Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: The Wire unplugged

Today's column previews the finale of "The Wire" by looking back over great moments in the show's history that either paid off long after the fact (say, the above-pictured scene of the boys plotting their "water balloon" attack and how important it was last week) or moments that were pay-offs a long time in coming (say, Avon and Stringer's balcony talk). It's not remotely complete (for space reasons, I had to cut bits about Ziggy's rampage and the Robert's Rules of Order scene at the last minute, and there were plenty of others that never even made it that far). There are also YouTube links to most of the scenes mentioned.

Back tonight at 10:35 (or whenever the credits begin, if I'm in front of my TV at that second) with both the finale review and the Simon interview.

22 comments:

kwig said...

You mean Avon and Stringer?

Alan Sepinwall said...

You mean Avon and Stringer?

Sonuva... now I'm not just transposing Marlo and Omar's names, but transposing the names of various kingpins?

Must... invent... Templeton-esque excuse... to duck... correction...

lungfish said...

I forgot how good of a scene the chess lesson was. Time to pop in the season 1 DVDs again.

Do you think Michael actually couldn't remember the balloon fight with the terrace boys? I've rewatched multiple times and I still can't tell. I'm hoping that was one of your questions to David Simon.

Anonymous said...

I think it's deliberately vague; you could read it either way. There's all kinds of things like that through the whole series -- a macrocosm one, does Carcetti ever care about anything other than himself, or is he just saying the things he thinks he's supposed to? If the former, when, if ever, does he *stop* caring?

LDP said...

Alan, thanks for all of your columns and blog post on The Wire. This "greatest hits" piece is just what I needed, heading into tonight's episode.

I'll miss this show a lot.if

Kyle Wasko said...

Great post, Alan. (And what a great show!)

I just saw D'Angelo's chess lesson a couple of days ago. Next to Avon and Stringer on the balcony, I think it might be the best scene in the show's run. (Some have pointed to Marlo meeting up with Avon in prison in S5 as a contender, but I actually found that scene to a bit underwhelming.)

Looking forward/a little bummed at the prospect of watching the finale tonight.

That First Andrew said...

Alan,

Any good reason not to post the omitted/edited scenes in the comments?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Any good reason not to post the omitted/edited scenes in the comments?

If you can find 'em, sure. I looked high and low for links to the other stuff and came up empty.

Mike said...

Alan,

Any idea if HBO plans on keeping The Wire as part of it's On Demand menu?

Obviously season 5 will stay up for awhile, but I'm talking about starting over with season 1 and going all the way through season 5 -- kind of like they did in the leadup to the season 5 premiere when they showed the first 4 seasons.

I'd love to get my Dad into this show, and at least for now, I don't see us plunking down over $100 bucks for all of the DVD's.

Also, I know you already did the Simon interview, but I've always wondered whether he and his staff had to write each season with the possible thought that there wouldn't be a renewal for the next year...or did they have security each year that there would be a follow-up season.

Did they do season 1 just hoping that they would get the chance to pursue the topics and themes of seasons 2-5? Did Simon have a 5-year plan going in? @-year plan?

Thanks, Alan for the time, and for helping get me into this show in the first place!

I've seen the finale, and can't wait to read your review, and the Simon interview.

aml said...

A very good list. I would add Chris Bauer's (Frank Sobotka) rant to Brucie in S2 as well as the great speech delivered by John Doman (Rawls) in S1, when he tells McNulty he didn't do anything to get Kima shot despite the fact that he, Rawls, hated McNulty and would have destroyed him were he is some way responsible.

SJ said...

I don't know if this counts as "pay-off", but Omar relying on Bunk to bail him out in season 4, after he testified in season 2 (my favorite Omar moment ever).

"A man got to have a code". Omar to Bunk in season 4 after Bunk said it to him in season 3.

Mrglass said...

Thanks Alan for your coverage of "The Wire", the best series or movie ever deserves nothing less.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, I know you already did the Simon interview, but I've always wondered whether he and his staff had to write each season with the possible thought that there wouldn't be a renewal for the next year...or did they have security each year that there would be a follow-up season.

It doesn't come up directly in the interview (other than one bit where he talks about long-term planning), but season one was done without any idea whether there would be more. I don't know for sure that Simon knew he'd be able to do a third season while he was writing the second, but the way he kept the Barksdale/Bell stuff going on in the background of the port case suggests he had an idea.

Season four was made with no guarantee whatsoever of a fifth season, even though it also is obviously telling the first half of a two season story (MCU vs. Marlo, the downfall of Michael and Dukie). In fact, even after the episodes were completed and the premiere was a few months away, the head of HBO was talking about how he would feel comfortable ending the series after season four, even with so many things up in the air, and it wasn't until the TV critics of America rose up en masse to praise "The Wire" as the bestest thing ever did the renewal come.

I know Simon has had long-term plans from the beginning, but he only occasionally knew whether he'd be able to execute all of them.

Withnail said...

could you at least post what you wrote about the Rules of Order and Ziggy and anything else you wanted to post about? All of us can probably quote those scenes verbatim anyway.

Malaka.

jen said...

aml (or anyone else that can help me): Which episode of season 2 does Frank Sobotka give the rant to Brucie? I also love that scene and would like to view it again, but can't recall which episode. Thanks.

Algernon said...

The chessboard scene is so haunting now that all three characters in it are dead.

Anonymous said...

The murder of D'Andrea was for me a hauntingly memorable scene which I will never forget. What a horrible way to go.

Anonymous said...

I mean D'Angelo, of course.

Anonymous said...

For me, Marlo was dangerous not when he lost control, but when he held on to his control, because he was completely dispassionate about the crimes he would have committed to obtain and retain his crown. It was only when his emotions got to him that he became more vulnerable -- Chris and Snoop were well aware of this, which is why they never told him about Omar calling him out. Also, the scene in the Caribbean is a perfect example of how helpless and uncomfortable Marlo is when he is in an environment he doesn't know and can't control. This ties into the issues about "home" that the last episode raises.

Anonymous said...

Not ONE season 2 moment?!? Is it just because the union guys weren't in the later seasons the way that (some of) the gang members go from one season to the next?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is it just because the union guys weren't in the later seasons the way that (some of) the gang members go from one season to the next?

That was a big part of it, yeah. Like I said, Ziggy's rampage was one of the final cuts from the column, in part because the story had no life after that season.

aml said...

The S2 episode wherein Frank bribes the lobbyist is episode 20: Backwash - which also includes D'Angelo's funeral.

I also liked the scene between Frank and The Greek where The Greek counsels Frank to enjoy the money in a more tangible way. The Greek almost seems concerned that Frank's motives exist on a higher moral plain. And, true enough, it would never occur to Frank to spend the money on anything but the union.