Thursday, April 02, 2009

today : still wired

Now the secret's out and everyone is declaring The Wire as the greatest TV show ever made (TM) it's hard to review it. If you agree with the evangelists then you are just going along with all the critical tossers who jump on any bandwagon. If you disagree then it appears wilfully contrary.

The truth is that over 5 seasons the Wire was superb. This was mainly because it used the TV format properly, realising that everything doesn't need to be explained and tied up by the end of an episode (this is the reason that I donlt like CSI - there is far too much basic explanation for audiences that don't/can't pay attention), and that effectively they are telling a 60 hour story, rather than 60 hour long stories.

This is why people are evoking Dickens, in that The Wire is quite happy to switch through a tremendous amount of characters and places to build up a multi-facted and complex portrait of a city. It's a pretty lazy comparison (maybe Ulysses is a closer model), although the writing does follow the rules of the novel rather than the rules of TV. The writers are also happy to spend hardly any time at all explaining things that have already been shown, or recapping things on the assumption that people have the attention span of a fruit fly.

This does not mean that The Wire is without flaws. Seaon 5, for example, was pretty odd plotwise and only the goodwill from watching the previous 4 seasons allowed me to forgive the bizarre contrivance of McNulty's 'scheme', or the fact that we were suddenly introduced to the staff of the paper and not given enough time to get to know them.

However, it is a measure of quality that there were no episodes that were bad, or plot turns that were fatal to the over-all effect. How many episodes of the Sopranos were forgettable or unwatchable? I can think of maybe three out of 150 or so West Wings that were poor or indulgent.

No comments:

Post a Comment