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.