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The end of The Wire

I’ve just watched the last episode of season five of The Wire. If you don’t watch or know the show, my apologies – but for me, it’s almost (possibly even) as good as seasons 1-4 of The West Wing – those written primarily by Aaron Sorkin. In fact, all I want to do now is go back to season one and start again from the beginning.

But – my point?

Firstly – the script on this show is so damn good that you just don’t notice it. Or at least, I didn’t until Season Five, when the writers (David Simon in particular) couldn’t resist making a hero out of the sub-editor at the local newspaper, the Baltimore Sun. (It was the same on the West Wing in the early days: it was always the writers – Sam Seaborne, Toby Ziegler – who were the real heroes. Don’t they know the joke?). But it’s pretty awesome to watch something – I devoured the episodes back to back – and not flinch at something or other.

Next. After watching the final episode, I found myself in real need of some web community support. What I wanted to read were comments, as opposed to long bloggy rants.

My first stop was the Freakonomics Blog, where for the past 8 weeks, they have carried “interviews” with real “hoods” as to what they think of The Wire. Some of the comments on these interviews have been amazingly smart, some of the best, sustained, comments I’ve read on a site – not that surprising given the kind of visitor the NYT-hosted site attracts.

But, sadly, when I got there, I found out that the “hoods” had ducked out from reviewing episodes 9 and 10. Which was a bit of a cop out. So I found myself googling for reviews only pulled up blogs, but in this case I wanted some real, published journalism. I found the NY Times, the Washington Post, and (ironically) the Baltimore Sun. Of them all, The Washington Post gave me enough to iron out the kinks and confusions.

Finally. Quite a few of the comments on the Washington Post page talk about how, after a show is this good, the only way forwards is to “go back to the books”

Those of us lamenting the end of “The Wire” would do well to remember that it was the writing that made it so good. Check out the books of contributors David Simon, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Richard Price. I particularly commend you to the books of Pelecanos, who writes crime fiction set in the mean streets of DC.

From which I draw a couple of things: people think books (and specifically, the books of the show’s writers, published in some of the best UK independent houses, by the way – but I think they’re talking about books in general) are the place to go to get great stories (truth ‘dat); secondly, great writing really gets noticed, even if it takes years; and finally – I’m really going to miss this show.

Posted by Peter Collingridge in Video, Web.

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