This week’s open Wire thread. Oh my, but I think we should all start by reading some of David Simon’s postings on the HBO Wire forums:
Here’s the thing and I say it all the time and no one seems to believe it but the writers: To make a world credible and to make a story meaningful, the story must be pre-eminent, not the character. … We aren’t interested in preserving characters or featuring them more because the audience wants it. Forgive me, but the audience is like a small child. If given what they wanted every day, it would be ice cream and cake and seven hours of daytime television. Because the audience of a television show, by and large, feels an allegiance to what came before on a serial drama, to the scenes and moments and characters that are familiar or that pleased them in the past. On Homicide, everyone seemed to want every episode to end with Detective Pembleton going into the interrogation room and winning a case by an act of intellectual prowess. But having told that story, neither Andre Braugher nor the writers wanted to beat it to death. A story told is a story over and so if you don’t want to watch The Wire because anything familiar and pleasing is no longer available to you as a viewer in the amounts you desire, then okay, I understand. But you were never really watching The Wire then, in my opinion. That’s not to convince you that you shouldn’t like what you, or want what you want, or make your own choices as to what stories you wish to enjoy on television or in any other medium. But all of the angst over please don’t kill Avon, please don’t kill Stringer, please don’t kill Omar, please don’t kill Marlo, please don’t let Kima die or let McNulty get even with Rawls or whatever — what can I say? You can’t petition this show on behalf of character. We don’t care about character except to the extent that good characters serve a story well. Story is all.
And to think I said, “Please don’t kill Omar.” Now I feel bad.
But what an episode. Stringer…(strangled sob). Discuss.
ashley said on December 14, 2004 at 9:27 pm
Apologies up front; this is really long.
I just watched a 58 minute episode, and about the only thing I can remember is: “Your own boy gave you up”. And “get on with it, motherfuckers”.
If nothing else, this shows the brilliance and discipline of David Simon. So what if Stringer has become a fan favorite and the character with the most facets. Character is subservient to story. Everything is subservient to story. If it advances the story, go with it, everything else be damned. Remember D, Sobotka, and Wallace? It shouldn’t have been a surprise.
Now, I have been saying for the past few weeks that Stringer had no friends, from Clay Davis to Avon to the boys on the corners. He also had plenty of enemies, from Brianna to McNulty to Marlo to Prop Joe to Brother Mouzone to Omar. But I didn’t see String getting whacked the way he got whacked, with Avon giving him up. Damn.
BTW, it’s always a bad omen when two guys that came up together giving each other a hug with about 10 minutes left to go in the show. Happened in New Jack City, Happened here. Also, after that hug, don’t tell the guy where you’re planning to be the next day.
So. Where are we now? Well, McNulty is trying his damnedest to mend fences with Daniels, but it looks like Daniels is still less than thrilled with Jimmy’s behavior. Jimmy doesn’t want to go back on a boat.
Can you believe that Jimmy walked out on D’agostino? Evidently, that piece of ass wasn’t worth his pride. He saw that she was just playing him to find out the scoop on Bunny. Jimmy is loyal like a dog to Bunny, and some Washington spin doctor with boobs ain’t changin’ that.
Avon is stealing pages from Pablo Escobar, and helping out Cutty in the public affairs sector. Somehow, I don’t see Marlo doing this kind of thing, ever. Avon is the people’s drug dealer.
For some reason, I’m feeling better about Cutty making it through. However, that next episode looks like Fallujah West. I’m not wagering any money on who comes out of that one alive.
Did you catch the cameos of Dennis Lehane and former Bawlmer mayor Kurt Schmoke’
With Russell Bell (RIP) gone, who starts handling the day-to-day affairs of Barksdale, inc.? Who else knows Robert’s rules of order? What becomes of the co-op’
We may find out next week.
Link-o-rama: Need a late Xmas present? How about Season 2 of The Wire on DVD? It’s available on January 25. Relive Sobatka, Ziggy, Beattie and the gang.
Speaking of Mr. Bell, I read somewhere that a certain publication erroneously called Mr. Elba an ‘African-American’. Damn. Don’t nobody do research anymore? He’s British, raised in Hackney, via Ghana and Sierra Leone. Don’t believe me? Check out The NY Times story on him. Of course, registration required.
Time and the San Francisco Chronicle and the Village Voice are right. This is the best damn show on television. Let’s hope that our good friends at HBO give Simon and company a fourth year’and more. However, some people aren’t too optimistic. I guess they want us to have more CSI, where every crime is solved in 58 minutes!
I’ll pay double for HBO if they keep this show on the air. Damn. Even if they do, I’m gonna have to endure Carnivale and such until The Wire cycles around again.
HBO, give us at least one more year, if not two. Doesn’t it matter that the critics call it the best show on TV? Or do you have to give us more drivel like ‘First and Ten’ and Arli$$. Who have you ever met that would admit in public that they watched Arli$$? What about ‘Life of the married man’? Just give Simon the money, and let him earn you even more accolades. Sigh.
Need a time killer? This Wire trivia game will kick the bootie of even the most attentive Wire fan. Like me, for example. Teach me not to pay full and complete attention.
I wonder if Bubs will be selling these anytime soon.
Read about the real Baltimore murder epidemic, with quotes from Simon.
If you read ‘The Corner’, you know about Ella ‘Miss Ella’ Thompson. If you read ‘Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets’, you know about her daughter, Andrea Perry. The Ella Thompson Fund is a Baltimore charity benefiting children and youth centers. The cast and crew of The Wire did a benefit for the fund last June. Photos are available here, and here.
If you aren’t busy on Saturday night, here’s The Wire season end party.
HBO Wire forum:
> Mr. Simon,
> Would you be able to give an honest, no BS assessment
> on whether or not you think there will be a season 4
> and beyond’ I figure the standard answer would be “We
> have to wait and see if they renew us.” but what do
> YOU think’
We will have to wait and see if they renew us. Heh.
Seriously, that’s the exact truth. If I had to lay odds, I’d say even up. And if you know any Nielsen families, hold a gun to their heads and make ’em watch HBO at nine the next coupla Sundays.
So if you know any Nielsen families, let’s all threaten their kneecaps and children. I know I will.
I can’t wait to see what happens in the last episode. Did you catch the coming next week clips? Looked to me like a)Rawls had a lot of stars on his uniform’kind of like a commissioner, and b)was that not Kima at it hot and heavy with McNulty’
According to some media sources, only about 1.5 mil are watching The Wire. These same people must not like hot sauce. I want to see next season. I want to see Brother Mouzone take a bigger role. I want to see Rawls get outed. I want to see who steps up to take String’s place. Could it be Bodie? Could the smart-ass pawn make it to the other end of the board? I want to see what the hell Omar is going to do next. I want to smile when I see DeAndre, DeRodd, Tyreeka, Fran, and Blue playing bit parts, handing out needles at the Hampsterdam exchange, arguing about port vs. sherry?
Most of all, I want to see the best writing, acting, and story extant.
I asked David Simon on the HBO boards what the fans could do to help ensure another season. His reply:
> Mr. Simon,
> I’ve read in media outlets that “The Wire” has low
> ratings and may not be renewed for a fourth season.
> Is there anything we, the fans, can do to help
> p ensure that there is a fourth season’
> Also, where can I get an issue of “Irish Lasses”‘
> Ashley Morris
I suppose you could tell HBO you like the show. Short of that, and maybe using word-of-mouth to encourage some more viewing by friends and family, what else is there’ Oh yeah. Buy some DVDs and give them to fresh viewers for XMas. The DVD sales might help make us seem more of an asset to the network. But what else can you say’
Irish Lasses is, I’m afraid, a creation of our propmaster, Mike Sabo. It exists only in the one edition, and as far as I know, it lives on the prop truck. Either that or Dennis Lehane (Officer Sullivan, minor irritations) took that one copy with him as a (ahem) souvenier.
So, everyone please go to the HBO website, click on the “contact us” link at the bottom, and tell HBO that you watch and enjoy The Wire, and that’s the main reason why you subscribe to HBO. Or something along those lines. And give the DVD set of season 1 for a Christmas present to your friends.
This may be the series finale instead of the season finale, but damn, I hope not. But, hey, “it’s all in the game, yo”.
Dorothy said on December 14, 2004 at 8:51 pm
Yet another amazing and confounding episode of THE WIRE. I knew what was coming the instant Avon asked Stringer what time he was having a meeting at the condo development. I’m surprised Stringer didn’t see it coming. Will this pacify Omar and Mouzone? Tune in next week!
ashley said on December 14, 2004 at 9:34 pm
Dammit. None of my links worked, for some obtuse reason.
Season 2 of The Wire on DVD.
The NY Times story on Stringer.
Pessimism about renewal.
The Wire trivia game.
Bubbles’ newest product.
Baltimore murder epidemic,
Miss Ella’s benefit 1.
Miss Ella’s benefit 2.
The Wire season end party.
I get an error from Nancy’s auto-censor when I link directly to the HBO feedback link. So, just go to HBO.com, and let them know you love and want The Wire.
ashley said on December 14, 2004 at 9:38 pm
Fuck me running.
Andrea said on December 15, 2004 at 8:38 am
A story about The Wire and the uncertainty of next season in this morning’s Baltimore Sun (Reg Req).
brian stouder said on December 15, 2004 at 2:53 pm
So just out of curiosity, Nance, when you say
“But what an episode. Stringer…(strangled sob). Discuss”
aside from the (nicely executed!) bit of alliteration, are you saying the guy got strangled and you’re sad? –
or that the ‘son of a bitch’ got strangled? –
or was it a general lament about whatever happened to Stinger (impelling strangled sobs from you)?
Nance said on December 15, 2004 at 3:16 pm
I don’t want to give it away! It was just …unexpected, but not. And he is — was — a great character, and…and…(strangled sob)
brian stouder said on December 15, 2004 at 3:46 pm
Laura said on December 15, 2004 at 4:03 pm
First, let me get up and dust myself off, as I was ROTFLMAO upon seeing “discipline” and “David Simon” in the same sentence. Best laugh I’ve had all week.
I think Mr. Simon sounds slightly strident on the subject, but only because so many questions focused on the issue of character and what-happens-next. Even the writers have characters they love. Simon clearly adores Omar; Cutty is George Pelecanos’s creation. (And credit Bill Zorzi for Carcetti’s versimillitude; a longtime political writer, Zorzi has helped “The Wire” get politics right in a way that fiction almost never does.) This doesn’t mean they won’t do them, if story demands. But they are invested in them and will grieve them.
Here’s the thing, spoken as a woman who has written 10 crime novels: To have any legitimacy, you must be willing to kill people that your readers love, or your ficitonal world becomes toothless and bland. A crime series that won’t put beloved characters at risk is the worst kind of porn, a drive through an urban Lion Country Safari, in which we watch safely from behind the glass as evil folks or nameless, faceless women and minorities are killed to advance the story.
(And, yeah, it’s usually women and minorities that fulfill this role in a certain kind of crime ficiton.)
Which isn’t to say there isn’t a place for character-driven series. But “The Wire” isn’t it, and never tried to be.
BTW, the audience-candy analogy is Jerry Seinfeld’s, but Simon honestly didn’t know that. He first heard it from another famous television guy. The fact is, Simon is in many ways a pop culture naif.
Mark said on December 15, 2004 at 4:40 pm
A good case in point is the new series “Lost”. I have been enjoying that series quite a bit (although it is obviously not in the same class as “The Wire”), and in the last episode we were led to believe that a major character had died. After a couple of minutes, however, the character was revived, and you could almost hear the air hissing out of the episode. I hope they can recover, but it sure felt like the creators had an opportunity to add some gravitas to the show and lost their nerve. As much as I liked Stringer (and he has been my favorite character from Season 1), his death was the right thing to do for the show. Damn it.
ashley said on December 15, 2004 at 6:30 pm
Laura: “First, let me get up and dust myself off, as I was ROTFLMAO upon seeing “discipline” and “David Simon” in the same sentence. Best laugh I’ve had all week.”
Well, damn. I’m glad I could brighten up your day! Big ;^)
As you know, I was just talking discipline in the sense of story over character. I’m still glad you got a guffaw or two out of it.
When reading the quotes of Simon, one can see that he does not necessarily like to kill off characters. He still openly mourns about Wallace, which was to me, the most brutal of all the murders, even worse than Marlo 3-shooting Avon’s girl, even worse than D getting garrotted.
He’ll do this for story, and story alone.
I have to keep this in mind when reading stuff I like, even. For example, it kind of pains me when Carl Hiaasen brings back Skink. He doesn’t need Skink for his novels, but Skink does give the reader that air of familarity, whether or not he advances the story. Skink usually doesn’t. Rather, he drags it down an old familiar road, which, I guess, the audience likes.
It was hysterical reading fan reaction on the boards last year, when viewers were begging Simon to bring back D. Simon said something like “maybe as an angel who could grant wishes? No, sorry, he’s dead.”.
Fans don’t usually seem to get the fact that Simon isn’t pandering for ratings as much as he’s just telling the best story he can. Hopefully, the viewers will like it.
If he was going to wave a magic wand and bring somebody back, I’d ask for Gary McCullough.
But that ain’t gonna happen.
Welcome to reality.
ashley said on December 16, 2004 at 12:52 am
One mo thing. When they intercepted String’s phone transmission, the guy String was talking to said something about “those two hitters you wanted”.
So for whom was String hiring hit men? Clay Davis…or Avon?