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Strong opinions, weakly held

The Wire

Now that I’m all caught up on the DVDs, I thought I’d just mention that if you haven’t watched The Wire, HBO’s drama about the effects of the drug trade on the city of Baltimore, you must go out and rent it or buy it immediately. I skipped it when it premiered on HBO way back in 2002, and I’m kind of glad I did, because it afforded me the opportunity to watch the first three seasons over a couple of months.

Is The Wire better than The Sopranos or Deadwood? Maybe. Is it better than everything else I’ve ever seen on television? Definitely.

You can expect that when season five of The Wire begins, there will be extensive blogging on that topic in this space. In the meantime, I’m just hoping that HBO airs season four again or releases it on DVD.

One interesting thing about The Wire is that renewal was always iffy. Season one works as a self-contained story, season two is a story that’s mostly independent of season one, and season three wraps up most of the threads from season one and the final episode of season three could have easily worked as a series finale.

If you do watch the DVDs, be sure to check out the extras as well. Any episode with commentary from series creator David Simon is not to be missed.

The last point I’d make about the show is that it is truly a love letter to the city of Baltimore as it really exists in the eyes of the writers. You can’t watch the show and not fall in love with Baltimore, ugly as it is. It makes me wish someone would write a really good show about Houston, my favorite deeply flawed city.

7 Comments

  1. Scott Parkerson

    August 19, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    I just finished watching season two. I’m eagerly awaiting the first disc from season three to show up any day now.

    Baltimore has never seemed so fascinating.

    Did you start watching it for the same reason I did? (That would be because of the Slacktivist.)

  2. Nope, just finally got around to it.

  3. As a displace Baltimoron (said with all self-effacing tongue in cheek affection for the city), I have been meaning to watch The Wire and also never got around to it. I think Homicide was a similar love letter to a flawed city. I do enjoy going back and taking people who’ve never been there, or at least not seen it past the view of the stadia from I-95, and showing them around, but I do not know the world of The Wire, and probably would not include that on my “tour”. Nonetheless, I do understand the above comments.

  4. I’m sure you know this, but Homicide was the same group of writers and producers, Jackie. It actually wasn’t that hard for young white Balmerites to make an accidental trip to Wire-land in the mid-to-late-90s — a trip up MLK could do it, or you could cross the street if you were living in Sowebo. George Pelecanos is a Silver Spring boy, but Burns and Simon love the city and it shows — I’m really looking forward to their look at reporting in Season 5, given how razor-fanged they’ve been about everything else they interacted with in Baltimore has been.

    Rafe, if you can stand it (it’s apparently a bit like being scrubbed with steel wool), there’s the Simon/Burns-penned miniseries The Corner, directed by the Baltimore-bred ex-con Charles “Roc” Dutton.

  5. I watched the first couple of episodes of The Corner when it aired initially but it was too relentlessly depressing for me to stick with.

  6. Steve – Balto is a small town, production team wise! I’m not surprised to learn that the same ppl work on the Wire. I’m sure when I read the production credits I’ll recognize a few names. And I also know first hand how easy it is to make that accidental trip! I was on my way home from Memorial Stadium once (in the 80s), and accidentally ended up in Cherry Hill. I stopped at a gas station and I swear to you, the attendent came running out to see what I was doing there and told me “do not get out of your car”. I was up there last year and took the long drive down into the city via York Road…Greenmount Ave…etc. I used to take Rt 40 from downtown to Catonsville when I lived up there too…Monument St., Edmonson Ave., on and on…

  7. Houston? Really? I think we remain one of the least televised major cities; I can only think of one TV show based here, and it was terrible and 20 years ago (“Houston Knights,” starring Michaels Beck and Pare).

    Baltimore got Simon’s output because he loves Baltimore. We just need to nurture such a talent down here in the world’s most populous swamptown.

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