Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Since writing about The Wire, I have watched yet more of it - I am now on to season four. I am excessively prone to saying things are the greatest, so I won't say this is the greatest TV series ever made, but I've never seen a greater. The writing will influence screenwriting for years to come - not just the black street patois but also the remarkable dialogue given to the cops and city officials. It is not simply realistic, it is literate, occasionally to the point of extravagance. The characterisation, meanwhile, is monumental. Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell are colossal figures - evil, heroic and alarmingly sympathetic - and, as in Shakespeare, even the briefest walk-on becomes a fully rounded human being. Of course, award-givers overlook it - though it has just received one Emmy nomination. The story about this is on the BBC web site. The BBC did not broadcast The Wire because, apparently, it could see no audience for it. This means we should not pay the licence fee because if the BBC is only looking for audiences, then it should not be subsidised by a hypothecated tax designed to protect the best, not necessarily the most popular, broadcasting. As it is, our great protector failed to pick up the greatest - there I've said it - TV show of this generation. The case for shrinkage is becoming overwhelming.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:34 pm