Thanks for reading this far, I’ll make this my last post of The Wire, with what I judge to be have been a reasonably in depth look at the show without going too overboard on the whole topic. Summing up this show with all its depth would take up more blog space than I am prepared to give on account of books piling up but with such a wide range of things to mention I will venture to add a few more, just to make the show more enticing in case I have failed thus far.
The directors and writers are of a high calibre such as well-known authors like Dennis Lehane and George Pellecanos, David Simon and Ed Burns have the experience of being a journalist and homicide detective respectively. It is worth noting that Simon wrote Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets and with Ed Burns, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner City Neighbourhood which are both excellent reads, adding more to the real life inspirations behind the show. There is an experienced excellence to all this work which demands more of an audience and from an audience in thought .
The lack of soundtrack means all those everyday noises are more distinctive and this adds to the realism allowing the actors to take centre stage rather than having their performances enhanced with emotive music. It’s a case of showing how powerfully an actor can influence the viewer’s feelings without the crutch of any outside influence moving us, highlighting once again the exemplary ensemble cast. There is music but it is part of the natural order, tunes blasting out from a car or on the radio and so on, the regular soundtrack to life.
Season One does not put a foot wrong, its impact not only on the TV landscape but on the audience has changed the way that police procedurals are viewed, not that The Wire sits easily in any genre, it transcends the need for being pigeonholed by being all things effortlessly at once. By the end of the first season it is easy to think that although it will continue to be a challenging watch it’ll also have an established pattern. Simon is one for changing up his themes though and giving us something new to explore constantly..
Season two almost feels different, from the theme tune onwards but having come this far it is something that will be relished. As the seasons give way, each is more ambitious and layered than the last, with more characters but crucially all are strong and three-dimensional. Change is something the series does well and after the second season, this changing does become second nature keeping the show fresh as well as adding further insight into the workings of society..
Although season five doesn’t hold quite up as well for me, with one of the storylines in particular feeling a tad far-fetched (thus jarring after all the realism) and also because it was slightly truncated towards the end a well. There are still so many high points and plenty of emotionally intense scenes that drive through the heart of drama and retain a sense of great depth. When it comes to it, even the worst season of this show is still better than pretty much everything else out there.
This is a show that doesn’t have to rely on cliffhangers to hook you, it does it by superior writing, it challenges the viewer and gives so much back. When one looks back on the show as a whole it is easy to see the rising crescendo of complexity and the decay of institutions and the thin veneer of social stability. The amalgam of subjects tackled methodically will make most TV seem trite by comparison but that will leave you more time for books which is always a bonus.