Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 19, 2018

“The Wire” Diaries: Live-tweeting a show from 2002 just isn’t feasible

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“Breaking Bad.” “The Sopranos.” “Mad Men.” “Game of Thrones.” All of these critical darlings and fan favorites are shows I have yet to watch. Being a self-proclaimed TV nerd, I can admit that these are egregious absences in my TV viewing, and I’ve made some past mistakes in my viewing choices. Not that I regret watching “True Blood.” I just know that I could have chosen something better. Instead I chose Alexander Skarsgard. Let me reiterate: I do not regret watching “True Blood.”

So this semester, I decided to embark on an academic project of sorts to bring me some levity and credence as a wannabe TV scholar: I will be watching “The Wire” in its entirety. I’ve heard it called the best TV show ever made, from friends, celebrities and critics alike. It won “Best TV Drama” in this Vulture.com TV Tournament, beating out my personal favorite “The X-Files” in the second round. “The Wire” is an important piece of American television for the conversations it ignited regarding gender, race, police behavior, the war on drugs and buzz TV. This is what I know about “The Wire” without really getting into it or reading thoroughly about the show.

I’ll be watching an episode (or more) per week and blogging about my thoughts, reactions and Idris Elba appreciation throughout. So, without further ado, “The Wire” Diaries.

Episode 1: “The Target”

Something is rotten in the city of Baltimore! But a lot is pretty on “The Wire:” cinematographically, expositionally, developmentally. A few words on plot: “The Wire” (thus far) follows Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West, “Mona Lisa Smile”) from the Baltimore Police Department as he begins to investigate crimes related to drug dealing and the involved players. The first episode focuses on the trial of D’Angelo Barksdale (Lawrence Gillard, Jr., “The Walking Dead”), a drug dealer who is acquitted of murder, and the surrounding investigation started by McNulty and other detectives.

At its most basic premise, “The Wire” is a cop show. But it’s much more than that, even in the beginning. We are seeing the drug deals, the connections and Idris Elba running the show. And, McNulty is making connections between murders and deals where no one has before. And higher ups are upset! And McNulty goes to the FBI building in Baltimore at one point! Is this a conspiracy show? I love those!

More on what I love about “The Wire” so far:

  • :13 – Idris Elba Alert!
  • Jimmy McNulty is Irish! I studied abroad in Dublin last semester, so this made me smile.
  • I know Dominic West (Detective Jimmy McNulty) as Roxie Hart’s husband from the movie version of Chicago and Julia Roberts’ love interest in “Mona Lisa Smile,” so I’m hoping his acting abilities will redeem himself from those roles. But, he does speak Italian in “Mona Lisa Smile,” so there’s that.
  • The cops have to type reports on a typewriter; McNulty has to do this as a punishment. There’s a line about the department being in the new millennium, but not having the money to get computers. The show debuted in 2002, but the typewriter looked like it was from 1955. I’m looking forward to the progression of technology in the Baltimore Police Department and the shrinkage of cell phones used by cops and the drug dealers alike.
  • McNulty’s worst fear would be to work in the marine unit. If I were a cop, I think I would like the marine unit. The Baltimore Inner Harbor is so pretty!
  • 33:08 – Idris Elba is wearing a blue half zip pullover to make some threats. This is nice.
  • This exchange about fake money:
    -“Does this look green to you?”
    -“It’s got a dead f***ig president on it.”
  • I already love Detective Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn, “Body of Proof”) from Narcotics. She is the only significant female character as of now and appears to be the most competent detective.
  • There are a lot of characters being introduced, and no one uses names when they talk, unlike the last show I just watched where everyone said everyone’s name every time they interacted.
  • 51:47 – McNulty made a “Bridge on the River Kwai” reference. I’ve never seen it, but this has me hoping that McNulty will make more pop culture references in the future!
  • Shot of the news on TV, referencing the war in Afghanistan – “America at War.” But I see what you did there, “The Wire.” (Hint: it’s the War on Drugs).
  • Baby Michael B. Jordan is on “The Wire!” It took this whole episode (and a check with IMDB) for me to recognize him. Look out for him as your new Human Torch in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” reboot.
  • The episode ends with D’Angelo Barksdale walking away from William Gant’s (Larry Hull, “Homicide: Life on the Street”) dead body. Gant had testified at Barksdale’s trial, identifying him as a murderer. Good cliffhanger, “The Wire!” Better than “True Blood,” where the main character screaming was the de facto ending for every episode. Looking forward to my next batch of episodes!
  • Idris Elba’s earring alert. Never a fan of earrings on dudes, but maybe Idris’s will grow on me.

thescene@theeagleonline.com


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