22 June 2010

The Wire (season 1)

Boy, first watching of fifteen hours of story, it's hard to know what to say, but I ought to say something. (In retrospect, I missed the boat and should have said something about the last season of Lost as well.) People are right, it's involving and rich and tapestry-like, it's a Russian novel of a TV show about cops and crooks, and it's amazing.

Once before, years back, I watched roughly the first half of this season and lost steam (not the show's fault; sometimes life gets busy), and back then I remember thinking that the show just sort of moved naturalistically around these characters and locations with no real sharp focus or single motivating drive -- I meant all that in a good way, stressing the naturalism of the story. But this time it was amazing to see the gears work. Maybe I'm better at story now than I was then (this is undoubtedly true, actually), but it was interesting to see a master storyteller pulling strings, keeping the plot going where the plot needs to go, without ever losing sight of the most important thing: the characters. Everything stems from them, and whether it's some action that's mechanically necessary to advance the plot or whether it's just a small gesture that gloriously, unexpectedly blossoms into a major event down the road, it all comes out of who these people are and what they want.

Also, too, it's worth noting that like all the best TV shows, any single episode works as a concise pocket of storytelling, moving us through a crucial chapter in the big picture and also giving us those subplots and smaller moments, all linked together by themes and parallels. "Lessons" and "Cleaning Up" and "The Cost" become not just chapter-headings and episode titles but succinct ways of viewing the driving character forces and similarities between the good guys and the bad guys. Oh, it's good stuff.

Waiting a day or two to jump into season 2. Looking forward to it.

No comments: