Thursday, February 14, 2008

Drama Heard Through "The Wire"

Big ups to all my readers out there, here's my first TV article for the Inside Beat - a review of this season of The Wire on HBO. Obviously I had space limitations, so I didn't say all that I wanted to about this great show but I'm pretty satisfied with how it came out. Enjoy:

(Baltimore Mayor Tommy Carcetti)


The stakes are higher than ever in the fifth and final season of HBO's suspenseful crime drama "The Wire." Written by ex-Baltimore Sun police reporter David Simon, the series reflects the intricate interrelations between the Baltimore streets, the police bureau, the investigative detective unit, city hall, and now the metropolitan paper with significant sociological undertones revealing real-life truths of crime and corruption.

The show adds a new dimension to the familiar cops-and-robbers quarrels this season- the media and the role of journalism in the community. Viewers are introduced to a newspaper based on The Baltimore Sun and its newsroom of personnel, most notably City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes (Clark Johnson, "Homicide: Life on the Street") and reporter Scott Templeton (Tom McCarthy, Flags Of Our Fathers), to understand the media's social responsibility plus how the paper decides what to cover.

Common themes of deception, territorial conflict, and institutional deficiencies are evident throughout the first six episodes of Season Five. The show has a morbid, serious portrayal of the lies and betrayal that afflict all levels of city class structure.

Every episode is defined by its complex array of characters, chiefly the drug players and the police force out to lock them up. West Baltimore drug operation the Stanfield Organization, headed by Marlo Stanfield (Jamie Hector, "Oz"), has run Baltimore's streets since Avon Barksdale's business but city authorities have it under heavy surveillance.

Earlier this season, budget cuts from Mayor Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti (Aiden Gillen, Shanghai Knights) sent alcohol-loving detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West, 300) back to homicide and brought police morale down as a whole. In retaliation, McNulty plants red ribbons on homeless murder victims to fake the work of a serial killer as an attempt to get attention from his boss and link the homicides to Marlo.

Since then, a myriad of storylines have taken place. Marlo asks Baltimore drug co-op leader "Proposition" Joe Stewart for help laundering money and pursues a relationship with Greek drug lords behind Prop Joe's back. Marlo shows his obsession with power and respect as he tries to lure enemy stick-up artist Omar Little out of retirement by murdering Omar's mentor in addition to having his henchmen, Chris Partlow, kill Prop Joe before he goes on vacation.

Shake-ups in the police force rattle city politics and Marlo's phone number is intercepted by an ex-investigator, giving detectives reason to wiretap the young drug lord after Templeton stages a phone call with Marlo. McNulty's faux serial killer targeting the homeless story is gaining momentum, Omar calls out Marlo, and the media is gaining national attention due to Templeton's manufactured story.

With four more episodes after this past Sunday's "The Dickensian Aspect," "The Wire" is approaching a dramatic climax, and the media will capture it all.

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