Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I worried at a couple points that the third season of The Wire would derail. The scope of this TV novel was sufficiently enormous after season two, and with further additions to an already complicated fictional Baltimore I didn't think they could pull it off. Simon and Burns involve the machinations of the police brass, the mayor's office, and the city council this time around, fleshing out the context of street-level drug operations and police detectives from season one, and the story line never loses its edge despite taking on more bureaucratic themes. Richard Price, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane help add realistic grit.
It's amazing how each of the three seasons is radically different. The first focuses on a loose band of detectives and grunts who try to crack a powerful drug operation, the second focuses on longshoremen and corrupt union officials trying to save a dying local industry by using money from smuggling to bribe politicos, and the third gets more deeply into the politics and corruption while tying up dangling plot lines from the first year. Cha and I are miserable now because Season Four isn't on DVD yet. We'll have to fill in time with Deadwood.
Aside from the great writing, the characters and incredible casting help make this series something special. The gifted but self-destructive Jimmy McNulty; the smooth gangster turned real estate mogul Russell "Stringer" Bell; tough-as-nails and sexy Detective Kima Greggs; the heroine addict and police CI Bubbles; the conflicted and vengeful Deputy Commissioner Rawls--I could go on. My personal favorite character has his shining moment as a righteous Angel of Wrath in season three: