“She wasn’t no cop, man. She looked like one of Orlando’s hoes.”
That quote right there — that was the first ever “Wee-Bey reaction GIF.” You know the one even if you don’t know its source. A man with his hand on his chin, mouth staring, eyes agape, turns his head over his right shoulder as if shielding himself from impossible news.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
The new age of reality television, and a grade school fantasy: The Office, explained
Originally completed July 28, 2010
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”