THE WIRE: THE BEST THING EVER FILMED Wednesday 21 September, 2011

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If you haven’t seen this yet, I envy what thrills await you. If you have seen it then you probably know what I mean. If you have seen it and you don’t absolutely adore it then I don’t think we can be friends anymore. Sorry.

You know how the old adage says that the film is never as good as the book? Well this is the programme that not only blows a hole in that sentiment but also chalks an outline around it’s prone form.  This is programme that doesn’t even need the book, it IS the book.

The Wire is a police procedural series like none you’ve ever seen before.  Set in a crumbling Baltimore, The Wire is a love letter to the city which rejoices in it’s warts and beauty marks with the same verve.

Normally there are very clear indicators which allow us as viewers to know who we should be rooting for and who we we should be jeering at when they appear on our screens.  Not here. I’m afraid that here you will need to form your own opinions of the characters by assessing their actions and dialogue. Why is this important though?  Through allowing us to form our allegiances with characters in this fashion the show’s authors allow us to form much more meaningful connections with these characters.  We have to invest to understand and through that investment we are more strongly bonded.

In the majority of TV series we are presented with longer, over arching, storylines which thread through smaller much more manageable stories which are encapsulated within the duration of a single episode. This allows casual viewers to enjoy a single episode without having to watch before or after. This also means that it is more difficult to relate to the characters because our main focus is always on solving whichever disturbance to the equilibrium has cropped up on that particular week.  Not with The Wire. I guess you could say that each of the five series focus on smaller stories but the larger story is so rich here that it really does feel like each episode is a chapter of a very good book.

There are no voice overs or other clever devices to help the audience understand the action.  In this world, much like our own, you have to pay attention to every detail in order to extract as much information as possible.  Which is a real joy for those us who do not have an MTV and tabloid paper diminished attention span.

Normal TV shows often have a score. Music which overlays the action in order to add (the often missing) emotion/tension/drama. Not here. In The Wire the only time you will hear music is if it actually being played in the world in which we are being invited to inhabit. This makes the show feel incredibly realistic.

I have already watched The Wire in it’s entirety 4 times and still details reveal themselves and questions are answered and mysteries solved. It is testament to the level of detail that I am sure that I will still be able to wring more information out if I watch again.

A word of warning though. Most people, myself included, watch the first episode and are hugely underhwelmed.  All the things that make this such an amazing watch demand that you give it at least three or four episodes before making a decision whether to carry on or not.  My younger sister who is currently on her first watch through insists that I should recommend at least seven episodes.  I think the clearest thing here is that you should not expect to fall for The Wire’s charms instantly.  I think we could say it’s like when you meet that person who doesn’t seem to be all that at first and then after a while you realise they are the love of your life.

The Wire will slowly and surely permeate your heart and mind and set up home for many years to come so make room in there and put out the welcome mat.

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