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Way Down in the Hole

For years, I’ve heard about “The Wire.” That is was not only good, the best thing on TV, but the greatest show of all-time. I finally got around to watching it, the entire series in just under a month. I don’t know enough about other dramas to know how to rate it, exactly, but I was not disappointed. Did I like it?

I loved it. The writing, the acting, all so memorable. When it ended I wanted to go back tot he beginning and start over again.

It’s one of those shows where it is hard to pick a favorite character. Once you are locked in on one guy–Omar, Bunk, Lester–someone else pops up. Here are some, though not all, of my favorites:

Categories:  1: Featured  Arts and Culture  Television

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1 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:05 am

I had a similar experience. It's pretty rare that something lives up to that kind of rep but The Wire does. The only problem I have with the show is pretty minor, and that's McNulty's dodgy accent.

So many great characters and even better plot lines. One of if not the best depictions of kids I've ever seen. And of course ... "Omar comin'!"

2 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:06 am

That's two Bunks you have there, btw ; )

3 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:13 am

Nice choices Al. But Avon over Stringer for me.

4 NoamSane   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:18 am

Clay Davis poster = CLASSIC!

5 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:20 am

3) Oh, big time. I love Avon. Didn't really like Stringer at all, not until he was gone. I think what sums him up was that he got an "A-" on his paper at community college. He just wasn't as smart as he thought he was. But fascinating character and good performance.

Hell, yeah, there's two pictures of The Bunk. Love me some Bunk!

Here's the biggest thrill I got. Remembering how to spit between my front teeth. After watching Bodie do it expertly I tried again. Course I spit on my shirt a few times but then regained the old fourth grade magic.

I liked Season 1, 3, and 4 the most. I didn't care as much for the characters in Season 2 though I admired how the show took a left turn to focus on the docks and the union. Also, I found the serial killer narrative to stretch credibility in Season 5, but liked where it took the characters, that made sense.

I liked McNulty, though his accent did throw me, too. The actor was good enough to overcome it though.

6 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:25 am

Yeah I was a Stringer guy but the brilliance of his arc is that you're initially liable to think more of him because of his ambition and vision. But in the end Avon knows himself better and his vision, while less ambitious, is more clear-eyed and realistic. Also Avon is, in his way, more ethical.

7 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:27 am

[5] Agreed about the serial killer arc, on both points.

8 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:34 am

I didn't dislike the newspaper stuff as much as other folks, though.

Man, so much heartbreak in the show, especially Season 4. In Season 5, when Michael says goodbye to his little brother and then Dookie, man, that just tore me up.

I was so happy that Bubbles made it through.

I know some folks were annoyed by him, but I liked Presbo.

9 Ara Just Fair   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:37 am

It's about time! : ) Michael Williams, aka Omar, was my favorite character on that show. He is currently on "The Boardwalk Empire" which is also a pretty bad ass show. My wife and I tend to shout Omar whenever he appears. He's nasty on in that series as well.

10 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:38 am

there is The Bunk, and then there is everyone else.

I happen to think that the hyperbole heaped upon The Wire can be a bit much at times, I get a little burnt out on hearing about its "importance," but it really is one of the two or three great television dramas of the last 30 years.

The serial killer plot line was a bit much, but it justified the newsroom stuff so I was ok with it. Bubbles is a great character, but he can be a show-killer sometimes. I'm glad to hear someone defend the underrated 2nd season though.

My top 5 characters are:
1) Bunk
2) Omar
3) Lester
4) Stringer
5) Prop Joe

Honorable mentions: Valchek, Marlo, Clay Davis, and Snoop.

aw hell, they're all good

11 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:49 am

[8] I liked the newspaper stuff quite a bit actually.

[10] It's a great show but yeah I'd be annoyed if someone dubbed it "important".

One day I went outside and Omar was on my block. I looked and I think I pointed involuntarily, hahaha. I was like "holy shit!"

12 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:50 am

Marlo was too scary, too vicious for me to embrace. Great character though. Valchek, was a sleeze. He was great. And I thought Carcetti was a well-realized character too.

13 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:52 am

11) Yeah, I started to watch one of the "Behind the Scenes" shows and didn't get much past "Dickensian," like "a great 19th century novel," before I turned it off. It was just a great show, I didn't want to know all that. But some of the writing talent--George Pelecanos, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane. Heavy-hitters.

14 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 12, 2011 10:54 am

[12] oh Marlo is impossible to like, but I think he's a great character. I always thought that he was meant to represent the new wave of American business. The Barksdale crew was a "mom and pop" operation, even if they were killers, with the dinner dances and the basketball games they at least put on the front of being "part of the community."

Marlo and his crew didn't give a shit, they're Wal-Mart.

15 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 12, 2011 11:00 am

Avon, Bunk & Lester were my favorites.

16 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 11:02 am

That scene with Snoop buying the nail gun is priceless.

Oh, and I also love Avon's sister. Strong character.

17 Jon DeRosa   ~  Dec 12, 2011 11:31 am

[15] Damn, left out Omar. And I loved all the kids, but in a that way that you know you can't get too close because they are probably gonna end up dead.

18 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 11:32 am

Marlo, to me, is a psychopath, or sociopath or some combination or one or the other. Definitely a soulless creature. There's not a lot of humanity there, just a laser beam of avarice and aggression.

RIP Woman-who-played-Snoop, btw

19 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 12:09 pm

18) I read that she was in prison but not that she died.

20 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 12:17 pm

[19] Haha, very diplomatic ... Right you are

21 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 12:24 pm

Just in case you haven't had enough ...

The Wire's Top 100 Quotes


22 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 12:44 pm

Here's the biggest thrill I got. Remembering how to spit between my front teeth. After watching Bodie do it expertly I tried again. Course I spit on my shirt a few times but then regained the old fourth grade magic.

Heh, why do you think I nicknamed Russell Martin, "Bodie"?

23 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:20 pm

22) Ha ha. Sweet.

24 edoubletrouble   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:25 pm

Belinda wanted to go back and start all over too.

Me? I think about it often. I have no gripes with the show, it killed and will forever be in our lexicon.

D'Angelo, man. He was my favorite and throughout the series I always wanted his murder to be exposed.

Favorite line? "How's my hair Mike?"

25 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:41 pm

[24] Not to be "that guy", but it's "How my hair look, Mike?"

26 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:42 pm

That is a great fucking line. "You look good, girl."

I liked D'Angelo, too. And spoke to a few people who found him, or the actor that played him, annoying. But I didn't have that reaction at all.

Weebay was great too. And Slim Charles, shit, how did I forget him, what a voice. And fucking Butchie, man. Is a show legally allowed to have so many memorable characters?

27 ms october   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:44 pm

cool - glad you got to it and enjoyed it.
i've seen all the seasons multiple times and thoroughly enjoy it every time i watch. so many good characters and story lines. the important part is over doing it, but there is a lot of symbolism that speaks to a lot of economic and social issues plaguing us.
i agree that season 1,3,4 are the best but i think 2 and 5 were great too. 2 took the show more global and 5 helped explain how all this shit is allowed to happen.

-same as it ever was.

28 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:49 pm

And The Greek and "Boris" and Ziggy Sobotka and Brother Mouzone and Herc and ... and ...

29 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:49 pm


30 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:50 pm

Nah, see I found Ziggy irritating. I found him and his cousin boring, stock characters. Then again, the way it played out with Ziggy was memorable.

31 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 1:50 pm

McDaniels and Carver, too. And Weebay's wife.

32 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:23 pm

Nah, see I found Ziggy irritating.

Well, Ziggy's supposed to be irritating. Hell, the character doesn't work unless he's irritating, because he's simply a person who's profoundly inept at life. I think that is what takes him far beyond being a simple stock "obviously doomed fuck-up", he's not just a fuck-up, he's a genuinely and profoundly weird, lost soul, drawn in detail and relief unlike any other character on any other show. Ziggy's not a "bad" guy, at least not an "evil" guy, but he's this deadly mix of exceedingly human, shallow character faults and defects that just aren't going to end well.

33 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:31 pm

32) Yeah, I didn't buy it. Just found him to be annoying all around. You knew he was going to get his from the first time he appeared. The getting the duck drunk thing. It was all forced to me. The actor was good though. I didn't care for the guy who played his cousin at all.

34 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:31 pm

Weebay is a GREAT character, the scene where Bunny convinces him to let Namond go...

"Division and Gold"

35 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:38 pm

And Weebay's wife.

See, now, Weebay's wife is one of the few characters on the show that I found to be a "boring, stock character."

Simply one-note, very much the narcissistic, materialistic 'Dragon Lady' without any other aspects to her character at all. She's there to serve a part and move the plot forward with Namond.

36 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:43 pm

if we're gonna go the route of "bad" characters, I think you gotta start the list with Leo Fitzpatrick's "Johnny" which was so, so awful on so many levels. Johnny turning up on screen meant it was time to go get a re-fill.

Some people don't like Herc, but I think Herc and Carver we're needed for the comic relief. And when you get down to it, in a large urban police department there are probably a lot more Hercs and Carvers than Lesters and Kimas.

37 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:47 pm

36) Yeah, Johnny was wack.

Oh and what about Rawles? He was classic, too.

38 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 2:58 pm

And I forgot to mention Ronnie Pearlman. She is terrific.

39 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 3:06 pm

[36] Well, I think you have to draw the line between characters you don't like personally and characters you don't think work from a critical standpoint.

I don't particularily like Herc, hell, much of what goes terribly awry in seasons 4 and 5 is specifically *because* of Herc, but I don't ever not believe in the character as he's drawn, or feel that how he's used by the writers in the series feels inorganic or forced.

Unlike, say, Brother Mouzone, who I'll freely admit is a memorable character, but I don't ever feel transcends being a gimmick. He certainly never seems remotely human or real to me and mostly just feels like a hackneyed compilation of affectations the writers couldn't bear to completely leave out of the story ...

40 cult of basebaal   ~  Dec 12, 2011 3:12 pm


"These are for you, McNulty

This one over here is going up your narrow, fucking Irish ass ... and this bad boy over here is in your fucking eye."

Ah, Rawles, everything about his character has such the different subtext after that "throw away" shot of him in the gay bar in Season 3 ...

41 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 12, 2011 3:16 pm

40) Yeah, I kind of love how they didn't make anything of that.

42 The Hawk   ~  Dec 12, 2011 6:53 pm

Also Snoop and Chris were such a terrific pair. So right, but so unusual.

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