Tag Archives: HBO

The Wire – Season Two

This stuff just gets better and better. I’m done with season two now and looking forward to more. I’m moving at about a one season per quarter pace, which is sped up because I’m traveling a lot and always watch one episode per flight on my iPhone. Outside of sports and an occasional Netflix movie, this is my primary form of screened entertainment, which is good. I don’t covet more.

Aside: I’m struck by the odd mix of entertainment I’ve decided to restrict my consumption to as I get older. As of today, and it’s changing, here’s the hierarchy of entertainment media consumption in my life arrived at via an unscientific study based mostly on gut feel:

  • Books
  • Sports on TV
  • Music
  • Screened entertainment via iPhone
  • Movies via Netflix
  • Miscellaneous stuff on Facebook and Twitter
  • YouTube

Network TV is almost completely eliminated outside of the sports angle. Gratuitous TV watching is not part of my life, I primarily press power on the TV to watch a scheduled sporting event. That’s about it.

I assert, and my wife disagrees strongly, that I can do without the sports also. I’m ready to ditch cable at the drop of a hat, as long as Gail is okay with it. She wouldn’t even have to tell me.

However, I’m not one of those self-righteous snobs who shuns cable. I certainly have time for it. In fact, I get angry when fellow Americans say, “I don’t have time for that.” That statement is full of hypocrisy and lies. To be truly honest with yourself, that phrase should always be followed with the word because and an explanation of other time wasters that you choose to partake in. For instance, here are a few examples that pertain to me:

I don’t have time to read the WSJ because I read too much trash fiction.

I don’t have time to train for a marathon because I play too much golf.

I don’t have time to go to the movie theater because it’s NBA playoff season.

I could make time for seeing movies, training for a marathon, and reading the WSJ, but I choose not too. For me, there’s not a period or exclamation point after the words “I don’t have time for that,” there’s the word because with some insight and analysis into my own personal shortfalls and demons. I feel like I’m being more honest with myself. In truth, I have time for whatever I want to have time for. Any denial of that fact would be putting a blind eye to bouts of laziness and unproductiveness.

Okay, enough of that, back to The Wire. I was especially struck by episode 6 and the theme of accepting your life or trying to change your life.

** PLOT KILLERS FOLLOW **

Episode 6 was an inspired effort. It opened with the Omar’s testimony against Bird (hilarious and inventive) and closed with the murder of D’Angelo (surprising).

Omar says something like this to Levy during the cross examination:

I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. It’s all in the game.

I watched it on a flight and busted out laughing at this. I probably got some looks.

Now D’Angelo’s murder, that was a little more somber. I should have seen that coming early in the episode after the prison book club meeting with D’s soliloquy about The Great Gatsby and how we can’t change our true self. I knew they were going to try based on Stringer making the payoff, but I thought D was too integral of a character to be killed off.

But as you know, HBO is not afraid to kill off key characters. They certainly did it during Game of Thrones. Check out this guys take on that (he’s an NBA writer but talks about TV every so often). I’m not familiar enough to make this proclamation because I think The Wire is the only HBO series I’ve watched. Oh wait, I think I saw the first season of that funeral home drama, Six Feet Under. Was that HBO or Showtime? I guess I could Google it, but I’m writing this on a plane on my iPhone after watching episode 9 and I think I’ve just met Brother Mouzone. Wow, this is such a cool show.

There’s a lot of rich stuff on the net about The Wire and it prompts some serious debate. I’m amazed at the cult following this show has. Check out Chuck Klosterman’s take at Grantland (no plot spoilers in that one, don’t worry). I hear references from friends and see references on the net, so I really have to make a conscious effort to avoid plot spoilers. It’s tough given the wide-ranging acclaim this show garners.

I’ll start season three in August some time.

Game of Thrones – Episode Two

So yeah, after watching Talking Funny, I hung around HBO a little longer and caught this hour-long episode of Game of Thrones. It’s an HBO series based on the books by author George R.R. Martin. I saw some headlines weeks ago about this HBO series but I had no idea what it was. I ignored them because we don’t have HBO and I don’t do TV series in real time. The only TV series I’m watching right now is season two of The Wire (2003).

Game of Thrones was cool. I read about one sci-fi/fantasy book a year and I think the first book of this series will be it. I would rather read it than watch it. Sure, if it’s great I’ll probably grab the video in a few years, but I read very little fantasy so I need to be highly selective. Heck, I’ve seen an hour of the story and I’m comfortable that the plot and characters appear interesting, so let’s do this.

I’ve heard it described as “Lord of the Rings for Americans.” I’m not sure where I heard that or why they said it. Martin is American, but the show seems to have a lot of British accents and uses the whole king and royalty schtick. Hmmm, whatever. I’ll know more in a few months. I’ll probably read it this summer, especially if I get to a beach or pool.

Talking Funny

I was out of town and it just so happens that the cable system in the hotel had TNT adjacent to HBO on the dial. So as I was watching the Heat clinch against the Sixers, I checked on HBO during commercial breaks. We don’t have HBO at home so it’s one of the few redeeming things about business travel. I got sucked in to this show and couldn’t turn it off. It’s just four comedians sitting around discussing the trade for an hour.

The four comedians are Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K. It appeared that Ricky Gervais was the ringleader/moderator and I think his company produced the show. It’s specifically about stand-up comedy. The topics ran the gamut, they talked about the engaging the audience, writing jokes, using profanity, style, delivery, getting started, etc… You name it. It was a rambling conversation and really funny.

I do love stand-up comedy, but I haven’t been to see any stand-up in years. It used to be that my wife and I would hit the comedy clubs a few times a year back in the 1990s. I don’t think we’ve been in ten years, actually. This makes me want to go back.

They spent about 10 minutes talking about profanity. Jerry Seinfeld has used the f-word during stand-up once in his life. Only once! He says he just doesn’t need it for laughs. He didn’t deride the word though and is not offended by it. In fact, he sounded like he was appreciative of how the other guys use it. If you’ve seen any of the others, you know that they are heavy users of the f-word.

Then they moved on the the n-word, which Chris Rock uses mightily. Now I’m not familiar with Louis C.K.’s comedy, but evidently he uses the n-word also. I gotta tell you, it was a little uncomfortable watching him throw it around during the show. You just don’t see white guys using that word ever. Seinfeld and/or Gervais commented with something like, “only you, Louis, can use the n-word.” I’m not sure what that means. I need to check out his comedy to get a better understanding.

I started following Louis C.K. and Chris Rock on Twitter. It doesn’t look like Seinfeld or Gervais use the medium at all. I have a comedy list on Twitter with a mix of popular and indie comics and it provides a ton of laughs on a pretty regular basis. I need to reintroduce myself to stand-up.

The Wire – Season One

I know, I’m a little behind the times, but I don’t watch any current dramatic, comedic, or reality TV. Period. If I turn the TV on, it’s sports. It’s that simple. I’m not out of touch though. Notice, I said current. I do watch old stuff on DVD, Netflix, or downloaded from iTunes. Every movie or TV show that I watch starting January 2011 will be listed here in the film category (for lack of a better name, I know it’s all digital). Every one.

I’ve been hearing about The Wire for a long time, mostly from a guy at one of my clients. The seriousness with which he suggested this show was compelling. He’d be like, “The Wire, now that’s the best show on TV.” And that comma, after he said “The Wire,” was a long comma. It was like he was giving the title some breathing room because it was so deserving to stand alone on the mountaintop of TV greatness. Chilling.

So I grabbed it (Seasons 1-4) at a silent auction a few year’s ago and I’m finally getting to the business of watching it.

It is friggin’ awesome. It’s a cop show + that takes place in Baltimore. I say + (pronounced plus) because it actually spends about equal time between cops, lawyers, and drug dealers. It spans the cop genre by including homicide, narcotics, beat cops, and even the FBI a little. It spans the drug dealer genre by including the distributors, the managers, the enforcers, and the junkies. And it goes beyond the illegal activities to dig into the personal and private lives of both the criminals and law enforcement. It’s an hour long soap opera style show and Season One lasts thirteen episodes.

Season One is about a special task force trying to bust a very successful drug dealer (Avon Barksdale) in the Baltimore projects. The police task force is a group of stars and misfits from various departments who are able to convince a judge to let them put wire taps on Barksdale’s crew. The cast of characters is incredible. Absolutely incredible.

The characters are so compelling that I’ve fallen into that trap of relating their character traits to things in my life. I’ll ask, what would McNulty do? How can I bring Kima’s passion to this gig? And I notice others doing this. Heck, you can’t tell me that Jason Whitlock (a huge fan of The Wire) didn’t find some inspiration in McNulty’s “disdain for authority” when he left the Kansas City Star last year. Another example, I was at a friend’s house the other night and he casually referenced a character. I’m telling you, they suck you in.

Season One ends with a big bust of much of Barksdale’s crew. Stringer is now running the show while Barksdale is in prison. McNulty got transferred out of homicide and is working harbor patrol. Kima looks like she’ll recover from the bullet wound and I think Lt. Daniels is back in narcotics. Freamon is working homicide and I think he is partnering up with Bunk. I’m not sure what happened to DeAngelo, I couldn’t tell if he went into witness protection or prison. I’m getting Season Two rolling soon.