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The Wire Revisited.


David Simon, co-creator of The Wire
David Simon: Image via Wikipedia

What follows are a few thoughts about this brilliant TV series, it deserves more words but most of all it deserves the widest audience.

I have been taking the opportunity of viewing again episodes of The Wire, on BBC2 and FX Channel: 60 episodes in five series were produced between 2003 and 2008. The majority of the cast is African-American. Each series focuses on an aspect of city life: gangsters and drug dealers; the city port and the stevedores’ trade union, a corrupt congressman; Baltimore schools and education, Baltimore city government and politics; the Baltimore Sun. First time around I missed a number of episodes, and I hadn’t realized just how brilliant this TV drama series is; yes, I knew it was good but frankly this TV series should have received greater honours in the TV industry. Written mainly by David Simon a former police reporter it is set in the city of Baltimore, Maryland.

Be aware that this TV police series is not the trashy solve the crime TV series in an hour or two, in fact crimes are rarely solved cases are left dangling and the crimes continue.

It’s not just a TV cops and robbers series or cops and drug dealers series it’s more than than that. The broad canvass of characters and story lines is interwoven with political intrigue and bitter street conflict beteween gangs, bitter relationships within the Baltimore Police Department, sham journalism and naivity in the Baltmore Sun newspaper offices as well as the paper’s financial future. It also shows a cynical view of lawyers whose greasy palms and greed advocate their criminal clients cases; decent prosecutors are sidelined by judges more concerned with re-election.

The lead characters are played by skillful actors, though often I and trouble with the street dialogue nevertheless one gets the drift. The key gangsters and police officers interact in cat and mouse games and often the criminals win. The police department chiefs are constantly battling with statistics, targets and budgets.

Looking at the central police characters: McNulty, Freamon, Greggs, Bunk Moreland, the accident prone Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski later an inspiring school teacher, Daniels the police Lieutenant later rapidly promoted to Major, with a shady past, you see a team that seems to have some harmiony and comradeship which is frustrated by the politics of the police department chiefs. The wire itself concerns the use of telephone tap technology and electronic surveillance methods.

McNulty the police detective played by Dominic West, is the sample good hard working serious detective who pursues his targets with tenacity and often frustrated by the political infighting amongst his senior colleagues. When he is set upon studying Russell Bell ( Stringer Bell) he becomes surprised in regard to how far Stringer Bell has become a major property developer using drug money, after the killing of Stringer Bell McNulty looking at Bell’s apartment is astonished at the luxury Bell lived in and looking at his collection of books is amazed and troubled to find economics textbooks and a copy Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations” McNulty is shocked. Stringer Bell is the slick, efficient businessman running a coop, a seemingly letigimate enterprise without formal minutes of course. He’s not smart enough, he’s killed by a shady muslim brotherhood gangster and Omar the gay, drug gangster killer who never swears; thus frustrating McNulty’s efforts to bring Stringer Bell to book.

I found the most intriguing subject Baltimore schools and the role of the fictional character Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski; teaching in Baltimore schools looks a real challenge and “Prez” finds a way to inspire his students as they find ways of exploiting him.

For me, there is so much to discuss and too much to write but overall if you haven’t seen The Wire watch it and judge for yourself.

Meanwhile in the real life Baltimore the drug wars and killings continue.

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