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The Wire - BBC2


toonfool
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I only finished watching the Wire recently and then bought and read The Corner, which was also excellent. One thing that I found a little surprising was how the world they describe in the Corner (i.e. real life) actually seemed to be substantially different to that shown in the Wire. For example, within the first few pages of The Corner they suggest that by the 90s drug dealing in Baltimore is no longer run by large organized groups fighting for territory - the corner has a multitude of smaller groups often sharing territory with little organization or skill. This is completely in contrast to The Wire in which Avon and Stringer (among others) control a large organzation very tightly and professionally.

Also, in The Corner it seems like a majority of dealers slip into becoming users, or to look at it the other way round; many addicts work the corner as a way to fund their habit. Again this isn't really a feature of the Wire, we hardly see the dealers have any involvement in using drugs. Addicts and dealers are portrayed as quite separate and different types.

Has anyone read any interviews where they talk about these differences? Of course the Wire is fiction not a documentary, but for a show that seems to pride itself on realism and tackling complex issues seriously it seems odd that it would differ so much from their own observations on real life.

This is supposition, but I would imagine that the majority of Ed Burns and David Simon’s knowledge of police work and the drugs trade dates from that earlier period, where monolithic drug empires controlled the city – Burns was born in 1946, and took down that Little Melvin guy in the seventies and eighties, and Simon wrote ‘Homicide’ in the mid eighties. So it might be the case that the law enforcement experience they drew on to make the show was quite old, and they went with what they knew, in the same way that the series’ take on the media didn’t mention the internet at all, because it was based on David Simon’s pre-internet career in journalism.

It could also easily be the case that they decided that a big organisation like Avon Barksdale’s was more interesting from a narrative point of view, and afforded them more opportunities to bring out the themes that they wanted the series to handle. Fuck knows basically; lots of small groups sharing corners sounds less engaging than the corner wars from the show. And no kingpins means no Stringer, Avon, and Marlo.

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This is supposition, but I would imagine that the majority of Ed Burns and David Simon’s knowledge of police work and the drugs trade dates from that earlier period, where monolithic drug empires controlled the city – Burns was born in 1946, and took down that Little Melvin guy in the seventies and eighties, and Simon wrote ‘Homicide’ in the mid eighties. So it might be the case that the law enforcement experience they drew on to make the show was quite old, and they went with what they knew, in the same way that the series’ take on the media didn’t mention the internet at all, because it was based on David Simon’s pre-internet career in journalism.

This is probably true to an extent, but it's been clear to see why the City of Baltimore hates The Wire - because it specifically attacks stuff that they're still doing, at least in police work. In the recent Operation Usual Suspects, which was three years of police work, it all ended up being 'drugs on the table'. 40 warrants, and they only got 2 cars, 4 guns, a bit of marijuana, and a microscopic amount of heroin - 82 gelcaps and 5 grams raw. Not even enough for half a day on one corner.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hah, not only the above, but...FFS, I just accidentally caught the last 10 minutes of the last episode of Season 1 on FX. I had no idea they'd been showing it.

And now, I've just got to watch the whole thing again, starting with S1:E1, right now.

No, I do NOT have time for this shit...he says, fumbling for his "The Wire" DVDs, right in the middle of his DVD shelves...

Pure class.

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I started watching along with FX and when I wanted the next episode to be shown at a more reasonable time I remembered I had the lot on DVD and felt quite stupid. I'm re-watching S2 at the moment, still my favourite I think.

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I'm currently at S05 on my whatever-it-is-now-th rewatch. I don't think it's too bad of a season, all told. I think part of the bad rep it gets is because it follows the sublime S04. Anything coming off the back of that won't fare too well.

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There should be word for the feeling you get when you watch a film, and suddenly realise "WTF, that's X from Y". Or in this case, "Prez from 'The Wire'":

The other day I was re-watching R Kelly's amazing Trapped in the Closet videos, and noticed that "Omar from the Wire" is one of the main characters.

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Yeah, I'm rewatching on FX - It's nice watching an episode a week - I rushed through the complete series a few years ago, and now I'm taking my time

It's nice.

Same here. I am continually surprised by how much happens in the first season. The first time around it seemed like a slow burn but so much happens in each episode and I think I am noticing more the second time through.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

The Wire's just full of quality moments like that. There are just too many little scenes to list or do justice to. Anyway, I finished my second start-to-finish run-through yesterday, and its perfection is profound. You just couldn't do that with many other series and stay interested.

Season 5 does let it down a little bit*, but the ending was so masterfully pulled off it gives you a proper sense of closure while still being rather poignant. I suppose it was what it was because they just had to call it a day and didn't want to leave any threads open.

I'll give it 12 months or so and I'll probably go through it again, and I'll love it.

*

To its credit it takes what other shows usually make a big song and dance about and really drives it home how insignificant that really is in the greater scheme of things. It avoids the drama of it all. But it did seem more ruthless in S5, possibly because there were fewer episodes and they wanted to tidy it all up.

Omar, shot dead out of fucking nowhere and it gets no more than a passing mention in the newsroom and a bit of back and forth between the very few people who actually cared.

Prop Joe, also shot dead with little-to-no warning, only gets a mention afterwards as 'Joe Stewart, found dead in his living room.' This big, smooth talking big wig had a massive street presence, but is a nobody to anyone not on them.

They were great characters and you really felt for them. I guess the way they wrote those scenes just made them more emotional. Fucking resented it though.

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I need to re-watch this. Only sat through each series once. I lent the fricking boxset to my sister at Xmas, she's still not started it despite constantly moaning there's nothing on the telly! :facepalm:

Probably the same kind of person who actually likes the shit that comes out of the UK.

A friend of mine swears by Merlin, and other bollocks like that. Yet they've never bothered with The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield, Breaking Bad, and so on.

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*

To its credit it takes what other shows usually make a big song and dance about and really drives it home how insignificant that really is in the greater scheme of things. It avoids the drama of it all. But it did seem more ruthless in S5, possibly because there were fewer episodes and they wanted to tidy it all up.

Omar, shot dead out of fucking nowhere and it gets no more than a passing mention in the newsroom and a bit of back and forth between the very few people who actually cared.

Prop Joe, also shot dead with little-to-no warning, only gets a mention afterwards as 'Joe Stewart, found dead in his living room.' This big, smooth talking big wig had a massive street presence, but is a nobody to anyone not on them.

They were great characters and you really felt for them. I guess the way they wrote those scenes just made them more emotional. Fucking resented it though.

There are two sides to that though.

Omar's legend grows on the streets. I cant quote the exact words, but right at the end of the show, where Marlo takes the corner off of the drug dealers after sneaking out of the business meeting the corner boys are talking about Omar like he is Rambo. One of the guys said he died during a pitched battle with the police and/or the New York gangs that saw him heavily outnumbers and holding an AK47.

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Now that's its over, I can emerge from my cave from over a week of watching The Wire in 14 hour shifts. It was wonderful!

You folks weren't lying when you said it was some of the best tv out there.

Kind of want to watch it again from the start but take my time digesting each ep as it comes rather than marathoning the entire thing!

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Now that's its over, I can emerge from my cave from over a week of watching The Wire in 14 hour shifts. It was wonderful!

You folks weren't lying when you said it was some of the best tv out there.

Kind of want to watch it again from the start but take my time digesting each ep as it comes rather than marathoning the entire thing!

Have you seen the other must watch shows?

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Right, So i'm on my 3rd re-watch now and i've been wondering:

What was it that Daniels do back in the ole dark days to get the money? Was he corrupt?

Does Mcnulty like the boats? He heard how they'd fuck him over before he mentioned it and at points in S2 he's dragging bunk onto the boat and really seems to be enjoying it.

The way I read it, and if I remember correctly, there were allegations that Daniels was dodgy and some in the unit he was in were but nothing was proved against him but it was always a cloud hanging over him. Nothing more than that was revealed. Actually after a quick wiki there was something about having "a couple hundred thousand [dollars] more in liquid assets than any police Lieutenant should ever have". But again, nothing proven. I took it to be his flaw. Everyone in the unit is a bit odd and flawed and that's his little problem.

The way I read the McNulty boat thing was that he genuinely didn't like it so when he says that he would hate to be on the boats and when Rawls wants to fuck him at the end of series one that's exactly where he sends him. I guess he was telling the truth, but by the time he got on there in series two he begins to enjoy it.

About time I watched this again I think.

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Have you seen the other must watch shows?

I've heard good things about Homicide: Life on the streets but that's really it. The Shield had it's moments but I honestly didn't warm to it. I've got the first season of Trem though, quite looking forward to that :)

The only problem with The Wire is it makes everything else look like shit by comparrison! :P

I look on at shows like Sons of Anarchy with quite a degree bored cynicism now.

I've gone and ordered Truth be told off of amazon for more of my wire related fix. Seams like an exelent companion to start watching it all over again! :D

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Does Mcnulty like the boats? He heard how they'd fuck him over before he mentioned it and at points in S2 he's dragging bunk onto the boat and really seems to be enjoying it.

I think he hates the idea of working the boats because there's so little that comes up that he can let himself get sucked into. That's why he wants to be homicide. But actually the boats provide him an escape and some peace (like when he goes back to working the streets). Ultimately, though, he always gets drawn back in by the homicide merry-go-round, which is actually bad for him.

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The reason he gives is "I get seasick", but yeah that's probably secondary to the fact that he loves working cases.

I always assumed after the show ended, he worked a beat and tried settling down with Beadie. Who knows whether that would've worked out though. Maybe eventually he was 'forgotten' about like Freamon was, and wriggled his way back into investigative work somehow. Of course Freamon didn't even flinch when he threw away his career a second time, and I doubt McNulty would be any different in the same position.

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The reason he gives is "I get seasick", but yeah that's probably secondary to the fact that he loves working cases.

I always assumed after the show ended, he worked a beat and tried settling down with Beadie. Who knows whether that would've worked out though. Maybe eventually he was 'forgotten' about like Freamon was, and wriggled his way back into investigative work somehow. Of course Freamon didn't even flinch when he threw away his career a second time, and I doubt McNulty would be any different in the same position.

Errr...

After the show ends he is thrown out of the police force. He cannot "work a beat" except as a security guard or something. He probably became a private detective or something.

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After the show ends he is thrown out of the police force. He cannot "work a beat" except as a security guard or something. He probably became a private detective or something.

I believe Freamon and McNulty are both told they will never work in Criminal Investigations again, leading the former to quit. The 'funeral' scene spells this out. Neither of them are laid off.

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I've heard good things about Homicide: Life on the streets but that's really it. The Shield had it's moments but I honestly didn't warm to it. I've got the first season of Trem though, quite looking forward to that :)

The only problem with The Wire is it makes everything else look like shit by comparrison! :P

Homicide is pretty good, same source material, but lower production values and network TV restrictions mean it can't quite hit the same highs, but I enjoyed it, great cast, just be prepared for the visuals, Munch pretty much calls it on the Internet ahead of time :)

If you're looking for more David Simon, watch his other real-life book based mini-series, The Corner, now that is like a short, but oh so sweet companion piece to The Wire, and I'd rate it as being about the same quality.

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Oh I will! I see its got Lester Freamon in it aswell! :D

My Copy of Truth be Told just arrived today so im spending today thumbing through that while listening to moody hiphop :D

And ordering all your suggestions. Jesus I think I might have another crack at Season 1 later on it the week. ha!

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Homicide is pretty good, same source material, but lower production values and network TV restrictions mean it can't quite hit the same highs, but I enjoyed it, great cast, just be prepared for the visuals, Munch pretty much calls it on the Internet ahead of time :)

If you're looking for more David Simon, watch his other real-life book based mini-series, The Corner, now that is like a short, but oh so sweet companion piece to The Wire, and I'd rate it as being about the same quality.

I'd agree with all that, but add that first-season Homicide looks really good, with the washed-out look (with only certain colours, like red, being strong), shaky camerawork and jump cuts - that style's become ubiquitous since then (except for the ultra-washed/vivid reds look), but at the time it really stood out, and suits the tone/content of the show well.

With each passing season, they were forced to tone it down, and indeed each season is worst than the last, with sillier story-lines and dafter, more glamourous, characters, but at the start, it was very closely based on Simon's A Year on the Killing Streets. For a long time, it was the best cop show on TV, arguably the best programme full stop. That was before HBO came along, of course, and showed that TV could be consistently great. About the only significant change from the book (which is an account of a year in the life of the real homicide unit), and the only real police-show cliche, is the down-at-heel homicide office, with spinning fans, bell telephones, tatty desks, etc. The Wire got the unit's office more accurate, with the cubicle-tastic sterile modern office environment.

Homicide is cop TV where the police don't care at all why the person did it, and where "whodunnits" are a real headache for them. There are no car chases, no shoot-outs, you never get to see the actual crime, just the crime scene, and the cops aren't heroes, or glamorous. Most of the time, they know who did it; it's about getting the person to crack. Also, Homicide is not soap opera-y, unlike most cop shows: this isn't about the characters' love lives, although they are very strongly written and acted. This may all seem a bit familiar now, but at the time, the show was a ground-breaker.

Seasons 1 and 2 are awesome, and that first box set (with both; season 2 only has four episodes) is well worth picking up. If you really like it, keep going until you start to get annoyed; bear in mind that each year it gets slightly worse, until by season 7 it's really unlike season 1 in most ways. The follow-up movie (that closes up loose ends in a shit way) is a not only ridiculous (it has a scene set in heaven!), but is a horrible fuck-you to the fans, with no artistic argument I can see for being like this.

The book it's based on (and indeed much of The Wire) is well worth picking up. It's called Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. (The network wanted a more positive name for the show, and the compromise reached was that they had to have a positive word like "life" in the title; the title was :facepalm: even at the time).

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The book it's based on (and indeed much of The Wire) is well worth picking up. It's called Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. (The network wanted a more positive name for the show, and the compromise reached was that they had to have a positive word like "life" in the title; the title was :facepalm: even at the time).

As is the book of the other TV show, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Both bleak as fuck but great if you enjoyed The Wire.

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