Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

“The Wire” Diaries: Road to nowhere



Episode 12, “Cleaning Up” and Episode 13, “Sentencing”

Watching “The Wire” is like closely reading Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte: you really have to pay attention to understand what is actually happening. And the watching feels slow and tedious until you realize that that substance has poignance and valuable meaning.

I’m still struggling with this “good-for-me” TV since the last show I devoured could be considered, if we’re sticking with the book analogy, the “50 Shades” of TV: “True Blood.”

Finishing the first season allowed me to collect some observations on the show as a whole, in terms of my appreciation as well as frustrations with “The Wire.” Obviously, no Alexander Skarsgard, but a lot of “The Wire” remains unique and worthy of discussion.

It’s interesting to me, structurally, the way this show is set up. What procedural/police drama today only focuses on one case for an entire season? The general format of is either solely case-of-the-week or case-of-the-week with an overarching case/mythology/conspiracy., Iif it’s “The X-Files” for the entire season/series. Have any other shows taken this approach before or since?

“The Wire” also establishes a moral gray area, implying that both sides of the justice system are mostly bad, and uses somewhat preachy monologues or admittances to take jabs at the American justice system. I’d like to look into criticism from the time the show aired to see what was made of the political statements the show was making, and how critics and the public perceived them.

“The Wire”’s first season gave me a lot to think about over these seven weeks. It’s hard for me to believe I only watched 13 episodes in seven weeks, when I watched 80 episodes of “True Blood” in five weeks.Here’s a quick recap of the last two episodes of the first season!

Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell realize they are under investigation, and Wallace returns from the Eastern Shore. Bell urges Avon Barksdale to tie up loose ends. Kima Greggs continues her recovery, as Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell and Major Bobby Reed question the detail’s work. Rhonda Pearlman inquires about the detail investigating campaign finances, as Senator Clay Davis’s finances were threatened previously.

Preston “Bodie” Broadus (J.D. Williams, “Oz”) and Malik “Poot” Carr (Tray Chaney, “America’s Most Wanted”) kill Wallace on the orders of Stringer Bell, and the detail handles the arrests of D’Angelo and Avon Barksdale.

The detail exposes a property scam, propagated by the Barksdale operation in coordination with bribery of politicians; little proof exists on the money trail and the focus returns to the streets. Daniels reveals his knowledge of Carver informing Burrell about the detail’s activities. The detail arrests Wee-Bey Brice in Philadelphia, and D’Angelo attempts to make a plea bargain with Rhonda. The episode ends with D’Angelo and Avon Barksdale, among other members of the organization, being sentenced to prison sentences, while Stringer Bell walks free. The detail is separated and McNulty punished, sent to the marine detail, as the drug trade continues to flourish.

Other thoughts:

*Love the use of the term “crusade” by McNulty and Daniels. Very Fox Mulder.

*Still having some trouble remembering that Idris Elba isn’t playing his character from “The Office,” Charles Miner.

*I actually love Rhonda Pearlman’s haircut. 1500 for the classic bob.

*Stringer has a great ominous cackle, and I’m too emotionally distraught to really appreciate it due to what happened to Wallace.

*Rhonda is as giddy as a schoolgirl about the potential for this case. To see her this excited is so cute, I just know it won’t last.

*1000 to McNulty and Rhonda’s “We are gonna win this case” make out session that just happened.

*McNulty calling the FBI agents “You empty suits” was quite the dig.

*Sample tweet: “Justice for no one on #TheWire. Except maybe Herc.” I was frustrated, so that thought came out in tweet form. How did people succinctly express their opinions on plot developments (or lack thereof) in 2002? Real conversations? “Water cooler” talk? To me, “The Wire” doesn’t seem like a water-cooler show. It’s too intellectual, too high concept and too loaded with characters and plot twists to imagine Regular Joe from Accounting saying “So, did you guys see what happened on ‘The Wire’ last night?”

*Stringer gloating to McNulty is the equivalent of a Pats fan making fun of me when the Bills lose. We’re always expected to lose, anyway!

*I openly gasped when I heard Omar whistle at the end! That was a fantastic way to close the episode, amidst the detail breaking up and poor McNulty getting stuck on a boat.

Looking ahead: Thus ends Season One of “The Wire!” Though my interest is piqued, I’m not sure if I would continue watching unless I was blogging about it. The show certainly is not for everyone, but the superb writing, complexity of characters, and fresh take on the police drama all deserve the praise the show initially received and continues to receive from bloggers, TV critics, and average viewers alike. I’m intrigued to see how Season Two sets up, and if the detail will be brought back together. Also, I wonder if Stringer Bell remains the “big bad” as the series progresses. Last question: will McNulty and Rhonda date officially? Hopefully all of these thoughts will begin to be answered in my next post! Till next Thursday!

Cast List
Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty
Idris Elba as Stringer Bell
Larry Gilliard, Jr. as D’Angelo Barksdale
Lance Reddick as Lieutenant Cedric Daniels
Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs
Andre Royo as Bubbles
Wood Harris as Avon Barksdale
John Doman as Major William Rawls
Wendell Pierce as Bunk Moreland
Frankie Faison as Ervin Burrell
Deidre Lovejoy as Rhonda Pearlman
Peter Gerety as Judge Daniel Phelan
Callie Thorne as Elena McNulty
Michael K. Williams as Omar Little
J. D. Williams as Preston “Bodie” Broadus
Seth Gilliam as Detective Ellis Carver
Domenick Lombardozzi as Detective Thomas “Herc” Hauk
Clarke Peters as Detective Lester Freamon
Jim True-Frost as Detective Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski
Hassan Johnson as Roland “Wee-Bey” Brice
Michael B. Jordan as Wallace
Corey Parker-Robinson as Detective Leander Sydnor
Delaney Williams as Sergeant Jay Landsman

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