Saturday, January 05, 2008

Reminder: The Wire Starts Tomorrow
I previewed season 5 on my blog a few days ago, and just wanted to remind people it will be starting up tomorrow night. This season has gotten FAR more hype than any season previous, and that's probably because it's the only new thing on these days, thanks to the writer's strike. If you're new to the series, I urge you to watch seasons 1-4 before tackling season 5, but if you want to try to watch it on its own, TV Guide suggests you could try, and probably won't be disappointed.

I'm typically not a fan of John Doyle's reviews at the Globe and Mail, but his review of season 5 is right on the money, and has earned my respect. This guy is a true fan. The Toronto Star had a huge 2-page spread on it, and Rob Salem, like so many other critics (myself included) heralds it as the best thing on television.

There will be some controversy in the reviews this season, since the camera is focused on The Baltimore Sun. AP ran a story about David Simon's personal vendetta as the paper, and how it might have coloured his negative portrayal of the paper's administration. The Sun's arts reviewer, David Zurawik, has been a champion of the show since it began, but he gives a different review of the final season. That said, I thought he could have torn a strip off Simon if he wanted to, and still talks about how much he loves the show and what he liked about it this season.

E Online has an article about how they were sick and tired of critics lauding The Wire as the best thing on television -- until they got around to watching it and realized hey, they were right. (Apparently if the show isn't about Britney Spears, it'll take E a few years to get around to watching it.)

I could go on and on, but just google "HBO's The Wire" and click news, and you'll see dozens of reviews.

And there's always an exception. The National Post in Canada lets their theatre critic occasionally dabble in television criticism, and when you read his review of The Wire, you see why that's a problem. I'd link to it, but The Post doesn't put up all of their reviews. Basically, Cushman compared it unfavourably to The Sopranos, and stated that the sad thing about The Wire is that it sacrifices character development to plot (??!!) He says there are no characters on The Wire that inspire the onscreen awe of Paulie Walnuts. Apparently he's never heard of Omar. The best thing about The Wire is the way Simon takes an issue that's a headline-grabber, and makes it personal. We care about everyone on the show, from the corrupt politicians to the drugrunners on the corners to the children of the cops pulling overtime. That statement alone betrays the fact Cushman doesn't watch the show. It was a review clearly written by someone who watched only the first 2 episodes of the screeners (he actually says at one point that at the end of the second episode he couldn't see where they were going with the newsroom plot and wondered if it would get better... maybe he should pop in the next disk to find out??) and hadn't actually seen the first four seasons. He mentions some of the plot from the past seasons, but it's all rewritten from the press package.

Actually, I'm glad I can't link to it, because it's a waste of your time.

Watching The Wire, however, isn't, and I urge everyone to check it out. In Canada, The Wire airs Sundays at 8 p.m. PT on Movie Central and 9 p.m. ET on The Movie Network, beginning January 6th. The Wire airs on HBO in the U.S.


poppedculture said...

What is the "Wire" show of which you speak? You've never mentioned it before, have you? ;)

Anyway, here is a link to that National Post review for people to waste their time on:
A little birdie told me where to find it.

Chris in NF said...

I only just recently watched season one of The Wire, and I am totally a convert. I don't know that I'd agree that it's the best thing on TV (yet! I'll wait and see if seeing more of it changes that opinion), but it's certainly up there with the best of HBO ... which, I think everyone will agree, is pretty prestigious company.

HBO, as far as I'm concern, can do no wrong. Even its "fluff" (i.e. Sex and the City, Entourage) beat the crap out of average network fare. I haven't seen everything yet, unfortunately. Haven't seen Big Love or Curb Your Enthusiasm, for example ... but at the moment I'd rank my HBO top 5 shows as follows:

1. Oz
2. Deadwood and The Wire -- a tie, at least until The Wire shows me its chops in season 2+
3. The Sopranos
4. Rome

Any thoughts?

Nikki Stafford said...

Thanks for the link, Jer!

Chris: Season 1 is excellent, season 2 sort of moves away from the corners and while it's still great, it's my least favourite (though a friend of mine thought it was the best one). Season 3 is amazing, and season 4 will make you wonder where this show has been all your life. :) So I think by season 3 you'll be hooked completely.

My HBO faves:
1. The Wire
2. Six Feet Under
3. Entourage
4. The Sopranos
5. Sex and the City

And then everything else is tied for 6th. :)

Anonymous said...

I loved season one, but it's the only one I've seen (because a friend gave me a copy). I'm hoping that now that it's ending on HBO, it will show up on Showcase.

Jonathan said...

The Wire is the greatest thing on television, hands down, and Season 5 is amazing. Any season that can promote itself by telling fans that the main character is drinking again clearly has character development. I'd complain more about the post's review, but honestly, anyone who takes the Post's entertainment section seriously has likely isn't smart enough to enjoy The Wire.

Chris, I appreciate your post, but how can you put Oz at the top?! Seasons 1-3 were pretty very amazing, then it appears that they ran out of some ideas in season 4, and seasons 5 and 6 were flat out embarassments. The ending of the show could have been written by a 2 year old, and I only watched it until the very end hoping that they were in a rut, but would pull out in the end. To me, they completely failed, and would have been better off if they'd been cancelled after Season 4, leaving us all to think they could have done an amazing job instead of churning out garbage.