Blogosphere has fallen in love with `The Wire'

ON BLOGS

October 01, 2006|By TROY MCCULLOUGH

For the online arbiters of cool, The Wire has arrived.

Accolades for David Simon's Baltimore-based crime drama, now in its fourth season, are spreading across the Internet like a West-Side drug war.

"In case you haven't heard, The Wire is the best show on television today, maybe the apotheosis of the form," wrote The Huffington Post's Anya Kamenetz last week.

"The Wire ... is surely the best TV show ever broadcast in America," echoed Slate editor Jacob Weisberg.

Prominent blogger Jason Kottke's fervor for the show has reached evangelical levels. He's been tracking every development of the show - on and off the screen - for several weeks now. "In my opinion, The Wire is one of the very best television shows ever," he wrote recently.

See the trend here? The superlatives are flying, but there's also something else interesting going on - people are thinking about the show and its larger cultural, social and political themes: rampant poverty; urban decay; drug addiction and crime; corrupt politics; and the dangers of entrenched bureaucracies.

Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James have a weekly installment on Slate titled "Breaking Down the Wire," where they debate and dissect each week's episode. "We're not here to judge or critique each episode, but rather - so I'm told - to walk the terrain that The Wire treads each week," Kotlowitz writes.

Andrew Dignon on the blog The House Next Door (mattzollerseitz. blogspot.com) has masterfully analyzed the opening credit sequence with the meticulousness of a doctoral candidate writing a dissertation.

"It is no surprise, then, that The Wire's opening credits are not an ordinary credits sequence, but a series of four short films that distill each season's themes, goals, and motifs," he writes.

"The entire assemblage is scored to a mournful biblical cautionary tale about the necessity and difficulty of resisting temptation and sin."

A new blog has also jumped onto the scene called Heaven and Here (heavenandhere.wordpress.com), which serves as a lively and smart online cafe for some of the show's most hard-core fans. Themes are analyzed, theories are floated and ideas are expounded upon.

And to the surprise of nearly everyone, the site has even attracted the attention of Simon, who jumped into the debate recently after one person suggested that the show should focus more intensely on the drug users.

"I probably shouldn't have interposed on the blog, I know, but this site is very sharp about the show and I probably overreacted to your particular note about drug users because Ed Burns and I gave five years to that theme and it was hell getting anyone to stay in their seats for The Corner," Simon wrote in a lengthy post, later adding: "Sorry if I was at all belligerent. I just felt like I had labored in that vineyard for quite a while. Mostly, I just try to lurk and read and keep my big mouth shut. But this blog and a few others like it are doing such credible work deconstructing the show that I broke the rule. What I most want to say, and failed to, to everyone posting here about the show is: Thanks for treating the work so seriously."

Lavishing that kind of feedback on bloggers is a sure way to keep them coming back for more - not that it was necessary.

This crowd is already hopelessly hooked on Simon's quality product.Troy.McCullough@baltsun.com

Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.

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