Okay, I know I am late on The Wire. Everyone and their uncle has been telling me to watch this show and this Christmas Break, husband and I hunkered down with some DVD's and totally had our minds blown.
There are so many things to rave about with this show -- McNulty! Amazing! All the characters - totally real. Totally dimensional. Conflicted on every level, except a few and their being unconflicted is sort of a conflict in and of itself. And so initially, I'm thinking, WOW - so hard. You need really dramatic stakes for that to work, and actually - not true at all. It's part of that creating good characters thing, that I always back off of at some point. The Wire just commits to conflict, all the way.
The story telling is all about the details. ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS. The minutiae of this case is the plot - sure there are some murders thrown in, but day in and day out, it's the small details that create the stakes. All the stuff that as a writer, I yadda yadda, or totally blow off because I can't imagine anyone being interested in this stuff- the writers make paramount. And it's because the details MATTER - aren't just thrown in to show how authentic they can be - is why they work.
The dialogue - this is one of those shows that writes in vernacular. I have no clue what they are saying half the time - and it lends itself to urgency and again authenticity. But when it matters - when the characters really talk - the dialogue is no less authentic, no less grainy and gritty - but it's a tad more dramatic - actually really dramatic and it's freaking awesome!! Awesome!! And they get away with it because of all the time they put into the non-dramatic dialogue. At the end of the first season a cop gets shot and there are two incredible speeches made by two characters to McNulty. Incredible. Seriously - watching The Major and McNulty at the hospital gave me chills.
The turning points, the big ones are human. What makes the big arc work are the reactions these hardened cops and even harder bangers have to people. Plot moves along on details, but the plot CHANGES because of people.
It's good stuff.