The Wire Season 4: Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s serial killer


The genius of the character of Marlo Stanfield is that a textless, bold-colored headband came to feel too flashy.

He opened without one, an intro so perfect yet under the radar because the scene is about Bubbles, not this unnamed, previously unknown character whose first appearance departing a building is teamed with the sound of a bird chirping, as if Marlo is a hawk fledging from his nest and preparing to hunt the people of Baltimore like squirrels.

Continue reading “The Wire Season 4: Marlo Stanfield, Baltimore’s serial killer”

Two people on a park bench — “The Wire” and the importance of conversation

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 5.01.54 PM Two people on a park bench — “The Wire” and the importance of conversation

by Jack M Silverstein (@readjack)

“Makes me sick motherfucker how far we done fell.”

As “The Wire” HD marathon rolls on, I’ve spent time tweeting with fans about our passion for the show and with cast members about characters with whom they wish they’d played one scene while also writing or re-sharing my work on the show, such as this, thisthis, this, this and this.

The topics that come into focus while steamrolling episode after episode are the ones strung across seasons or even the series — the repetitive or parallel elements that only reveal themselves upon multiple viewings.

Like characters sitting and talking on a park bench, for instance. Continue reading “Two people on a park bench — “The Wire” and the importance of conversation”

Four reasons why it’s not “The Wire” without Season 2

Frank Sobotka, I.B.S. local 1514.
Frank Sobotka, I.B.S. local 1514.

You can’t spell “The Wire” without “Sobotka” — An examination of Season 2 

by Jack M Silverstein (@readjack)

“You’re a Sobotka.” 

“Fucked, is what I am.”

Season 4 would have been too late for Season 2.

When a new chapter of The Wire was born in 2006, 21 months after the end of Season 3, two significant story threads were already in motion: the simultaneous rise of Tommy Carcetti and Marlo Stanfield.

There were also changes for McNulty (now manning a beat in the Western), Cutty (now running his gym), Prez (out of BPD and pursuing a new and then-unknown career) and Daniels (a newly-minted major) that a new season would naturally address.

Chester and Nicholas Sobotka.
Chester and Nicholas Sobotka. (screen shot from HBO)

Season 4 needed to feel like a continuation of Season 3. The reason the fresh batch of school characters felt like a continuation rather than a departure is that the school story folds easily into the others.

Carcetti’s first administration-defining choice revolves around the school budget; Marlo helps corrupt Michael and doom Randy; Cutty interacts with all four boys at the gym; Prez teaches all four.

That wasn’t the case in Season 2. After spending 13 episodes learning names, faces, personalities and backstory of close to 30 characters, this unruly little show about Baltimore did (seemingly) a 180 and introduced a (seemingly) unaffiliated set of characters in a different part of the city.

For people who don’t like “the docks,” the complaints tend to echo how Fruit felt about Hamsterdam: “Why you gotta go and fuck with the program?” Continue reading “Four reasons why it’s not “The Wire” without Season 2″

20 (ish) non-spoiler clips to show your friends to convince them to start watching ‘The Wire’

“You call the guy Snot?”

So, you love The Wire. Maybe you’re among the few who started watching on HBO back during the first three seasons. Maybe you caught on in 2006 for Namond, Dukie, Michael, and Randy. Maybe, like me, you tuned in right at the end, watching all of the seasons to lead into Season 5. Or maybe you’ve watched the whole show on DVD. In any case, you LOVE IT, and now want to turn every person you know into a Wire devotee. Continue reading “20 (ish) non-spoiler clips to show your friends to convince them to start watching ‘The Wire’”

A proper education.

Time to Settle Accounts

March 21, 2011: A proper education.

As it turns out, Ric did not wish to purchase “Zombie Spaceship Wasteland,” but he did want to say hello to Patton Oswalt.

It was Friday, and I got a call from Ric, who was coming to the neighborhood for a book signing and wanted to know if I would join him. “It’s Patton Oswalt,” Ric said, “Reckless Records at 3:30,” and I said “Yes” and met him at the DeLorean an hour before. Oswalt is one of Ric’s favorite comics – he is particularly fond of the “Death Bed” bit – and was signing copies of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, his new book released in January. Continue reading “A proper education.”

January 26, 2011: And in the end.

Time to Settle Accounts

January 26, 2011: And in the end.

I first spotted In Cold Blood on Ric’s shelf last April, just before I took the train to Phoenix. I knew Truman Capote from my mother’s love of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and then as a name I’d picked up in the history of journalism and non-fiction narrative, and finally from the 2005 film with Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I loved that picture’s depiction of Capote and his work; as Ebert wrote: “The film… focuses on the way a writer works on a story and the way the story works on him.” Continue reading “January 26, 2011: And in the end.”

Homicide, the Wire, and being very gentle

Finally picked up David Simon’s Homicide. The book is a masterwork of journalism and compulsively readable, especially if you’re into The Wire or certainly the television adaptation of similar name. Or if you’re a reporter and non-fiction storyteller searching for strong examples of the work. And, of course, it is a personal delight for me to fish out the Wire references (or, I guess: it is retroactively a delight for me to fish the Homicide references out of The Wire).

There are the locations: Murphy Homes, the Western; there are the names: Landsman, Twigg, Butchie; there is the lingo: red balls, taxpayer. Portions of dialogue or conversations are there, too, with the best so far a clear runaway winner, a discussion at Kavanaugh’s (home to Cole’s wake, among other scenes) between Det. Sgt. Terrence Patrick McLarney and his mentor and former partner Bob McAllister.

I think you’ll recognize it immediately… Continue reading “Homicide, the Wire, and being very gentle”

On the John: The Office, explained

On the John

The new age of reality television, and a grade school fantasy: The Office, explained

Originally completed July 28, 2010

Jim Halpert, seen here shooting you a glance.

Five and a half years after it debuted on NBC, I have started watching The Office.

For those still unfamiliar, The Office is a television program that documents the lives of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company Scranton, PA branch employees. The show is an adaptation of the British program of same name. Both shows are presented in “documentary format,” meaning the reality within The Office is that the characters are being followed by a crew of filmmakers. Thus, the characters speak to the camera in “confessionals,” “notice” the camera during embarrassing moments, respond to events around them by glancing at the camera as a “witness,” evade the camera crew for privacy, and, at least once, employ the crew as spies (Pam, requesting the crew find proof that Dwight and Angela are dating). Continue reading “On the John: The Office, explained”

The Return of Alan Sepinwall’s Writeups on The Wire

Nobody did "two men talking on a bench" like The Wire.

“Looks like you and me both trying to make sense of this game.”

“Speak your mind, Russell.”

— Stringer Bell and Bunny Colvin

Good news Wire fans! It’s the Summer of 2010, and that means television critic Alan Sepinwall is finishing his fantastic episode-by-episode writeups of The Wire. Sepinwall began his writeups during Season 4, which he covered as it aired. He continued the series when Season 5 aired in early 2008, and then went back to Season 1 at the start of that summer, followed by Sobotka, The Greeks, and the docks in Season 2 last summer. Continue reading “The Return of Alan Sepinwall’s Writeups on The Wire”