The Wire – Season 1

March 23, 2011

After much stalling and waiting, I’ve started to watch The Wire.  I consider Homicide: Life on the Streets the pinnacle of US television, so I have no idea why it took me so long to watch its creative and spiritual brother.  Why did I deprive myself?!

How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways:

  1. The casting.  No big names to jar me from the characterization.  Omar is Omar, not Denzel.  Phelan is Phelan, not DeNiro.  And I appreciate the lack of whitewashing – the cast is dominated by African-Americans as it should be.
  2. The characters have multiple dimensions, so much so that I can enjoy watching a character without liking them.
  3. I love spotting the Homicide actor cameos.
  4. Nothing is tidy – not the city, the offices, their appearances, the money, the politics, or the storylines.
  5. Stringer and Avon are like Luther Mahoney (my favorite character from Homicide) but magnified tenfold.
  6. Wey-Bee has fish and he’s named them.
  7. I love Omar is the baddest man of all – and he doesn’t curse.  Or target innocents.  And just happens to be gay.
  8. My heart breaks watching Bubbs and his struggles.
  9. I’m startled and surprised by the plot developments – it’s not fait accompli.  I don’t know if the good guys win or if the redemption will be achieved.
  10. That said, there is a sense of American tragedy that permeates the storyline, at least through the first season that I’ve seen.  No matter what actions the characters take or plans they make, something unseen conspires against them.

You can find all sorts of cool insight and extras at HBO’s site but I’ve refrained from delving too deep.  Just like a favorite meal, I cannot wait for more of The Wire but ultimately I know it will end.  I want to savor it while I can.

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Downton Abbey

February 16, 2011

I am a happily married man which means that I have learned to balance my television habits.  It can’t be reruns of Knight Rider and Cop Rock every night apparently.

So in the spirit of fair and balanced television viewing, the Missus and I sat down to watch Downton Abbey.  Originally broadcast on Britain’s ITV and run on PBS in States, the miniseries had the potential of being another stuffy period piece where not much happens to much critical acclaim.

But that’s not true.  It was good.  Really good.  Interesting storyline but even better characters and secondary plot lines.  While I found myself concerned about the future of Downton Abbey (the family estate) and Lady Mary, I was much more interested in the hidden past of Mr. Bates, the career aspirations of Gwen, and pure nastiness of Thomas and O’Brien.  I’m a firmer believer that the hallmark of a good story is the depth and strength of the “supporting” characters.

Lady Sybil

I also harbor not-so-secret crushes on Jessica Brown-Findlay and the ever-charming Elizabeth McGovern.

So despite the overwhelming lack of car crashes, forensic sciences, and gratuitous nudity, it is possible for an American male to watch AND enjoy a British period piece miniseries.

If you want to discretely check it out without ruining your beer-swilling, pro-wrassling fan credentials, you can see more here.