The Wire Season 5

November 3rd, 2008

Well, those of you who haven’t seen the Wire are probably bored of hearing people spout off about how it’s the best thing on TV. But it really is the best thing on TV. I’ve already said so here.

Nothing touches it for realism, for characterisation across a simply immense cast, for depth of investigation. They never rest on their laurels either, always looking with each series at a new area of the system that makes Baltimore work (or more often, fail to). The first series looked at crime and police, the second added the docks and urban decay into the mix, the third correction and rehabilitation, the fourth politics and education. The fifth brings in the newspaper system, the news, the role of truth and lies in politics, and the way that people use stories for their own ends. It’s incredible the way that within a few scenes in the first episode, they sketch out the staff and structure of the Baltimore Sun newspaper with the deftest of touches, and create enough to make a compelling show on its own while simultaneously advancing the plot and shining a light on all kinds of other areas of the city.

I wasn’t completely convinced by this final series at the half-way mark, in fact after the seventh episode of ten I was concerned they might have lost their way – some elements of the plot seemed a little far-fetched, a couple of the characters they were focusing on had become a little irritating (McNulty in particular). Then the last three episodes were absolutely fantastic once again, and brought the whole thing together as they always seem to do. It’s grim, it’s hard, it’s wonderfully pessimistic about the nature of power and the workings of politics, but at the same time it’s not at all without messages of hope. No character in it is simple, no problem has simple answers, people who are utterly destructive in some circumstances can be heroes in others. There was a brilliant circularity to the whole story, as seen in five seasons, as characters come and go, but the roles they play in the great scheme of crime, policing, education and politics are eternal…

Recommended pretty much beyond anything else ever.

Posted in film and tv by Joe Abercrombie on November 3rd, 2008.

13 comments so far

  • Jason H says:

    Its one of those programs I wish I started to watch way back when it started and then it was to late to catch up.

    I may buy the DVD’s eventually if I have the time to wade through them all 🙂

  • Juan Ruiz says:

    Probably the greatest american novel ever written… although it’s TV.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Joe,

    Funny thing you should mention The Wire. I’ve spent the last month reading The Blade Itself and Before They are Hanged. Last week I started reading Last Arguments of Kings, about the same time I finished the wire season 5 (I saw all the seasons of this briliant show in two months). I really like your books, and the first time I log on to your page to find out more about you, I find that you not only write well, you like good Batimore police work as well! I have to say I look forward to finishing The Last Argument and I have to pick up a copy of Best Served Cold when it is out. Reagards Sjur

  • Fluffs says:


    Do you watch The Shield? If you don't & you like The Wire you should check it out. It's totally different, but equally brilliant imho. Alas it too is coming to an end.

  • daft sod says:

    Joe once said about the Shield: “no one beats a confession out of a prisoner like Vic Mackie”.

    I just watched the last episode of the first The Wire season. Some great shit man. I already knew it would be awesome because of a blog entry named “TV Heaven: The Wire”.

    PS This blog entry made me see the Shield because I confused it with the wire. Don’t regret that, though.

  • Swainson says:

    Jason h

    Just buy it, you won’t regret it.

    We did the first series in about a week. Nothing else gets done. I’m seriously thinking of booking holiday time with myself to watch the next series, then the next, ahh you get the idea.

    Top recommendation Joe.

  • Mark Stay says:

    Love The Wire – currently halfway through season 4 and loving every minute.
    Joe – do you still sympathise with the Wire’s street kids considering your recent ‘can-o’-whup-ass’ incident?

  • Afront says:

    I’m currently reading Wire creator David Simon’s book Homicide (recently re-published by Canongate Books), which is an account of a year he spent with Baltimore’s finest. It’s a fascinating read and has many of the same themes as The Wire.

  • Anonymous says:

    George Pelecanos is a writer and consultant on The Wire, and writes tough and sublime crime novels set in the DC area. The voice and heart of his novel The Sweet Forever will astound you as much as encountering – well – The Blade Itself.

  • jason h,
    I’ve always watched them on DVD, I think having to wait a week between episodes would, particularly with this series, reduce the enjoyment somewhat.

    Juan Ruiz,
    Couldn’t agree more.

    Glad you’re enjoying the books…

    Mark S,
    Yeah, I still kind of do sympathise. Strange that.

    Fluffs, Daft,
    Absolutely, a big fan of The Shield. I was into that a long time before the Wire, in fact, and always kind of turned my nose up when people said the Wire was better. Michael Chiklis does angry better than pretty much anyone out there, especially now Russel Crowe seems intent on showing his breadth. I also really love the way the Shield is shot and edited. Great show. Doesn’t have the depth of the Wire, but then what does, and it certainly does action well.

    Pelecanos is a writer who seems to get a lot of respect. I need to check him out if I ever get the time to read anything again…

  • harvb says:

    I finally finished The Wire yesterday.

    I can’t honestly say what I felt by end of show, I must admit, but I am glad I watched them all.

    It’s a great commentary on life in general, I think, and don’t believe it’s tied to Baltimore or even really the US. I think it’s a good argument for sterilisation on some counts. Okay too drastic. I had this in my head perfectly but as soon as I came to post in the shadow of a literary hero I giggled uncontrollably and could only say “I like chocolate buttons” for half an hour. I’m rambling now.

    I enjoyed it, and, hell with it I’ll spoil everyone because you damn well should have watched it by now.

    Omar, simply the best character by far, but what a shame, what a horrible way to go, so casually off-hand, but at the same time, a kind of poetry to it. And in the final montage, the kid Michael (is it?) is the new Omar… That seemed poetic too, didn’t it?

    Bubbles shines through as such a fine characterisation, I just wanted to know more about him. All the way through I loved Skinner too, but then he’s such a great British actor it’s hard NOT to like him. (Incidentally if you haven’t see it, watch the UK show Ultraviolet.)

    McNulty both entertained and annoyed equally, I felt. I could see it all coming; watching his career spiral out of control was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I was even grimacing in some stages, as though I were on-set during Fawlty Towers. But yeah, his end was pretty good too.

    I could go on and on but I’ve bored myself to tears and I need to go lie down.

    Did I love it? For the most part, yes. Would I rate it the best thing on TV effar? No, I still think that’s Band of Brothers. Would I watch the entire series again? No, but I’d watch the first season again, for sure.

    And to think I only got into it because you recommended it Abercrombie. You git.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hey joe,

    my name’s Luke and I’m a wire addict. As soon as I’d devoured all five series I started hookin my friends up so I could experience it all again vicariously through them. Our conversations are now littered with true dat, po po and sheeeeeeeeeeit.

    So, now that I’ve just finished watching the last episode of Generation Kill, here I am touting it to you and all your blog readers. If you’ve not heard of it it’s based on a book by Evan Wright, it’s been adapted for TV by the writers of The Wire, it deals with the US invasion of Iraq and it’s brilliant. Go watch it now. Go.

Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *