Dorothy asked for a Wire post. Said she wanted to share her theories. I encourage her to do so, as my feelings about “The Wire” this season are pretty direct:

1) Every episode rocks the llama’s ass, and;
2) Every episode breaks my heart into a million pieces.

I just watched Ep. 11 this afternoon, a week ahead of you folks without On Demand cable, or the discipline to wait and watch with the rest of the country. (I always love how the whole neighborhood settles in and watches at the same time; you can practically hear the exclamations from nearby houses, and as soon as it’s over we all go outside and stand in the street and discuss it over beers. In brown paper bags.)

I don’t want to make predictions, as I’ve signed on for the ride and I’m willing to be led in a new direction, but so far, a few random impressions:

Chris is emerging as one of the more subtle and interesting characters of the season. His beatdown of Michael’s…father? Stepfather? …was as revelatory as anything he’s done all year, and shows how much he knows without being told. He should really be Marlo, but maybe we’ll see that happen.

Michael: Soul sold. Dukie: May yet make it. Randy: Jury still out. Namond: Oy, that mother. Was the whole school project about demonstrating the uselessness of No Child Left Behind? Has Prez bet on yet another losing horse? Where’s Cutty? More will be revealed.

Dorothy, take it away.

Posted at 2:06 am in Television |

23 responses to “Discuss.”

  1. Dorothy said on November 21, 2006 at 9:18 am

    I saw about 80% of this past Sunday’s episode and I can’t agree more about Chris. When he beat Michael’s stepdad, I had to cover my ears and eyes after the first 5 or 6 whacks. And did I see in the previews that Randy was getting his ass beat as well? I loved the visit to the restaurant and all that it showed us without words. Naymond’s mother is just a train wreck!

    I don’t care what it costs – I’m going to buy Season 1 for my son for Christmas. I keep telling him how great this show is and now I have to prove it to him. He’s majoring in Criminology (and Chinese) at OSU and currently focused on getting a job after graduation next June. Back when we used to watch Homicide: Life on the Streets together, he maintained he wanted to be a cop in Baltimore.

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  2. Dorothy said on November 21, 2006 at 9:21 am

    Forgot something. Did you happen to catch Law and Order: SVU last Tuesday? Two actors from The Wire were on – Proposition Joe and Namond (apologies for not knowing their real names).

    And how about the scene a week or two ago when Prop Joe made that phone call and seamlessly slipped into two or three different accents to imitate someone else? Cracked me UP!

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  3. brian stouder said on November 21, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Last week Pam and I flew to Texas, and one sidelight of sleeping in a hotel for a week was that we caught an episode of The Wire (the scene Dorothy referred to where the fellow switched phone personalities as quickly as he got shuffled from one person to the next got me laughing, too). Overall, I have seen approximately 3 episodes of The Wire, and maybe 4 or 5 episodes of Big Love, so I have a detached (or ill-informed!) perspective. The temptation is to be critical of how they always seem to be foreshadowing things, and then events either break the other way (and the audience says “oooohhh�?!) or indeed come out the way everyone predicted (and the audience says “ahhhh�?); it is formulaic afterall.

    But if these series (and lesser imitations like Lost) are ‘formulaic’ – they are adhereing to literary formulas and not standard series-teevee formulas, where the main characters are usually all but immortal.

    My guess is that the producers’ calculus must be based on the idea that most TV series are lucky to last more than 2 seasons, and if the writers and producers START OUT with that assumption, then it frees them from the need to keep everything open-ended; dramatic tension heightens, and the storylines tighten.

    And anyway – real-life is full of foreshadows too, eh? (although maybe not quite as full of them as Big Love is…)

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  4. mary said on November 21, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    I’m wondering how they got a full length wedding photo of Tom and Katie with Tom looking taller than she. Is she standing in a hole or is she on her knees? It keeps me awake at night. Tall sisters should fight the power.

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  5. brian stouder said on November 21, 2006 at 4:49 pm

    Well, Mary, the celebrity news that I was wondering about concerned Paris Hilton Puking On-Stage! (every headline uses some variation of the word ‘puke’, since apparently that was the word that her companion used when he posted about it on his MySpace blog)

    I wonder if she won’t end up with a Grey Goose endorsement out of this…

    (we’ll skip past Michael Richards)

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  6. Dorothy said on November 21, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Meredith Vierra speculated the other day, Mary, that Katie was bending her knees underneath the wedding gown. The weather guy said maybe Tom had on platform shoes for the picture.

    This tall sister (5’9″) married someone taller than her (6’2″) so we don’t have that problem!

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  7. mary said on November 21, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    Katie had to be bending her knees a lot because she’s something like 5’11” and he’s about 5’7″. The loser’s taller than she is in the photo, so she’s practically on her knees. I’m 5’10” and was married to someone exactly my height. I wore flats when I was feeling charitable.

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  8. Rich B said on November 21, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    It looks like The Wire just can’t make it over the hump to the big audience. The Sopranos was so easy to like, but The Wire’s got a harder row to hoe. The distance between the inner lives of blacks and whites is so great, that when someone of either group speaks of the other you can always hear an axe being ground in the background. And maybe creator David Simon is trying too hard to show the big picture and he just can’t tie it together w/o the foreshadowing strategy. Or maybe it can’t be tied together yet. I’m still astonished Roots was so popular.

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  9. mary said on November 21, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    I didn’t get in on the Wire early on, even this season, so I feel like I’ve missed too much already to jump in now. I don’t have the backstory that seems to be necessary considering the complexity of the characters.

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  10. Kim said on November 21, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    Back to The Wire …
    It is a weekly heartbreak. But folks, this is real urban life. Cover the education beat for a month in any city that provides more than half its kids with free/reduced lunch and you’ll see it, maybe a little less juiced. (By “cover” I mean go to the classrooms, not just the school board meetings.)
    Reminds me of the annual Christmas outreach my kids’ school does for a group of families social services plucks from the pot. What each class gives their family is all they get. We get the wish lists and for a select group of “haves” in the room mom delegation it becomes an opportunity to joke about the kids’ ragingly unique names and outrageous requests for Santa. The kids’ names are different, to be sure, but is naming your child your maiden name (and it’s not a name like “Kelly” or “Wilson”) any different, really? As far as the requests, what kid today would ask for a PS2 — I mean, that’s so three years ago! — but a poor one? It’s almost like the “haves” want to make sure the “nots” know their place.
    The restaurant experience resonated with me. I took a family out to celebrate a wonderful outcome of a story I’d done. We went to a great place (I thought). It was way too much of a gesture, much like Bunny’s. Sorta thought Bunny would have had more sense.
    Anyway. The Wire reminds me of that other world most of us in the “haves” don’t wanna think about. Heartbreaking.
    My money is on Prez to stick with it, maybe becoming a Donnelly in 20 years.
    As for Tom and Katie: Saw the pic and figured he was at the top of the staircase, she was two steps down. A girl in that relationship’s gotta know her place.
    Thanks, Dorothy, for the request. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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  11. Connie said on November 21, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    My Mom was half an inch taller than my 6 foot tall Dad. Photographers doing stand up shots – like the Olan Mills ones that do church directory photos – often have little platform boxes of various heightsfor the shorter husband to stand on. As a kid I found this amazing and strange.

    And my two brothers are several inches over 6 foot. At 5 foot 6 – the average height of American women – I always felt short around my relatives.

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  12. mary said on November 21, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    I thought the Mr. Top Gun was standing on a box in the photo, but his feet are visible. I think Katie is gone all crouchy to keep Tom’s ego intact. I think I might have second thoughts about marrying someone who insisted on that.

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  13. nancy said on November 22, 2006 at 1:37 am

    One thing I’ll leak about the upcoming episode — and it’s not something the previews aren’t giving away — is the dawning realization of What Lies in the Vacant Houses.

    This is a beautiful arc in the story, and I suspected it would be significant; recall that Snoop’s purchase of the nail gun was the first scene of the first episode. The images and dialogue surrounding Chris and Snoop’s work have been haunting, too. There’s Chris’ oft-repeated promise to “make it quick and clean.” And recall that last-scene long shot a few weeks back when they board up another house/tomb and walk away with their milk crate and lantern. The gravediggers. The secrets they’ve been hiding are about to be revealed, and will have consequences for every character and every story line.

    I’m also amused by how open this “secret” is. Even Prez says, “Oh, they put him in a vacant,” because that’s what the kids have been saying. The kids know, the gangsters know, virtually everyone on the street knows what’s going on with Marlo’s enforcers and the vacants, but the truth is only now dawning on the police.

    I’m not sure what the writers are going for — maybe some metaphor for the futility of hiding rot for long — but I give them props for coming up with the device in the first place. Like the docks in season two, I’m being taken someplace I’ve never been before, and after a lifetime of watching police procedurals, that’s saying something.

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  14. brian stouder said on November 22, 2006 at 9:27 am

    Speaking of the nail gun, and the psycho killer girl, here is an article on unthinking decisiveness!


    an excerpt –

    What were you thinking? What precisely was going on in your reasoning process when you said to yourself, “Sure, racing my car toward a cliff is an OK thing to do�??

    Surprisingly, behavioral scientists have actually done these interviews with hundreds of American adolescents. In order to explore really stupid behavior, they have asked what seem to be really stupid questions: Is it a good thing to set your hair on fire? Drink Drano? Go swimming where sharks swim?

    The results are fascinating, and unsettling. While teenagers are just as likely as adults to get the answer right (the correct answer is “No�?), teens actually have to mull the question over momentarily before they answer. As summarized by psychologists Valerie Reyna of Cornell and Frank Farley of Temple in the current issue of the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, teenagers take a split second longer than adults to reject such patently inane behaviors. And more of the teenage brain lights up, suggesting that they are actually going through some kind of deliberative calculation before concluding what the rest of us assume is obvious.


    Ultimately, psychologists would like to teach adolescents to think categorically—to make sweeping, automatic gist-based decisions about life: “unprotected sex bad,�? “illegal drugs bad.�? This is obviously a lot harder than it sounds. Plus teenagers are always a couple of steps ahead of adults in inventing new categories of deadly behavior. If it’s not playing chicken in a ’49 Merc, then it’s raving with ecstasy, and if not ecstasy it’s . . . well, who knows?

    Becoming a Corner Boy in Baltimore….

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  15. brian stouder said on November 22, 2006 at 10:49 am

    a digression –

    this headline caught my attention

    Botched penis surgery ends in mailbomb to doc

    25-year-old Pennsylvania man sentenced to 4 years, 10 months

    One reads such a story with expectation that there will be a chuckle or two, and this expectation was quickly met…

    Blake Steidler, 25, of Reamstown, put the bomb in the mail on Feb. 11, 2005, in North Bloomfield, Ohio, addressed to the doctor in Chicago.


    After returning home, Steidler called 911 and told police what he had done. The bomb was retrieved from the mail and destroyed; no one was injured.

    the fellow went off half-cocked

    Defense lawyer Luis A. Ortiz said at the time of the plea that his client was mentally ill.

    Moral of the story: penis enlargement for is not for nuts

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  16. Tom said on November 22, 2006 at 12:18 pm


    I don’t think Bunny miscalculated when he took the kids out to that fancy restaurant. The point of the program is to socialize these kids. He took him to the restaurant to benchmark their progress (or lack thereof). The night out was never really about rewarding the kids. Furthermore the night out also exposed them to the “other side” of the world. Even though they were upset and rejected it, that doesn’t mean that the expeirience won’t benefit them in the future.

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  17. Rich B said on November 22, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    penis enlargement for is not for nuts

    Could’ve been a botched reduction, he was from Reamstown after all.

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  18. mary said on November 22, 2006 at 3:30 pm

    Have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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  19. brian stouder said on November 22, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    You (and yours) too, Mary

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  20. Kim said on November 23, 2006 at 1:34 am

    I agree with all you said except the miscalculation on Bunny’s part. I think he aimed too high — or was that the writer’s poke at the Ruth’s Chris slogan of “Life’s too short to eat anywhere else”? That the outing didn’t have the desired effect was clear (to me, that is) when we saw Bunny’s face as the group got back into the car and started bitching about being hungry for McDonald’s and wanting to listen to their music.
    I didn’t see it as socialization as much as an unintended, unfortunate tease.
    Pies are done. Happy Thanksgiving, all.

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  21. Tom said on November 23, 2006 at 10:50 am


    Bunny was definitely bummed out that the program had not done more to prepare the kids for the night out, but I’m still not convinced that he regretted the decision to take them to the pseudo Ruth’s Chris. Sometimes you just have to throw kids into the deep end of the pool but be ready to throw a life preserver.

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  22. Kim said on November 23, 2006 at 1:12 pm

    Not sure Bunny regretted the decision — I regretted the decision of a TV character to take his TV charges to a TV restaurant!
    I think the kids did fine. It’s just that huge disconnect between that kind of high living (I mean, really, unless you’re really loaded or have an excellent expense account who ever dips more than a toe into that world?) and real living, particularly the real living on the economic (and socio, I suppose) low end.
    I think about throwing my kids into that deep end and figure they’d do fine, too, but probably feel way out of their league and bitch about going to McDonald’s once we got into our car.

    That said, here’s my pitch for charity this season (once you’ve sent some cash to the Tibetan cause — a great one, Nancy!). It makes us feel good to give canned stuff to the local food pantries, but the way most really get mileage out of donations is to receive cash. The food bank in my area can get an 18-wheeler chock-full of canned goods discarded by the manufacturer for blemished packaging reasons for — get this — around $800. A local transport co. earns its neighborhood tax credits by supplying the truck. The $800 buys the gas/tolls/driver’s time. Our extended family supports a charity every Christmas instead of crisscrossing gift cards, and this year’s the food bank’s turn.

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  23. MichaelG said on November 23, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving, all.

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