Friday, February 08, 2008

Beyond The Wire

I’ve never been one of those people (aka sad wankers) who latch on to one particular television show and simply want it to last forever and ever. Sure, I have my favourites, but I still prefer them to go out in their prime rather than keep going, churning out episode after episode, just for the hell of it. While I miss them when they’re gone, when it comes time to say goodbye there’s always the hope that something new and equally worthwhile will arrive to take its place.

The return of Lost last week started to countdown the remaining forty-eight episodes, spread over three years. The now-confirmed end date at least allows the producers and writers to work towards (what we hope will be) a satisfying conclusion rather than be accused of treading water by trying to keep the story going with no end in sight.

While that grand finale won’t come until 2010, this year will see the end of Battlestar Galactica, depending on whether they get the final nine episodes written and filmed. While I’ll certainly be sad to see it go, it leaves behind eighty-odd hours of top quality drama to revisit. After the surprise of the previous season’s final episode, the last year is sure to be a real kicker.

What will takes its place remains to be seen. Little of this last Fall Season caught my attention. Bionic Woman perfectly illustrated that not all 70s shows are ideal for a reboot. The wheels were pretty much falling off that wagon by the second episode, whereas Pushing Daisies annoyed me more than pretty anything else before the second ad-break.

The one show that did hold my interest was Life starring Damien Lewis, which showed that however different and unusual and inventive other new dramas try to be, you just can’t beat a good cop show. For lovers of police dramas, this year is certainly a dark one indeed. 2008 brings the curtain down on The Shield, the seventh season of which has been filmed but yet to be scheduled, while coming to a close even sooner is The Wire, currently halfway through its final year with only five episodes left to broadcast.

Having two such outstanding dramas to watch for the past five years I haven’t felt this spoilt since the first half of the 1990s when both Homicide: Life on the Street and NYPD Blue were on the air. Their passing is certainly going to leave a vacuum that Life can’t adequately fill. Over here the laudable Waking the Dead is tempered with the frankly laughable Holby Blue.

Though there’s no immediate successor, it’s good news at least that after accidentally cutting short Deadwood and channel surfing through one season of John from Cincinnati, David Milch is back at HBO with Last of the Ninth. The pilot, written by Milch and Bill Clark before the WGA strike, is set to go into production once matters are eventually resolved. Set in New York in 1972, Last of the Ninth is, according to Milch, “about an older detective's mentoring of a young detective returned from Vietnam in a department fiscally crippled, under attack by revolutionaries, and which has been brought by allegations of systemic corruption into public disrepute.”

The choice of timeframe isn’t simply a random pick. A twenty-five year veteran of The Job, Bill Clark was the technical consultant for the first season of NYPD Blue, eventually becoming the show’s Executive Producer. After serving a tour in Vietnam, he joined the New York City police department in 1969, earning his gold detective shield three years later at a time when the Knapp Commission was investigating police corruption. Which means a drama set in the early 1970s based on situations one of the creators lived through, rather than, for instance, simply because the writers wished they were writing The Sweeney. Last of the Ninth will certainly be the one to wait for with baited breath and watch.

As for Ashes to Ashes... You know what, let’s not even go there.


At 9:01 pm, Blogger Valentine Suicide said...

I'm with you.
I'm dreading the end of The Wire. I've only just done season four, which I watched in a little over a very happy week. I watched the first episode of S5, but decided to wait until all are available before continuing.

I'm trolling around at the moment looking for something. I tried John from Cincinatti, The Riches, and Dexter. These, whilst good, don't command my attention lke Soprano's, Wire and West Wing. With 'John', it hardly seems worth continuing knowing it's been axed. I'm holding Six Feet Under in reserve (not yet seen a single episode). Lost doesn't really appeal...

I'll try The Shield on your recomendation.

As for Ashes to Ashes... as you say, let’s not even go there. Life on Mars got tedious quite quickly.

At 5:34 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I’m putting on a brave face and trying to be positive but come mid-March, when The Wire shuts up shop for good, it’ll be a dark day. Especially since it will be close to the time the BBC spray another season of Doctor-fucking-Who through the TV shit hose.

Which means, starting back at episode one of The Wire with McNulty back on the stoop musing about the naming of Snot Boogie.

Sure it only lasted ten episodes but John from Cincinnati really is worth a shot if you’re looking for something different. Oh, it’s different all right.

The Riches I really couldn’t get into. It didn’t help that the only way I’d sit down and watch Minnie Driver in anything was if she was being repeatedly punched in her nasty pinched face. I guess there’s an idea for a show right there.

I kind of got bored with Six Feet Under after a couple of years. The characters were just a bunch of whiners the way I saw it. You may have better luck with it. Certainly give The Shield a go. Especially if you like brutal, amoral characters.

And of course there’s always Generation Kill, David Simon and Ed Burns’ new miniseries for HBO on the horizon.


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