30 March, 2009

Preview: "The Wire"


The Wire is the greatest television drama of all time and begins its free-to-air UK début tonight. It will be stripped across the week on BBC2.


I prefer drama that is complex, truthful, emotional, treats me like an adult and says something about the world, so The Wire is perfect for me. It's never preachy or judgemental and always entertaining. If 'entertaining' is the right word. Sure it's often funny but it's also often scary: the kind of fear you get when characters you care about are put in danger.


Co-creator David Simon wrote the source book for Homicide - Life on the Streets and eventually became an Emmy winning screenwriter on the show. Interestingly, the other writers on The Wire come from books too. Which was more than a little annoying as it destroyed my "novelists make crap screenwriters theory" and I really, really liked that theory.


The series had relatively low ratings on HBO but it got re-commissioned each year due to the sheer quality, universal critical acclaim and the increased significance of DVD box-setting.

The show isn't for everyone. Just as ordinary television is called chewing gum for the eyes, The Wire is a five course meal requiring the savouring of every last morsel and that takes a bit more effort. I never watched it live but taped it as there's so much going on, and I didn't want to miss a word.



The Wire,
BBC2, Mondays - Fridays, 11:20pm


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David Simon interview
28 March 2009, The Guardian

"
The key principle of Simon's storytelling was encapsulated in a remark that caused raised eyebrows when he uttered it, late last year, on BBC2's Culture Show: "Fuck the average casual viewer."

When you want to write the truth, Simon argues, writing for those who know nothing sets the bar too low. "

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"Tapping the Wire", Charlie Brooker's introduction to the show is at FX and at YouTube (Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 )

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The Guardian article (February 2007)

The Observer article (February 2007)

David Simon, Slate interview (December 2006)

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HBO site

FX micro-site

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Pilot script (via Lee)

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8 comments:

terraling said...

Have you read the bible for the show? For a prospective writer it is scarily, intimidatingly, good.

Robin Kelly said...

Yes, it is impressive. It's available at Lee's, if anyone else wants to have a look.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe it's on after Newsnight, they did the same thing with Arrested Development and the Sopranos. It really pisses me off that these shows don't get the audience they deserve when they don't put them on during primetime. But there's always room for crap like Desperate Sodding Housewives.

Robin Kelly said...

I don't mind the after Newsnight thing too much as even slightly intelligent British shows struggle in primetime.

However it's been scheduled primarily for people with PVRs (and with plenty of spare space on them).

For those without a PVR, once a week at that time isn't too bad but every night for a few months requires some commitment and planning and stamina.

Anonymous said...

In other words you're better off just buying/renting/borrowing/stealing the dvds and watch at your own leisure :)

Anonymous said...

Although without sounding like a total whinger... thanks for the great writeup as usual and excellent blog in general.

Robin Kelly said...

Thanks Ano

Anonymous said...

Just one correction, the Guardian misquoted David Simon (from the excellent Culture Show interview). It's not "Fuck the average viewer", it's "Fuck the casual viewer". Big difference, I think. David Simon doesn't have contempt for his audience, he just demands commitment!