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"The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

How can cultural elitists like ourselves put TV in the Culture category? Well, where the hell else is it going to fit?

"The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:09 pm

I continue to be baffled by all the attention this new reality show is getting, with little attention paid to the fact that it's on a fourth-rate cable network nobody watches (Fox Reality).

Meanwhile, I came to The Wire late and just finished watching Season 4 on DVD. It might be the best television ever produced. The plots, characters, dialogue, visuals and production are all arresting (no pun intended). To think that some TV writers referred to it as a "cop show," as though it's lumped in with NYPD Blue or CSI: Miami.

I'm trying to recall reading anything about The Wire in the popular press before it was nearly off the air, when critics started falling all over each other to praise it.

So, this meaningless, horribly exploitative series on Fox Reality becomes the subject of every talk show, TV column and blog, but The Wire was essentially ignored during its five year run. Quite a case for what Ned calls the LSM, huh?
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:46 pm

I caught the Wire on HBO beginning in Season Two after watching Season One on Netflix, and watched it all the way through the finale last year. Its the best TV show of the era by far. Critics always loved it, its just that the public never really caught on, and neither did Emmy voters (as moronic as Oscars and Grammy voters). Shows like the Wire (and the reality show you juxtapose) are one major reason why I often argue with individuals who discount television as an artistic medium. Its like great fiction, film, or music. Its out there, you just have to know where to look.

His Iraq War miniseries from 2008 was pretty good too, but not nearly as good as the Wire.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby depinmad » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:25 pm

i started watching the wire episode one season one. i'm cool like that.
the annoying thing about the critical and fan praise that came with people catching on late was this rap about the show getting better with each season.
bullshit, season one is as good as tv gets... the cool thing about the wire is that it kept that quality up through it's whole run.

as far as it not getting nominated for emmys, that was a bad joke... but really the show should have won a pulitzer not an emmy.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby TAsunder » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:38 pm

It did get nominated for emmy awards here and there. Outstanding writing at least twice. The whole emmy process is pretty stupid and involves sending in sample episodes and other tomfoolery. The Wire never stood a real chance for major awards because of this.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:38 pm

Or a Peabody award. South Park and Brotherhood have won Peabody's. Both deserving, but not as deserving as The Wire.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:41 pm

depinmad wrote:season one is as good as tv gets


I'm not sure I agree with you. I loved season one, but I think season four was insanely great, due mostly to the social criticism it contained and the ability to tell a great story right along with it.

I read Simon's "Homicide" right out of college at a friend's insistence and thought it was one of the coolest books ever. I'm thinking about reading it again. If you like The Wire, check it out.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby TAsunder » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:43 pm

The Wire has already won a Peabody. It won one in 2003.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby depinmad » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:48 pm

jjoyce wrote:
depinmad wrote:season one is as good as tv gets


I'm not sure I agree with you. I loved season one, but I think season four was insanely great, due mostly to the social criticism it contained and the ability to tell a great story right along with it.

I read Simon's "Homicide" right out of college at a friend's insistence and thought it was one of the coolest books ever. I'm thinking about reading it again. If you like The Wire, check it out.



yeah you're right, social criticism and the ability to tell a great story weren't hallmarks of the wire until season four.

simon's homicide? thanks for the tip.
i've got one for you... i read this book in high school, catcher in the rye, by jd salinger. not too many people know it, but word to the wise, check it out...
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:01 pm

TAsunder wrote:The Wire has already won a Peabody. It won one in 2003.


Nice
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:28 pm

I see. I wasn't aware this was one of THOSE conversations.

No, the social criticism in Season Four is above and beyond what you see in the previous chapters, mainly because it looks beyond the criminal justice system and war on drugs to encompass education. Most producers want nothing to do with the subject because of how complicated it is. Not only that, but consider the case Simon had to make to HBO for them to let him drag education reform into his compelling cops and drug lords drama.

In 4, Simon and Burns are making even more of a political statement about Bush -- No Child Left Behind in particular -- than they had previously made about even drugs and cops in previous years. Plus, it's not preachy. Instead, the actual story of what happens in the middle school is a classic case of show-don't-tell. It requires people with specifically the rare experience that Ed Burns brings, a cop turned teacher who, himself, drew the stoop kids vs. corner kids comparison made by Bunny Colvin at his own school.

As for "Homicide," maybe you're well acquainted, but I constantly recommend it to people who were huge fans of the TV show of the same name who are unaware the book exists. Same goes for people with whom I discuss The Wire. Hell, I know a lot of people who are unaware of all of them.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby TAsunder » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:54 pm

I liked season 4 the most, but mostly because I just really liked the new characters they introduced. According to wikipedia, Season 4 was the best rated TV season of all time (or was) on metacritic so it would seem you are not alone in thinking it was the best season, jjoyce.

As for your reasons... all of the seasons looked beyond the criminal justice system and war on drugs. There have always been politics and other elements. Season 2 was also largely about the working class. Sheeeeeeeiiiiit, the entire series was created as a "tv novel" about the american city and, in Simon's words, was meant to "pick a fight" about various topics.

Season 3 was deeply entrenched in the political system and was thematically about reform in various institutions (politics, police, drugs, rehab, etc). Lots of insight into real estate and other things. I think that was a much more lofty fight to pick than the education system. It certainly made me rethink how things operate here in Madison.

As far as NCLB, it seems pretty well known, at least among people I know, that NCLB is a smelly piece of crap that may one day destroy public education as we know it.
Last edited by TAsunder on Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:10 pm

Since only teachers seem to read Jonathan Kozol, it's good to see that the general population is seeing the effects of Savage Inequities.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby boston_jeff » Wed Jan 07, 2009 5:21 pm

If you like the Wire and Sopranos, I recommend Brotherhood. No, its nowhere near as original as either of the two, but its very good nonetheless. Combines the city and state government aspect of the Wire with the mob aspect of the Sopranos. I also enjoy it because its set/shot in Providence and the actors do a decent accent (even the British guys).

The golden boy brother as state rep and the black sheep brother as mobbed up psychopath nicely mirrors the Bulger brothers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Bulger
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitey_Bulger
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby harrissimo » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:54 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQbsnSVM1zM

This is a link to the best scene ever made for a TV Show. And one of the best scenes ever period. The dialog is genius.

It doesn't get any better than The Wire.
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Re: "The Wire" vs "Smile, You're Under Arrest"

Postby Walter » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:39 am

If you liked Homicide and the Wire, another David Simon book to read is "The Corner". The inside lowdown on selling dope on the street in Baltimore. It's brilliant.

And try "Homicide Special" by Miles Corwin, too.
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