Newest Review: ... extremely well but who messes up the rest of his life. West is extremely good as McNulty, he is convincing both as a drunken mess and as a... more
Hated it ... didn't mind it ... love it
The Wire : Complete HBO Season 1 (DVD)
Member Name: best_deal_hunter
The Wire : Complete HBO Season 1 (DVD)
Advantages: Great writing, great acting, 'gritty reality'
Disadvantages: Sheer quantity of bad language
First a caveat : this is going to be a very 'personal opinion' review.
I will give a very brief overview of what The Wire is all about, but to be perfectly honest, if you want to know more about the actual series I would point you in the direction of an outstanding (crowned) review on here by mcicp19. There's no way I can write a review close to that so I'm not going to try - not being lazy (honest!), just acknowledging a fact!
What I am going to do is come at this from a different angle and try to explain how I changed from someone who hated this show to someone who loves it. This may at least convince anyone who's watched a couple of episodes and given up on it to give it another try.
We actually rented this season one dvd at a time from LoveFilm - my husband had heard all the rave reviews and was keen to see it, but we weren't sure enough to go and buy a box set. I would recommend this way of doing it if you're not sure you will like it.
The 'very brief overview' I promised :
This series is set in Baltimore. Its focus is the huge drug operation run in the 'projects' by local drug lord Avon Barksdale and the efforts of 'real police' Jimmy McNulty and his team to break the ring and get to the source of the money. Corruption is, naturally, rife. McNulty is the 'maverick cop' character - well, every cop show needs one of those! As the name suggests, much of the policing is done by use of a wire tap. The show has been widely praised for its gritty reality - often referred to as the best show on TV.
Why didn't I like it?
Gritty reality is all well and good, but I found the first episodes dark, depressing and seedy. The interminable foul language was quite wearing and I was getting very confused by the plots and working out who the characters were - partly because I was having difficulty understanding what they were saying. We kept having to stop and rewind bits if we lost concentration. After the first dvd (2 episodes) I was all set to stop there, but we decided to get the next one just to see what happened next ...
So what changed?
The main thing was the best piece of advice ever - someone suggested watching it with the subtitles on. Wow! Suddenly I could make sense of what was being said - and realised that sometimes I didn't understand just because I didn't understand the ghetto slang, it wasn't always because I hadn't heard properly. I began to get more immune to the bad language - must admit I'm still not keen, but at least there's a reason for it - that old gritty reality again. The characters developed and the overall plot began to come together, and I found myself much less reluctant to get the next dvd ...
Why do I love it now?
It's still dark, depressing and seedy - but extremely well written and acted. The characters are real people and you start to care about their lives. McNulty is a flawed hero - his personal life is a bit of a mess and his career does not exactly run smoothly, but he has a big heart and a passion to see justice done. The drug dealers are not cartoon villains - yes in many ways they are cold and heartless about what they are doing, but there are flashes of humanity where higher moral values show through. All the kind of ingredients which draw you in ...
Rather than each episode being a complete standalone story, the series is a 'big picture' story so each episode is building the drama up to the climax - which of course means that once you start to get involved with the characters and care what happens to them, you want to see how the story pans out.
I know many people love this show right from the off - for me it has been more like one of those books which are hard to get into, but after a bit of perseverance suddenly becomes a page-turner. I still wouldn't concur with the 'best thing on TV' brigade, but I am hooked.
Summary: Ultimately has characters you care about and stories you want to know the end of