Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Wire

Oh dear, what a disappointment. We’ve watched about four episodes of The Wire so far and, since seasons 2, 3, 4 & 5 of The Shield are on their way to us, I doubt we’ll be watching any more. The first episode was a chaotic mess but we stuck with it in the hope of improvement and did begin to get a handle on what was going on, but that chaos was but a minor problem amidst many larger ones.

Let’s start with the language of this, which is a big downside for the English viewer. Not only is American English sometimes difficult (how often have I given up on the mumblings of Brad Pitt) but the gang and police slang in this is nigh incomprehensible. It took me three episodes to realize they were saying ‘terraces’ and not ‘terrorists’, and generally I understood about half of what was said.

The next problem is that if I’d wanted to watch a show that was 80% office politics I wouldn’t have bought a cop show. Frankly it is fucking boring. The paper shuffling and dick waving contests of bureaucrats is not something I find entertaining. It’s depressing.

Then there are the characters. Okay, if there was just one person here who I was pulling for, that might have made a difference. However, they are all wounded, damaged screw-ups, all detestable twats, and if someone were to napalm the lot of them I’d shrug and actually consider watching the next episode. I’m guessing this is all supposed to be realistic depiction of life on the street, man, right-on with the social ‘issues’ etc. If I want realism I watch a documentary.

In The Shield I had identified and had some empathy for every major character within the first episode, which was an entertaining story in itself. Four episodes of The Wire have left me annoyed at having taken any notice of the hype, wishing I could get my money back, and considering whether to bother handing it in to a charity shop or binning it. Life is too short for shit, really.


Chris said...

The first few episodes of Season 1 are a bit clunky as the show finds its way. Even Simon David admits that.

You might be best off diving straight into Season 2, then coming back to S1 later. S2 is a lot less 'gangbangers vs. cops' as the saga extends out to Baltimore's docklands (home to a rich culture of union politics, people-smuggling and social dysfunction). The antics of the ill-starred Sobotska family are worth the watch.

Season 3 is also great: an extended study of non-policed zones as social pressure valves and a hilarious take on the "buck stops anywhere but here" attitudes of civic government.

Seasons 4 + 5. I'm glad I watched them for completeness, but that's it.

Funny thing about the characters: they might all be "...wounded, damaged screw-ups, all detestable twats..." but they do grow on you over time.

j purdie said...

I think Seasons 1 and 2 of the Wire are worth while - as they can stand on their own as independent stories, or visual novels as The Wire was being touted - but seasons three to five were a little too soap boxy for my liking; but nonetheless good drama.

As I said in a previous comment you have a roller coaster ride coming with The Shield. There are peaks and troughs there too but I think the story-lines are a lot better and have a lot more drama.

Another thing about The Shield is that over seven seasons they rarely resorted to effin and blinding every episode. The Wire is a little better for 'being true' to that sort of culture but I think in the Shield it would have ruined it.

Don't know if you saw my previous comment on your first blog about DVD boxed sets but I do recommend Dead Like Me, only two seasons but some pretty good stuff.

Fader209 said...

Sometimes a first episode can be disappointing because it was a pilot episode, but seeing as though you watched 4....I guess you better leave it lol.
Personally from what I have seen of this is it's a bit dull for me.

Just a thought, did you ever see Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes?

paulb said...

it took me a few episodes to get into it but once I did I was glad I stuck with it.

Its worth noting that Sky are starting a new channel next week called Atlantic that plans to show all sorts of classic American TV shows.


If youre like me and missed the Sopranos first time round, or want to watch some early ER, or catch Treme then this channel is going o be awesome.

Then again if you dont have Sky as I am sure you have said then it wont be much use :-)

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

just kidding.
really tho: seasons one and two blow, the rest are gold. i hear ya. i was NOT into this at all from the get go. it picks up at 4 and steamrolls into 5. believe me, if you are me, you would be saying this. outloud. very loud. forget season one and two. three...eh.


vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

really, thought they were floundering around how to tell the Baltimore zeitgeist in the first 3 seasons before they became good editors.

i dont blame ya. i gave up after episode 2 for about a year before getting the cheat sheet on how to watch this show. (go directly to s4ep1)

Jay said...

The wire gets better and better each season. You really ought to stick it out. Meanwhile I found The Sheild got worse and worse as it got to the final seasons.

Seasons 4 & 5 of The Wire are some of the best tv ever recorded.

Alex said...

keep with it, it really is worth it.. one of the best shows, along with BSG

Thud said...

I had no problems with the language but then being scouse the mangling of the queens english is second nature to me, anyway you should stick with it.

Spencer said...

DEADWOOD!! I guess the wire is not for everyone. Breaking Bad after you finish the sheild.

Chippy said...

I thought it was way better than The Shield. Better characterisation and production values for a start.

Omar is a fantastic character!

JPwatcher said...

Don't quit! It's not hype, and even if it is not the best show ever made (though there is a case for that) it is wonderful, character-driven drama.


If I can learn to understand the accents in Life on Mars, the Wire is more than worth the effort!

Neal Asher said...

To late now - seasons 2,3,4 & 5 of The Shield have arrived. I'll maybe look at The Wire again if there's nothing better available, which seems unlikely.