The Wire: Season Five: With Less, You Do Less

March 5, 2008 § Leave a comment

As usual, remember, this will have spoilers, I’ve seen everything but the series finale, so don’t read if you don’t watch.


Time Is Almost Up. ©HBO.com

As we sit here today, eagerly chomping at the bit which is protecting us from biting our own tongues, while we wait until for the clocks to strike (blink? can we get a study of analog clocks as opposed to digital clocks, somebody? we can take a couple people off the Mitchell Report investigations) 9:00 PM on Sunday Night so we can begin the long goodbye with the greatest* show of my life, The Wire. So I’d like to examine what I consider to be the juiciest topic until the finale airs, that being the season’s true villain.

Marlo Stanfield is not the villain of this season. Melvin “Cheese” Wagstaff is also not the villain. Neither is one Scott Templeton. In this season of The Wire the villain is not on camera. That is not to say that the villain is going to be shown at some point on screen. The villain, to me, of the series is the Home Box Office channel, known to most as HBO.

First of all, the newspaper headline ad campaign was possibly the most feeble I’ve ever seen. How do we attract viewers to the hottest realest and goddamn greatest thing we’ve ever shown (yes, it’s better than The Sopranos)? Let’s make banners with newspaper headlines which are not in full and no photos of any characters at all. No focus on The Fall Of McNulty, or Marlo Stanfield’s rendition of “The Takeover,” which was probably one of the more compelling angles of the season as it brought Joe down. Such foreshadowing could have been accomplished tastefully. Or maybe a series of posters that were wide shots of the different cliques of the show.

Putting episodes up early on On Demand sets up a time/money differential that makes talking about the show with your friends much more complicated. Jason Whitlock picked up on this on the new B.S. Report, and I agree with him about this mistake (he didn’t involve money, but I think it is relevant).

But the most important blunder that HBO is mirrored in the way that the show talked about how the Newspaper Industry is dealing with budget concerns, which gave us the line, “More with less,” which I saw a conncection between at the jumpoff. And I quote:

Season 5

HBO announced on September 12, 2006 that it commissioned a fifth and final season consisting of 13 episodes, but which was later reduced to ten.[206]

That’s copied and pasted from Wikipedia. I’d rather a more reliable source, direct link to Undercover Black Man – the source for this, but I think you trust me with this more than anyone trusts that some kid named “E.J.” rolled his ass to an Orioles game and couldn’t get in.

I know that the theme of More With Less is probably something that Burns and Simon had cooking long before HBO announced that they were going to shoot less episodes, but this season has a distinct feeling unlike any other season.

It feels marginally rushed. Plot lines proceeding faster than normal. Episodes beginning and ending on exact plot points and not the usual sort of not-as-obvious development. While the Omar plot has great traces back to the third season, and the junkie who talked about the list of things you won’t do that you will do appeared in the Hamsterdam plot, I have to say that the Newspaper plotline is incredibly half baked.

And finally, McNutty, as Bubbles called him once. To have his fake serial killer start in episode two, is a rush job of the most obvious magnitude. That should have been built up to a reveal in episode 3 or 4 like how Bunny Colvin started Hamsterdam up. We were rushed into the idea of the budget shortages, and that really didn’t help things at all. If the newspaper were involved with the budget shortages (not their own), they would mean more. If the newspaper had poorly covered the bodies in the row houses, that would have been amazing and helped us care about this fiction rendition of the Sun.

But, really, this is a good season of television, and I’ll get back to why that is before the finale airs. And yes, to a certain degree, this was rushed.

PS: I’d like to thank you all, the fans of The Wire, my base. On 3/5/08, HenryCasey.Wordpress.Com had it’s Best Day ever, with 91 Page Views. Thanks for taking the sting out of Hillary’s wins.

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