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August 30, 2015

Jane After Dark: I'm still watching The Wire

by Jane Boursaw, posted Jun 7th 2009 3:31PM
The Wire - Season OneI just watched the last episode of season one of The Wire. You guys are right. It's good stuff. Most of season one was pretty slow-going, but things started to kick in during the last few episodes, about the time Greggs got shot.

As in last week's Jane After Dark column, I'm still a bit lost on exactly what's happening, but that doesn't seem to really matter. The characters are so interesting to watch. It's almost like you're watching a documentary about the real thing, rather than a scripted TV show. I took the suggestion of some of you and started watching with the subtitles on. It really does help!

I noticed that Alan Sepinwall is also blogging on The Wire -- and writing a masters thesis on each episode. He even has two different versions -- one for newbies and one for veterans. I'm the anti-Sepinwall, just trying to grasp the storyline and get the basic gist. But I did read his newbie editions and found them helpful.

I do want to mention one scene, in particular. In the last episode, "Sentencing," the scene where D'Angelo spills his guts to McNulty, Pearlman, and Bunk. Wow, Larry Gilliard, Jr. is such a great actor. I felt like he was just laying it all out there, like he really DID want to get out of the family business and move on with a fresh start somewhere. But then got sucked back into it and ended up doing 20 years to protect Avon. Some mom he's got, talking him into taking one for the team instead of going straight.

Oh, and the sex scenes between McNulty and Pearlman - raw! Both of them really seem to be out for sex and nothing else. And the sex is driven by interesting things, like when she jumps him in the parking garage after being so giddy over how the case is going.

And in the end, McNulty ends up on "the boat," breathing those diesel fumes he hates so much. There's just something so wrong -- and so right -- about that. Right, because no matter how well you do, sometimes you still end up on the boat.

I went back and listened to the first episode with commentary by creator David Simon. It helped to put some of the pieces together and give me a little perspective on season one. He said something to the effect that The Wire is a metaphor for what's going on in the American city; that those who are excluded from the legitimate economy make their own world. That, along with how these groups interact with the establishment, seems like a good way to describe this season in a nutshell.

Of the excessive profanity, Simon said he wrote it as he'd heard cops and drug dealers talk in his years as a crime reporter with the Baltimore Sun. "There's some poetry to the way people talk, but it is profane," he said. I never thought of profanity as poetry, but yeah, now that he mentions it, it makes sense.

I also want to mention the fantastic theme song, "Way Down in the Hole," sung by The Blind Boys of Alabama and composed by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Tom Waits. I can't wait to hear his version of the song in season two.

And speaking of season two, I can't find it at any video stores in town! I happened to have season one on DVD, but it looks like I'll either have to buy the rest of the seasons or see if I can get them from Netflix. I did a search for episodes online, but most sites want you to pay and join. If anyone knows of a good site to watch free episodes of The Wire, let me know. I'm hanging in there, so stay tuned!

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Paul Camp

The first episode of season 2 is the finest hour of dramatic television I've ever seen -- all character development with one tiny increment of plot literally in the last 5 seconds.

June 08 2009 at 7:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

They are all available on Netflix. That's how i watched it until I broke down and got HBO for the final season.

June 07 2009 at 9:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You will want to buy the series. I have a friend who turned me on to the series and he firmly believes you have to watch the entire series once a year. I thought he was crazy but I think I am ready to watch it all over again. Season 4 will break your heart.

June 07 2009 at 6:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Hey awesome Jane, I'm glad you're enjoying it more. I promise you that one day you'll want to re-watch the entire series and you'll catch a LOT more. You kind of need the big 5-season picture, I think, to appreciate each season better.

That in itself is kind of the problem The Wire tries to show, in my belief. As you saw in season 1 everyone (politicians, cops) who is looking out for their interest, their future, doesn't see the bigger picture and ends up hurting themselves. If they would just take a step back and see the bigger picture, they might be persuaded to be different. As it is, because the other guy's doing stuff to get promoted, well why shouldn't they?

I finished re-watching season 1 a few days ago but have stopped short of starting up season 2. My sisters gave me the boxed set for my birthday last year (exactly a year from today actually, Happy Birthday to me) and it's a safe bet you won't regret purchasing the box set if it ever goes on sale at Amazon again. I recommend looking into prices on half.com, or for the website you can try this, http://www.watchtvsitcoms.com/thewire.php , my friends in school used that when I got them hooked.

I'm glad you pointed out the excellent acting in the show, the truth is there are very few actors who aren't excellent, and those that aren't are still good but they're just overshadowed by everything else. That documentary feel you described is EXACTLY how I felt when I was in the thick of the series.

Please please keep us updated, I love hearing someone else's take on it.

June 07 2009 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Usama's comment

as a warning, when you find the episode and hit "play" you'll get a pop up or two but then close those pop ups and hit the "play" button one more time and it should be fine

June 07 2009 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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