The Best TV Series Ever is on series 4 in the States. So far – the Wire is still the best tv series ever, etc, but, just as in each of the other series, it’s taken a completely different tack. At the moment it’s a little bit too overt with the social commentary. The action and dialogue are toned down a bit. The brilliance of it was largely the way it managed to have all the social stuff and still be completely successful on the standard TV cop show level. But, as was pointed out to me, the other series were always slow to get going.
I can’t do it justice but I’m still going to try to give a brief introduction to some of the plot strands for other afficionados.
This one is mainly down with the kids and up with the politicians. The Wire group is well nigh disbanded for tricking its caretaker boss into subpoenaing all the mayor’s financial backers. A hatchet boss is put in and the senior people all manage to get transfers to Homicide. The baldhead one from the early series was made sergeant after catching the mayor misbehaving (when he was his driver) but, when he gets to the Wire team, finds out the others have gone and he’s working to the team-killer.
The slimeball politician, Carcetti, is making slow progress against the Mayor but the Mayor’s money machine is winning so far.
The lame nervous policeman with the Polish name who went uncharacteristically ape and got kicked out of the force (in series 3) is a trainee teacher. (“Lambs to the slaughter” according to the headmistress) The kids run rings round him, until a girl in his class slashes another one. The police chief who legalised just before retirement has been employed by the University’s social science department, as a sort of street translator on a project that aims to reach the kids before they are utterly destroyed by gang warfare. He gets the researcher to realise they have to go for pretty young kids if they want to find any that aren’t already damaged and dangerous. They end up in the same Junior High as the trainee teacher. The central street-level gang characters in this series are pupils at the same school, in between dealing on street corners and living in conditions so bad they would be remarked on in the poorest Rio favela. The lads have some pretty funny scenes in the first episode, one involving pouring urine on bullies, but getting themselves soaked.
The ireedeemable Marlow is in control of the neighbourhood. He makes Stringer Bell seem to have been moderately benign and Avon Barksdale positively beneficent (though I still haven’t forgiven him for offing the charming de Angelo in series 2) . His only halfway human trait is keeping pigeons. The other gang leaders try to reach some accomodation with him but he’s not interested. Thanks to his approximately 11-year-old utterly psychopathic henchman (/henchgirl, it’s hard to tell) he is burying bodies so successfully that the police chiefs can claim there aren’t any and more or less shut down the Wire.
Because of Marlow’s intransigence, the fat older gang leader persuades Omar to rob a poker game in which Marlow’s winning. This promises to lead to a war against Omar that will make the previous one with Stringer seem like a mild disagreement between gentlemen. Omar is as over-the-top as ever. Although his appearance is generally more moderate than in previous series, he still goes to the shop for cereal (and to collect his tribute) wearing a comically lurid but expensive silk pyjama ensemble.
Obviously this is just a taste. There are too many plot strands, of course, to bring up more than a few here and I’ve done it in a way that makes it seem dull. It isn’t. It’s still great. It has got to go on mainstream TV here in the UK sometime. Then you’ll understand what I mean.