Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

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  • #16
    Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

    I love so many scenes in that show. It's definitely number 1 for me.

    If I had to choose a favorite scene (which is almost impossible) it would be one of the last scenes in the entire series.

    Marlowe leaves that party of uptown political crooks and has that tussle with the two cornerboys. And realizes that's where he belongs.

    So much amazing casting in that show.
    Last edited by Anagram; 05-11-2012, 07:12 PM.

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    • #17
      Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

      Yes, that scene was very good. Marlo was one of the best characters, considering how little screen time he had.

      Casting was excellent, and acting. I think that, although we often praise the writing above all, casting and acting are what really elevates The Wire over other similar shows.

      In Spain, we get almost all foreign movies and tv dubbed to Spanish. I watched The Wire initially in English, and own English copies of all five seasons. Currently, a Spanish tv station is airing The Wire, dubbed, and it completelly screws the timing of the performances. I'm not saying it's dubbed badly -actually, dubbing in Spain is excellent, often improving poor performances- but it's certainly acted differently, and the scenes just fall flat.

      Great writing depends on great execution in order to realize its full potential. And although we're here to discuss the writing in this show, I think casting was its biggest success.

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      • #18
        Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

        Hi All,

        I've been reading the forums for a few months now and finally decided to join. I'd also say for a number of reasons, and I can go on and on, that The Wire is the greatest television show ever made - in terms of its realism, characters, dialogue and overall narrative. I'm from Baltimore and the show is dead accurate of its portrayal of subcultures here.

        I completely agree with Rhodi and DavidK. I think Omar's death was perfectly written. The whole show he's this mythical badass; a legend in the hood. I mean, the guy could rob stash houses by simply walking up to them and referencing The Three Little Pigs. Yet, in the end, he gets killed by a little kid. It is ironic and realistic, and in many ways extremely unsatisfying, but in a good way.

        By it being extremely unsatisfying is actually what makes it brilliant in my opinion. In real life, you don't go out like Tony Montana. Crime isn't glamorous. It's ugly. It's isn't cathartic. When someone goes, it just happens. It's not some big Hollywood showdown. I think this is exactly the statement the writers, particularly of course, Simon and Burns were trying to make.

        Also, something interesting to note, the scene that Anagram mentioned where Marlo runs up on the two kids on the corner, they are heard talking about how people with AK-47's, "ran up on Omar.- This goes to show that his death was blown out of proportion by locals to fit his legend. Yet, there is a scene of the Baltimore Sun, if I remember correctly, where they spell his name wrong, only a minuscule block of text is dedicated to the story, and it's buried in the middle of the paper, in the middle of the page. This was another brilliant move by the writers to demonstrate the contrast of two worlds.

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        • #19
          Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

          Originally posted by Dr. Vergerus View Post
          We often use the word "realistic" to describe "The Wire", but a lot of the dialogue was highly stylized and a lot of the scenes pushed the boundaries of realism in order to be more effective or simply cooler.
          While I do agree that there are scenes that push the boundaries of realism to be "cooler" in the show - the most notable scene that comes to mind is Bunk and McNulty only saying "fvck" the entire time they investigate a murder - I'd say that this was a rare exception in the show. For the most part, the show is eerily realistic.

          From growing up in the area, I can tell you the dialogue of the dock workers to Snoop is EXACTLY how subsets of locals talk. There's mainly two forms of local dialect here - a white blue-collar dialect (think dock workers/cops) which is traditional Baltimorese, and then there's the local African American dialect (think Snoop). I've heard one of the reasons the ratings suffered and some people had trouble following the show is the local dialect and slang.

          Originally posted by Dr. Vergerus View Post
          Casting was excellent, and acting. I think that, although we often praise the writing above all, casting and acting are what really elevates The Wire over other similar shows.

          Great writing depends on great execution in order to realize its full potential. And although we're here to discuss the writing in this show, I think casting was its biggest success.
          I completely agree that the casting and acting was phenomenal. I can't say enough about that. I'm still so impressed how actors from the UK and Ireland (Dominic West, Idris Elba and Aidan Gillen) nailed the local accent. However, I think what elevates the The Wire over others is everything - casting, directing, writing, acting, etc. They are all on another level.

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          • #20
            Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

            McNulty's Bawlmer accent was pretty nonexistent to awful. But otherwise, the foreigners did a fairly great job of sounding local

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            • #21
              Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

              In 2010, David Simon won a MacArthur Fellowship, also called the "genius" grant -- which is basically a 500k gift for being excellent at whatever it is that you do -- scientist, writer, painter, musician, historian, etc...

              Here's a short clip of him from the MacArthur Foundation discussing The Wire and why he wanted to do it. So humble.


              http://www.macfound.org/videos/48/

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              • #22
                Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                Hi, Mike M, and welcome.

                Very interesting to know the perspective of someone from Baltimore. I've read similar comments about Treme from people from New Orleans, although I think they focused more on the depiction of the city and its mood than in particular performances by the actors. I tried to like Treme, but couldn't.

                I'll agree with JoeBanks that Dominic West's original accent showed through a lot.

                I thought dialect and slang were easy to follow, although I'm probably not aware of the things I missed.

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                • #23
                  Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                  Thanks, Dr. Vergerus.

                  Now that I think about it, I agree Dominic West's accent showed through but I still remember being impressed with him sometimes. Maybe I completely missed some of that.

                  Simon has gone on record a few times stating that Baltimore is the main character of the show, which I think is clearly depicted from watching it. I do believe the show accurately depicts the mood of the city in certain areas.

                  There's a lot of aspects to Baltimore, mostly good things, that weren't addressed in the show. Baltimore is a troubled city in many areas though and the point of the show was to make a statement so I understand this. They aren't going to focus on wealth in certain areas, or the largely middle-class parts of the city and county. I didn't get into Treme either, so I'm unsure of how many aspects of New Orleans natives feel it addresses.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                    Yes, I guess the story they wanted to tell didn't take place in middle class neighborhoods where people live uneventful lives.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                      Right, of course not.
                      Originally posted by killertv View Post

                      how the show so adeptly wove each character's personal story into the greater fabric of the show's narrative. Nearly every character on screen had some sort of arc, even the most minor bit players.
                      Agreed. I think this was the greatest aspect of the writing. All the characters were so flawed, so human, and had dramatic arcs that tied into the overall narrative. Some changed, some didn't, some changed and then went back to the way they were, etc. Incredibly realistic and just on such another level dramatically.

                      Curious as to what others think of the arcs of characters such as Pryzbylewski, Bodie and Carver. I really didn't like these three guys in season one, by four they really grew on me, and you also saw other characters grow to like them. I think McNulty and Bodie's natural respect, and almost admiration for one another was fascinating. I still think Bodie getting killed is one of the saddest parts of the show.

                      As tragic as it was, the arcs of the young teens were among my favorite: Michael becoming the next Omar; Dookie and Bubbles, etc. Namond's storyline was a nice ray of hope.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                        Best show ever. That is all.

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                        • #27
                          Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                          Originally posted by Mike M View Post
                          Curious as to what others think of the arcs of characters such as Pryzbylewski, Bodie and Carver. I really didn't like these three guys in season one, by four they really grew on me, and you also saw other characters grow to like them. I think McNulty and Bodie's natural respect, and almost admiration for one another was fascinating. I still think Bodie getting killed is one of the saddest parts of the show.
                          Bodie was a favorite of mine from Season One all the way through his tragic end. Pryz grew on me. Carver I liked more initially I think then where he ended up, but he had an interesting arc as well. I thought Daniels got the best arc of any character in the first season.

                          Reading Alan Sepinwall's THE REVOLUTION WAS TELEVISED which has a very inspiring chapter on The Wire. He notes the arcs for characters like Pryz and how the seasons started slow, setting things up that then paid off in the last few episodes. It helped me better understand how the pacing in the early episodes of a season really helped the rewatchability of the show.

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                          • #28
                            Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                            In one of the DVD commentaries, Simon talks about how he set up Omar's death as early as season 3, when Kenard is playing around with some kids in Hamsterdam saying "I'm gonna shoot Omar, I'm gonna shoot Omar." He knew exactly how Omar had to die to stick to the rules of the world he defined and he stuck to it. It was awful. And amazing.

                            I just embarked on my 8th viewing of the show. Yes, I'm absolutely insane. And have no life. But, I got some solace when I heard Josh Friedman in a podcast say that he's been watching a Wire episode every day at lunch to keep himself sharp. If I'm insane, I'm not the only one.

                            How about this for a poll. Favorite character?

                            Mine, in order:

                            Stringer (if there was an Emmy for best actor over the life of a series, Idris should get it)
                            Omar
                            Cutty (amazing arc)
                            The Bunk (fu*king hilarious, always)
                            Freamon (dollhouse miniatures)
                            Bubbs
                            McNulty (yes, horrible accent.... "the fu*k did I do?")
                            Bodie
                            Bunny Colvin

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                            • #29
                              Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                              In no particular order: Omar, Marlo, Chris, Freamon, Bubbs, Bodie, Wallace and Slim Charles.

                              EDIT TO ADD: Of course, Spiros and Ziggy! How could I forget!
                              Last edited by Dr. Vergerus; 12-10-2012, 03:07 PM.

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                              • #30
                                Re: Appreciating a complex narrative: The Wire

                                I thought Carvers arc from dumb cop to protector of his community was one of the most profound transformations I've ever seen on TV. Couldn't have happened without Bunny Colvin and the dream that was Hamsterdam.

                                Spiros was epic in every scene, from his meetings with Frank Sobotka (top 3) to Marlo and Chris.

                                I mean seriously, Spiros reminded me of De Niro in Godfather. So quiet and calm but every word had power.

                                And what about the tragedy? D'Angelo, Ziggy, Sabotka, Avon & Stringer.

                                Will there ever be a show as good? Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire both have many moments of sheer brilliance. But the whole package? Sopranos probably comes closest.

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