feed a fake story to the press to get funding

. I find it a stretch myself, but I wonder if it's based in fact. Does Simon know that something like this happened in Baltimore? I'm curious.

Ah, keep watching. You just fell into Simon's trap, it seems.

For what it's worth, Simon made this intentionally unbelievable...I won't say more, but it's in there for a reason.

Edited by Jason Panella
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Ah, cool. I don't have the final discs on hold yet -- Sarah has asked for a break. But I'll chime in once I've finished the series.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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FWIW, Michael, my wife uttered the words "jump the shark" during one of the episodes we watched (we're still only halfway through), because she doesn't believe that

McNulty would feed a fake story to the press to get funding

. I find it a stretch myself, but I wonder if it's based in fact. Does Simon know that something like this happened in Baltimore? I'm curious.

Ah, keep watching. You just fell into Simon's trap, it seems.

For what it's worth, Simon made this intentionally unbelievable...I won't say more, but it's in there for a reason.

Can you elaborate (hidden if needed)? I also found this to be an issue for me with season 5, and even though I've seen the whole thing I'm not sure what you're referring to. I'd like to be able to justify some of those choices more than I currently can.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Can you elaborate (hidden if needed)? I also found this to be an issue for me with season 5, and even though I've seen the whole thing I'm not sure what you're referring to. I'd like to be able to justify some of those choices more than I currently can.

Well, let me ask several questions:

Some people chalk Jimmy's fictitious killer makes the show enter the realm of pure fantasy, but what about Bunny's whole Hampsterdam experiment in season 2? And haven't Simon and Burns been very meticulous with how they put the show together since day one? With that said, why would they suddenly pull a 'jump the shark'? Could McNulty and Lester's scam (and how we react to it) be saying something about how...well, it's a lot bigger than it looks.

I think a lot of the AV Club's recaps have lots of good insight.

Edited by Jason Panella
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Can you elaborate (hidden if needed)? I also found this to be an issue for me with season 5, and even though I've seen the whole thing I'm not sure what you're referring to. I'd like to be able to justify some of those choices more than I currently can.

Well, let me ask several questions:

Some people chalk Jimmy's fictitious killer makes the show enter the realm of pure fantasy, but what about Bunny's whole Hampsterdam experiment in season 2? And haven't Simon and Burns been very meticulous with how they put the show together since day one? With that said, why would they suddenly pull a 'jump the shark'? Could McNulty and Lester's scam (and how we react to it) be saying something about how...well, it's a lot bigger than it looks.

I think a lot of the AV Club's recaps have lots of good insight.

The difference with Hampsterdam was that it was sufficiently motivated. You felt Bunny's desperation enough to believe in that moment it made sense to him. McNulty went off the deep end with his decision with no more motivation than the general frustration with the system than we've seen him feel all along, but he's never before indicated that he would do something so blatantly absurd. This is a "there's no realistic way you don't end up in jail" decision and he makes it incredibly flippantly. Even worse is Lester, who's shown none of McNulty's previous predilection toward "stick 'em in the eye" carelessness.

I would agree that the show has been meticulously put together, but that only makes this feel more out of place to me, I don't see that that explains it at all. Perhaps you have a link to whatever the AV Club recaps are? I'd be interested in reading more.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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The difference with Hampsterdam was that it was sufficiently motivated. You felt Bunny's desperation enough to believe in that moment it made sense to him. McNulty went off the deep end with his decision with no more motivation than the general frustration with the system than we've seen him feel all along, but he's never before indicated that he would do something so blatantly absurd. This is a "there's no realistic way you don't end up in jail" decision and he makes it incredibly flippantly. Even worse is Lester, who's shown none of McNulty's previous predilection toward "stick 'em in the eye" carelessness.

I would agree that the show has been meticulously put together, but that only makes this feel more out of place to me, I don't see that that explains it at all. Perhaps you have a link to whatever the AV Club recaps are? I'd be interested in reading more.

McNulty's

Edited by Jason Panella
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Enjoy, Darrel! As I've mentioned before in this thread, I've been rewatching the show with a few friends that haven't seen it before, and we're on season three. They're really getting into this season.

I've re-watched the show with some of my friends. It is curious to see different temperaments approach the show. My cousin loves the series, but she felt like season 4 took a long time to build. Another friend likes season two the best, and made similar comments about the credibility of season three's premise, as some here have made about five. But as a friend used to say to me, "It's all good."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

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Enjoy, Darrel! As I've mentioned before in this thread, I've been rewatching the show with a few friends that haven't seen it before, and we're on season three. They're really getting into this season.

I've re-watched the show with some of my friends. It is curious to see different temperaments approach the show. My cousin loves the series, but she felt like season 4 took a long time to build. Another friend likes season two the best, and made similar comments about the credibility of season three's premise, as some here have made about five. But as a friend used to say to me, "It's all good."

FWIW, although I'm not quite done with the series, I find myself thinking more fondly of season 2 than some others here, who have cited it as the serie's weak link. I was reminded of it when, during season five, a couple of characters from season 2 re-emerged to heckle an elected official. Plus, unless Season 5 has some major surprises up its sleeve -- and I get the sense from previous remarks here that it might -- season 2 is the only season that deals with religion. Yes, it's in a negative sense, with characters jockeying for placement of a stained-glass window in a church, but it's something.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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FWIW, although I'm not quite done with the series, I find myself thinking more fondly of season 2 than some others here, who have cited it as the serie's weak link. I was reminded of it when, during season five, a couple of characters from season 2 re-emerged to heckle an elected official. Plus, unless Season 5 has some major surprises up its sleeve -- and I get the sense from previous remarks here that it might -- season 2 is the only season that deals with religion. Yes, it's in a negative sense, with characters jockeying for placement of a stained-glass window in a church, but it's something.

There are a ton of references to religion in The Wire. Maybe not white churches, but definitely black churches.

One of the best lines of the show, when the deacon says, "A good churchman is always up in somebody's ****."

Seasons 3, 4, and 5 racks up many references to a political entity known as "the ministers". The church tries to help Cutty get a job in the city in both 3 and 4. There is reference to the Sunday peace on season 3 when Omar's grandmother's almost get shot. Herc loses his job due to Bubs having him search a minister's car; the minister's license plate read "Praise God", but I cannot remember how it was exactly arranged. There is a scene in season 4, which shows Carcetti, Royce, and Tony all attending black churches before the election.

In season 5, we see Prop Joe take Marlo to a minister so he can launder money in the Caribbean.

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

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Michael: Thanks for those reminders. I had remembered when Omar went to church, but had forgotten the others.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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  • 1 month later...

We finished the series last weekend.

Jason, I've been going through your spoilers above, and don't feel convinced by Simon's rationale. I haven't checked out the AV Club posts yet and am not sure I will.

I'm OK with Season 5. It ended very well, although that last episode suffered from Return of the King-style multiple endings.

I found it depressing, not at all encouraging. I had expected a little light, but found it mostly dark. Everyone was compromised, weren't they?

But I was OK with that.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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Jason, I've been going through your spoilers above, and don't feel convinced by Simon's rationale. I haven't checked out the AV Club posts yet and am not sure I will.

I'm OK with Season 5. It ended very well, although that last episode suffered from Return of the King-style multiple endings.

I found it depressing, not at all encouraging. I had expected a little light, but found it mostly dark. Everyone was compromised, weren't they?

But I was OK with that.

That's OK

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  • 5 months later...

A Baltimore academic is conducting research on people's responses to the series & vision of the city.

Copy & paste link (apologies, the link doesn't work otherwise).

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Q0Or...29eWsrwGg_3d_3d

I just started series 5 last night. Will join in discussions once have got to the end. LOTS of things to say, as can probably be expected from this series. For now, I'm wondering what series people favour. I'm a lover of series 2, myself. I reckon that's the working class Catholic in me.

Edited by gigi

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

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Hands down best TV Show I've ever seen ... ever.

And yet, I can't find hardly any Christians who have seen it, much less written about it. I made an attempt at writing a (spoiler free) review here - TV Show Review: The Wire - Seasons 1-5

There are some dark shows and movies out there that pride themselves in showing every little detail of human depravity and then reveling in it. There are no good guys - everyone is evil. Here, look at the sins and crimes that man is capable of. I personally can't stand this garbage - becoming more and more currently popular in the horror genre - and refuse to justify watching evil simply for the sake of watching evil. That seems wrong to me. And while the "everyone is evil" theme may be Biblical, it's also too simplistic. The Wire is dark in that it sometimes horrifies or shocks the viewer, it also teaches, inspires, and asks meaningful questions. Expect questions, not only about about personal integrity, but also about the society and institutions that surround you, how they are failing, and what, if anything, you can do about it ...

Why watch even watch a TV show? Some Christians just don't. Others do endlessly for hours on end. It's obviously not the best use of your time ... necessarily. All things are permissible, but all things are not useful or wise ... But there's an argument out there that we should watch movies & TV shows so that we can understand the culture. This way, we can include little film clips in our sermons, or include little TV show quotes in our "sharing the gospel" - and that makes us cool. Let me distinguish my recommendation of The Wire from this "Christian" recommendation for trying to relate to the "culture" right now. You should not watch The Wire to try to be the cool hip Christian, to be relevant, to be part of your culture, or so you can have a "nexus of sharing" with other people in your culture. This is what some Christians do - and well, it's really really dumb ...

The heartbreaking thing about The Wire, is it shows the problems of the current human condition. Everything is getting worse. As each season progresses, the political corruption and bureaucratic idiocy of the police department only increases with time, but on the other hand, the drug trade is getting worse too. The drug runners in the first season do have something of a moral code and try and live by rules they believe are right. Then, a couple seasons later, all the last shreds of morality are going out the window. That, and the criminals are all just getting younger and younger. There's one scene where a college professor is trying to study how young men are getting pressured "by their environment" into the drug trade - his study group is males, aged 18-20. When an ex-cop shows him that that is too old, he's then forced to learn that even high school is too late - try early elementary school. Things are constantly getting worse. And yet, there are still people who are trying, against all the odds, to do the right thing. The Wire is their story.

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