Yeah, yeah, not exactly breaking new ground with an endorsement of the HBO original series, The Wire, but nevertheless…
When you hear positive review after positive review, when you find less and less TV worth watching on a regular basis, you should just have a look at what the critics have been crowing about. In The Wire‘s case it’s all warranted. The show is cop/crime drama set in Baltimore, through the pov of detectives, drug dealers, and other criminals caught up in, ‘the Game’.
Featuring a strong ensemble cast, led by Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Michael K. Williams, and Idris Elba, The Wire is one of those shows where every character counts, from the Police Commissioner to the Union Treasurer out at the Port to the dope fiend/informant. And characters are the biggest reason this show has received so many accolades.
It’s sort of the anti-Law & Order or CSI. There’s no rigid plot-point formula, and the characters change and evolve over time. Some of them die, some seek redemption, some fall into despair. Of course you would expect nothing else from a producer like David Simon (Homicide: Life on the Streets), who, along with writing partner and former Baltimore Detective Ed Burns, created the series. The series also employs noted novelists and crime writers like Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Richard Wright. Hearing these guys give interviews about writing on the show was probably the final straw that had me add it to the queue.
Each season of The Wire works much like a good novel or arc within a well-done comic book series. The show doesn’t use techniques like flashbacks or voice-over narration, which draws even closer parallels to good crime fiction. It also makes viewing a little more challenging – you best pay attention because there’s no narrative hand holding here. Each season includes a theme or situation that expands upon the baseline of cops vs. crooks, and introduces new characters that enter or get caught up in the Game to great effect.
So who should watch The Wire? Well, it’s HBO and definitely a hard-R rated show, so if that kind of stuff will bother you, maybe not. For anyone else looking for a show with intelligent non-formula realistic storytelling, with good actors and casting, with top notch writing, The Wire should be at the top of your list. We’ve just finished Season 3 and are looking forward to Seasons 4 & 5.