Thursday, 8 May 2014

Sanguine. Hopeful. Plus, point of interest, it also means bloody

So I decided against reusing Rupert Giles's awesome line about tea and went with the wit and wisdom of one Zoe Washburne, because today it is time to ramble about the results of Test 2: 1xCaffeinated Beverage, 1xNon-Sleep Deprived Achilleus. Given that I don't have a huge amount of context to go into, I may use the rest of this post to talk about my feelings on The Wire, which me and my housemate finally finished watching. But first of all, the results of Test 2.

Which are pretty much the same results as last week. No significant change in behaviour. Slightly more alert and buzzy, but that's to be expected from drinking coffee. In order to preserve some semblance of scientific process I had yet another flat white using our medium roast coffee. No incidences of caffeination hysteria, thus seeming to prove that the Tiredness Equilibrium Theory is invalid. Or maybe invalid is too harsh. It's not entirely improbable that Tiredness Equilibrium is a factor, but since there was no tiredness to equalise today, it appears my caffeine tolerance is increasing. Final decision on that to made upon the completion of testing.

There it is then, folks. Test 2 completed. Test 3 to follow in at least a week I should think. Hmmmm...pre-meditated sleep deprivation. This could prove interesting...

Anyway, as I like my blog posts to contain more substance than just a couple of random paragraphs, it's time to babble about my experience with one of HBO's most fabulous (though now off the air) shows, The Wire.

Set in the city of Baltimore, Maryland (once home to none other than Edgar Allan Poe), The Wire focuses on a group of police officers and the drug organisation that they target with a series of wiretaps (hence the title). The show isn't a straight-up police procedural by any stretch of the imagination. It deals with the office politics of both the Baltimore Police Department and the office politics (or so much as one has an office) of the drug trade. Each series of The Wire focuses on a different case, but many of the characters stay the same and invariably it all comes back to drugs and Baltimore's seemingly futile war on the drug trade.

The Wire is populated by some truly incredible characters on both sides of the war, as well as those hapless people caught in the middle, with some of the most fantastic and entertaining dialogue I've heard from a TV show in a LONG time. To the point where, one day, I will go back through The Wire in a "quote-watch", which likely require either one page per season or a page for each character (though given that even incidental characters have fantastic lines, a page - or two - per season will be the most logical option).

Now I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot, as it is quite extensive and is so much better when watching it. But I will do some special mentions of some of my favourite characters. So, all ye reading this, be thou warned - there be spoilers ahead. Potentially.

First up, on the side of the "angels" (or as angelic as these cops can be with their vices), we have Baltimore's finest detectives and none come finer than Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters). Introduced as a quiet, seeming "hump" detective chosen by Baltimore PD higher-ups in order to stymie a case they had been forced to pursue by a politically connected judge, Lester emerges as one of the best and brightest detectives on the detail. Although perceived as an old-timer past his prime and relegated to BPD's Pawn Shop Unit, it turns out he is what you call "natural police", someone who just has that near otherworldly knack for the work. As the seasons go on, Lester is often intrinsic in make the logical leaps that help break the cases the detail finds themselves assigned to. He possesses a fearsome intelligence and one hell of a knack for running circles around his superiors.

At one point in the show, Lester is teamed up with another fine, upstanding (at least when he's sober), Homicide detective, William "Bunk" Moreland (Wendell Pierce). Bunk is never officially part of the detail, though his murder cases oft overlap with the details and he is a constant presence in the series, chomping on a cigar as he surveys yet another dead body in a city that is full of them. A serial womaniser, he and his original partner, Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), are often teaming up in bars to help the other seduce an attractive lady. In spite of both of them being married. Definitely not their most redeeming qualities. But in a strange way, you don't watch them because they're redeeming characters. You watch them because they're broken, frail humans. With a sarcastic wit and an enduring dedication to his work, Bunk may not be a shining example of what a police officer should be, but he is damn fun to watch.

On the other side of Baltimore's drug war, you have occasional police ally and all-round badass, Omar Little (Michael Kenneth Williams). Regarded by many - including incumbent US President Barack Obama - as the finest character on the show, Omar is a stick-up man. Not part of the drug trade per se, he tracks the drug dealers, finds the source of their drugs ("the stash"/"stash house"), then steals the drugs from them by holding them at the end of his trademark shotgun. Whistling all the while. No hero by any stretch of the imagination, Omar is nonetheless an incredibly charismatic character that you are compelled to root for. Credit goes not just to the fantastic writing of Omar's character, but Michael Kenneth Williams' utterly sterling performance. Every second of his screen time is an absolute delight.

I'm going to round things off soon, but it would hardly do to mention just one of The Wire's other side characters after mentioning two cops. To that end, the other compelling character from the wrong side of Baltimore's war on drugs is the oft tragic character of Bubbles (Andre Royo). A heroin addict and occasional police informant, Bubbles (or "Bubs") is not a man having the best time of life, but he soldiers on regardless. At first just chasing the next hit, either being paid by the police for information or scavenging copper pipes (and other useful materials) and selling them on to (mostly) construction sites, Bubbles eventually strives to kick the habit, falling off the wagon a couple of times. Andre Royo brings incredible depth to Bubbles, taking him from a cheeky-chappy addict to a truly tormented soul on a long, painful path to recovery.

This is where I leave it, as I could probably write an entire dissertation on The Wire, how awesome it is and how fantastic the characters are. I realise the "D" would previously mentioned might be a bit sore and a delicate subject for some at this time of year but...well, yeah, whatever really.

So there it is. The results of Test 2 and just some of my feelings on the amazing series that was The Wire. Go forth and watch it. Seriously. You will not find yourself regretting it.

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