On the drug-infested streets of West Baltimore, there are good guys and there are bad guys. Sometimes you need more than a badge to tell them apart.
From David Simon From David Simon, creator and co-writer of HBO’s triple Emmy-winning mini-series The Corner, this unvarnished, highly realistic HBO series follows a single sprawling drug and murder investigation in Baltimore – one that culminates in a complex series of wiretaps and surveillance. Told from the points of view of both the police and their targets, the series captures a universe where easy distinctions between good and evil , and crime and punishment are challenged at every turn.
The Wire is hands down the best TV show I have ever seen, partly because it’s the closest to a novel that you can get on a televisual scale but saying that doesn’t really cover just how much depth the viewer is treated to throughout its five seasons.
Now on my sixth watch through, it’s about time I tried to put down – to some degree – why this TV show is rightly regarded as one of the best shows ever and for me the greatest. It’s hard to know where to begin, especially as I will be avoiding spoilers throughout so I shall begin with the opening scene which is posted at end this part of the overview.
In under three minutes the viewer is sucked into a story about a street murder as well as being introduced to some of the key themes, revolving around the street and ‘the game’. Within 14 seconds it’s already established that young children show little horror or surprise about a death so close, the offhand way it’s dealt with is frightening in its own way and the overall feeling is that business must go on. It’s as powerful an opening as one could want and but a taster of the masterpiece yet to come.
First time viewers need to know that this is a slow burning show that you will need to stick with for a few episodes in order to fully appreciate what it does so stylishly, not to mention working out who everyone is. It demands the viewer’s attention by not giving an easy ride or compromising its artistic integrity, which happens so often in the mostly down format of Television. The plot in itself takes its time and as such culminates into a realisation of just how clever it is when season one ends; the impact is perfectly pitched
The Wire’s way of telling a story was not really suited to TV as it is a medium that demands instant gratification and the complexity of this show doesn’t allow for such simplistic outlooks. Now it is out on DVD and streaming on the internet, watching a handful of episodes at a time is by far the best way to watch it. One can only imagine how challenging it would be to watch an episode a week and try to remember who everybody was and what was going on without the benefit of the all the episodes to hand, hence the initial poor ratings. Read the rest of this entry »