Tune in, turn on, watch 'The Wire'

Tune in, turn on, watch 'The Wire'

If you’re anything like me — and God help you if that’s the case — then you conduct a mental inventory every day upon waking.

Broadly speaking, this involves five basic categories: the physical, the emotional, the financial, the professional and the personal.

Rare is the morning when I can run through that checklist without at least one alarm bell ringing, and it has little to do with the clock.

So when I prepared to greet another day in paradise, another chapter in just living the life, I was more than a bit confused when I found myself more than depressed … I was actually sad.

I’d run down my five categories, and aside from a twinge in my left foot that I prayed didn’t portend another painful visit from the gout monster who lives within, I felt pretty good about things.

Sure, it bothered me I was still without a working cell phone, and of course, I knew one of these days I’d have to climb up to the roof and clean the gutters, the last of the leaves having fallen.

But something else was nagging me, something that didn’t fit easy categorization, something wonderful I’d come to love and lose.

And then I remembered watching the last episode of “The Wire.”

For the uninitiated, it was an HBO police drama that ran for five seasons (2002-08), and though it was never even nominated for a single Primetime Emmy — excluding a couple of minor writing credits — it is almost always considered among television’s finest.

Each season is devoted to a particular segment of Baltimore life — the drug trade, joblessness, political corruption, the state of schools and the demise of print journalism — and taken in the aggregate, each provides a different lens through which to view modern life.

David Simon, “The Wire’s” driving force, said this of his creation: “We are not selling hope, or audience gratification, or cheap victories with this show. It is not designed purely as an entertainment and is, I’m afraid, a somewhat angry show.”

Let’s put a pin in “The Wire” for now and consider its place in the pantheon of what may well one day be considered TV’s second Golden Age. Starting at the outset of the 21st century, there was no shortage of outstanding offerings, including these favorites of mine:

—“Sons of Anarchy” (2008-14)

—“Californication” (2007-14)

—“Downton Abbey” (2010-15)

—“House of Cards” (2013-18)

—“Six Feet Under” (2001-05)

—“Mad Men” (2007-15)

—“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

—“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)

—“The West Wing” (1999-2006)

—“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)

It reminded me of the early '70s and the way Hollywood threw off the shackles of the old studio system and embraced a new way of making movies, spurred by a band of young directors — Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, among many others — determined to break down barriers and offer startling insights as they ushered in a renaissance of realism.

Interestingly, it has been argued the impetus behind seismic shift in movie making from the bland to the bold was, in fact, television and its ever-tightening grip on American audiences.

How can we get people out of their homes into theaters once again?

And now, it seems, folks are back in their houses, this time maybe to stay. It’s no secret that aside from super-hero sequels and mindless remakes, the big-screen industry has fallen on hard times. The pandemic merely reinforced a trend that had been fairly obvious for many years; to wit, the popcorn experience of going to the movies had lost its charm, owing to a number of factors, not the least of which was putting up with idiots who wouldn’t shut up.

I’ve written on this unhealthy reality many times over the course of my time as your humble chronicler of human foibles, and it remains a problem with no apparent solution. A lot of people are just rude.

So we’ve retreated into our self-contained worlds once more, content to eschew the benefits of surround sound and digital perfection for the relief of avoiding others while being entertained.

At least that’s the way I look at it.

Which brings us back to “The Wire.” Not usually prone to the pothole of recency bias, wherein the last game/movie/TV show is the best ever, I think I’m on fairly solid ground when I say that if it’s not at the top of the mountain, the case can certainly be made.

There’s a bleary-eyed wisdom at its core, a kind of bloodied acceptance of life’s unutterable unfairness that buoys its occasional optimism, that sets “The Wire” apart from its most deserving rivals. And I’m not trying to move you off of “The Sopranos” or suggest something as subversive as “Sons of Anarchy” is for you.

All I’m saying is that when I woke up the other day and realized I had to leave Jimmy McNulty, Omar Little and Bubbles behind, I felt depressed and sad. Of course, it was the second time I’d been through all five seasons and, who knows, when life hits another rough stretch, I might head back to Bawlmer once again.

Mike Dewey can be reached at Carolinamiked@aol.com or 6211 Cardinal Drive, New Bern, NC, 28560. He invites you to join the fun on his Facebook page, where wiretapping remains quite useful.

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