By popular demand…

An open thread on “The Wire.” We’ll catch up this week by opining on the first two episodes.

You may have noticed Richard Price wrote episode #2. He’s a novelist, and I recognized Major Bunny’s speech at the end of the hour as a version of one that appeared in “Clockers,” about the corner being the poor man’s lounge. He was describing the conflict between the law — which says you can’t drink on the street — and reality, which says it’s more fun for a poor man to drink on the street with his friends than inside a stuffy apartment, which is where the good people who run the city want him to drink. (They prefer to drink on the lovely, breezy outdoor patios of expensive restaurants, I guess.)

Anyhoo, by the end of the speech, we pretty much know where Maj. Bunny is going — he’s going to legalize drugs in his district, in a de facto way, by looking the other way when they’re being sold. You can’t really blame him; one of his cops is in the hospital, shot in the jaw during the sort of b.s. hand-to-hand drug bust we like to think makes a difference but really amounts to squishing toothpaste around in the tube. He’s giving up! He’s surrendering! He’s laying down his weapons, and we’ll just see what happens. This is going to be good.

Elsewhere, Kima is on the hunt at the lesbian bar, on the lookout for some strange because she just can’t get into being one of the new baby’s two mommies. This is why I love this show: It just confounds all your expectations. Kima’s so butch she’s worse than a man. I love her.

Bravo to HBO for including this link on their website, which is not entirely flattering to their presentation:

The truly difficult part, however, will be getting any new viewers to watch. “The Wire” has loyalists for the same reason important books have readers. But almost everyone else — Emmy dunces included — hasn’t tuned in. This is a series that goes beyond critical darling. “The Wire” is better than its own hype. If you don’t watch the show, it’s your fault, your loss.

And yet, two things are frustratingly confounding about Sunday’s third season premiere. First, the producers give new viewers no easy entry. This is a dense, intricately nuanced series you can’t just bum-rush into at random and expect to get it, or better yet, get hooked. The season opener makes viewers work harder than they are accustomed to or probably have a desire to.

It’s one thing to be principled and believe the work stands on its own, is worthy of effort on behalf of viewers and pays off immeasurably by season’s end. It’s entirely different to be audaciously — and perhaps ill-advisedly — disdainful of the most basic rule of television: Give people a reason to watch. Here’s hoping HBO slaps a 17-minute “previously on” montage to the beginning of Sunday’s episode, however unlikely.

OK, floor is yours. Discuss.

Posted at 4:51 pm in Uncategorized |

4 responses to “By popular demand…”

  1. ashley said on September 30, 2004 at 5:37 pm

    First, I have the problem of watching each episode knowing that this season will probably be the last. I’m sure Simon and Burns can keep this fresh for a 4th year, but I don’t know if HBO will give them the green light to do it.

    That being said, it does bother me that a few strings are left totally untied. Whatever happened to Prez clocking Valchek, ferinstance.

    Series 3 is tied to series 1, but it seems that series 2 is lost in the sauce. You’d think we’d see at least one white drug dealer from series 2 just for the sake of continuity. Or maybe the Greek showing up for a new connection?

    Do you find yourself rooting for Omar? Does it make you feel bad about yourself?

    Can you just wait until Avon gets released? What kind of wrath will come down on Stringer? Biblical proportions is my guess.

    BTW, the test of any entertainment is how it plays with your emotions. Well, The Wire was the only show that has ever made me physically ill. When Wallace got capped, I had to run to the bathroom and puke. This shit is powerful, yo.

    Best Tribute: Robert Colesberry is still listed as an Executive Producer.

    Best inside joke: Jay Landsman, played by Delaney Williams. Dennis Mello, played by Jay Landsman.

    Finally, a walk down memory lane

    June 3, 2002. All over the place.

    The diversity of NN.C’s fabulous readership is reflected in the day’s mail. From Ashley:

    “The Wire” kicks ass. Imagine “Homicide”, but they don’t have censors. Hell, they even use some of the same passages direct from the original Homicide book by David Simon. Good stuff…real stuff. As opposed to “Six Feet Under,” which got so excruciating for me to watch that I quit. Basically, I hated all of the characters, and thought they all deserved whatever they got. No redeeming qualities whatsoever. Stalin had more redeeming qualities. No empathy, keep it. Ok, maybe for the Latino doing the makeup, but he’s a minor character, so who cares.

    From Michael: I wanted to post a piece about the new HBO show (“The Wire”) last night which I thought sucked beyond belief. Piss-poor writing, amateurish and stereotyped blacks with great teeth (no gold)! What a contrast with the last episode of “Six Feet Under” which was incredibly well done.

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  2. Nance said on September 30, 2004 at 6:14 pm

    From the episode guide to last season’s finale:

    In Valchek’s office, Daniels explains that the night before, Sobotka had agreed to spill the beans on the Greeks. “So he lays down with gangsters, gets up with his throat cut. I almost feel sorry for the sonofabitch,” Valchek says in a rare moment of sympthy. When the conversation turns to the contretemps with Prez, Valchek says he intends to bring charges against his son-in-law. Daniels, at his cunning best, explains all the witnesses to the incident � FBI agents and his own detail � wrote up reports on what they saw, and included the fact that Valchek incited Prez, a subordinate officer. Valchek backs down and demands a slap-on-the-wrist punishment for Prez. Daniels smiles secretly, having saved his man.

    I think that wrapped up Prez vs. his father-in-law as best as it’s going to be.

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  3. ashley said on October 1, 2004 at 12:14 am

    Ok, but there’s got to be more. You know that Valchek is going down to the basement to rabble-rouse, and he’ll run into Prez.

    Or, knowing the shifty writers, they may show them interacting in a more familial setting. After all, Valchek is his father-in-law. I can see Valchek trying to shove a turkey leg down Prez’s throat over Thanksgiving dinner.

    Man, remember Daniels’ face when Prez slugged Valchek? Wow.

    And, unfortunately, sometimes when I see Idris Elba, I get a flashback to his appearance as a male prostitute on AbFab. I picture him poking his tongue after thinking that the penis-numbing spray was breath spray.

    Go figure, two of the guys with the best Bawlmer accents happen to be English: Elba and West. I remember in an interview Simon saying that none of the actors on Homicide tried to effect a Bawlmer accent since they were all from NYC.

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  4. Randy said on October 1, 2004 at 9:25 am

    Just a quick meander from the thread: if you get it on any US channel, try to watch DaVinci’s Inquest, which broadcasts here on CBC, no cable subscription fees required. It’s also quite good, from the bits I have seen. I’ve seen bits of The Wire too, and once I can actually devote my attention to the show, I plan to backtrack to Season 1 and dive in. But I’ll grab some vicarious enjoyment from this thread. Thanks.

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