Thanks to the internet, The Wire has only grown in popularity since it originally aired in 2002. All 5 seasons of the show had little to no audience, yet HBO, smarter than your average network, knew they had something special on their hands and allowed the show to continue. Watching the 1st season, I could easily see why the show failed to gain traction. Since the invention of the DVD season collection, people now have the option to view shows in large chunks. While I still think certain shows work better with weekly installments, The Wire was made for bulk viewing.
The show follows several different characters that for this season are either Baltimore City Police or drug dealers run by the Barksdale family. D’Angelo Barksdale is the head of the family who runs the show along with his childhood friend, Stringer Bell (played by the amazing Idris Elba). While their are many characters on both sides, Detective McNulty is arguable the lead of the show. McNulty has a penchant for opening his move when he shouldn’t. The show opens with D’Angelo’s nephew on trial for murder. Thanks to intimidation tactics, he’s found not guilty. McNulty explains to the judge how no one is investigating the Barksdale crew and the control they have of the drug trade in the city. Though he was reprimanded for skipping the chain of command, he kickstarted the investigation into the Barksdale crew.
A team of department rejects were cobbled together has a drug task force to investigate. While a few were like McNulty, sent away for being a protruding nail, others were simply inept. The drug dealers were surprising well organized, using a pager system with their own coding system to communicate. This one element stuck out to me as pagers have a very distinct era to them, one that’s since past in the decade since this aired. While this isn’t a negative element at all, it does firmly root it in this time period.
My biggest problem with the show was it’s incredibly slow pace. If it wasn’t for the rave reviews and recommendations the show received over the years, I would have jumped ship. Only 2-3 episodes in and I was tempted to stop. Simply put, nothing was happening. It wasn’t poor writing, it was just boring. I understand why this was done. There was a lot of information to convey between characters, settings, hierarchy, and language. This was a new world the viewers were being educated about. Many of the yet to come impactful moments needed the necessary groundwork established. The show continued to ramp up speed as the season progressed. Thankfully I had all the episodes on hand to continue watching.
I’ve heard many people call The Wire the greatest show ever. While I have a few arguments against that (Breaking Bad), I can easily see why it gets the praise. Season 3 alone was amazing.
What did you think of The Wire? What’s your favorite HBO show? Topic suggestions? Comment below, on Facebook, or tweet! If you enjoyed this post, please!
“…when it’s not your turn” – McNulty