Wednesday, September 24, 2008


What a week!
Firstly The Wire finished its run in the UK on cable channel FX and then Gordon Brown prolonged the Greek tragedy that is his premiership.
Gordon Brown, 'I'm a man for detail', who failed after a decade in the Treasury to notice the small detail that abolishing the 10p tax rate would affect hundreds of thousands of lower paid workers managed to persuade his party into letting him play as Prime Minister for a little while longer. 

The Wire was brilliant television. It was in fact more than just a television show, it was a series of linked stories brought to the small screen and it made the sort of demands a novel makes on its readers. The Wire was almost written like a Dickens and Conan Doyle novel brought into the 21st century with television naturally taking the place of the weekly or monthly magazines of the 19th century. 
We can't attempt to solve the problems of our cities on both sides of the Atlantic if we don't accept that the problems exist in the first place and the Wire showed us all those problems in a very stark in your face manner. The writing was superior to most television which was to be expected if as well as creator David Simon, who is married to Laura Lippman, and Ed Burns, an ex homicide detective and school teacher, you add crime novelists of the pedigree of Richard Price, George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane to the writing team.

With writers like that the plots were always kept fresh and alive as each series concentrated on one particular aspect of life in Baltimore; the politics, the docks, the  schools, the police, and newspapers, while covering the continuing the saga of the fight against the drug gangs. The acting throughout was top notch and although it seems invidious to pick out anyone from such a great ensemble there were   particularly charismatic performances from Andre Royo, as drug addict Bubbles, and Michael K. Williams as the menacing Omar Little.  

Among the numerous sharp quotes throughout the series one has stuck in my mind because it seems so appropriate at the present moment. 

'You know what the trouble is Brucie? We used to make shit in this shit. Now we put out hands in the next guy's pocket.' 
[Frank Sobotka, Polish American union leader in series two.] 

I am going to miss The Wire a lot, but at least I will have more time to read. 


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