‘The Wire’ first episode

The first episode seemed way too expository for me, even for a first episode. The previous season openers didn’t seem so, well, talky. And, as Slate pointed out today in its TV Club, the Baltimore Sun material just stopped the show dead in its tracks. Gawker feedback is also ambivalent about the Sun stuff. I know it is only the first episode, but with now only 9 episodes left, I don’t know how we’re going to add layers to the newsroom caricatures presented last night. Only the ambitious Scott Templeton character seems to have any sorts of layers, and from what I’ve read, he turns over to the dark side in his ambitions. I guess, I have no problems with the bad guys being the bad guys (the two top editors) — God knows, I’ve got my own set of grudges against Corporate newspaper management; I truly believe they are soulless stupid motherfuckers who deserve to rot in sulfur-burning Hell.

But I want my good guys and not-so-sure guys layered, with some faults. That’s why we all love McNulty, Bubbles, Bunk, all of them. They’re all fuck-ups and losers, but they’re our fuck-ups and losers. Like us. Shit, the most popular character is a drug-dealer-robbing murderer. But we loves Omar.

So, I am a little disappointed in the “daily act of journalism” spewing hero of City Editor Gus Haynes (Clark Johnson, who was so good on Homicide, and seems to be a great director for this show, behind the cameras, too), the grammar-checking copy editor/rewrite man, and the Alma Gutierrez character as a naive reporter. Shit, I was never that fucking naive as a cub reporter on a shitty and small newspaper, and the HBO Web site has her character with 5 months already at the Sun — a bigger-than-midsize newspaper, with her previously working at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. Baltimore is in the majors leagues, not some Single-A shit, and I’ve heard of the Sun-Sentinel. She is actually happy with a “contributing” byline, takes a grammatical correction in stride (with no grumbling) and seems shocked that anyone would be ambitious enough to want to go to a bigger paper. Hey, she wants to stay in Baltimore, cool. But don’t begrudge someone looking to move up — at least her compatriot doesn’t want to go into management, and it’ll get him out of the fucking Tribune chain.

My naivete ended as a reporter when I was covering cops in a rural-poor community for a shoe-string weekly reading police reports about rural-poor crime. I was seated on a bench seat next to a shackled and drunk white woman who could barely sit up straight she was so baked. Another time, I asked an investigator to explain the nature of a sodomy charge against some scumbag, and the investigator deadpanned: “blowjob.”

OK, so let’s hope for the best for the final 9 episodes. And I should say, that this is all David Simon’s fault — if he and his crew of writers had not set the bar so high, we’d all be praising the shit out of the first episode. So don’t forget that, me included. When was the last time any show or movie acurately depicted the mouthpieces that manage today’s Corporately owned newspapers?


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