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The Wire: Season One Review


Essential
Baltimore probably doesn't make the top-ten list of most-documented American cities on film. It's a different matter if you're talking about best-documented cities, though, and the credit for that belongs almost entirely to David Simon. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon parlayed his tremendous 1991 book Homicide -- which tracked a year in the life of an exceedingly busy Baltimore homicide detail -- into a TV series of the same name. Despite the fact that NBC continually placed it in crummy time slots, the show deservedly survived for seven seasons. (Richard Belzer continues to play its most colorful character, the acerbic Det. John Munch, on Law & Order: SVU.) Simon returned to TV with the HBO miniseries The Corner, based on his book (co-written with former cop Ed Burns) chronicling a year in the life of the residents of a Baltimore drug corner.

Homicide and The Corner, in their concern for covering multiple aspects of race, class, and authority in an American city, made for some of the best television of '90s. The Wire, Simon's series about the intersection of police and the drug trade, ranks among the most nuanced television series in history; it is easily the best police-procedural show that's ever aired. That's in part because the show's writers stubbornly refuse to fall into the clichés of the usual police procedural. The bad guys -- in this case, the men who run the drug trade around Baltimore's housing projects -- are often as shrewd and smart as the cops, with characters just as layered as anybody else. The star of season one, to the extent there is one, is Larry Gilliard Jr., who plays D'Angelo Barksdale, nephew of Avon (Wood Harris), who runs the business out of an office above a strip club. (The show pretty much annihilates the notion of drug dealers living high-class lives in tony neighborhoods. The money's good, but you're always nervous about it, and you're still in the thick of the projects.) A tough-nosed but naïve adolescent, D'Angelo balances the day-to-day work of dealing with handling his friendships, girls, and his future -- to the extent he ponders something that abstract. Nothing in the formal structure of the show -- music, plotting, dialogue -- casts falsely melodramatic judgment on D'Angelo. He is what he is.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season One Review

The Wire: Season One Review


Essential
Baltimore probably doesn't make the top-ten list of most-documented American cities on film. It's a different matter if you're talking about best-documented cities, though, and the credit for that belongs almost entirely to David Simon. A former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, Simon parlayed his tremendous 1991 book Homicide -- which tracked a year in the life of an exceedingly busy Baltimore homicide detail -- into a TV series of the same name. Despite the fact that NBC continually placed it in crummy time slots, the show deservedly survived for seven seasons. (Richard Belzer continues to play its most colorful character, the acerbic Det. John Munch, on Law & Order: SVU.) Simon returned to TV with the HBO miniseries The Corner, based on his book (co-written with former cop Ed Burns) chronicling a year in the life of the residents of a Baltimore drug corner.

Homicide and The Corner, in their concern for covering multiple aspects of race, class, and authority in an American city, made for some of the best television of '90s. The Wire, Simon's series about the intersection of police and the drug trade, ranks among the most nuanced television series in history; it is easily the best police-procedural show that's ever aired. That's in part because the show's writers stubbornly refuse to fall into the clichés of the usual police procedural. The bad guys -- in this case, the men who run the drug trade around Baltimore's housing projects -- are often as shrewd and smart as the cops, with characters just as layered as anybody else. The star of season one, to the extent there is one, is Larry Gilliard Jr., who plays D'Angelo Barksdale, nephew of Avon (Wood Harris), who runs the business out of an office above a strip club. (The show pretty much annihilates the notion of drug dealers living high-class lives in tony neighborhoods. The money's good, but you're always nervous about it, and you're still in the thick of the projects.) A tough-nosed but naïve adolescent, D'Angelo balances the day-to-day work of dealing with handling his friendships, girls, and his future -- to the extent he ponders something that abstract. Nothing in the formal structure of the show -- music, plotting, dialogue -- casts falsely melodramatic judgment on D'Angelo. He is what he is.

Continue reading: The Wire: Season One Review

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry Review


Bad
A throwaway car-chase flick that squanders the talents of Susan George and Peter Fonda, this 1974 B-movie is mainly of interest to aficionados of car-chase flicks and gearheads who know their way around 1969 Dodge Chargers.

The plot, such as it is, involves Larry (Fonda), a would-be NASCAR driver, and his mechanic, Deke (Adam Roarke), pulling off a heist and then scrambling to get out of an anonymous county - but not before picking up Mary (George). Mary is "dirty" because, we learn, she's had sex on more than one occasion; Larry is "crazy" because he drives recklessly, without a seatbelt. The filmmakers' attempts to create some witty romantic banter between these two crazy kids come are rhythmless and hackneyed, like Sullivan's Travels in a heroin nod; the chase scenes are nothing new to anybody who's caught five minutes of an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard. It finishes off with a ridiculous, insulting final scene that gives new meaning to the term "crashing bore."

Continue reading: Dirty Mary Crazy Larry Review

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