Friday, 14 September 2012

TV: The Wire (S1) (10/10)

Why did I watch it?
I usually only review films or shows I've not seen before but in the case of The Wire I had to make an exception. I've already seen the first two seasons and having bought the box-set sometime ago, it was time to go back to the start and enjoy it all over again.

What's it all about?
For those not in the know, The Wire is set in Baltimore and each season focuses on a different area of life in the city. The first season revolves around a hastily put together police detail tasked with investigating the little known Barksdale drug empire. Led by Lieutenant Daniels (Lance Reddick) and the dedicated Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), the detail are under pressure to make a minimal amount of low level charges quickly, however work is slow and painstaking difficult and the detail fight their superiors for more time to build a case using electronic surveillance.

Should you watch it?
The great thing about The Wire is....well, everything. The scope of the show is immense, the characters range from judges, DAs, police chiefs and detectives on one side to those encompassing the whole structure of Anton Barksdale's gang, from right hand men and enforcers to low level dealers. Each is involved in the story as it plays out slowly piece by piece. The line between good and bad is blurred at best, the police force is riddled with incompetence and those only concerned with self-preservation while the dealers are a well-organised mixture of cold-blooded killers and morally conflicted teens who know no other way of life. Not to mention Omar (Michael K. Williams), the gay stick-up man who terrorises local drug stash houses.

Who's listening?
The Wire is the ultimate definition of a slow-burner but with hour long episodes the plot begins to unravel soon enough and rewards are plenty for those patient during the initial episodes. Fans of David Simon's other works like Treme will have no problem adapting to the pace.

Did I mention that the acting, script and music are also top notch? Best line..."If you come at the king, you best not miss".

I am a huge fan of both The Soprano's and The Shield, and the first season of The Wire comes very close if not better than the best moments of these two. It deserves all the credit it receives and more. 

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