Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Wire

In addition to proclaiming that "Rex Grossman is bad. I don't care if they're 10-2 [make that 11-2 now, Bill]. He's bad", Bill Simmons has some thoughts on the recently completed 4th season of "The Wire."
Speaking of Baltimore, after watching the season finale of "The Wire" this week, I wrote up an extended rant about the show and how much it means to me -- both as a writer and a human being -- and how I believe it's the most important show of my lifetime, how I can't remember being more attached to four TV characters than the four school kids from Season 4, how I simply can't fathom why more people wouldn't give it a chance ... but it ended up sounding too preachy, so I'm just going to say that it's my favorite TV show of all-time and leave it at that. Name another show that could peak during a season in which its best character (McNulty) basically disappeared for 12 of the 13 episodes? How is that possible? What a show. I miss it already.
Have to agree with that last sentence.

As I've said before, I've been aware of this show in the past, but never even bothered to take a look-see before this season. I guess I felt like one more cop show is something I could do without.

I could not have been more wrong -- on both counts.

It's hardly a cop show (or just a cop show, anyway), and it's hardly something I could do without.

What it is, in fact, is the Baltimore cop show equivalent of a Dickens novel. The whole of the city's life is examined, from the mayor's office down to the street corner. The thread that ties them together is the lack of control that any of the characters have over the course of their lives.

A longshot mayoral candidate is pushed over the top by exploiting the apparent murder of a state's witness, only to find out after the election that the "murder" was merely another random twist of fate, a misguided bullet from a nearby target shooter. Once ensconced in the office he sought in order to move the city in a better direction he finds a $50M time-bomb waiting for him, facing him almost instantly with a choice between either attempting to move up (to the statehouse) or out (no way he's going to be reelected to City Hall).

Even at that lofty level, the wheel turns mercilessly.

At the level of the school kids Simmons refers to, the fates are even more unpredictable and their effects even more unrelenting. By the end of the season, the opener's four relatively carefree boys of summer have been scattered in the wind and only one seems to have any hope of escaping a sorry fate.

I've read often about how this show has apparently failed to find an audience over the years it has been on HBO (Simmons alludes to this as well). I really have no idea whether this is the case or not, or if it matters or not since it's an HBO show. What I do know is this. Given my experience with the show, it is impossible to conceive of anyone watching this show and not becoming a slavish devotee of it.

I, for one, can't wait for the next (final, I'm told) season to begin.


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