If Al Franken were to name the first episode, perhaps he would call it Lies, And the Lying Liars Who Use Lying Lie Detectors … I’ve watched that first scene quite a few times now, and it continues to make me giggle. What a perfect setup to talk about media and the free press in America. We grew up believing the media was supposed to be society’s lie detector, ready to speak truth to power. Now the lie detector we used to trust is just a rigged copier machine, spitting out what was fed into it by a liar who thinks he is doing us a favor. Awesome. And fucking funny.
If anyone read my first post here, perhaps you remember I used my train ride through Baltimore as a starting point. I also pointed out the prominence of a Johns Hopkins building as I rode through town (more on that later). I thought it was nice of The Wire to include the Amtrak train in Episode 1:
I wasn’t on that train, though. Chris and Marlo have just met, they discuss a little business and they know they are being followed. They seem strangely comfortable with the fact the police are trailing them… like some type of The Godfather characters. Strangely enough, I am getting The Godfather vibes all over me by the end of the show. Fast forward to the meeting of “The Co-op” later in the show:
At first, I am laughing at the thought of a bunch of drug dealers getting together in a hotel conference room to discuss business. I have spent way more than my share of time in those cheesy divided rooms, drinking iced tap water from pitchers, listening to speakers and often fighting to stay awake. Damn, I’d surely bust a gut if Prop Joe started in on a Powerpoint presentation. The meeting spends time talking about the effects of Johns Hopkins buying up property on the East Side, changing the territories of the dealers. It starts a little shit between Marlo and Prop Joe, East Side vs. West Side. How much more Godfather can you get than this picture?
Hell, I’m looking for a bowl of oranges somewhere! Does The Wire have the metaphorical equivalent of oranges in The Godfather yet? I don’t know. How about the position of that light over Prop Joes head? Is Barzini getting a cameo later in the shot?
Look at this guy, sitting at the left hand of Prop Joe… he has a rather foreboding look:
You know that look is is going somewhere later.
And elsewhere in the show…
Thou shalt have no other mooks before me. Gus says to the newsroom crew, “There are a million stories in the Naked City… but today you poor mooks only need to throw me three or four!” Before I went to NOLA at the behest of First Draft bloggers, where I met Ashley Morris, I am not sure I had ever been around the word mook before. Of course, Ashley usually calls people fuckmooks, and I prefer his word, truth be told. Even when he uses it at Texans and Houstonians.
I felt some satisfaction when it was Gus that raised the alarm about the land deal with the drug dealer, netting said drug dealer a million dollars. I listen to the journalism types writing here, and I hear what they are saying about journalism on the show. The expensive experienced reporters are getting dumped, the newer kid journalists can’t write so well and aren’t seasoned enough. It is wise ol’ Gus that looks at an otherwise routine council agenda item and turns it into a major story. He’s been around the block, and perhaps the less experienced would have missed the important story angle. I know damn well the same happens in my field of work… it so often seems to me that wisdom and experience in health care is to be spread as thinly as possible to help with the budget.
Those are my hanging chads of observations from episode 1. I haven’t been watching since the first season, so I am sorry if I missed anything obvious. Let’s get it on with episode 2!
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