The Wire -- all seasons discussion thread with OPEN SPOILERS

Zeldar and I have been watching/rewatching The Wire, aka The Best TV Series Ever, and wondered if there might be some interest in a general discussion thread.

I know I still have questions, even after watching several times. I also know that I could go to Wiki or other sites and probably find answers, but I’d prefer something more interactive. :slight_smile:

If any Dopers are new to the series and would prefer a season-by-season discussion, with spoiler boxes, we could do that too. The problem with that (for me) is that it’s hard to remember what happened in what episodes, and spoilers might happen.

Here goes, mostly about S2 because that’s the season I most recently watched:

In S2, Agent Fitzhugh’s communications about the Greeks were flagged by Agent Koutris, who would alert the Greeks. At first I thought Koutris was dirty, but it turned out that the Greeks were “assets” to Homeland Security, and apparently their crimes were to be ignored. Prostitution, smuggling, drugs, murder – the government shut its eyes to all that. Is that likely? My only nitpick about all five seasons was that Koutris was so conveniently near his computer at just the right moment.

Something that I watched for was the change in the relationship between Avon and Stringer. One sign of the change was how they put their fists up on the glass, when Stringer visited Avon in prison. At first it was automatic, and they did it at the same time. Then, after they had a disagreement about Stringer wanting to partner with Prop Joe, Stringer put his fist up and Avon waited a few beats and then he did it, but it was perfunctory.

Another thing I’ve never been sure of was how Avon felt about his nephew, D’Angelo, after they both went to prison. I saw small signals that made me think Avon wanted to be rid of him. There’s a scene between Avon and Stringer where Avon says he’s been “more than fair” to D’Angelo. A look passes between them, and I think Stringer interpreted that comment as “Won’t someone rid me of this pesky nephew” (like Becket). Even if Avon didn’t mean it that way, I think that’s how Stringer interpreted it. It was something Stringer wanted to do – get rid of D’Angelo – so he took it as permission. And D being family, Avon couldn’t bring himself to give a direct order. I haven’t rewatched the scene in S3 where Stringer admits his role in D’s death, so maybe I’ll change my mind. How did you guys interpret that? Was Avon okay with D’s death but upset that Stringer did it without permission?

I’m rewatching S3 now, where the focus is on politics (Carcetti’s run for mayor) and Bunny Colvin’s Hamsterdam project. We’re introduced to Brother Mouzone and to Marlo, and Bernard and his lovely girlfriend Squeak. “Can I go to jail now?” :smiley:

What’s everybody’s favorite season? Favorite characters? Outstanding moments? Nitpicks – stuff they got wrong?

I don’t think Avon knew Stringer killed his nephew until Stringer told him. Avon seemed to think it was a suicide. Avon seemed really close to his sister, so even if he wanted to kill D, he didn’t because of that relationship.

I rank the seasons thusly: 1,4,3,2,5. I rank five the lowest because I thought the B’more Sun brass were more cartoonish and “evil” than any of the drug dealers. Also, I didn’t buy McNutty’s fabrication of a serial killer. All he had to do was go to the press and say “they are dropping the investigation into the rowhouse murders” and that would have been enough to get the case back on track (remember, they pulled 20+ bodies out of the rowhouses).

Season 4, set in the schools was just heartbreaking. I would have ranked it best, but Season 1 got it all started.

I just finished Season 5 yesterday! I’m having withdrawal pains. I want this universe to continue, and am sad that it won’t. All those folks are so real and easy to identify with.

Since S5 is freshest on my mind, I just want to say that I had a hard time relating to the newspaper concerns. Maybe the casting, with so many “real life” actors doing barely acceptable acting jobs or maybe the fact that I can’t drum up much sympathy for the demise of print journalism, kept me from being caught up in the issues as much as I was with the dock workers and teachers in their plights.

I liked Gus okay, but the suits holding him back lacked the same degree of nasty that Rawls had on the cops. They were just suits to me.

Glad this thread is going.

I agree on every point, and the ranking of the seasons.

As for characters, favorites and such, I’m just going to put them in order that I think of them and trust that my memory is based on the ones I liked best to least.

Frank (Dock boss)
Prop Joe
Carcetti’s campaign manager
Clay Davis
his driver!

(I’m already unhappy with the list because I know I’ve left out some good characters!)

Good point. Avon was already doing 20 years, so nothing D said was going to hurt him anyway.

Mine are 1, 2, 4, 3, 5.

You raise an interesting question. Why didn’t McNutty go to the press? Was that David Simon’s way of showing us how ineffective the press had become? Because nobody even thought of it, in any season? Except Carcetti, of course, he knew how to use the press.

Or did McNutty’s ego have something to do with it? Going to the press might take things out of his hands.

I would have ranked 4 higher, but I have a soft spot for the workin’ man. And for Chris Bauer as Frank Sobotka. He’s wasted on True Blood. Several of his scenes were Emmy-worthy, especially one with the lobbyist, when he talks about no more Sobotkas on the docks.

Zeldar, you forgot Ziggy! He could make us laugh – the duck, the fight with Maui, the fake paternity suit, that godawful leather coat – and then we see him break down after he shoots Glekas, and trying to smile when he’s talking to his dad in jail.

4, 3, 1, 2, 5.

Avon definitely didn’t know about or have anything to do with his nephew’s death. He didn’t have a good relationship with D at the time because D wanted to get away from the killing and misery that’s part of the game. After the hot shots, D pretty much wouldn’t speak to Avon. Avon was “okay” with D’s death to the extent that he may have been convinced it was necessary.

The Wire has so many great characters, it’s hard to list favorites. If I had to mention one, I’d pick Bodie. I like how you get to see him come up in the low rises learning about the game. Bodie was smart and he payed attention, unlike a lot of the corner boys. It was a damn shame when he was killed.

My favorite scene is probably the first scene of the 4th season. Snoop goes to hope Depot to buy a new nail gun for sealing the murder victims in the vacants. I love her conversation with the salesman.

I can’t really argue with the effect the character had, nor with the fine job the actor did. I just didn’t care for the character as such. He was essential to the arc of the season, but he was so constant in his ability to do the exactly wrong thing that mustering any sympathy for him was tough.

He’s not alone in that regard. Early on, I was sure I wouldn’t care for Prez, but he won me over by solving the phone code and really sealed the deal as a teacher.

Poot was cute, but didn’t have enough to do for me to like him all that much. Of the four kids in S4, I liked Namond least because he just didn’t seem to have the right combination of smart and driven. The others did.

I liked the acting done on some of the more negative characters. Rawls, Levy, Landsman, The Greek, the fabricating reporter (just saw him yesterday and can’t remember his name!).

I should have included Bunny Colvin way near the top of my list! And the old Polish guy who becomes Commissioner. A piece of work!

If anybody can shed some light on why Dominic West gets top billing, I’m curious to know that. Were there any of his pre-2002 roles so strong as to give him that much star power?

The way he’s in the background (if not totally absent) in so many episodes makes his headlining a bit of a mystery to me.

Was he on extra special terms with David Simon, perhaps?

We just finished watching season five this week, so this is great timing from my perspective. :wink: It’s just an amazing show. Not everything worked perfectly but there were few major missteps- the biggest was the way the whole police team got back together again in season two, which wasn’t completely believable. For me the high point of the show might have been the breakdown of Avon and Stringer’s relationship, culminating in the two betraying each other at the same time and holding that last conversation in Avon’s apartment. That was almost Shakespearian. And for that matter D’Angelo might’ve been the first really tragic character on the show. He had a lot of competition over the next couple of seasons but it was horrible to watch his mother talk him out of turning state’s evidence because she’d made a deal with Avon. It was almost easier to watch him get killed in jail. It was very satisfying when McNulty finally got around to telling her what she’d done.

Another favorite thing was almost anything Omar did. He’s just a fascinating and transcendent character and we couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do at any given time. There were loads of memorable characters and great performances but I thought Omar and Stringer were the two standouts.

In hindsight I’m impressed by the fact that there was such huge turnover in the cast. By the end of the series almost the entire Barksdale crew is dead - Avon and Wee-Bey are in jail and Poot makes one appearance working at Foot Locker; everyone else is gone. A lot of characters were important for a few episodes or one season. We don’t completely lose touch with them but they don’t dominate. The focus was always so broad and yet you could still follow the stories. And they avoided a lot of common tricks in storytelling. Not just flashback and dream sequences, but unnatural exposition and stories that tell you a characters’ motivation or history or even where his nickname comes from.

I thought Avon was doing about five. D’Angelo got 20.

Poor bastard (D). He was one of my favourite characters, and him and Wallace were horribly heartwrenching reminders of how life is bloody cruel sometimes (as were the kids in s4…sob sob).

I’ve got to watch s4 again - it’s brilliant.

s5 wasn’t the best, but there were some things about it that really did the series justice: Bubbles’ storyline, Omar’s ending (some may disagree), and a few others.

I think Avon got seven years originally. Without D’Angelo’s testimony he wasn’t connected to any of the murders, so he was only convicted of possession with intent to distribute in connection with the heroin in D’Angelo’s car. And he figured to be out of there sooner- even more so with the tainted heroin scheme. D’Angelo could have turned on him at any time and confirmed the testimony that linked Avon to the murders, which would have put him and Stringer away for life. So he was always going to be a danger to them as long as he was alive.

I think Simon said in a commentary that it was the suits at HBO who insisted on that one flashback – the one in the pilot – reminding us that the dead security guard was the guy who testified against D’Angelo.

Gah! I feel like an idiot. Can someone remind me why Stringer wasn’t charged with anything at the end of S1? Didn’t they have him tied to Brandon’s murder?

Something else that makes me feel like an idiot is how long it took me to realize that the B’s in B & B Enterprises are Barksdale and Bell.

It also took more than one viewing to unravel the threads of Stringer, Avon, Brother Mouzine, Prop Joe, and Omar in S3. All that double-dealing – I’m surprised they could remember who was doing what to who.

One of my favorite scenes is in S1 with McNutty and Kima meeting up with Omar in the cemetery, when Omar tells Kima to ask Bubbles about Bird. “Bubbles know Bird.”

Also, the cut-off ties on the bulletin board. We saw the board in the background early in S1, but we didn’t see anyone get their tie cut until when, S5?

Zeldar, I have no clue why West got the part. Did Simon ever say that he was looking for good actors who weren’t typecast from other roles? I recognized some of the actors from Oz, but it was the first I’d seen most of them. That helped a lot. Nobody was distracting.

Thanks for the correction on Avon’s sentence! I think I had it confused with his later conviction. How many years did he end up with?

Here’s a two-part question that I hope makes sense to be posted in this thread:

  1. How do Dopers who are residents of Baltimore, Maryland, the DC area, and Southeastern Pennsylvania feel about the accuracy of The Wire’s depiction of the situation in that part of the country?

  2. How do Dopers in other large US cities feel the situation in their own city differs substantially from The Wire’s depictions?

Wallace was the one who tied Stringer to Brandon’s murder. Once Wallace was killed, they didn’t have anything on Stringer.

My (fuzzy) memory of the ties thing is that Bunk cut the tie off one of the other sleeping cops somewhere in S1 and then had his own tie cut off (by whom I forget) later in S1. I’m thinking the ties on the board thing was over with in S1.

I won’t bet the house on it, but that’s how I remember it.

On preview I see that I agree with davidw on how Stringer skated on the murder rap.

Along the same lines, I think it’s poignant how Snoop was thought to have snitched (and thus eliminated) because of the effectiveness of the work that Lester and Sydnor did. I guess that demonstrates (as did so many other things) the downside of skipping over the legalities.

ETA: How could I have left Marlo off that list!? As effective a portrayal as there was in the entire show!

One thing I’ll throw out here (and I’m pretty sure I’ve said this on SDMB before), but I think that Avon was much smarter than Stringer. Stringer was enamored by his own cleverness, and that led him to make stupid mistakes. After Avon went to jail, Stringer was absolutely played by Prop Joe (and of course by Clay Davis). That never would have happened to Avon. It goes back to that story they told of Stringer stealing a badminton set, and Avon asking “why did you steal a badminton set? you don’t have a yard?” Avon never let his dreams overshadow his reality.

From the book “The Wire: Truth Be Told” by Rafael Alvarez, some interesting info about real people who played roles on the show:

Detective Ray Cole was played by Exec Producer Robert Colesberry, who died in 2004, and whose character had the wake at the bar.

Detective Ed Norris was played by Edward Norris, was brought to Baltimore by Mayor Martin O’Malley. He became superintendent of the Baltimore State Police. He was later indicted on tax and misappropriation charges, pleaded guilty.

Officer Diggins (from the boat in S2) was played by Officer Jeffrey Fugitt of the city marine unit.

Lamar, Brother Mouzone’s lieutenant (the one who had to keep Mouzone supplied with Harper’s and Atlantic) played by DeAndre McCullough, the main protagonist of The Corner.

Puddin, a slinger who worked with Bodie and who was part of the shootout that killed the nine-year-old , is DeAndre’s half brother.

The guy at Butchie’s in S3 who talked about port versus sherry is George “Blue” Epps, a real-life survivor of The Corner. He works as a drug counselor.

The state delegate who was sympathetic to Sobotka about the grain pier is Baltimore reporter and author Tom Waldron.

The board secretary Lester Freamon met while looking at campaign records is Tyreeka Freamon, another person from The Corner. She’s the mother of DeAndre’s son and works at a hospital in Baltimore.

The addict who refused to sign Johnny’s slip at the NA meeting is Nathan “Bodie” Barksdale. He’d just been released from Jessup. He’d been a trafficker in the 80’s, and the writers used his name.

Steve Earle, of course, everyone recognized.

Cherry, who operated the Barksdale cut-house is Stanley Boyd, aka “Scoogie”, DeAndre’s uncle and Fran Boyd’s brother. Avon’s comatose brother was played by another of Fran’s brothers.

Lt. Mello, an aide to Bunny Colvin, is the real life Sergeant Jay Landsman.

The trainer hanging on the ropes who Freamon sees when he’s looking for a photo of Avon is Mack Lewis, legendary in Baltimore for helping street kids.

The English teacher in S2 when they’re talking about Gatsby, that’s Richard Price, who wrote Clockers, and who wrote several Wire episodes.

The bar band in S2 was the Nighthawks.

The bald newspaper reporter shouting at Sobotka when he did his perp walk was David Simon.

There were probably lots more, but the book only covered the first three seasons. I’m pretty sure we saw the real Fran Boyd in a hospital scene, but I don’t remember the details.

I don’t recall Snoop having ever been accused of snitching. I thought that Levy convinced Marlo that Michael must have snitched, but Michael caught on before Snoop could kill him and turned the tables on her (very effective moment IMO - “how do I look?”).

I agree that S2 is maligned - the dockworkers was an important part of the overall story, and the actor playing Frank did such a good job that it made it well worthwhile. I do agree with the consensus that S5 was the weakest (for the same reasons really - the newsroom storyline was too obvious and too easy).

Yes, you’re right! I think I was confusing the conversation between Marlo and the others who were caught in the bust when they were trying to decide who must have snitched. Both Michael and Snoop were aware of the plan and I was thinking Snoop got the nod. But it was Snoop trying to trap Michael that backfired and she even complimented him on his savvy. Michael realized with that bit of self-preservation instinct that he might as well become the New Omar, or at least that’s one way of building a connection between those events.

That little exchange between Snoop and Michael was so much like the almost gentle ways that most of Marlo’s targets were dealt with. Almost humane. Prop Joe especially. Even Cheese didn’t have time to ponder his fate very long.

So many great scenes and characters. Absolutely my all-time favorite series.

Omar is my favorite character but since he’s the obvious choice, I also must say that Clay Davis is probably in my top 5. That scoundrel is such a great bit of comedy relief. Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeit.

Any “Friday Night Lights” fans on the board? The current season is just wrapping up it’s run on NBC (after airing on Direct TV last fall) and I was so excited to see the actor that played Wallace in season one of “The Wire” as a main character this season. Even better was an episode that brought in the actor that played D’angelo. Damn shame that the writers didn’t give the two actors a scene where they interacted together. Alan Sepinwall said that he got the show’s head honcho to commit to getting them in a scene together at some point next season… Fingers crossed!