Monday, November 12, 2007

A class act

This week I finally got round to watching the first series of "The Wire".
Once I'd decided that the only way I was going to make sure I didn't miss anything was by watching it with the sub-titles on, I found it the most absorbing TV I'd watched in a while.
Once you've accepted its liberating thesis that drug dealers are people too, you start to see how the narcotic economy functions. The dealers run the tower blocks ('though the men at the top make sure they are never caught in the same room as either the dope or the money and the people at the retail end are all kids) whence they remove tens of thousands of dollars every day, most of which comes straight from the government in welfare checks, and then launder it through legit businesses. It's the biggest inadvertent government subsidy in history.
And then there's the acting, which is uniformly marvellous, all the more so when you take into account that the men in this scene, Dominic West and Idris Elba, are both British.


  1. I finally cracked earlier in the year. It was one of those things that because everyone insisted it would be marvellous I worried it may not live up to expectations.

    But one viewing and I was hooked. Three series later and I'm gagging for series 4. Watching it on DVD is the best way to watch, as it's so complex. And subtitles are the way to go.

    Happy viewing.

  2. I began series one last weekend, in the wake of The Sopranos. Now I'm as addicted as Bubbles.
    Like The Sopranos, The Wire doesn't try to give me neat, enclosed stories which would distract from the bigger tale. Also like The Sopranos, my intelligence as a viewer is challenged rather than insulted.
    I had no idea those two were British though.

  3. I only realised McNulty was British when I was channel hopping the other night and saw him on the Catherine Tate Show. Had no idea Stringer was British to though.

    They have been repeating them all from the Beginning on FX. I am just into the second series. Which is as phenomenal as the first.

  4. Anonymous8:21 am

    I love the irony of Brits needing subtitles to watch British actors speaking in American accents.

    We did exactly the same!

  5. Stringer, played by Idris Elba from Hackney, used to be in Channel Five soap Family Affairs. He played Tim. This means I have written dialogue for him and he's said it, on the telly. Anyway, the reason I write is to report that American Gangster, the new Ridley Scott film, may be the first post-Wire Hollywood blockbuster. It even has Idris Elba in it. (More people will see this film than ever saw The Wire, but that's the way it has to be.)

  6. Anonymous10:08 pm

    I found you only needed subtitles in the first few episodes. Once you get into the nuances of the accents and the rhythms of the speech they weren't needed (except for the odd scene when we'd ask each other what had been said).

  7. Anonymous10:07 pm

    It's such a cliché, but The Wire is the best thing on the telly. Treating the audience as being able to handle the sort of extended storyline that one would find in something like, say, a book is a huge plus in its favour...