Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Under The Wire: Cops and Robbers

After reading lots of raving reviews about the HBO series, 'The Wire', I finally got myself a copy of the first season. I'm not even at the end yet, (trying, without too much discipline, to pace myself!) but I can say it's one of the best tv shows I've seen.

Apparently Barack Obama's favourite show (maybe another reason I decided to get on board?), The Wire is set in the mean streets of Baltimore, featuring a predominantly mixed-race cast.

The viewer can see both sides of the story, so to speak, from the perspectives of the cops and the drug runners. But it's not nearly as clear cut as Law and Order or other cop shows of the genre. For one thing, it's really difficult to judge (and at times, to warm to) any of the characters - no one's good; no one's bad. Not necessarily a revelation, you might say, but in this case, it actually adds to the charm of the characterisation.

For another, the issue of race is broached with considerable nuance and insight. And the dialogue is so well-written - for once I feel like I'm a fly on the wall, and in a move that reminds me of the West Wing, have to remind myself that these people are actors.

I'm also really interested that this is, in fact, another cops and robbers show. I'm not normally drawn to these (although I did enjoy Underbelly recently) and wonder how the genre may keep iterating as audiences get savvier and better clued in to guess the narrative tricks.

Any new* shows that have caught your eye?

*When I say 'new', there are actually five seasons of The Wire out - great news for first-time watchers!

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