Tuesday, June 04, 2002

An incredibly accurate review of HBO's "The Wire" from Diane Werts of Newsday. I read about five other reviews before this one, all of which sucked up to HBO's ability to produce fine shows--well quite frankly that isn't reviewing anything. I review books for the Catholic News Service--I don't see this task as looking at a book and saying "gee, this publisher has really published some great books in the past and this one is no different even though the first 300 pages suck!" Anyway there are some "critical thinkers" out there and Diane Werts is one who captures everything bad about this new show which is almost a parody of an HBO drama series:

HBO's "The Wire" may be about a flawed process or a sick system - eventually - but it sure isn't about people, or their inner demons, or even an eye-opening environment to keep us transfixed till some motivation gets established. This new 13-part chronicle of the enduring drug war isn't even about The Wire itself for what seems like forever. Its "drama" unfolds, ever so sluggishly, in a succession of maddeningly disjointed, dispassionate, ultimately unpleasant strolls through a neighborhood you wouldn't go near without a darn good reason. And if that reason is here, it isn't clear in the first five episodes.

The set-up seems simple. A hard-charging Baltimore homicide detective (Dominic West) realizes that many of his cases radiate from a slick drug lord, who hasn't yet hit law enforcement radar. A skilled narcotics detective (Sonja Sohn) soon agrees. They will work together, unappreciated, under the self-aggrandizing eyes of superiors either too ambitious or too lazy to be effective. Their investigation turns into surveillance (the wire, get it?) of the drug lord's young nephew, who beats a murder charge to keep the projects supplied with smack.

With all the time whiled away on setting them up, these people should be palpable. But they're merely heavy-handed stick figures designed to signify something important in the drug war morass being scrutinized by writers David Simon and Edward Burns. This Baltimore- based duo - former crime reporter and former homicide cop - dazzled us with drug insight in the award-winning HBO miniseries "The Corner." But they had help that time from cop drama scripter David Mills ("NYPD Blue"), whose plotting precision is sorely missed here.