Monday, September 8, 2008
On the Wire
After reading lots of rave reviews about the HBO series, 'The Wire', I finally got myself a copy of the first two seasons. I'm not even at the end yet, (trying, without too much discipline, to pace myself!) but I can say it's one of the best tv shows I've ever watched. I am obsessed. Not since my love affair started with the West Wing back in 2003 have I fallen for a show like this. (Incidentally, and much to The Pal's - and my own - annoyance, I have also started quoting a character called Omar, who says, "indeed" a lot. Like, "Kate, are you ready for dinner?" "Indeed").
Apparently Barack Obama's favourite show - maybe another reason I decided to get on board? - The Wire is set in the mean streets of Baltimore, featuring a predominantly mixed race cast. The viewer can see both sides of the story, so to speak, from the perspectives of the cops and the drug runners (and later, stevedores, junkies, players, clockers - you get the picture). But it's not nearly as clear cut as Law and Order or other cop shows of the genre. For one thing, it's really difficult to judge (or warm to) any of the characters - no one's good; no one's bad. Not necessarily a revelation, you might say, but in this case, it actually adds to the charm of the characterisation.
I listened to a fabulous interview with Richard Price, one of my new favourite authors and a writer on The Wire, he describes the whole series as being like a rampaging, sprawling, nineteenth century novel. I can't help returning to this description time and again, as I meet characters, leave them and wander into new stories, and come back to old friends. Price's own Clockers, which I have raved about before, almost reads as The Wire in book-form - some of the lines in Season Three are lifted directly from the book.
I'm also really interested that this is, in fact, another cops and robbers show. I'm not normally drawn to these (although I did enjoy Underbelly recently) and wonder how the genre may keep iterating as audiences get savvier and better clued in to guess the narrative tricks.
Any new shows that have caught your eye?
When I say 'new', there are actually five season of The Wire out - great news for first-time watchers!