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Eve's Marathon Diary: The Many Turtlenecks Of D'Angelo Barksdale

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I am so glad you're doing this! I just started watching this series over the holidays too, I'm on the latter half of the first season.  How often do you think you'll check in here? I don't want to fall behind your pace! 

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Thrilled to see this marathon diary! I just finished (well, almost - I just have the series finale left) watching the show over the holidays, I'll be curious to see another newbie's take on things.

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So, yes, it's safe to say that, almost thirteen years later, at least at this point, The Wire still feels painfully current. That, and the roundly (so far) remarkable performances are helping me over the hackier bits. The good news is that I'm not screwed. The bad news is that, by the looks of things, everyone on The Wire is.

 

Awesome.  I'm really looking forward to reading the rest.

 

I know a lot of people who still haven't watched The Wire.  Maybe I just know a lot of people who didn't pay for cable back then and would never think about buying dvds.

 

All the episode threads that exist have been started in the past few months, so newbies, please head on over there!

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I re-watched after Christmas, starting a 4 or 5 episodes into Season 1, and am very glad to experience it fresh with new viewers. Glad you reminded me of how the incident with Prez happened. Really fun reading your comments about the characters, looking forward to what is to come.

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The bad news: it didn't occur to me until after the pitch was accepted that if I hated the show, I was screwed.

That will teach you to give a fuck when it ain't your turn to give a fuck

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I just finished my first viewing of this show as well.  Against my better judgment, I was binging pretty hard through it, even watching episodes at work during downtime (I think it's better to space out viewings of a show, especially a show like this).  It actually did take me a while to watch the entire series... I'd watched the first couple of episodes a couple of years ago and didn't find myself captivated enough to continue, though I can't say there was anything bad about it.  I eventually got through the first season, and appreciated it, but I still wasn't that captivated and can't say I understood what all the fuss was about.  It was another few months before I picked up with the second season, and by about the second episode, something clicked... I don't know exactly what it was... maybe I was more ready to get back into a cop show (I watched the first season after watching "The Shield" and may have been "copped" out)... but I really got into it and finished the rest of the series in about three weeks.  I also think I just was more and more captivated and enamored by the show the more subplots, aspects of the Baltimore scene and characters they introduced.  That's what stands out as the most remarkable thing about the show.  The broad scope never feels meandering... there weren't any weak subplots and there was a consistent, focused connection between all of them, as many as there were.

 

After having finished Breaking Bad last year as it aired, I've now watched several of the key modern crime shows that end up on "greatest" type lists... The Sopranos, The Shield and The Wire.  I absolutely loved Breaking Bad, it's my favorite show of all time.  Of those shows, though I liked them all a lot, only The Wire I'd put in such hallowed territory.  And really, the things that were wonderful about Breaking Bad and The Wire are not the same, and neither show aspired to the other show's strengths, so I don't see much use in comparing the two.  They are both absolutely great.

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I finished watching Season 1 this weekend.  I heard so much about this show and decided to check it out.  It's an excellent show with great characters, but it's not the greatest drama of all time as so many critics claim.  I would give that title to Breaking Bad.   The Wire is definitely a solid "A" show.  So many great, well-written characters.

 

I watched the first episode of season 2 last night and I'm not liking the story about the docks or the new characters.  I'm hoping it gets better in subsequent episodes.

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I would give that title to Breaking Bad.  

 

It's a close call for me, between these two shows.  Breaking Bad loses a few points because of some of the more improbable coincidences -- a lack of realism.  But the shows had different goals.  The Wire was the story of a city, and BB the story of one man.  Both were plenty ambitious and succeeded more often than they failed.  But I held my breath and was on the edge of my seat more often on BB than on The Wire. 

 

The one really improbable sequence on The Wire

Omar jumping from that balcony and surviving

was based on something that really happened.

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Agreed with AuntiePam. Breaking Bad is fantastic in the portrayals of Walt and Jesse, and those characters and the performances of Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul do such a great job that it's easy to forgive the faults of that series. In my opinion, the driving plot of The Wire is somehow both more complex and more believable. Don't get me wrong, Walter White is probably the best character and best performance out of both shows. But after the watching the whole run of both, The Wire is the more complex and more rewarding experience of the two (in my opinion,).

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To me The Wire was always about the story. The great characters were just a bonus -- they could have dropped McNulty and the show wouldn't have skipped a beat. The violence was never gratuitous even when it was shocking. 

 

I agree that Breaking Bad was about one central character. At first that was perfect. I thought Walter White was the most fascinating character on television in the first season. I really felt that I was looking into the desperate mind of a broken man. Viewers wanted action, not intriguing characters, so they quickly moved him into his drug king persona and he became much less interesting. Stories became a series of exciting close calls and convenient coincidences with Walt always benefiting in the end. They also cranked the gratuitous violence to the max. After Gus slashed a guy's throat wide open, a bunch of viewers were all "Dude! Whoa! That was awesome!!!" Definitely not the same audience as The Wire.

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Personally I feel no need to make it into an "either or proposition" with BB and The Wire.  No need to knock one to prop up the other... they are both good enough on their own merits they don't need that.  As I mentioned, Breaking Bad and the The Wire have completely different ambitions.  The Wire is more realistic, yes, because it wants to be.  Breaking Bad on the other hand, wants to be a modern, Sergio Leone style Western, and it succeeds at being exactly that... it is in many ways the most visually dynamic television series ever produced.  It doesn't make any more sense to knock The Wire for it's subdued visual style when clearly, the stylishness would not have suited the content.   

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I just started a re-watch (I think it's my 4th or 5th?) and am about halfway through Season 2. 

 

I do have to say for newbies: you cannot really even begin to agree/disagree with the critics/viewers who call this the best show of all time until you have seen Seasons 1-4 in their entirety. It is the sum total of those seasons that lead everyone to those superlatives. (And of course everyone will have their own opinion and they will vary -- but just throwing out a suggestion to those who are partway through and thinking, "Well, this is good, but why all the BEST EVER comments?")

 

(Season 5 is fine. It's just not great or necessary.)

 

I will say that on this viewing, Season 1 was not as great as I remember it. I think the last 4 episodes of the season are phenomenal television, but it took longer than I remember to find its way. I think the fondness is more about the ground it laid for stories that were so brilliantly told later on.

 

It cracked me up that in S1 there are actually flashbacks and slow motion scenes set to cool music. That's so anti-The Wire!

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It cracked me up that in S1 there are actually flashbacks and slow motion scenes set to cool music. That's so anti-The Wire!

 

David Simon said in an interview or DVD commentary, can't remember which, that he really didn't want to do the flashback, but they were afraid that people wouldn't remember who Gant was.  I loved that slo-mo scene but I'm glad they only did it once. 

I notice that they didn't do a flashback when the female security guard was killed -- the woman who lied on the stand and said Dee didn't kill that guy. "It wasn't him. It was the other man, looked like him, but it wasn't him."

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David Simon said in an interview or DVD commentary, can't remember which, that he really didn't want to do the flashback, but they were afraid that people wouldn't remember who Gant was. 

I heard that, too. It's just funny to me, though, since even as soon as the next episode, there are TONS of details people wouldn't catch but Simon's attitude from that point on was basically, "Screw 'em, they'll put the pieces together eventually!" which I loved. (It's probably also why four years went by between the time I first watched Season 1 and then decided, yes, it's worth it, I'm going to start over and go all the way through. But what a payoff!)

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To me The Wire was always about the story. The great characters were just a bonus -- they could have dropped McNulty and the show wouldn't have skipped a beat.

 

And in fact they did drop him (more or less) for a season, which gives it a pretty unique standing in the pantheon of great dramas. I can't think of any other example of a great show that was able to sideline its lead character for a whole season and not miss a beat.

Edited by alynch
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