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."

59 comments:

Steven said...

I loved the scene of McNulty in the bar digging for pay-phone change and finding his cell phone instead. A great rejoinder to what was surely a lot of viewers' unanswered question from earlier seasons: Why is someone using a pay-phone in the 21st century?

zoz45 said...

So much, terrific first episode.
Chris asking for directions and nobody knowing who he is. Classic.
Dukie, take Michael's deal please.
Spider working for Michael, nice touch.
Cops planning a robbery.
Journalists, smokers. Cops, smokers. Drug dealers, no smoking.
Much more after a second viewing. Can't take notes like of some of the others who post here.

George D from the 415 said...

Thanks TG, I wish i had been on this last time round. I went through the series in the month of October (or was it November) and just went through it again. Steven's point is exactly what i'd been thinking. Tim, will we be getting (for us bastards anyway) a new TVTM this week? If not, at least i've got the decons.
Much Obliged

ferrethead said...

Well, I hope David Simon gets a lot of $ from HBO - I signed up today, just so I could watch in real time. Great first chapter, the way they bring in the new characters at the paper, is just so seamless. I know it can't be, but they just make it seem too damned easy. Maybe Dukie can get a computer, and take online college courses during his morning hours. Some way, that young man has to get out, he's not made for that world. On the other hand, it seems that McNulty is exactly where he belongs - just couldn't get out of his own way, could he? I'm worried for Cheese, he and Marlo sure were throwing the stank eye at each other at the co-op meeting...

cereal_kidd said...

"Civil or criminal?"

"Criminal. Definitely."

RIGHT WHEN the high-ups are discussing their own implosion. F-ing genius moment. Marlo and crew are always one step ahead (except on McNulty and Freeman, but they're handcuffed)..

Loved Herc completing his arc into total douchebaggery by working for Levy...

Liked the news element so far... hasn't everyone known some middle-manager jackass like the editor who tells people that 1+1 should equal 3 just because he says it should?

Nice to have a community for this artwork of a show, thanks TG

leftymn said...

Good to see McNulty back with the old gang and off the damned wagon. Speaking of McNulty, that cell phone call was typical of this show's commitment to not insulting the intelligence of the loyal viewer. We didn't see who he was calling or hear the other side of the conversation at all, yet we could infer every detail. Loved seeing the co-op having their meeting in a fancy hotel conference room.

hickcity said...

The strain of having to stitch so many plot/context threads was showing - each transition seemed so abrupt. But there was plenty there. The opening sequence was the least veiled comment on BushCo bluffing the nation that 'The Wire' has attempted. Still need to re-watch to fully savor the gumbo.

Nice deconstruction (and timely).

Trixie said...

I watched this episode during the week on On Demand, then watched it again at 6:00 on HBO East, then again at 9:00. It's like re-reading a chapter in one of the best novels ever. My favorite scene was the one in the bar, trying to buy drinks with overtime slips and ending with "every plan has a weak link." So brilliant. I liked the scenes establishing the newsroom staff. The contrasting of the 2 young reporters was well done - one who looks up the definition of "evacuate" (in a paperback dictionary, not on the internet!), then gets the plum quote by going into the strip bar, sitting down and asking the question of, one can only imagine, a badass drug dealer - and the other who thinks working at The Sun is somehow beneath him.

suzyq2 said...

Damn, this is so bittersweet. Seeing everyone again after all this time, knowing it's going to be for the last time this time. McNulty is a great f#$king drunk. Michael, Bug and Dukie in the nice apartment with the big screen tv and leather couch. The copy machine as a lie detector--brillliant. I was out tonight for a birthday party but couldn't wait to get home to watch--should have gone to bed but couldn't. Too much to take in in one viewing, can't wait to watch it again tomorrow.

Definitely criminal not to appreciate this show.

lieber said...

Tim, great de-co, thank you, but you're driving me mcnutty with the whole McNulty thing.

And do tell, are Prez and Randy out of the picture?

• Beadie will leave the light on for you.

• Bubs' real name is Reginald?

• In the context of all the money woes, gotta love Herc's slimy boss's comment about workin' the expense account.

• The Wire has me believin' that ambition is an evil thing and that being really committed to your work can lead to heavy drinking.

!B¡ said...

I thought the transitions were great, actually. Especially the one between the broke world of the cops and the plasma TV of Michael, Bug and Dukie.

Chris asking directions made me laugh out loud! Brilliant.

Marlo trying to plant a seed of discontent with Slim Charles. Loved Cheese's reaction.

Bubbs, oh Bubbs, stay strong!!

I just can't take Carver seriously as an authority figure, and neither can he it would seem.

Beadie leaving the light on for McNulty.

Herc..oblivious asshole to the end. From pushing a desk in season 1 to aiding the pushers in season 5.

So many story threads setup....I can't wait to see where they lead.

Pogie said...

I loved the pacing. One of the great things about the show is that Simon and Co. seem to know that those of us watching are loyal and don't need to have every scene explained.

Each episode is exhausting, and I find myself watching the clock, hoping that there's more to come.

I see some real heartbreak coming with Michael and/or Dukie, though.

Another Fan said...

Line of the night for me was the following moment of classic Simon understatement, at the newspaper office:

"Something's burning."

Pause.

"Do you...wonder what it might be?"

Fell off my chair.

Close second was the kid in the opening scene trying to talk to his partner in crime with a mouth full of french fries.... Priceless.

Hell, this entire episode was gold. Welcome back, Wire; you've been sorely missed.

Pogie said...

I forgot to mention a David Simon sighting some of you might find interesting. He, responding to a critical look by the Atlantic's Matt Yglesias, offered a great look into his mindset about the show. In part, he wrote:
Does that mean The Wire is without humanist affection for its characters? Or that it doesn't admire characters who act in a selfless or benign fashion? Camus rightly argues that to commit to a just cause against overwhelming odds is absurd. He further argues that not to commit is equally absurd. Only one choice, however, offers the slightest chance for dignity. And dignity matters.

Lalalysa said...

Thank god it's back! My husband can stop listening to me reading all the previews and talking about how excited I am about the upcoming season and now start listening to me rant about what an amazing season it is (he's not a believer...yet).

I agree with pogie - I'm worried about Michael/Dukie and that whole situation, and I'm also wondering where Randy is. I got amazingly invested in those kids last season.

And isn't it just a matter of an episode or two for Bubbles to head back to the street since his sister is forcing him there?

The cell phone and fire bits were priceless, as were the echoed sentiments about a "real newspaper" and "real police department".

The only thing that didn't ring quite true were the journalists, surprisingly. Tim, let me know if you disagree, but I thought those reporters looked a bit old to be competing for these stories. In my husband's experience (he recently left daily journalism after 20 years), the layoffs and buyouts always hit the older reporters (with the bigger salaries) and replace them with much younger, less experienced and less expensive fresh-faced grads--which is part of the problem in journalism today. I thought the snooty reporter guy looked a few years past the stage to be begging for stories. Maybe things were different at the Sun. This wasn't distracting to me as I watched the episode; I just wondered.

sallyinchicago said...

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED Herc making comments about his suit "putting the b in subtle". Brilliant.

I agree with you Tim. McNulty is just sick and tired of not feeling useful, not feeling like he is making a difference. I think he was also hoping that being with Beadie would make him into a better man (he mentioned that in the Season 4 finale), but alas, Beadie isn't enough. Amazing writing. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Did it throw anyone else off that there seemed to be more handheld shots to this episode? Were they recalling Homicide? There may have only been two wobbly shots but they really distracted me from the slow pans or pull-ins that are typical of The Wire.

talli said...

Lalalysa, patience! The comment on layoffs and bringing in young reporters will be coming.

However, the first scene with the editors smoking in the stairwell did touch that subject. One of the editors said something like, "23 year old kids that can't spell..."

Also, the opening scene with the detectives using the xerox machine as a lie detector is a straight lift from an actual trick used by the Baltimore Homicide Dept. It's discussed in Simon's book Homicide, which every fan should read along with The Corner.

The books place a lot of the story lines, characters and cute interludes will be placed in wonderful context.

Tom said...

Speaking of "Homicide: Life on the Street," one of the former holders of the title of Best Damn Show on Television ... I didn't think I'd be the first to point out here that the true/false copy machine trick was used by Munch and Bolander in HLOTS Episode 8, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes." (I had to look it up; I remembered only that it was in the early days.) I didn't mind one bit, though, because I see it as Simon recycling (it's in his first book, because real Balmer po-lice actually executed the ploy successfully). Plus, it was hilarious.

It is so, so good to have this brilliant show back, even if only for 10 more episodes. Loved Chris Partlow asking directions of Ronnie, Daniels and the DA, and them having no idea who he is. And I'm giddy with intrigue at him looking up Sergei. ("Boris. Always Boris.")

Tom said...

Heh-heh: By taking too long to compose, I am not the first person to point this out. Talli, I'm glad I'm not the only one here to recall the HLOTS scene.

Claire said...

And hearing Clark Johnson refer to the "mooks" brought back memories of Homicide as well.

Pizzadrone said...

Michael, with his mix of ruthlessness and the loyalty to his family is starting to remind me of Avon. But my favorite part of the episode was the "lie detector"!! I watch with a couple of friends and we were on the floor at that point. It's amazing that this show can so such a good job with hopelessness and tragedy and then turn right around and pull out that kind of broad comedy.

Tom said...

"Mooks" did that for me, too, Claire. I'm just happy to see Clark J. acting again.

I'm a newspaper editor myself, so I second TG on the verisimilitude. It's even more true at smaller, but still corporate-owned, papers like mine. We had our own little Scott Templeton for a while: He craved the glory and thought the grunt work was beneath him. His ambition superseded his ethics, and he didn't last long.

Tim Goodman said...

As to the journalists, I think it's very real. I've been through a lot of these buyouts/downsizing situations and it's not always the oldest that go. And I don't think the Scottie character's hunger for stories has much to do with age. He's GA - general assignment, and he's looking for a big story. It's very subtle (with a b - loved that line), but it's also clear that Gus doesn't like Scottie that much. Good editors, they know.

Voguette said...

"There's a B in subtle?" Primo.
--
Can't think of much to add specifically, and I too watched the episode twice. After the first viewing I felt mentally 'stuffed', there was so much there!
I too felt an emotional pleasure at the Latina reporter using her dictionary.
I felt for Bubbles but understand his sister's rule.
McNulty catching Chris looking up Sergei is, I'm certain, gonna lead somewhere nasty and/or tragic.
All in all, I know some of the endings of this season are going to break my heart. Thanks for the sounding board, Goodman.
--
(Btw, I am finally listening to your podcasts thanks to my ipod; I like you better, you 'sound' like a nice guy.)

Susaleenah said...

I am going to have to watch again tonight to get the nuances.
But to the Laura Lippman fans out there.....I was pleased to see her do a cameo in the newsroom. She was the blonde with glasses in the scene with Clark Johnson and the other reporters looking out the window at the fire.
What a pleasant surprise!
There is so much to love about this show I don't know where to begin. The scenes with the cops in the bar was priceless.........McNulty as the wheel man! And I can't get enough of Clark Johnson.......glad to see him back in front of the cameras again.
I'm just can't wait for the next episode.

old_coyote said...

It seems to me that Bubs no longer fits in on the street. He seemed to be a stranger in his old home. But he doesn't quite fit in in his new environment either.

Great show, as always. Lots to think about.

Voguette said...

Just recalled: The Wire has regularly had characters repeat lines or phrases used by others, but in disparate circumstances. E.g., Both Stringer and Colvin say "Get on with it, motherfu*kers" just before their demise (S. in death, C. in having his retirement screwed up). In this first episode the newsman says "That's some shameful shit" re. the reporters who don't find out where the fire is. It's the same sentence Cheese speaks at the end of Season 4 when Omar comes to visit Prop Joe to re-sell the dope shipment he stole. I remembered the words only because of the way Method Man spoke them.

CasualObserver said...

Great comments, Tim and everyone.

I thought I saw a glimpse of a character that looked like Randy participating in some bad corner stuff in the shadows. Not sure, but wd. be believable since he was thrown to the group-home wolves after his caring foster mother was burned.

ErinTwinPeaks said...

I loved Daniels' quote about one corrupt politician trumping 22 dead bodies. "Good to know." Also, my heart breaks for Beadie Russell. McNulty is like one of David Simon's institutions that constantly let you down. Also, all the talk about Carcetti's New Day reminded me of the New Day Co-op. Isn't that what they are called, with Prop Joe and all the other dealers?

Tom said...

Tim, good point about Scott being GA. And yeah, it's evident Gus doesn't like him: Gus knows what Scott is after when he asks to do the "react piece," and doesn't give it to him.

B-More Wire Head said...

I must say that I’m a long time reader and fan of the Wire de-cons. I love the way fans of the show pay attention and then discuss the intricate nuances of the show. I always come away learning a lot about what I’ve seen from what I’ve read. Great insights!

I’m looking forward to jumping in the fray and adding my two-cents. In addition to totally loving the show and its writing I have a more personal connection to this great work of art. In case any one in this forum has any questions that I can shed some light on feel, free to ask.

A lil about my “Wire Credentials”….

I was born and reared in Baltimore, so not only do I recognize the cameo characters, I’m very familiar with what is real and what is fiction in the story. Take for instance the story line in this first episode regarding the drug dealer getting the sweetheart deal to relocate his strip club. That really happened unfortunately. The club in real life is called The Eldorados Gentleman’s Club (in the show they name it Desperados) and the owner of the establishment is a very popular and former drug dealer named Kenny Bird. Mr. Bird was a lieutenant in the real life drug organization portrayed on screen as the Barksdale Gang, which was overseen by Lil Melvin (The Wire Deacon). Anyone familiar with current day Baltimore politics knows that council president Nerese Campbell is loosely based on current Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon.

Other connections to the show includes:

Officer Aaron Castor, who has had a number of cameos since season 1 is a first cousin of mine. His most relevant scene was in season 4 when the two hom-mo detectives showed up to investigate the murder of a state’s witness and they ask officer Castor whom did the victim say shot him, to which Officer Castor replies “He said a man with a gun.” Classic.

The season 3 character of Drack is based on a real life guy (conveniently named Drack or sometimes known as Black) who I believe Officer Ed Burns arrested before. I know Drack personally. His older brother is a college friend of mine. In real life Drack was a bit of psycho who dealt drugs and terrorized the neighborhood. Much like his Wire counterpart, he didn’t always make the best decisions. Once when I was over his house, Drack almost blew my head off with 357 that accidentally discharged when he was playing with it (fun guy). Simon also references Drack as a character in the book, The Corner.

So, I’m looking forward to reading more de-cons and digesting the responses of the fans.

BMWH

Anonymous said...

you know you're a wire addict when you catch these "cameos" or returns of bit characters. Kid with the mouthful of french fries in the opening scene? Monell from the 8th grade that paid Randy "some real cheese" to stand guard while he and Paul "got it on" with Tiff. #2 - Savino serving as extra Marlo muscle. something tells me every episode will have minor or even bit characters back to provide some closure. We now know Monell will be heading to jail.

mogulli said...

And for those of you lucky enough to have digital cable, Season 5 comes a week early! See episode 2 tonight.

Sweet Husband gave me Snoop's book for Christmas. Couldn't put it down. It will take you an hour to read it but you will walk away with even more love for David Simon. If it weren't for The Wire, Snoop would probably be dead or in jail. What a life.

pnm said...

Oh, it is so good to have The Wire back, yet so sad that there are only nine episodes left.

Since so many posters, and Tim, have pointed out the best lines/scenes, I won't repeat; however, loved the new drug name, shouted by the slingers: "Greenhouse Gas".

ferrethead said...

I loved how Gus basically told Scottie to f-off: "That's good, stay hungry like that". What a great way to put someone in their place. Kind of letting him know that naked ambition was unattractive, and that everybody has to wait their turn. It seems that, at least in Gus' opinion, Scottie hasn't earned his yet. Of course, whining about his assignment couldn't have helped his case much...

novelera said...

So true what Tim said in his Chron review. Season 5 does not disappoint. I was completely riveted during the whole episode, and some parts were so good that I viewed them over. LOVED Chris saying "Criminal, definitely". Clark Johnson is SO perfect as the newspaper editor that I can hardly believe it. These characters are so rich. This season builds on what we know about them already, and has added the new newsroom characters most skillfully. As several others have commented, it's bittersweet. Loving every minute of last night's episode, and thinking at the same time: only nine more.

Dennis said...

I don't ever remember Meldrick Lewis being that friendly with the press back in the old days;)

BTW, I also remembered the photocopier trick from HLOTS and I'm pretty sure it was the Bolander/Munch combo in that situation.

fbrucem said...

Fitting that one of the Homicide stars gets to finish up the epic Wire run. City editor Gus Haynes. I keep thinking he's a cop though. one episode and he's in my top 10 Wire characters. Omar #1,The Bunk #2..
I admit I can't quite grasp what Chris was doing looking up the Greek's henchman's record. Did I miss something? I remember Marlo wanted the Greek's right hand man followed after the meet set up by prop joe at the end of season 4. Marlo will either be dead by the 10th ep or will have more power than Avon and Stringer combined. I say dead....
Knowing that McNulty is going to soemthing rogue has me in a state. Does he turn dirty. Can't be that. Herc has that covered. Does he kill someone like Chris or Marlo? Whatever it is, it won't be good and will be more than just giving up and becoming a drunk.

Anonymous said...

not much to add here - feel really bad abt Beady - one false note - the cop talking abt going to the NLRB - cops aren't covered under the NLRB - also you can't have people work overtime and not pay them - its against the law - the cop union would have you in court in a minute if you tried it - and besides think abt it - you think the sfpd is gonna work if they don't get paid - same goes for Balmer - still a great show

CasualObserver said...

About cops (or any city workers) not being paid overtime:

SF is a "City and County" whereas I believe B-More has no consolidated government. SF City and County in past budget crises has done odd things like refusing to authorize overtime pay (as opposed to overtime hours). In other words, you can work extra but you won't get paid time and a half--you may get paid nothing because it's "unauthorized" overtime (no super signature), or you may get paid straight time. If there is a union there may be a court case and back pay.

In The Wire, I thought the dialogue said that they were issuing sort of IOUs and were going to issue back pay. For a lot of city workers (cops and civilians)that need the overtime pay and are used to working overtime hours to make ends meet, existing on regular straight-time salary is enough to cause great distress.

I'd have to watch again to see what exactly the time span and deferred pay is represented to be here.

I have known similar things to the deferred car maintenance. In a budget crisis a city or city/county can get away with implementing such measures of neglect, though they open themselves to lawsuits in the process.

Trixie said...

Man, oh man you guys are good, picking up on the appearances of bit characters and the dual-purpose lines. You guys are observant and stuff.

b-more wire head: Thanks for the inside information. Really interesting. And thanks to Tom too, for the newsroom insight.

Anonymous said...

Michael, with his mix of ruthlessness and the loyalty to his family is starting to remind me of Avon.

after seeing episode 2 Michael is begining to remind me a bit of Omar.

Anonymous said...

"I'd have to watch again to see what exactly the time span and deferred pay is represented to be here."

Two months, I think they said.

In other news: SO GREAT to see Clark Johnson!!

Steve Berley said...

When Chris asked for directions, I said Shiiiiiiiit.

Sunday's NYT included a review that didn't offer any insight other than - it's very much like the show's storylines for "The Wire" not to receive any recognition. Life imitating art.

domino87 said...

Did anyone mention to Tim that his post title is wrong? the episode is called "More with Less". Not the other way around.

johng said...

One thing not mentioned: I loved the political angle. You got a democratic mayor elected on his promise to beef up the cops and cut crime. Faced with an inherited deficit in his school budget, he refused the help of the republican governor, whose job he is aiming for. So the cops the city and the schools all suffer because politicians are more interested in their careers than service. Same deal with D.A. and the Feds.
.
(of course in real life it's 90% the fricking rethuglicans' fault, not 50-50 like we see in The Wire.)

CasualObserver said...

johng:

I'm not sure about the politics. The end of last season had Carcetti deciding to sell out the school and his advisor jumping ship. The new season showed that he appears to have decided the schools were more important and the school bailout (city money because his ego blew any chance, slim though it might have been, for state aid)is what forced him to betray his promises to beef up police and be tough on crime.

What I love about The Wire is that most characters are compromised in some way, but few (in the law, the police force, the street) seem to be pure good or evil. Carcetti is a calculating politician and someone who backed away from selling out the kids entirely, in this scenario.

Tom said...

Tim, thanks for setting up shop over here. "The Wire" obviously attracts a smart, thoughtful, observant audience; it's great to have a place to discuss the show with people just as into it as I am.

casualobserver, great point about the characters being compromised, but neither pure good nor evil. Two possible exceptions: Namond's mom or Bug's dad.

k.papai said...

I watched this first episode last ngiht and it's excellent to see the new angle with the newspaper added. The show was terrific as expected and the dialogue raw and adult. McNulty scares me when he's so drunk! Nice, but short decon Tim, thanks.

ferrethead said...

Did anybody go to HBO.com and check out the 'prequels'? Prop Joe in '62 and Bunk/McNulty in 2000 were cute. However, Omar in '85 was easily the best! If you haven't watched them, I suggest you do - big fun!

CasualObserver said...

I rewatched and I think they said something like Carcetti being "two years into a four-year term." Another reference was to one year. If I remember, we left the show at Christmas time, except for the "Gilded Splinters" montage.

Filling in the blanks, it seems the city negotiated a MOU with the police union about the cutbacks in the interim, but the rank and file is chafing after so many months?

The Wire dialogue definitely does more with less.

Keggercast said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Trev99 said...

What a great opener for Season 5. Hilarious one-liners, equally funny visuals (McNulty drunk again). I especially liked the lie-detector "False" photo copy. Funny, sad, and pathetic all at the same time. I need to watch it again to laugh at something I know I missed.

Jennifer said...

Check this link out. From Freakonomics. What do real thugs think of The Wire?
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/what-do-real-thugs-think-of-the-wire/ [http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/what-do-real-thugs-think-of-the-wire/ ]

Anonymous said...

Simon writes about leaving the Baltimore Sun

http://www.esquire.com/features/essay/david-simon-0308?src=rss

Tom said...

There's a four-page article in Newsweek, too. (The one with Obama on the cover.)

Tim, you're right that the ratings no longer matter. But I am pleased to see this show I've loved from the start get some of the high-profile recognition that far, far lesser shows have received.

snitchinbubs said...

thanks for your thoughts....

i was wondering if anyone listened to the 'all the pieces matter' soundtrack. there's a piece of dialogue on there from S5 that chilled me to the bone!! it's not a spoiler as such but you can't listen and not feel scared for what might be happening

bigrr said...

No mention of the product being sold on the corner?
"Greenhouse Gas is hot."

I went out to the library yesterday and grabbed a handful of DVD's I hadn't seen. The first I watched was Hannibal Rising. I was pleasantly surprised to see Kevin McKidd from Rome, then on walks McNutty. Next up was The Forgotten.McNutty again, then Bunny Colvin as a NSA agent, and finally Lee Tergesen as another NSA agent. It was interesting to see all these HBO actors in two randomly picked movies. It was also good to see Dominic West in a movie role beside that slimeball in 300.