Sunday, January 27, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 4: "Transitions."

Not that you need to be told by now, but this post has spoilers. If you haven't watched Ep. 4, go away. Now.

R.I.P. Prop Joe. It was a good long run. A great character that the writers on the series were able to shade in exceptional ways. But you should have seen this coming. Marlo was using Prop Joe and Marlo only lives to get what he thinks is his. You know, the crown and all. I'd have to say the killing of Butchie was more of a surprise. Once the Greeks had essentially said that insurance was a good thing, Marlo had already used up the wisdom that Prop Joe dealt out. How to launder money. How to open an offshore account. How to get a passport and check on your money. How to find a shady lawyer to do something with it. In the end, Prop Joe - like Butchie before him - was sold out by Cheese. Prop Joe didn't want to believe that kin would sell him out, but Cheese is all about the cheese, period.

I love that these episodes are, as usual, packed with layers and meaning. Just a quick addressing of the notion, raised in comments, that this season feels rushed because there's only 10 episodes (previous season have been 12 or 13, depending). Part of that is true. But all series that are fortunate enough to know when they're going to end - a real rarity in the industry - by circumstance need to have a quicker pace if they are going to tie up storylines from past seasons. In the case of "The Wire," that's four seasons. Not insurmountable, but plenty. And let's remember that David Simon is a much different storyteller than David Chase. "The Sopranos" was never going to wrap up loose ends because Chase has almost zero interest in doing that. He believed that they were all one hour movies, not necessarily related to any episode prior. I'm not sure he always stayed true to that, but certainly with "The Sopranos" now infamous ending, he stuck to his guns when it mattered most. It appears that Simon wants to go for closure where possible, to wrap up some character evolution, and so if the season seems to be moving quickly, well, that's because it is. I find no fault in that. A storyteller who wants to reward his faithful viewers with conclusions should be cut a little slack if he needs to achieve that by ramping up the speed.

Also, as an aside, I know that it has become some kind of predictable sport to start nitpicking Simon and Season 5, but as I've said before it will take the conclusion of all 10 episodes to do a real post-mortem. And beyond that, whatever happened to giving a guy credit for what he's done in the past. I'm passing no judgment on Season 5 until the appropriate time, but I do know this: Simon dropped four incredibly brilliant seasons into the bin of TV history and he deserves some props for that.

Ah, Prop Joe. How about that last scene?

“My nephew? Boy was always a disappointment…But I treated you like a son,”
he says to Marlo, who has crept in courtesy of Cheese. “I wasn’t made to play the son,” Marlo said, driving home two truisms of "The Wire" - people rarely change (Marlo was gonna get Joe no matter how kindly or paternal Joe was) and no good deed goes unpunished.

“A proposition for you, then. I’ll just step away…” Joe says, deftly played more than a few steps shy of begging for his life, which was a wonderful way to write it . “Joe, you’d be up in the mischief in no time,” Marlo says, with more than an ounce of truth. And then - those cold as steel eyes. That unfeeling killer on display. “Close your eyes. It won’t hurt none,” Marlo, says.

Bang.

Now, we have other aspects in play here as well. Let's see, where to start....Scottie? No. McNulty and Freamon finding another dead body to frame - this time with bite marks. Nope. Carver learning a hard lesson from Randy's mishandling by Herc's incompetence. "It matters," Carver said. "It all matters." Uh, not that either. What other strand deserves notice after burying Prop Joe's character?

Oh, yeah. Omar back. “I’ma work them. Sweet Jesus I’ma work them.” Him walking down the alley (there's your intro reference again) was almost iconic. He's going after Marlo's henchmen, make the snake pop its head up out of the hole.

Ah, so much to discuss. But listen, I've got my hands full with work and some recurrence of the nagging RSI bullshit, so this post is going to be shorter. I had some e-mails saying I always get the major quotes and leave only scraps for eager commenters, so no better time to ease off on that and let you pick up the slack. Some great dialogue this episode, as usual. Here's what I've got:

+ Burrell looking defeated (though also dangerous with that putter in his hand, standing behind Daniels) was wonderful to behold. And his little act of forgiveness to Daniels at the end - what does it matter anyway now that he's got his golden parachute? - is all for naught now that Nerece has the goods on Daniels.

+ “Have it say, ‘Butchie – woe to them that call evil good, and good evil. Sign it, your true and loyal friend, Proposition Joe.” In his own way, Prop Joe was a Renaissance man. Good with flowers, too.

+ “Out of respect for the man’s skill set, I’m gonna take myself out of the line-up tomorrow after the meeting.” – Prop Joe on Omar coming back. I just loved that line.

+ The Greek: "These are volatile times. It’s not unreasonable to carry insurance. Who can say what tomorrow will show us.”

True dat. R.I.P. again, Prop Joe.

+ “Christ, you’d think I was putting Ray Lewis out to pasture. I’ll I’m trying to do is dump Burrell.” – Carcetti on having to sell the store to oust Burrell.

+ “Some of your feature work is a little raw for what we do here at the Post, language-wise.” Oh, Lord. That was smug.

+ “A few more clips, a little more seasoning, we’ll take another look, okay?” But not nearly as painful as that. And oh, yeah, Scottie, you can just throw away that Post sticky. You're not coming back there just yet.

+ “I ain’t paying you to be my mother.” – Michael to his, uh, mom.

+ Clay Davis and the Grand Jury. “He’s pretty cool about it.” – Sydnor. “The coming out tells the tale.” – Freamon.

+ Bond lays claim to the Senator, tips the press. But Clay Davis knows how to take a punch and come up smiling. What I like about the sleaze that comes from Davis is that it's been that way since the first time we saw him. Lying, or being in denial, is just part of his genetic make-up.

+ Burrell allowed to go out with a shred of dignity, indicting pompous mayors whose mission blows in the wind, and with fickle voters. “You will eat their shit. Daniels too, when he gets here.” That last bit was great subtlety. He's letting Rawls know that his time will be short.

+ An aside to those people hoping Rawls "gay moment" will be resurrected by Simon, well, it's not out of the question because Simon appears to be closing a lot of loop holes (and he does like to stick it to people). But my guess is the Rawls gay bar scene is Simon's version of the Russian in the woods on "The Sopranos."

+ Cheese is given Hungry Man by Marlo. “Give a gift, get a gift,” Chris says. And then he gift wraps Prop Joe. But Cheese is too stupid to know he's on the clock now, too.

+ “Ervin was a year before me at Dunbar. He was in the glee club.” – Prop Joe to Herc (while both were reading the paper - LOVED that scene). And later, when it's clear Herc wants to know what he was like: “Stone stupid.”

+ LOVED the smile on Daniels face as he has the last word on the ushered out Burrell, sitting at the desk in Major Ops.

+ Alright, time to shut it down for me. A lot to dissect in this episode. I'm not watching in real time and thus avoiding HBO's heretofore brutal promos - giving away too much every week - so here's hoping you're skipping those as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 3: "Not for Attribution."

Opening Quote: “They’re dead where it doesn’t count.” – Fletcher.

It always amazes me how much quality content they get in each episode of "The Wire," when, on the viewing end, it almost seems like a story told in slow motion. Well, in Ep. 3, there was impressive movement:

R.I.P. Butchie. And a teary eyed Omar, all the way from where - Mexico? - is not going to let that pass. You know that. (Cheese outed Butchie against Prop Joe's wishes, which puts a nice spin on "Not for Attribution," even though that line has direct meaning to Scott at the Sun whose pattern of lying is getting worse.) Marlo's plan to get in good with "the Greeks" is clear. McNulty's obsession with creating a serial killer has ramped up, as has Bunk's professional revulsion at his methods. But, hold on a minute, Lester sees no problem with it? Lester's going with it? I've got to say, I had a lot of doubts about that. Still do. But as we have in the past weeks, it's probably time to talk about motivation. All I could come up with for justification is that Lester has been down and out a long time in his career, despite (or maybe because of) being "good po-lice." He has been the driving force in breaking up the Barksdale drug ring and making a case against Clay Davis. And he was the key in nailing (or un-nail-gunning) the 22 dead bodies as they build a case against Marlo who, to this point, has been untouchable. He's close. He's really close. And what does he see? More institutional failure putting a kink into his good po-lice work. He's already been shut down, disappointedly, too many times. He knows McNulty is foolish and that McNulty will always be foolish. It's just that now that foolishness might be able to help Lester. As for the old cases, the homeless homicides and McNulty's grand retelling: "Nobody cares."

I think they might. I think you might. (Just for consistency sake, a reminder that I'm good with the direction. Even, for what it's worth, Lester's inclusion. But I told you, it was going to get a little more dicey before it got more acceptable...)

So much in this episode. I loved all the newspaper stuff. I think that just as the writers on "The Wire" have been able to doggedly examine institutional failure and bureaucratic incompetence in other professions, they totally nail the world of journalism. It's scary (in so many ways).

Butchie's death was brutal. The length McNulty would go for this ruse was simultaneously disappointing and impressive. Scott's total and complete embarrassment of the journalism profession was disheartening, even in fictional form. Burrell's undoing has begun. The mayor is in a pinch and out of patience. The wheels in "The Wire" - they are in motion.

Some thoughts and quotes, odds and ends:

+ Bunk to McNulty: “Think the fuck again about what you’re doing.” And later: “You’re going to jail behind this shit, yes you are.”

+ McNutty: “Marlo’s an asshole. He doesn’t get to win – we get to win.”

+ Going out in the morning to hunt fresh papers after you’ve written something you're proud of - I’ve done that. Hell yes I have. And more than once, too.

+ McNutty: “Who the hell is going to catch me? Most of the guys up here couldn’t catch the clap in a Mexican whorehouse.”

+ McNulty, making perhaps the defining point of his mission: “Upstairs wouldn’t jump on a real serial killer – Marlo, who’s got bodies all over him – well, maybe they need the make believe.”

+ Crutchfield to Bunk, who got locked in the interrogation room with McNulty: “He fuck you?” Bunk: “He tried. But mostly he just fucks himself.” Classic.

+ That editor meeting where they announce cutbacks. Been in a lot of those over the years. Happens just like that.

+ McNutty just couldn’t conceal that smile or half-smile on his face when the coroner said his dead guy was strangled.

+ Out of town newspaper ownership is strangling the Sun. Another parallel.

+ Gus: “How come there are cuts in the newsroom when the company is still profitable?”

+ Carcetti: “It’s Baltimore. No one lives forever.”

+ Annoyed grand jury dude: “Is there any way I can go earlier.” Sure, he's told, if you're important enough. “I’m the vice president of a major financial insitution.” Response: “Who the fuck isn’t?”

+ Prop Joe: “What’s the problem?” Marlo: “I got too much money.”

+ “More with less.” The new mantra. We'll probably hear that a lot more. But it sounds less and less convincing.

+ Bunk: “You think I’m drinking with you? Go home, Jimmy, think your weak shit through.”

+ “Everything’s so serious now.” Michael, growing up way too fast.

+ McNulty looked at himself in the mirror – at the bar, natch – and didn’t seem to like what he saw.

+ McNulty flashing the badge while staying busy. That’s real po-lice.

+ “While Mr. Deadwood here is working the story, see if you can feed him some react quotes.” – Gus. Man, that’s the hero moment. A lot of Roger Twigs have been forced out of newspapers. It’s unfortunate how much deadwood is always left. And Scott, who thinks he's brilliant, has no idea that he's the deadwood.

+ $50,000 for info on Omar. “Why in the hell would I want that motherfucker back?” - Prop Joe.

+ Scott, the quote-maker, getting got. Gus: “You feel comfortable telling me where you got that?” Scott: “Not really, it being a source.” Then Scott lies again and says it came from Narese. “Twig’s not the only guy with game around here.” Pathological, that one.

+ Getting Marlo a passport to go to the Banque Populaire Des Antilles to feel his money in person. Prop Joe: “It ain’t easy civilizing this motherfucker.” No but Marlo eventually got himself a cool tropical island shirt.

+ McNulty stealing a paper. God, that kills me.

+ Headline: "Slaying of homeless men could be connected." Inside the B section. Or as Landsman said: “Back in the girdle ads.” Priceless.

+ The killing of Butchie was pure torture. Marlo seems to be letting his vengeance get ahead of his calculated manner. Even Snoop says the plan’s messed up, that Omar is going to be moving on them. But Chris wouldn’t allow any talk of doubt. That’s not now it works in Marlo’s world.

+ Lester: “It’s got to grip the hearts and minds – give the people what they want in a serial killer.”

+ Bunk, in disbelief: “Lester, what the fuck?”

+ Lester: “No one cares.” Well, I’m not sure about that.

+ Omar in Mexico? Looking relaxed. But he needs a store that has some Honey Nut cereal. The great part of that scene is Michael K. Williams welling up with tears without moving.

+ "The Wire" is out of the gates. From here on out, this is a race to the end.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jon Carroll and I: A couple of guys sitting around talking!

In a theater, no less - the Berkeley Rep! And for a good cause - a school benefit (Park Day, in Oakland). My guess is most people will be there to hear from the Chronicle's No. 1 columnist and a guy I truly admire, but as the structure goes, he's actually interviewing Your Favorite Local TV Critic. Oooooh. I hope he doesn't know about any of my skeletons (shorty robes, a love of "ALF," the fact I barely watched much television before I got the job...I swear, if this turns into a Gitmo waterboarding thing, I'm outta there...).

It's all part of the school's "In Conversation Series" and I'll be lowering the bar substantially by kicking it off (Carroll will interview Leah Garchik in March). But the cool thing is, hey, we're in an actual theater. That could be fun. And I promise to be alert (Diet Coke!), smarter than what is normally on display in these blogs and informative. (Oh, Jesus, I just made Diet Coke come out of my nose on that last one!) At least I'll have some good stories. You don't do the Death March with Cocktails for a decade and come back story-less, my friends.

I'm thinking this is going to be a lot of fun. I'm also a tad nervous. That Carroll knows his television. Perhaps he'll grill me about history? He watches more reality television than I do - so he knows my weakness. Hmmmm. Must prepare.

So, yeah, we're going to do this thing. It should be entertaining and it could even be interesting, Perhaps I'll reveal some intimate personal things about myself (long walks on beaches, herbal tea, horses...uh...). Anyway, Carroll's a pro. I'll bet he's got some good questions. Young children will benefit. And it will probably be the last time I'm on the other side of the interview chair in an actual theater. (Note to self: Bring camera.)

The interview takes place Wednesday, Jan. 23 at Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Theater, (2025 Addison Street, Berkeley; there's a parking garage on the same block if you've never been to the Berkeley Rep). Show starts at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. It's open seating, so arrive early if want to get a good look at my Hugo Boss suit. Yeah, that's how we roll. (More gems like that on Wednesday night!)

Tickets are $25 ($18 if you're a student with an ID) and can be ordered online here. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Is the 2007-08 TV season dead? Probably. Do you care?

Not to break up the all-"Wire" all the time nature of TGTV - and to answer someone's question in the great comments string, yes I do read all the comments and check back regularly - I just thought I would informally toss up this post because it's really the Question of the Moment. Are you missing your favorite shows? I have mixed feelings on this. I don't miss any of the weak freshman crop, and I don't even miss the one rookie series I really like - "Pushing Daisies." I definitely miss "30 Rock" and "The Office." Part of me is upset that there are only, currently, seven filmed episodes of "The Riches" and "Dirt" coming up on FX, but you're not going to unearth a lot passionate rage in me. I've got "The Wire." I'm good. Late night is back in place, wobbly, but there. Perhaps my favorite network drama - "Lost" - returns at the end of this month (albeit for a brief 8-episode stay - maybe I'll get pissed off and frustrated when it leaves) but, otherwise, I can find other TV diversions.

I want the strike to end with a victory for the writers. But right now, it's not like I'm having withdrawals.

Where do you stand?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"The Wire," Season 5, Ep. 2: "Unconfirmed Reports."

Well, there it was, the episode – and the actions of McNulty in the episode – that I’ve been talking about indirectly since I first watched. I’ll confess, no matter what kind of toss pot McNutty has become and no matter how screwed up the department, I had a very difficult time originally with the notion of him crossing the line and screwing up a crime scene. Not just screwing it up, but fabricating a crime.

In real time, as I watched, I had that sick feeling a critic gets when things go sideways. (It’s that same knee-jerk reaction that made me mock – out loud – the asinine ending to “Million Dollar Baby,” a manipulative movie that got exponentially worse in the last minutes). You get those moments sometimes. As it pertained to “The Wire,” I worried about authenticity and character motivation. To the first, I’ll say this quickly: Strange that I accepted much more easily the ethical lapse(s) of Scott, the journalist. I think that speaks to reality, not fiction. There are all kinds of Scotts who have tainted journalism through the years. And I’m sure there are all kinds of cops who have done some very dubious and devious deeds as well. I know that in reality. But fictionally – hey, this is McNulty.

Which brings us to the second element – character motivation. I’m sure people will have a lot to say about this episode, but I think it’s best to use caution in railing against the twist. One, I’ve seen the next five episodes and I’m fine, critically, with the direction. Second, it’s hard to remember (or accept) that characters change. That’s really the beauty of television. It’s alive. There’s evolution. And McNulty has crossed ethical lines before, just never this bad – bad enough for Bunk to be disgusted in ways he never thought imaginable. But there were certainly patterns to suggest this kind of behavior was possible. Also, he’s clearly spiraling in his personal life. And that goes beyond the drinking. (I’m giving nothing away there. It’s just a perception. McNulty is terribly unhappy in some way. He’s got gaping, unexplained emotional wounds. The guy’s got so much baggage he needs his own sky cap.)

Anyway, factor in what is clearly an oppressive, unrelentingly dysfunctional system of government and policing and you’ll find that McNulty has had enough. He’s disgusted. He wants to be good po-lice, but the institutions around him are failing and not allowing him (or anyone else) to effectively do their job. Welcome to “The Wire.” It’s the FUBAR/SNAFU of all televised dramas.

That said, it took me a couple of weeks to get with this twist (because things are gonna get worse, folks). But for me, acceptance was two-fold. The storyline is, dramatically, pretty damned powerful and potent on down the line. Can’t wait for the final three. And I just think that David Simon could, fairly easily, make the case for McNulty’s actions as reasonable and not as completely out of the blue as they seemed when he walked back in that row house with the gloves on.

OK, enough from me for now. Bring your theories and opinions in the comment section. But first, some gems, quotes and additional scraps from the episode.

+ Marlo on June Bug: “He’s a dead man. He’s just walking around and don’t know it yet.” Yeah, well he does now. But it was good to see that Michael couldn’t kill that kid.

+ “And I want that dick sucker. Took my money and the whole world know? Nah. He got to fall.” Marlo has put the fatwa on Omar. Anybody else think that’s a dangerous game?

+ “The crown ain’t worth much if the n-er wearing it is always getting his shit took.” Once again, Marlo is talking about that crown. But he’s right – he’s the king.

+ Kima on working a second job as a guard in a jewelry store: “Stand around some shiny shit and get paid. Work murders and starve.”

+ “There are no fucking rules. The fucking game’s rigged.” – McNulty. Anybody remember where that came from first?

+ “There you go, giving a fuck when it ain’t your turn to give a fuck.” Bunk. Yet more rehashing of famous lines (which will continue all season), this one coming from the very first episode of “The Wire.”

+ “Ever notice how a mother of four is always catching hell?” – Gus, about how truisms in life pop up a lot in journalism. “Innocent bystanders,” another notes. They get it a lot too. Then, my favorite: “You know who there’s less of? Statuesque blondes. You don’t read about statuesque blondes in the newspapers anymore. Buxom ones, neither. They’re like a lost race.”

+ The uniformed cop watching McNulty get off the city bus: “Okay. Now I’ve seen everything.”

+ Bigwig editor: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” And to the notion of explaining complicated stories and themes to readers: “Who wants to read that?” While it’s true that Simon has one or seven axes to grind with journalism and certain newspapers, you can’t say the guy is wrong. Everybody in this business has seen an editor like that. Or more. And remember, the whole point of Season 5, according to Simon, is that if everything the series illuminated in the first four seasons is true, then why hasn’t anyone noticed or fixed it. The onus, he says, falls on the press, which is where we find ourselves in Season 5.

+ Ah, Scott. More than one of those in the newsroom. Not wholesale fabricators, per se, but people without the talent or drive to match their ambition.

+ By the way, more than one Gus in every newsroom, too. There’s a lot of great editors who would make fabulous, multidimensional (but twisted) characters. And Rewrite Man Jay Spry – still a bunch of those lovable, totally essential barnacles still around a lot of newsrooms as well. He’s almost too perfect. I know a bunch of editors just like that.

+ “Surprise!” – Avon. But I’m told HBO already ruined that with its upcoming attractions this week. I urge you to skip those whenever possible. How they could have given that away beforehand is beyond me. Come on! Have a little faith in the power of surprises.

+ “So I tell him, hell yeah I know Marlo. Real well.” – Avon. True dat.

+ Avon has it down about Marlo aiming to get in with the Greeks. “I mean, you’re a natural businessman.”

+ Avon then asks Marlo, other than that, how’s life. Marlo: “Ah, the game’s the game.” Avon. “Always.”

+ The parallel lines of ethic violations are pretty clear now, with Scott and McNulty. A boy in a wheelchair. Goes by E.J. 13 years old. Cutting school. In a wheelchair. “Something about a stray bullet.” Yeah, Gus smells the stink on that, but Executive Editor James C. Whitting III (perfect) does not.

+ Clay Davis’ finest moment? Moments? Sure was fun to watch.

+ “As an editor, I need a little more to fly this thing.” – Gus. Outmanned.

+ Whitting: “Do you have a problem with it?” Gus: “A little bit, kinda, yeah.”

+ Snoop’s disdain after the West Coast boyz in the hood thing goes awry: “Fuck those West Coast n-ers. In B-more, we aim and hit a n-er, you heard.”

+ And McNulty, with a little too much pride in the deed: “There’s a serial killer in Baltimore. He preys on the weakest among us. He needs to be caught.” Is that enough to get the money and manpower flowing? We shall see. But we know one thing – nothing is ever that easy on “The Wire.”

+ “I’m gone. I don’t want a part of this.” – Bunk. You knew he’d never go along with that trick. Not Bunk. No way.

+ What about you?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

HBO's Wrap-Up of All 4 Seasons of "The Wire"

Not possible, obviously, and in many ways it cheats the beautiful complexity of the series. Nor is it as effective as the viral video wrap of "The Sopranos," but at least it's interesting and for some people may spark some memories. This has been the most hyped season of "The Wire" yet but, as I said, it doesn't really matter. Ratings are not important to the series. It's in the can. Quality won.

Here's the video from HBO:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

"The Wire" Season 5, Ep. 1: "Less With More."

This deconstruction (and the comments that follow) contains spoilers. Watch the show first.

First off, hell yes, it’s back. And glad to have it back, too. Love the new opening and the Steve Earle version of the theme might even make Tom Waits smile.

Overview: If you haven’t read my review of Season 5 in The Chronicle, I urge you to do so before checking in here. These deconstructions use a lot of shorthand and don’t have to go into too much detail because the assumption is everybody’s caught up and knows the score. Mostly it’s a chance for diehard fans – I think that’s pretty much all of us – to pour out thoughts and feelings on what we’ve seen and where events could be going.

It probably doesn’t need to be said - you’ll say what you need to say in the spur of the moment no matter what – but as we all know, “The Wire” is full of surprises and often refuses to go where we want it to. And, as a critic, I’m a firm believer that perceptions on overall quality shift not only in time (reflection is always good – and for me each season of “The Wire” has often exceeded my expectations initially and individual episodes have grown in estimation on further watching) but also at the end of the entire story. You might want to guard against early emotions swinging in either direction.

And, since we’re five seasons into it, I’m guessing I don’t need the mandatory “don’t get all panicky about the pacing” lecture. Like Carver said, we’re all professionals here.

Season 5 picks up about a year after Season 4. And man, the institutional failure that Simon loves to document so thoroughly is just oppressive. To immediately follow the school crises with overtime and pay issues on the police force and to contrast that with cutbacks at the Baltimore Sun, whew, you just need to sit down.

I’ll be re-watching each episode every Sunday night to get refreshed, but I’m certainly at a Big Picture advantage having seen 7 of the 10 (I sure wish there were 12). I’m dying to see the final three. I’ll say this: My biggest concern, as I said in the review, is a decision that McNulty makes in future episodes. I think it’s something that takes a lot of thinking on because it goes to character motivation. It’s important to remember that motivations change. That’s why great television storytelling will always trump movies. Characters are living, they evolve. Our perceptions of them and our beliefs in what they will or won’t do need also change, even reluctantly. I’m OK with that particular storyline right now, regarding McNulty. And it may end up being a real piece of genius.

Alright, onward to some random observations and quotes:

+ It’s all about the crown with Marlo, is it not? He’s got the operation locked down so tight that even the best efforts of the Homicide Division can’t put a dent in his daily activities.

+ The Bunk opener. Great acting. Wendell Pierce, who loves ya?

+ Carver in command. Could be something he’ll grow into, as Season 4 hinted at. His evolution has been particularly interesting. “In the real world, they pay professionals.”

+ “Are we ready, professor?” That’s the last time Landsman will hear that, no doubt.

+“Just a weak ass mayor of a broke ass city.” Norman to Carcetti.

+ McNulty plays a great drunk. Between the cops and the reporters, this could be one drunk-ass season.

+ “Every plan a weak link.” True dat.

+ “Someday I want to find out what it’s like to work for a real newspaper.” Every journalist watching this series will laugh out loud at that – it’s something we’ve all thought at one time or another in their career. And just in case you’re wondering, I’m pretty happy where I’m at now, so I won’t be pining or whining here. Well, OK, maybe some whining.

+ “And he told your Republican ass to go fuck itself, right? Well, let me double down on that.” – Carcetti. He’s got passion, but sometimes lacks longer-view wisdom. Good thing he’s got Norman.

+ I already want to work for Clark Johnson. “At least he’s a columnist – he’s paid to sit on his ass…What kind of people sit around watching a fire? Some shameful shit right here.” Would that really happen at a paper? Hell yes.

+ “Don’t sleep on Marlo. He’s up on some shit here.” – Slim Charles to Prop Joe.

+ Ah, Bubs all cleaned up. Looking wobbly. Hope remains.

+ City Editor Gus Haynes: “Fucking fuck. Another burnt doll,” as he holds up the photo from the fire. Man, I laughed out loud. I used to work at a Bay Area paper where one photographer kept taking pictures for various stories and his truck would magically appear in the frame somehow.

+ Herc on the other side. In a suit. Weird.

+ Loved how Gus protected his reporter when one of the higher ups at the Sun wanted to know why they had missed the item about a drug dealer trading property with the city. Covering city council meetings - a hell of a lot tougher than you'd think.

+ "I was told a new day was coming. Clearly this isn't it." - Daniels.

+ "Wonder what if feels like to work in a real fucking police department." - McNulty after getting word that Major Crimes has been temporarily disbanded yet again.

+ I loved the closing scene. Dominic West did a great job swallowing all that rage at the incompetence and injustice of - what? politics, police life, major city financial implosions - and just having it overcome him. "Prodigal son," said Landsman.

Soooo, just to recap. Trouble in the schools, the Mayor a year late fulfilling campaign promises, discord in the police ranks, Marlo in control (angling for more?), political intrigue, a resurfacing of the storyline in Season 2, McNulty off the wagon and screwing up what he had with Beadie...ah, more good news from "The Wire."

Friday, January 4, 2008

What's Your Favorite Characater on the Wire?

This comes from the great "Wire" prequel/set-up to get everybody's blood pumping. But it sure asks a great question.

My Top 10 favorites, in order:

1. Omar.
2. D'Angelo.
3. Stringer Bell.
4. Lester.
5. Bunk.
6. Bubbles.
7. Norman.
8. McNulty.
9. Prop Joe.
10. Bodie.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year! Blogging is dead!

Oh, how we kid at TGTV. Last I left you, there was a gigantic post in your Christmas stocking. See, generous. But last year at this time, over on The Bastard Machine, I - lover of New Year's resolutions - said that I was going to blog less in 2007.

Give me a second to stop the laughter which has turned into a wheeze as I bend over and hold my knees.

OK, so didn't cut down. I did more. I even launched this here handy SECOND blog. Other than that, I actually did well on my resolutions.

One for this year, one small one, is not to make any big ass statements on the blog. And how could I, anyway, as I prepare for Wire Week. Gotta get ready for the de-cos.

That said, I should be honest with you. I've pretty much lost my interest in this blogging thing. I'm not going to stop - that would be foolish. I'll have a lot of things to post in 2008. Both here and at The Bastard Machine (but probably a lot less over there). Still, as the Clem Snide song "I Love the Unknown" says:

They asked him,
"hey, where's this bus going?"
and he said, "well, I'm really not sure."
"well then, how will you know where to get off?"
and he said, "the place with the most allure."

Blogging: Not the most allure for me right now. I've got some other ideas. A book. Good walks spoiled. Writing a better column. Something zen. Who knows?

Onward: I've been watching "The Wire." I put it off for a long time. Not exactly a man bites dog headline here, but it's goddamned great. Plus, it posits another issue we scribes joke about all the time: Journalism is dead.

Maybe not that harshly. But it gets the notion of failed journalism empires just about right. Which means it's not just the cops and the criminals and the docks and the cities themselves in David Simon's worldview that are all broken. His old profession, too. Except we journalists knew that a long, long time ago.

My review runs Friday.