Casual, even indiscriminate, blog searching came up the news that HBO have finally given the Wire Series 5 a release date in the US at least. (wahay, w00t, etc.) It’s supposed to focus on the media.
In the UK, FX is showing all series straight through from Series 1 and is then supposed to go straight into series 5, when it runs out of previous episodes. I make that about a year in the future in the UK, which you’d expect to be at least 6 months after the US. The HBO site seemed to show no signs of having any future series on the go at all so I was getting a mite worried.
I know I shouldn’t even think this, let alone say it, but some episodes of series 1 have been pretty poor. (Strike me down now, Thor.) Series 1 will morph straight into series 2 which was generally poor for most of its run. When I say “poor”, it’s a relative term. The Wire is still so far ahead of anything else that even its poor episodes are pretty gosh-darned good.
But put yourself in the shoes of someone (for example moi) who has been sounding off about the Wire being the greatest work of art ever shown on television, etc, for so long that people I know have even started listening to me and watching it.
And then I find myself shamefacedly having to say “Well, that one wasn’t a very good episode” or “You have to watch them ALL to really get into the characters and storylines” or lame things like that, that sound like I’m covering my back over boosting something that turned out to be a bit naff.
Rewatching series 1 for the third pass, it is indeed still stuck a bit too much in a “TV crime” genre. That is good. Nothing wrong with the genre as such. But, I have to admit there is more cliche TV crime stuff in the first series than you’d expect after you’ve been acclimatised to nature of the Wire series as a whole. The whole set of programmes just slowly edges its way out of the “crime” category and turns into genius.
Or maybe it’s just that I don’t like McNulty, who is the central character in the first series. His character is a bit too irritating. It’s rooted in the cliche lone-wolf Philip Marlowe “flawed investigator with integrity” mould. Series 1 was just finding its feet, so it too often took the easy way out. Someone decided that McNulty’s character was supposed to bring bad to all those around him as a result of his arrogance, or something. So the cast have to keep saying that, in case you haven’t picked up on it. I can’t say that I would have picked up on it, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean that repeatedly telling me that’s what I’m supposed to see constitutes character development.
Sadly, last night’s rerun milked the whole “officer-down” scenario to death. The corrupt and manipulative Commissioner Burrell turned out to be a tower of non-judgemental sympathy to Kima’s partner. Even the repellent Rawls was there to give out sensitive heartfelt manly consolation to a McNulty whose guilt was expressed by his hands being covered with Kima’s blood. Come on. Out damned spot and all that? He wasn’t even remotely to blame. (He even threw up in a bin because she’d been shot, which seemed a bit out of character for a homicide detective.)
When a TV cop show presents someone drenched to the elbow in someone else’s blood, followed by them doing a symbolic handwashing Pilate-thing, it’s time to start putting extra notches on your cliche gun.
(I guess this blog post must be an example of what is the Americans call “tough love”, by the way. I adore the Wire but I’m not letting it get away with self-indulgence……..)
If you have started watching the Wire reruns and don’t think it’s so groundbreaking, stick with it. Because it gets more and more subtle and complex and goes deeper and deeper into the way society works.
Plus, the McNulty character is barely in it after series 1 and a bit of the series 2. He must have been too busy being a digitally-remastered Spartan, for which much thanks.