A Love Letter to The Wire

Image result for The Wire

As someone who has watched movies and television for a long time, I should be inclined to tell you that I probably am an expert at understanding the art and brilliance of film and to a certain extent, television as well. But, to be honest, that’s all horseshit. Because, I haven’t seen even the greatest of the greats yet. As someone who just recently watched “The Wire”, I can safely say that I have watched what is in my opinion, the single greatest television show I have seen yet.

Watching “The Wire” as a 19 year old adult, I understood a lot of things that I didn’t the first time around (I tried to watch it when I was younger but couldn’t get around to it). But beyond that, the show also taught me a lot of things about the true nature of real life problems and where they stem from. As someone who is a simple minded fellow, there are things this show exposed me to that I needed to know about, such as the nature and workings of public affairs, police work, drugs, school systems and a lot more. Now, I don’t mean to say that what the show did was explain to me how it works, rather it showed me what the truth is and that not everything can be taken at face value. It showed me that the problem doesn’t have a single root, it has multiple roots. For a change to be made, you don’t just take out one guy, you have to change the system around it. All of this was done by telling the story through the eyes of the people of Baltimore and boy, what a journey it was.

If I had to put it in a word, I don’t think any other can justify it as well as “genius”. The Wire, simply put, was genius. Looking back on my other reviews, I don’t think I have used that word often (well, I have used ingenious, but that’s beside the point) and I believe that was for a reason. With these many characters, subplots and messages I have no earthly idea how it all came together, that too with such effortless grace.

Like, seriously, how did this happen?

Okay, Okay, I’ll move on with the review.

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The Wire was a television show that aired from 2002 to 2008. It takes place in the city of Baltimore and primarily deals with the inner workings of the police department and the drug cartels. As each season progresses, more of the systems’ inner workings are expanded upon (such as school, media, politics etc.), thus dealing with more issues regarding the city of Baltimore. As the creator David Simon put it, The Wire is “really about the American city, and about how we live together”.

So what are the many great things I love about this show? Well, let’s start from the basics. The writing and acting are two major standouts. When you talk about shows that have about 15-20 major characters and just as many recurring throughout each season, the writing needs to be comprehensible. It needs to move from one character to another purposefully and each scene needs to further the plot or develop a character. This is where the writing of the show really stands out. Never once did I feel that I was lost. Sure, at the beginning of each season, it takes a little time getting used to newer characters, but you completely used to soon enough. Even in great shows like ‘Game Of Thrones’, where characters are located in many different locations around the globe, each arc felt like another short story rather than one big story. When a scene shifted from one location to another, I knew that particular story had nothing to do with the scene before it, and that always took me out of it. With ‘The Wire’ though, I always knew the shift was part of the grand story of Baltimore.

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When acting is brought up in a lot of shows, there is always a standout performance or performances. There is always a Walter White, a Tyrion Lannister, a Tony Soprano. The great thing about the wire is, there are so many good performances from all of its actors that it never felt like there was anyone who was trying to upstage the other. I guess the fact that a lot of relatively unknown actors that were cast did help in the matter, but that’s beside the point. Not only that, every performance is subtle, genuine and realistic. Not one actor tries to oversell their performance. In a show that is this ambitious in storytelling, I have to commend the cast members for a job well done. It’s a shame that none of them were nominated for major awards like Emmys or Golden Globes, but then again that also is a good reminder that awards mean shit to me. Just to make a few shout outs, some of my favourites were Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Micheal K. Williams, Dominic West, Andre Royo, Clarke Peters and of course, Idris Elba. Also, can we just appreciate that we have a great show with a diverse cast and characters that have nothing to do with racism or slavery and are just good fictional characters. Like, I know that’s not a thing on TV, but I notice it so much in movies and sometimes TV, I just have to bring it up.

Now on to the more subtle nuances. One thing The Wire does that I haven’t seen many other shows do, is the absence of a score. Music is only played in a scene only when it takes place in an area where it can be played. For example, in a car or a bar. Even during any major dramatic moment, no background music or song of any kind is played at all, and for some reason, it works due to the standards of realism that the show has set. The only time it ever really plays music in the background is during the montages that appear at the end of each season (which are brilliant by the way due to the phenomenal song choices).  Also, the show rarely ends on any cliffhanger and ends like it’s the end of a chapter. When people say that The Wire is a visual novel, I totally get what they mean and in every sense of the word, it is.

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The way it treated the sexuality of the characters is worth talking about as well. In a show about cops and drug dealers, we have two well rounded lesbian/gay characters that treat their sexual orientation like it’s a normal thing. For a show to not make that its selling point was something that I really admired. In so many shows and movies now a days, we get this dumb, stupid way to attract audiences by saying, “Oh, hey we have a bland stereotypical gay character, he/she’s in it for 2 scenes, we’re progressive!!!”. Like, here we actually have well rounded characters, and their sexual preference is just another thing. It’s not like the show just brings it up once and never touches on it again, it’s a part of their character and sometimes it brings out great character moments from them because of it. Thank You.The last thing I would like to bring up is the way the show used symbolism. I really liked how they used it without ever sacrificing the story for it. If you don’t get the symbolism don’t worry, it isn’t shoved down your throat like a Zack Snyder movie. It’s done in a subtle and ingenious way, it’s almost like an Easter egg. It makes for great rewatchability and further analysis in a show that already does more than enough.

If I had to bring up any flaws, the only ones that I can think of have nothing to do with the show itself. It has more to do with the demands it asks from the viewers. From the start, the show lets you know that this isn’t a regular drama where eventful things happen every episode. You have to be patient and observant. More than that, this isn’t an instant hooker, in fact it took me 6-7 episodes to understand why this show was so great. Another thing that might be a turn off is the dialect that the characters speak in, it’s faithful to that of the people of Baltimore, so it can be a little hard to get what is being conveyed. All of these things aren’t flaws, they are more of “reasons” why people may not find The Wire engaging enough to warrant a complete viewing, and that sucks because I want more people to watch this show even though it has gained a considerable audience since its conclusion.

Sure, it takes some time getting accustomed to, but once you get past that, what you have here is true gem and a masterpiece of storytelling. This is entertainment at its highest possible form. I honestly don’t think I will ever see a show that is this good, and maybe that’s a special thing. It’s what makes shows like The Wire unique and I love it for exactly that. Guys, there is a lot I can say about The Wire. I can talk about my favourite moments, my favourite characters, how powerful it was from start to finish. But saying more would do nothing more than spoil it and I don’t want to do that, because I know there are people out there that still haven’t experienced this show. Hell, I only got around to it in 2016 and I should have seen it long ago. So if you’re someone who is still unsure about watching The Wire, go see it.

NOW

Rating: 10/10 (it’s fucking obvious at this point)

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From Movies to T.V Shows: 5 Of The Greatest Rivalries Ever

What makes a movie, book or TV show more impactful than a rivalry between two characters, the answer is…….I don’t know!, but there is something about rivalries that brings us back to whatever it is that we are viewing. It adds to the intensity. When they are well done, its what we remember most about these films/t.v shows. So, with that in mind, here are 5 of my favorite rivalries in the realm of entertainment that I have experienced.

5) Gerald Lambeau and Sean Maguire (Good Will Hunting)

Gerald Lambeau (left) and Sean Maguire (right)
Gerald Lambeau (left) and Sean Maguire (right)

While not exactly a rivalry, the love-hate relationship between these two in the film was something that I could not ignore. You see, one of the major aspects to rivalries (particularly good ones) is the admiration and hatred the characters have for each other. This is something that is present in all of my personal favorite rivalries on this list.

What I love so much about their relationship is how inconsistent it is. One moment they are respecting each other, acting like adults and another moment, they are fighting each other like kids! You can see in their fights that they once cared for each other and still do. This is more apparent when they are arguing with each other about their ideals. Gerald wants to make Will a great mathematician, considering his potential while Sean wants him to do whatever he wishes and not to be manipulated into doing mathematics for the rest of his life. Each time they argue over this, it makes for some of the best written scenes in the film and for one of the best rivalries.

4) Professor X and Magneto (X-Men First Class and Days of Future Past)

Profeesor X (left) and Magneto (right)
Profeesor X (left) and Magneto (right)

You all saw this coming, and this list couldn’t be complete without comic book rivalries. Professor X and Magneto is a prime example of a great rivalry. Like the previous spot on our list, what makes them work is the fact that they were friends once. It only makes their hatred for each other more impactful. But unlike the previous list, this rivalry isn’t one sided.

You can see both sides of the argument. Eric/Magneto hates humans and the motive behind it is pretty well explained. He experienced the Holocaust, that reason is good enough. Charles/Professor X is someone who, unlike Eric, is willing to see the bigger picture. He is willing to see what mutants and humans can achieve once they put aside their differences. This makes their rivalry work for me and was the best part about X-Men First Class and Days of Future Past.

3) The Bride and Bill (Kill Bill Vol. 2)

Bill (left) and The Bride (right)
Bill (left) and The Bride (right)

This is one that not many talk about. In fact it’s probably the most underrated rivalry ever (if there is one I guess). The Bride and Bill, two skilled assassins were once lovers. They cared for each other and their fallout led to two awesome revenge flicks (details of which I won’t spoil).

With their final showdown in Vol.2 and their rivalry coming to a close, I was rather pleased to find out that it wasn’t a hand to hand beat down. Rather, it was a conversation that led to confessions – each of them explaining to the other why they did what they did. Like other spots on this list, what the script does so well is hint at their past relationship. They seemed to truly love each other and that’s what makes the conclusion to their affair a bittersweet one and their rivalry a memorable one.

2) Batman and The Joker (The Dark Knight and all of the DC Animated Batman Movies)

You know who is who
You know who is who

Okay, this is as obvious as it comes. We all know this rivalry. Hell, people who don’t even have a clue about comic books know about Batman and Joker (at least I think they do).

The rivalry between Batman and Joker is the definition of a love-hate relationship. Batman and Joker have been arch enemies for years in comic books, movies and T.V shows and we just can’t get enough of these two. They are obstacles for each other, they test each other to their limits and will do anything to get their point across to each other – and that’s what makes it work.

Joker tests Batman’s rule of no killing and Batman tests the Joker by never giving in to his cruelty. In one way, they have this dark admiration for each other. It’s like they want to chase each other forever, despite the horrifying consequences. The Dark Knight, the animated feature The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 and the comic book The Killing Joke (It was the first comic book I ever read) are great examples. What can I say, this rivalry is a hell of a good one.

1) Tom and Jerry

Now, let’s tone down a bit. Why is my favorite rivalry a comedic one? Well, because these guys and their rivalry basically defined my childhood. I loved them for as long as I can remember. I love the chases, which define ‘slapstick comedy’. Not to mention that, rivalries in comedies almost always tend to get the best laughs.

I love the bombs, the grenades, the woodpeckers, the dogs, the high speed chases, the flat faces and so on. This is what Tom and Jerry are known for. They love to hate each other and they admire each other. Of all the rivalries on this list, they are the ones that stay true to the love-hate factor. They hate each other like any cat and mouse would, yet they stick with each other like no other friend would and that’s exactly what makes their rivalry special to me.

So, that’s about it my dear friends. Thanks for reading! Tell me, which is your favorite rivalry? Give your personal favorite in the comment section below.

Why Star Wars worked better for me on TV

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Well, guys sorry for the hiatus, but at least I mentioned about it earlier. So today, I was just sitting by and relaxing as I had just come back from a hectic trip all the way from Delhi. A lot of ideas were just flowing through my head and I decided to do something about Star Wars, because I have never actually shared my opinions of the franchise as a whole to anyone else, not because I was ashamed or anything but I never thought I needed to. So, I decided to write about Star Wars in some shape or form and when I thought about what I wanted to talk about, it hit me instantly. I think it goes without saying that Star Wars will go down in history as the most popular franchise ever, I mean good god. It was everywhere, is everywhere and will be everywhere.

I was born in India in 1997, so naturally I was introduced to Star Wars incredibly late in life, I saw the first Star Wars feature when I was in kindergarten, it was the second film in the prequel trilogy, that I barely remember and still don’t, it wasn’t until 7th grade that I saw the 1977 feature and then saw the rest of the original trilogy and prequel trilogy afterwards, as an avid film fan, I enjoyed the original trilogy, particularly the second and the third films (Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), as such I really liked all three films and the prequel trilogy was not good, but they were not without their fair share of good moments particularly in Revenge of the Sith. But in all honesty, I never found myself attached to the films as many others were, it may be due to the fact that I never got the chance to experience the visuals back in 1977, because I had just seen films like Avatar before viewing this, or it could be that the acting was just not that good, or the script not very well written, I don’t know, but I never found the films to be as good as people made it out to be. So I always found myself as a liker not a lover.

But it wasn’t until I saw Clone Wars (the micro series, not the CG show) and Rebels that made me change my mind about it. I just found Star Wars to be my cup of tea, yes I am still not qualified to be considered a diehard fan, but still I loved these two shows so much, that I found myself indulging in the Star Wars mythos more than ever. So, here are five reasons why I believe Star Wars worked better for me on television.

#5 – Better developed and more interesting characters

Being a fan of the show Rebels, I found myself way more invested in the main characters rather than our trio from the original trilogy, characters like Kanan, Zeb, Hera, Sabeen and Ezra just worked for me, they felt like a family, not to say Luke, Leia and Han did not, but the dialogue was always stilted for me, it never felt real, whenever Kanan was teaching Ezra, it felt like a father trying to teach a son, Kanan is a humble guy who is flawed and is not ashamed to accept it and Ezra is a flawed student and he is willing to accept it, and each time they worked off of each other on screen it really felt like the two were learning from each other and growing from each other’s experiences, and that attributes to the good writing. The same can be said for the micro series, just see the fight between Anakin and Ventress, which was better than anything we got in the prequel saga, the whole fight relies on expressions, not exposition, and it just works.

#4 – With a T.V show, the world of Star Wars is better explored

Let’s face it, Star Wars is a big universe, there is so much to see and so much to explore that we still haven’t yet. With the T.V series, what I have noticed is that we can spend more time figuring out the mythos of this world, hell I didn’t even know a light saber crystal was a thing until I saw Rebels. With the movies, due to limited time, the focus on story is more necessary than world building which is a big bummer, because the only film I felt did so was Empire Strikes Back and that is by far my favorite Star Wars film. Regardless, with TV series’ like Rebels, the potential to tap into the world of the Star Wars galaxy is enormous and so far, the shows have never disappointed.

#3 – Villains are better used

Honestly, this goes without saying, with the exception of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, hardy any villain felt legitimately threatening, hell, I found Darth Vader far more threatening, evil and devious in that one episode of Rebels that the entire trilogy, but Vader was still used well in the movies, let us take the example of General Grievous, when he was introduced in the Star Wars Clone Wars micro series, he was far more threatening than he ever was in Revenge of the Sith, in which I just found him to be a coughing, bumbling jackass whereas in the micro series I found him to be a force to be reckoned with, hell Darth Maul was way better used in the clone wars CG show (I have not seen it completely) than he was in the phantom menace and The Inquisitor, while no Darth Vader, was still a major threat for the team in Rebels from time to time, whether it is related to time constraints or poor writing in the movies, T.V shows just learn from the mistakes.

#2 – Much Better Acting

Okay, Voice Acting, but that is still acting, whether you love the films or not, I would be shocked if someone came to me and said that the acting in all six films was an example of masterful acting, because it wasn’t, if anything, I always found the acting to be the thing that took me out of the movies from time to time, the T.V series Rebels and the CG show however showcase some really great voice acting, never once does the voice acting feel cheap or cheesy, particularly in Rebels, where the entire cast just have great chemistry altogether, and you understand the emotions of our characters perfectly.

#1 – Great stories

Ultimately, Star Wars is a large universe and there are so many stories that can be told, whether it be stopping the Empire, or about a group of Rebels, or about the Clone Wars, there are just so many stories that are as large as the world they are told in, with T.V shows, you can tap into that.

With all that said, by no means do I say that Star Wars is not suited for the big screen, it is just that time has separated me from enjoying those films as much as I wanted to. With the recent Star Wars film coming soon to cinemas, I have never been more excited to see anything from Star Wars in my entire life and thanks to good shows; I am able to see just how good star wars can be. So, in the end in some shape or form, I guess I can say for sure there will be something in Star Wars that you will find something to your liking, it could be the movies, or the expanded universe books, or the TV shows, or all of them, so just keep your eyes and ears open.

So, that was fun, and a lot shorter than my last article, thanks for sticking around and for the 10+ followers, it has been a blast, I will remain busy as I have a lot of stuff to do and pack since I am leaving to college very soon, but don’t worry, this will still be a thing just don’t expect anything soon until I have settled in my college room, stuff may come a bit sooner but don’t expect anything out of the blue.

Thanks for reading and until next time

Cheers…and take care