Friday, September 7, 2012

The Wire Retrospective - No More B-More

I have been so busy these days with my real life job at Stetson University, weekly television reviews at TV Fanatic, and regular trips to Disney and Universal that I have rarely found time to do much of anything else.

One thing I have had time to do is watch four seasons of The Wire over the course of July and August.  Although it was slow – and difficult for me to get into – over the course of the first two seasons, the show that is renowned for being the best television drama ever kept me coming back for more time and time again during its final three seasons.

After watching the first season way back in the summer of 2010 I had this to say in my blog post:

“After only 13 episodes, I'd put it in my top 10 dramas of all time. I would not be surprised if it jumped into my top five or three by the end of my catch up project, but I don't see it beating out Lost as my favorite all-time show.”

Well I wasn’t very far off in my prediction, because after my marathon session, I would put it in second…behind Lost.  However, shows that have yet to end their runs – like Breaking Bad and Justified – certainly have a chance to knock it from that runner-up perch.

I vaguely remembered a majority of people playing up the fact that season five was markedly worse than three and four, but I think that was more about the fact that three and four are so unbelievably good than five being subpar.  Like serialized series, five is so solid because we’ve grown to know so many of the characters for the four seasons before that, so we jump into their lives so easily (something that was impossible to do with season one, and which is why I didn’t enjoy one to the extent that I did five).

The fact that I loved the McNulty-makes-up-his-own-Baltimore-serial-killer story line didn’t hurt either.  Bunk’s disgust with that idea, Lester’s excitement about it, and Omar’s feud with Marlo certainly added to the excitement of the final season.  Sure, the newspaper stuff wasn’t great at first, but every time Scotty came back with a made-story, I laughed hysterically, and that was a good thing.

Having said all of that, three and four were nearly perfect.  David Simon – and the rest of his writing team’s – ability to weave new characters in and out of the story was never better on display than in these two seasons.  To take a character like Stringer Bell, who seemed so vital to the larger story, and murder him at the end of season three without even allowing McNulty to take him down, was pure genius.

To then take McNulty – for all purposes the lead of the series – and basically sit him on the bench for the entirety of season four?  That takes guts.  And it worked, as season four was my second favorite of all and many others’ favorite of the series.  Not only did they let big players take a seat, but they added new characters so seamlessly.

Prop Joe and Marlo are prime examples of guys who stepped into the series as minor characters, and began playing bigger and bigger roles as things went on – so far as Marlo becoming your primary antagonist in season five (and probably had a top three screen time).  It all seemed so natural too.

The addition of the four students in season four was great, but the fact that two of them basically worked themselves out of the bigger story, and two stayed well within it, by the end of season four was even better.

Season after season, the focus turned from character to character, from location to location, and from story to story.  The Wire was a fantastic story from beginning to end, but it may have been even better at creating awesome characters.  Your favorite might not have been my favorite, nor mine yours, but there were some unforgettable moments of realism in almost every person that was put on screen…that is except for Clay Davis – who became an absolute caricature of himself every time he extended the length of one of his “shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiits.”

As we love to do here at The Quiet Pool Perspective, we have ranked those beloved characters.  This was such a big deal that I took to the Poolie voters to help me crown the best Wire characters of all-time.  So without further ado, jump over to the next post to check out the Top 50 characters of The Wire as voted on by me, Ttime, Jaydon, Larry, Mags, Cecil, Tyson, and the Bonz.

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