Having lost faith in the creative powers behind most of the dreck on television long ago, I’m wary of getting into any new series’ churned out each year by the networks. On rare occasions, I’ve heard from others (rather than through the endless charade of “the all-new hit show!” advertising) about a select few shows that are worth my incredibly valuable time and viewing commitment. One such show is HBO’s The Wire.
The show, the fourth season of which just started, centers around the urban and moral decay of the city of Baltimore viewed through the lens of its police, lawyers, crime lords, drug addicts, union workers, and politicians. It’s a simple enough concept that’s been approached with varying degrees of success in the past. But never has any show succeeded so brilliantly in painting such a complete and dynamic picture of life on the streets as this show. And furthermore, in the show business sense, the crew behind The Wire seems to “get it.”
The creative staff, with links to the old NBC show Homicide, have created one of the most riveting, thought-provoking and intelligently written episodic series ever on television. I’m not sure I’ve ever watched a more well-written and acted show. There have been shows with great runs and episodes in their times, but The Wire is consistently fantastic in nearly every aspect of its production, the writing chief among them. I can’t fathom writing this consistently good being on television in this day and age. It’s writing that doesn’t treat you like an idiot couch potato that requires every plot point spoon-fed to you or every aspect of a storyline explained with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. It’s an adult story acted by adults, written by adults and–crazily enough–treats its viewer like an adult! Who knew this was possible?
I hate to use the term “novel” to describe a TV show, but watching this show is akin to reading an Homerian epic, chapter by chapter. Layers covering Baltimore’s ruthless drug lords, its corrupt politicians, its dirty cops are all unflinchingly peeled back by the writers, who then heap that reality upon the show’s protagonists, who aren’t exactly angels themselves. It’s a detail of Baltimore city cops, some of the few honest and decent souls in a department rife with corruption. They’re not perfect, but their aims are pure in trying to clean up a hopelessly decaying city. It’s a Herculean task, but they trudge ever onward, led by department pariah Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West).
Regardless of all this babbling on my part, my main goal here is to get you to watch the show–to thereby reward creativity instead of continuing to support the Crap Factory that churns out stuff like Will & Grace and Justice and Grey’s Anatomy (melodramatic garbage, folks). Go rent the first three seasons of The Wire and enjoy yourself. If you’re not addicted to it by the 4th or 5th episode of season one, you’re probably better suited to watching shows like Two and a Half Men. I take no pleasure in insulting potential readers, but thas’ how I roll! And if you don’t think my saying you’re better suited to that show isn’t an insult, then God help you.