January 5, 2008

AS GOOD AS TV GETS:

'The Wire,' Crackling With Heat (Tom Shales, January 6, 2008, Washington Post)

[R]eturning Sunday for its fifth and, sad to say, final season..."The Wire" proves again, and with lacerating brilliance, that blurring the line between fact and fiction can be a very good thing. Good television, good conduct, good news.

Set and shot in Baltimore -- although at least one civic leader reportedly had concerns about the show -- "The Wire" started out being mostly about drug traffic in the city, especially the most squalid and impoverished parts of it. But over the years, "The Wire" has grandly expanded in scope. Now it's about everything -- or everything that's likely to have gone wrong in a big American city of the 21st century. Thus another of its accomplishments, one that can be stated simply: It succeeds strikingly at getting what's wrong just right.

"The Wire" is a gruelingly edgy combination of complexity and clarity, written and acted to the highest standards of the best TV drama. It's not just good, it's passionately good; the implicit dedication of those before and behind the cameras makes the show immediate and compelling and a potential modern classic as well -- a show very much of its time and yet in many ways timeless.

For those who live in Washington and its suburbs, "The Wire" has always seemed literally close to home -- its microcosmic Baltimore just up I-95 -- and in the final season, it gets closer. Series creator and executive producer David Simon makes "the media" one of the major narrative arenas this time, of particular interest to a media-mad town such as D.C. Even as those engaged in law enforcement find themselves hampered by insufficient resources and dwindling funds, so are the big-city dailies -- in "The Wire's" case, the Baltimore Sun -- facing a scary new age of economic crisis and technological change that really is rife with life-or-death issues.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 5, 2008 7:49 PM
Comments

oj,
I've not seen any episode of this program, nor done any DVD viewing, mostly due to my contempt for those recommending.
I'll assume from the subject line of the post it's one you personally recommend? And, that I've been in error to ignore. Since I'll never subscribe to either HBO or Showtime (and I don't think you do either, guess I'll either wait for an Amazon blowout sale, or finally breakdown and join some Netflix like rental group.
Too bad these programs aren't made available on the PPV channels.

Posted by: Mike at January 5, 2008 9:36 PM

I discovered "The Wire" on OJ's recommendation a few years ago and it is as good as you've heard if not better. I've introduced a half dozen friends to the series and they feel the same way. Don't miss it.

Posted by: Patrick H at January 5, 2008 9:58 PM

I watched season one at my in-laws--they get HBO. Then Season Two & Three on Netflix.

Posted by: oj at January 5, 2008 11:12 PM

We're in the middle of season 3. My wife, who doesn't much watch movies or TV, or stay up late, keeps clicking through to the next episode way after our bedtimes. She bought seasons 2 and 3 for "me" for Christmas. It can be about as smart and intense as television gets.

Posted by: ted welter at January 6, 2008 12:27 PM

We're in the middle of season 3. My wife, who doesn't much watch movies or TV, or stay up late, keeps clicking through to the next episode way after our bedtimes. She bought seasons 2 and 3 for "me" for Christmas. It can be about as smart and intense as television gets.

Posted by: ted welter at January 7, 2008 9:54 AM
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