Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dan Fitts, don't read this.

I just watched the final episode of The Wire the other night. Took me a couple days to recover enough to write about it. In fact, this post isn't going to do it justice.
I can say, as someone with 40 solid years of TV watching under my belt, that The Wire is the finest show that I have ever watched.
I won't give away any plot points here -- for Dan and the rest of you that may not have seen the entire series, but plan to.
The show was flawless. No, it's not just about drug dealers. No, it's not just about cops. And the final season -- no, it's not just about the Baltimore Sun.
The acting is fantastic. A lot of the actors are "real people" from Baltimore and it lends the show an authenticity no other show has. The scripts are fantastic. The two creators, David Simon, a former Sun employee and Ed Burns, a former Baltimore cop and school teacher know their stuff.
But the greatest thing about the show is its depth. When the first season begins, it seems like just another cops and drugs show. By the end of that season, it's obvious things are more complicated than that. There are bad people, there are good people. There's corruption, there's hope. Not just on the streets and the cop shop, but in City Hall, the courts, the schools and in the fifth season, the newsroom.
I would argue the biggest villian of the whole series is the weasly mayor of Baltimore -- SPOILER ALERT -- not the first mayor, who was what he was and everyone knew it. But the second one. The weasly white guy who promised he wasn't like all the others while single-handedly running the city into the ground on the back of his gubernatorial hopes.
In the end, the show is positively Shakesperian. A modern-day Shakespeare, 70-hour play.
Why didn't it get the recognition from Hollywood that it should have?
Who knows?
Speculation is because it took place in Baltimore, was created by a couple of Baltimore guys and had a cast that was about 75 percent black might have had something to do with it.
That's a shame. Because I firmly believe if everyone in America were to watch this show -- and get it -- we would understand what the problems really are and maybe make some progress towards fixing them.
In fact, I've been told that it's Barack Obama's favorite show. That's a good start.

P.S. For all you newsies out there -- the fifth season, which concentrates on the Baltimore Sun is the best portrayal of inside newspapering that I've ever seen on TV or in movies. And there's one scene in the last episode, where the city editor (Clark Johnson, above photo, in a pitch-perfect performance) is saying goodbye to a reporter who has been farmed out to a bureau that for anyone who works for a paper and is already nostalgic about an industry that's no longer there, is hearbreaking. No big melodrama or anything, just one simple scene from the heart about what it means to be a journalist.

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