Breaking Down The Wire

The Cream of The Wire
Talking television.
Nov. 13 2006 12:07 PM

Breaking Down The Wire

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Alex,
 
Episode 9 was another jampacked Wire winner. Bunk springs Omar from jail while demanding that he not be a part of any more killing. Kima pays a visit to her ex-partner to contribute child support and awkwardly meets Cheryl's new partner. Carcetti plots the first steps of his coming mayoral tenure, but his clashes with the city council president are no doubt a harbinger of political conflict to come. Carcetti's attempt to shake up the police command hits a snag when Burrell refuses to go quietly into the night. Daniels is promoted to colonel and marvels that his straight talk to the mayor-elect did the trick. Old Face Andre goes to Prop Joe for protection, who then sets him up with Marlow's ruthless hit squad. Bubbles desperately reaches out to Herc to protect him from the dude who's been terrorizing him. At school, Randy uses newfound math skills to excel at craps and grow his candy-selling business with help from Prezbo. Bunny Colvin takes Namond and two of the other hard-nut students to a fancy dinner, which ends up being a downer. And Michael's conflict and relationship with Bug's father comes clearly into focus now. He's been sexually abused by the man, and at episode's end, he seeks out Marlo for help. And we know what that means.
 
It's long about now each year that I start to lament that another season will soon draw to a close. The series becomes a regular part of my entertainment week. That's a big part of the pleasure of great series television, isn't it? For serious fans, the characters come to feel more palpably real than those in movies, in part because we have watched them evolve now over the course of four seasons. Actually, one sometimes feels closer and more connected to these fictional creations than to a great many people in our daily lives. But that's disconnected America for you.
 
Doing this weekly column, you and I have come to marvel at some of the devoted fans who post on the "Fray." When they aren't correcting our gaffes, they are often adding to our appreciation and understanding of the series or passionately debating real-world issues raised by the series and its creators. (The black/white writer debate, which is still raging, has been an illuminating one to follow.)
 
So, how about this week, we throw open to the Fraysters this question: Who is your favorite character in the series? That's an impossible one, I know. Almost like asking somebody to name their favorite movie ever. And for me, depending on the season, my favorites change.
 
But what the hell, let's take a stab at it. Maybe we can let people off the hook by asking for their favorite three but put them back on the hook by asking them to rank them. So, I guess I should go first.
 
1. Omar
I suspect he would show up near the top of a lot of people's lists. Has there ever been an Omar scene that failed to entertain? And how great is it that the most feared man in West and East Baltimore is both gay and proud, and a street-level philosopher to boot? And yet he's also a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve, just above his shotgun. When his lover was brutally offed during the first season, who among us didn't feel for the man? I rank him at the top because, of all the characters in the show, he's the one who's been there from the beginning and for whom I still sit up a little straighter when he appears.
 
2. Kima
Yes, she's beautiful and has that sexy, smoky voice. But she's also another great character who defies stereotypes. A gay detective who loves "men's work" to the detriment of her home life, but who also has to weather the fact that she's a woman in a man's world. She does it with humor and a take-no-prisoners toughness.
 
3. Bunny Colvin
This choice is mostly because of last season. A terrific character with a powerful physical presence that can be deceiving—Colvin cares deeply for his community and is a first-class, out-of-the-box thinker. Robert Wisdom certainly lives up to his name.
 
But seriously, how can any list of mine not include:
 
Bubbles
He's the heart of the series, in a way. For those of us who have never had to deal with poverty and danger on the streets, he's our passport in.
 
Or rising with a bullet:
 
Michael
After this last episode, he seems set on a course both dramatic and heartbreaking. He is like a number of inner-city kids I have met: smart, loving, so full of potential, but forces are at work that he may never overcome.
 
OK, Alex, I've cheated my own rules, so I'm going to stop. You're up.
 
Steve

Steve James is the director of Hoop Dreamsand Stevie.

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