Friday, September 19, 2008

The Wire In The Blood

A week last Monday I flipped through the TV listings, frowning at the utterly lacklustre load of old pish on offer. For a quick fix I should have grabbed a movie off the shelf that would sufficiently eat up a good few hours before it was time to turn in. Instead I settled down to season one of The Wire.

As any fule kno, this can be a pretty dangerous practice, especially if you’re a long-time addict of the show. There I was thinking I could catch a couple of episodes and that would be it. But I failed, spectacularly. In the past I’ve burnt through weekends watching one season or another, but with the final season available on DVD (well, on Region One at least), there’s now the opportunity to watch the entire run of sixty episodes. So that’s what I did.

Again I thought I could keep it down to a manageable number of episodes a night but that proved impossible. Blogging right went out the window. Sustenance pretty much followed straight after, with me reduced to stuffing an onion bagel in the toaster during an end credit sequence or hurriedly fixing a cheese and pickle sandwich.

I took a time out to watch A Number on the Wednesday, which I regretted, and another this past Monday to spend an entertaining evening with my pal H, which I did not. That said, it was still good to get home with enough time to squeeze a couple of episodes before calling it a night. In between the weekend disappeared as I tore through the final half of season three and got deep into season four.

This may appear horribly obsessive, and it most probably is, but since David Simon has described the episodes of The Wire as sixty chapters of a visual novel, watching it becomes the equivalent of reading a favourite book. In that instance you’re ravenous to see how it turns out but enjoy it so much you don’t want it to end either. So, there’s the rub.

The Wire has always required attention to be paid because even the most casual aside mentioned early on in one season will pay off later on. Watching all five, one after another sees situations and dialogue carry on across the years to create a marvellous tapestry of a dysfunctional city and its inhabitants, on both side of the law, trying to keep their heads above water.

There’s no point berating people for not watching The Wire. You either want to take part in the experience or you don’t. The one thing I can’t get my head around is how the various people intent on writing for television aren’t flocking to this show in droves. Still, who wants to see the levels quality drama can attain when there’s Holby City to watch? That’s like wandering around a gallery, cooing at the kiddies’ finger paintings on display and ignoring the Rembrandt next door.

Anyway, I finished watching the show on Thursday evening and instantly that left me with a dilemma, or, to put it another way, profound withdrawal symptoms. Flicking through the channels I couldn’t find anything of real substance that even came close. In fact this evening, feeling utterly bereft, I watched the series finale again to fill the gaping void.

Amongst all the little details, like the tip of the hat to the late Robert F. Colesberry, executive producer of The Wire who also played Detective Ray Cole, and the various characters moving on only for someone to take their place, I began to wonder if we’d ever seen Sgt. Jay Landsman eat the same thing twice as he stalked the Baltimore Homicide department.

Maybe that should be investigated sometime soon. As excuses go, I can’t think of a better one right now. In the meantime the only thing left to do is to raise a glass to the free born men of the USA and say, “Nicely done.”


At 7:44 pm, Blogger Valentine Suicide said...

True dat.

At 12:59 am, Blogger Good Dog said...


At 5:08 pm, Blogger sghsfh said...

The Wire will never be surpassed as the greatest show ever made, and I hear you loud and clear about the rate of TV shows in the UK, they are almost all a total pile of crap. Badly written, badly acted and almost no money spent on them. I'm currently trying my hand at TV writing, and all I do is watch US shows (preferably HBO and Showtime) because the utter shit we have to endure is enough to make me want to fall upon my own pen.


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