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I have now finished all five seasons of The Wire, and all I can really say is that it was brilliant television. It's dramatic, certainly, but in the proper sense of the word - the drama in The Wire builds slowly, and what you think must be cast-iron plot-arcs get undercut brutally with life on the streets' inevitably senseless killings. There were definitely moments in the series where something unexpected happens to a character you really ... are invested in (to say that you 'care' about them might imply an inappropriate idea of fondness), where you go 'Bu.. Wh..?'

Which is good stuff.

But it's really the characters that make this show:

Stringer Bell: second in command of the Barksdale Empire, he's trying to make it as a legit propery developer (the irony seems to escape him), but discovers that trying to escape your past is a tricky thing. And Stringer has a lot of past that wants to catch up with him. There are some glorious moments in S3 between Bell and Avon Barksdale, where it's clear that the two's motivations in life (Avon just lives for the gangster lifestyle) are going to lead to a falling-out.

Jimmy McNulty: doesn't play well with others; McNulty is the homicide detective who kicks the whole series off by going behind his bosses' backs to get a friendly judge to demand that the police investigate Barksdale. McNulty's an 'end-justifies-the-means' kinda guy, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Season 5, where you learn just how far he's prepared to go to get what he wants.

Bunk: rarely seen without his pinstripe suit and chomping on a cigar - he looks even sharper with the fedora, Bunk is real Po-lice, and is something of the voice of conscience in the final season. One of the most memorably scenes in S1 is of Bunk and McNulty checking out a murder scene - the dialogue and interplay between the two just speaks of absolute partnership and skill, although the rational mind suspects that the scriptwriters wrote the scene on a bet.

Lester Freamon: when McNulty's machinations result in the department being tasked with setting up a detail to investigate Barksdale, management elect to staff it with the waste of spaces and cast-offs that litter the place. Freamon is one such person, who's spent the last 13 years (and 4 months) placed in the pawn shop department but, it seems, mainly spinning a lucrative sideline by making dolls' house furniture at his desk. However, there's more to Freamon than meets the eye, and as Daniels says in a later season, Freamon is the Major Crimes Unit. Turns out that Freamon is, indeed, real Po-lice, and that the pawn shop placement was vindictive retribution for upsetting his superiors in an earlier case.

William Rawls: speaking of vindictive superiors, Rawls starts off in S1 as the vindictive commander of the Homicide unit, and man is he gloriously, unrepentently, bullyingly nasty! There's a scene after one of McNulty's colleagues has been shot, and McNulty's taken it very much to heart as being his fault: Rawls' consolation scene is sheer genius, and yet at the same time demonstrates integrity... in a sort of twisted way. Watching Rawls mercilessly tear his subordinates to pieces in the COMSTAT meetings in S4 is also a sort of guilty pleasure of the show.

Rhonda Pearlman: it's a cop show, centred mainly around the drug trade in Baltimore, so there aren't that many female characters. Pearlman is the District Attorney who ends up working a lot of the cases that Major Crimes brings to bear - she has a history with McNulty (and is part of the reason for his divorce), but he's not exactly good to her, but that's mostly back story. Pearlman really comes into her own during S5, although she's an ever-present throughout.

Ziggy Sobotka: in S2, we move to the city docks, to investigate potential corruption/smuggling/trafficking there. Ziggy is the union leader's son, and as is mentioned more than once, 'that boy's not right'. Ziggy's an idiot, and yet remarkably human and vulnerable. S2 had a host of interesting and intriguing characters, and was on the whole a pretty bleak storyline, but the whole would be much less without Zig.

Snoop: like I said, there aren't too many female characters in The Wire, but props to the show for making one of them the absolute stand-out most terrifying person I've ever seen on TV. Snoop is one of Marlo's hench-people, and it's not her skill that makes her scary so much as her complete 'other-worldness'. Chris, her partner, is a classic hard, hard guy, but it's Snoop that scared me, in every single scene that she was in.

Proposition Joe: Avon Barksdale ran East Baltimore. Prop Joe had the West Side; an aging drug-lord, running his empire from an appliance repair shop, Joe comes across as almost gentlemanly, until you get an insight into the control he exerts on operations, and how he has no compunctions about double-crossing people, and getting threats eliminated.

Omar: absolutely freakin' rocks.
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After gingerly walking in through the Snap! Crackle! and Pop! of a thin layer of ice over yesterday's snow dusting, I'm back at the Office (II), and was very much looking forward to warming my gloveless (they went missing over the festive period - must replace. Seriously must) hands opn a mug of boiling water (for I am still coffee-free™), to discover that our 'instant' boiling water machine isn't producing forth vast torrents of instant boiling water... more what you might call lukewarm-ish.

Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly - the beast has been switched off over the Christmas break, and needs some time to get back up to operating temperature. Of course, since we have instant hot water on tap, we don't have a kettle...

I've got some background processes running on the PC which would've been much better run over the Christmas break, but that only occurred to me once I was home, and I'd powered down the work PC, so I couldn't remote desktop in to set things in motion. So that was a bit shortsighted of me, but nothing terminal.

DVD-wise, The Wire continues to prove rivetting viewing - the cinematography in the penultimate episode of S3 (the showdown in the empty house with Omar and Brother Mouzone) is awesome (Omar rocks), whilst in matters literary, Rachel Caine's Carpe Corpus, Morganville VI is looking set to be my first book of 2010 - I'm about half way through at the moment, but keep getting distracted by both The Wire and Assassin's Creed II.
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In what must be a first, the Barclays ATM on Chants only had £5 notes this evening... this is quite remarkable, as the poor fiver is becoming an increasingly rare beastie, seldom spotted in the wild.

Have some picspam: The Grauniad's Iconic Images of the Decade. Some good stuff therein.

I'm currently reading a John Grisham novel - I could tell you the title, but there's not a whole lot of point since they're all essentially the same story, told over and over again. I will say, though, that in painting his protagonists and adversaries, Grisham manages to make Avatar look like a subtle and nuanced film... (So why read it? 'cos it's there, and I do kinda have a soft spot for popcorn legalish thriller stuff)

Still watching The Wire, and I think I'm going to declare it my favourite TV series as of now - it's not as quotable as Firefly, nor as pretty as Heroes. It's not as heartwarming as The West Wing, nor as sexy as True Blood... but it has a subtle, understated quality with excellent acting and genuinely complex storylines. So if you were wondering, yes, it is that good.
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Am ploughing through S2 of The Wire at the moment, and it continues to be excellent, in an understated, considered sort of fashion. It has none of the glossy sheen that marks things like Flash Forward, Lost and Heroes, but what sets it really apart is the depth of the characterisations.

Also, Bunk is DA MAN! He is awesome, and looking exceptionally sharp in his suit/hat/cigar combo :D

After the first season's escapades, McNulty has wound up patrolling the docks on the police boat, and S2 concentrates mainly on dockside action. But we're still keeping up to date with Barksdale's empire over at the Towers, and office politics within the police continue to have a key role in how things play out.

So, yes, definitely good stuff - I'm about half way through S2, future updates as and when.
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Quick update whilst I transfer The Wire 1x13 to a USB drive to watch on the XBox (yes, I could just as easily watch it on the PC, but I prefer the XBox, and it's the one with sound, which is obviously beneficial).

Out walking Mali on the ice this morning, and was pulled flying to land hard in the middle of the road. Predictably, there was a wide and varied audience, and it grieves me to confess that a car stopped to enquire after my health in the aftermath.

Me, I was fine - light bruising to hand, more bruising to ego. Ah well.

Have read Morganville IV, moved swiftly on to Morganville V. P and I went to see Avatar, review to follow tomorrow, methinks. Will note that there were trailers for Percy Jackson and Alice in Wonderland, and a great big display in the foyer for Sherlock Holmes, along with the trailer, which suddenly made me slightly more warmly disposed to the concept...

Am spending this evening finishing off Season 1 of The Wire, which is excellent.
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It's 3pm and it's dark out there - and wet, too :-/

P & I have just returned from a mission to a deli in Beverley where I'd ordered a Christmas hamper for the parental units. Long-term readers may suspect that I'm singularly ill-equipped to judge the quality of a foodie's hamper as a present... and they'd be right, but I figure even if I have, by some stroke of misfortune, managed to duplicate existing beverages and/or consumables in the parental abode, they'll still get used eventually, right? And it looks impressive. Have also got some DVDs and books for them, so I think I'll be calling it a day/week/month/year on present buying on that front, at least.

Comradette K got me into the Morganville Vampires books by Rachel Caine by lending me the first two instalments. I, in turn, suggested to [personal profile] cynthia_black that [personal profile] aki_itsuki might enjoy them, given her prediliction for things vampish, and it so happens that she's now reading them faster than I am. Which means that book 3 has been borrowed from Grimmauld Place, rather than Comradette K's library shelves. 's all good, either way: actually, Book III is proving to be quite fun (it's notable that both Oliver and Monica have both commented to Claire that she's now a proper player in Morganville, as a consequence of her derrings do in tomes previous), and is more than compensating for the suspicion that Book 2 didn't quite have the same 'zing' about it as the opener).

I started a new gamer profile on the 360 - RedDogFever (you have to pick a unique gamer tag, and I chose that because, hey, what were the odds of it already having been claimed? Absolutely), and have thus set about building up my gamer score through the noble art of Achievement Hunting on Braid and Geometry Wars, principally. We've also picked up Defense Grid, a Tower Defen(c/s)e game that's rather addictive, although the achievements on offer in that look as though they're going to take a lot of playing hours. The 'proper' discs at Castle Fox (the aforementioned all being XBox Live Arcade titles downloaded to the hard disk) are Forza 3 and Assassin's Creed II. I've made a start on the former, but I think it's the latter that's going to be taking up my evenings when I'm not Wired.

Speaking of The Wire, the h264 rip of 1x01, courtesy of Badaboom player rather nicely (albeit with a 'watermark' bottom left that I'm hoping the full version dispenses with). What was more noticable, though, was that I was able to understand a little more of the witness speech when he was talking to McNulty in the opening scene...

And finally, I got my hair cut yesterday.

The Wire

Dec. 10th, 2009 01:32 pm
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I'm about eight episodes into Season 1 of The Wire right now, which is proving to be pretty good, although sometimes I struggle to remember all the characters' names, and trying to keep up to speed when the characters are all conversing in street-parlance does require a fair bit of concentration.

Baltimore is portrayed as gritty and seedy, and the cops themselves aren't exactly angels throughout the piece. The interplay between McNulty and Bunk (particularly their conversation when they're scoping out the scene of a long-dormant murder case) is wonderful, and Herc and Carver are a cool kinda team. I like Lester and Bubbs, haven't quite worked out how I feel about D'Angelo just yet.


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