Tuesday, September 05, 2006

5 Days...

While I was anxiously awaiting the start of the Notre Dame football season, there are now two new things that I am anxiously awaiting, both of which occur on September 10th. Those two things are my birthday and the return of The Wire. I know what you're all thinking, "I can understand why you're excited about your birthday, but what the hell is The Wire? I've never heard of it." The Wire is a little show on HBO that no one watches, but those who do watch it recognize it as the best show on television, and I think it might the be finest television show ever. I don't make such statements lightly. There have been a lot of great shows on television such as Law and Order, 24, Miami Vice, ER, the Sopranos just to name a few. But I think The Wire beats them all. What makes The Wire so special, I'll let the Sports Guy explain:
Readers kept telling me to watch this show. They implored me. They kept e-mailing me. They badgered me. I didn't listen. As I've described multiple times in this space, I hate being told that I should watch a show; I like discovering them at my own speed. And if it made me three or four years late for the party with classics like "The Sopranos" and "24," so be it. It's just that I can't willingly jump onto a show; it needs to happen organically.

For instance, here's what happened with "The Wire:" On a Tuesday night in mid-August, the Sports Gal and I were home with nothing to watch and ending up stumbling onto "The Wire Re-Up" button on HBO On Demand. I'd been avoiding this show for four years because the Baltimore drug scene didn't appeal to me unless Raffie Palmeiro and Miggy Tejada were involved. But the Sports Gal was the one who said, "Let's watch the first show of 'The Wire' and see if we like it."

Within 10 minutes, we were hooked. We ended up banging out three episodes the first night and another three the second night. Then our cable system switched to a new provider ... and all the Season 1 episodes disappeared into thin air. Now we were scrambling. None of the video stores around us had Season 1 in stock. I ended up ordering Season 1 online (two-day delivery courtesy of Amazon Prime), but we were so hooked on the show that when someone returned Season 1 to our video store, we rented the last three discs that same night. We banged out the last seven episodes in two nights before the DVD was even delivered. That's how hooked we were.

I'll go this far: I'd put Season 1 of "The Wire" against anything. The first three seasons of "The Sopranos." Seasons 1 or 2 of "24." The first seasons of "NYPD Blue," "ER" or "Miami Vice." You name it. I have never seen a show like it. Season 2 wasn't as good (if Season 1 was an A-plus-plus-plus, then Season 2 was a B-plus), and we're just about to dive into Season 3, so I don't have an opinion on that yet. Everyone seems to agree that they outdid themselves with Season 4 and that it's a legitimate masterpiece. Just know that you can absolutely start watching Season 4 without having seen the other three seasons. It's not an ideal way to break into the show, but you can do it.

Without giving too much away, four more things you need to know:

Before I started watching "The Wire," my four favorite TV/movie detectives of all-time were Sonny Crockett ("Miami Vice"); Jack Cates ("48 Hrs."); Johnny Kelly ("NYPD Blue"); and Nick Curran (Michael Douglas' character in "Basic Instinct"), who couldn't break away from Sharon Stone even though he knew that every time she climbed on top during sex, there was a 50 percent chance she might ram an ice pick into his chest. But Jimmy McNulty in "The Wire" (played by Dominic West) ... he might end up beating them all before everything's said and done. He might have even moved to No. 1 during the scene in Season 2 when they raid a brothel and he ends up in a threesome before the rest of the cops arrive. Not even Sonny Crockett would have done that.

B. I love any show with a slew of mostly no-name actors that bang their roles out of the park, although it was weird to see one of the leads from "Remember the Titans" playing drug lord Avon Barksdale. With that said, Alonzo Mourning gives an inspired performance as Stringer Bell (Avon's manipulative consigliere). Maybe the best athlete/Hollywood crossover since Kareem in "Airplane." (Wait, that's not Alonzo Mourning? Are we positive?)

In an attempt to be gritty, they didn't cast any of those Angie Harmon/Jill Hennessey types who always seem unrealistically cute for a drug/crime show set in a place like Baltimore. And since the actresses on the show are average-looking down the line, guess what happens? It's like the Lambeau parking lot, any press box or any NESCAC keg party ... the females who do appear on this show end up seeming disproportionately hot by about the fifth episode. Absolutely bizarre. I love when this happens.

Omar might be my favorite HBO villain since Adebici. And that's saying something. Anyway, I can't believe I didn't watch this show sooner. It enrages me. I'm not doing the "YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS SHOW OR YOUR WHOLE LIFE WILL BE INCOMPLETE!" routine, because that might scare you away. Just know that it's one of the five greatest shows I've ever seen. And I hope you stumble across it some day.

Organically, of course.