'Wire' episodes fall flat when plot e...

'Wire' episodes fall flat when plot enters the newsroom

There are 32 comments on the Baltimore Sun story from Dec 30, 2007, titled 'Wire' episodes fall flat when plot enters the newsroom. In it, Baltimore Sun reports that:

Writing about the past four seasons of HBO's The Wire has been one of the great pleasures of this job.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Baltimore Sun.

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Wire Fan

Bronx, NY

#1 Dec 30, 2007
Of course everyone is suspect of your review. The Sun was just bought by a guy with a bigger than life ego. So the question will alway remain, is there subtle or direct pressure to make sure that all editorial distances itself from the Wire's portrayal of the fictionalized Sun? After all was shot before the sale.
If there is one thing that I am sure season 5 will point out, it's that corprate media has multiple, often conflicting, agendas that prevent it from truly serving the public.
Oh--Now that the FCC is allowing City Daily Newspapers to be owned by mega merged TV corporations, will the Sun be sold again? Or will the Sun buy one of our TV stations?
Cliff Brinkman

Waterford, MI

#2 Dec 30, 2007
You do sound a bit defensive, David. I think everyone who has followed Simon's career understands that he was a bit of a prima donna while at the Sun, his brilliance as a reporter sometimes undermined by his instinct for story. But one of the things every careful reader understands is that reporters get the story wrong every time--not every fact, of course; usually every fact is true--but if you attended an event or you know the players in a given action, the story in the Sun (or the Times or the Post) reads like a concert review by a deaf person. You do it yourself here, in part by insisting the "biggest story" in the media today is the internet's challenge to newspapers. Nope. The crisis is not the internet or cable TV or even the corporate pillage ongoing since the 1970s. It's the inability of journalists to recognize or write compelling narratives that matter to people and that read true to those who know.

Silver Spring, MD

#3 Dec 30, 2007
Way to go...you aren't biased at all. You have just raved about The Wire for four seasons, but you dead pan the one season portraying The Sun negatively.

Get a grip and realize that you newspaper is far from perfect and is part of the larger landscape of Baltimore.

I just hope that this article is a direct result from your editors rather than your opinion...because it would be better for you to be a sell out rather than actually proving Simon right.

Clearwater, FL

#4 Dec 30, 2007
I think quite a few of the points you're making are flawed. For example, you're calling them to task for basing their plotlines and characters off of events that have happened in the past. First off, that'll bother nobody except for those who have worked at the Baltimore Sun at some point, and secondly, that's what The Wire has always done. Most of the drug dealer are based off of characters who reigned in the 80s, and the season 1 investigation was based primarily off of a similar one from the 80s. This is a fictional show with characters who are often based on real people that may or may not still be around. So what if some of the characters being portrayed are no longer employed by the Sun. If that's a problem, then you might as well complain that Jay Landsman is no longer a seargent at the Homicide unit.
Reality Check

United States

#5 Dec 30, 2007
You're right to say that your words are likely to be mistrusted. The reason is not that your panning a show that happens to portray The Sun in a negative manner. The reason is that The Sun is, and always has been, a puppet and parrot for the Democratic hacks that run Baltimore.

When Mr. Kane is the only Sun writer to ever display any integrity, why would you think that any of your words would EVER be trusted?
Dave Alan

Rockville, MD

#6 Dec 30, 2007
Season five takes a look at a newspaper not the Media. Not many Baltimorians rely on newspapers for their main source of news? Television news is still king.
And why is it when scenes of television news crews are shown in this new season no affiliate channels are shown?
We see mike flags of CNN and other networks that would never cover local news issues.

Worth, IL

#7 Dec 30, 2007
Give the reviewer a break, people! Clark Johnson said the same thing about the non-actors from the Baltimore Sun that Simon put in The Wire just because they were his friends/wife/whatever -- here is the direct quote from The New Yorker:

"It was like a frat house the other day, with all your newspaper pals around here," Johnson told Simon. "What, you think somebody in Iowa's gonna be watching and go,'Look, honey, it's Bill Zorzi!'?" Warming to his riff, he added, "You ever try playing off these people who've never acted before? Somebody yells 'Action,' and they stand here like this"óhe made a blank fish face."

As a completely-obsessed (too obsessed) fan of The Wire, I am so disappointed that David Simon is choosing to make obvious points about the media (they don't cover black neighborhoods fairly? Big surprise!) at the expense of the amazing characters from Season Four. I haven't seen the episodes yet, but apparently, the four kids from Season Four get short shrift because Simon now has to make his spiel about homelessness, the media, etc. Those kids were the most amazing actors, and their characters' development was amazing to watch -- and now, they're just going to be in a couple of episodes?

I know, I know, I should watch the season before judging -- but Simon's insidery choices sound like they've done a lot of damage to this season.
J Thomas

Manchester, MD

#8 Dec 30, 2007
It's funny how liberals will praise Michael Moore for his phony 911 documentary, but get upset when it's about their world.
Jim King

Portland, OR

#9 Dec 30, 2007
I have my doubts that season 5 can match the realism, agony, and emotional truth that was season 4, but I'm willing to give David Simon the benefit of the doubt. There have been those who have questioned the wisdom of each season theme before it aired, and they have been wrong.

I doubt that Mr. Zurawik is parroting his masters, but when you know all the references and "get" all the inside jokes, it is difficult to be unbiased. Season 5 is in the can, and no matter what, "The Wire" will go down as a phenomenal achievement.

My suggestion would be to relax and enjoy the final episodes.
good grief

Baltimore, MD

#10 Dec 30, 2007
J Thomas wrote:
It's funny how liberals will praise Michael Moore for his phony 911 documentary, but get upset when it's about their world.
Why are these knee-jerk, irrelevant posts on every thread? Is there something in the water?
NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBJECT of the thread, some bonehead always tries to steer the conversation toward "liberals" or "Michael Moore"

OK we get it -- the liberal media is conspiring to destroy America and people like you are our only hope. Thanks.

New York, NY

#11 Dec 30, 2007
LOL. Like Jason Blair was the big ethical lapse of the New York Times. Not for instance, facilitating the genocide invasion of Iraq. Or how about demonizing people of color in the US. Or how about, whitewashing Israel's crimes against the Palestinians. I cant wait till Jan 9th. Finally, the American media gets the attention it deserves.

Halethorpe, MD

#13 Dec 30, 2007

You are correct. Your critique of Simonís fictional newsroom comes off as catty and defensive as hell. One gets the feeling you are upset Simon had no room for a fictional version of a Sun media critic.

More importantly you make the same mistake everyone makes about TV and the Movies.
TV shows like the Wire, Law and Order and so on, as realistic as they may be, are still fiction. This is TV drama not 60 minutes. It may be a self indulgent construct on Simonís part but except for Sun people, no one cares how close to reality this fictional newsroom is.

For example, I donít believe all prosecutors talk and act like Sam Waterston. I also donít believe that all female CSI people look and dress like supermodels or that all (or even most) Italians in New Jersey are in the Mafia. Unfortunately the lines have gotten blurred. I remember when Oliver Stone got all kinds of criticism about the inaccuracies of JFK, when it was obviously just his editorial comment on the assassination.
Cardinal Robbins

Downey, CA

#14 Dec 30, 2007
I've been a long time fan of David Simon's work, both with "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "The Wire." Your article on The Sun was portrayed was very insightful, especially in regard to how it affects the pacing of the series.

One thing I'd really like to know is, does Detective John Munch (from "Homicide" and "Special Victims Unit") actually make an appearance on "The Wire," as has been rumored for quite some months now? If so, I'll be especially looking forward to his brief return to Baltimore.
Canton Steve

Rosedale, MD

#15 Dec 31, 2007
The Carcetti election storyline was at least 7 or 8 years old when it ran last season. The Wire's timeline has never been current, so the 90's Sun is about what I'd expect. Don't knock the show because the timeline's messed up at the Sun. It worked in every other instance. Sounds like you wanted some face time.

“Are you freaking kidding me?”

Since: Dec 07

Douglasville, Ga

#16 Dec 31, 2007
Does the show suppose to mirror what is going on in Baltimore today? This is entertainment, sadly after this year it will be no more. We have to let the show develop into what Simon's vision is. He is the storyteller, let him tell the story.

Old Saybrook, CT

#17 Dec 31, 2007
This is why nobody likes the journalists or the mainstream media. The storyline taps in to the media storyline. So what?
It's not perfect in your eyes how the newsroom works or looks like.
As a cop. I know the wire isn't real but some scenes do actual justice to the inner city thugs I'm trying to arrest. But i know its just a show not real life.

Philadelphia, PA

#18 Dec 31, 2007
I kinda have to disagree a little.. I say a little because I 've only seen the first episode and to me it's like the clam before the storm from chris , Mcnulty and the russian to Marlo, Slim, and Cheese it's a great build up of whats to come.. Can't just start off with all action. You gotta know where and why the Action is taken place yeah it might be starting off slow but I'm cool with that I'm a thinker, a watcher no one pays attention to everything from small detail to greater.. I can already see how things might turn out just look at the first episode.. Remember people been waiting for this for a whole year so yeah they are jacked up but please gotta take baby steps one at a time just be patient you will be satisfied
John in DC

United States

#19 Dec 31, 2007
"And the newsroom scenes are the Achilles' heel of Season 5 - with mainstream entertainment sacrificed to journalistic shop"

What, the show is supposed to be about ratings and not reality? Maybe they should drop the 'hood lingo too, after all, us white boys don't get it.

"More problematic still is the way Simon links certain newsroom characters to real-life journalists through words and actions."

Only, and I mean ONLY, people who worked at the Sun would get that, that is what, 100 people in the entire WORLD?

United States

#20 Dec 31, 2007

With all due respect,your problems with this season, seemed to be rooted in your displeasure from Simon's depiction of a newsroom, The Baltimore Sun, specifically. What was the point in mentioning, not once but twice, how much time has passed since Simon left the newsroom. It will be interesting to find out whether the population of laypeople, who love The Wire will feel the same way.

Worth, IL

#21 Dec 31, 2007
Technology is unbelievable -- I found the first episode of Season 5 on the Internet and downloaded it -- and I wasn't that impressed. A lot of the Baltimore Sun actors are terrible. But I think Simon portrays the way newspapers are now accurately. Clark Johnson is a great, great actor, definitely the standout in the newsroom. Nothing much happens, unfortunately, and a lot of the dialogue from Seasons 3 and 4 is exactly the same. In Season 3, Sydnor says, "someday, I'm going to work for a real police department" after the Major Crimes Unit stops tracking Kintel Williamson; McNulty says the exact same thing at the end of Episode 1, and one of the Baltimore Sun actors says "someday, I'm going to work for a real newspaper." It gets kind of tedious.

I hope, hope, hope the next nine episodes are better.

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