29 September 2009

Lost timeline reset would be a terrible idea, says local blogger

BOSTON- Oceanic Flight 815 has to stay crashed in the final season of Lost, says F. Toaster, a local man who, owing to the fact that he was able to secure a space on a free, open to the public blog hosting site, has very important opinions.

"It would just gut the show," said Toaster, "for Jughead's explosion to reset the timeline of the show to where the plane never crashed at all. It would just be really stupid. Whatever happened, happened, right? Right?"

21 September 2009

Bubbles and me: My 51 day journey through the streets of Baltimore

Working at the neighborhood video store this summer, I decided to take in a new TV series. I considered Weeds, Dexter, Deadwood, and Rome, but I settled on the Wire, which had, as far as I'd heard, 100% positive feedback, from critics and friends alike. I'd heard that each season took a look from a different angle at the drug trade in Baltimore: one season about the streets, one about the port where the drugs come in, one about City Hall, the schools, and, finally, the newspaper, that famous enabler of a city's neurotic behavior. I'd heard that it was one of the most gritty, realistic, and one of the smartest series out there. I'd heard that I would see a lot of familiar faces, faces I'd seen on Oz, Lost, various cop shows, and even two faces from The Office. (Charles Miner, the new DM, and Michael's girlfriend Holly.)
All that I'd heard was true, and more. While each season has a different focus, most characters stick around the whole time, except those whose story comes to an end, one way or the other. (In Baltimore, that means dead or in prison.)
I'm having a hard time writing about this one, because it's so dense, and there are so many characters, each with their own arc, their own journey from A to B, I don't know where to start. My two favorites, I think, are Bubbles and Omar, each of whom makes it to the final season. (I won't reveal anyone's ultimate fate.)
Bubbles is a dopefiend, a hustler, a C.I. (confidential informant) for the police unit investigating the dealers. We see him steal, lie, try to buy drugs with fake money, and yet Bubbles is arguably the most morally centered character in the entire series, probably because he is not beholden to a bureaucracy like the police department or the school system. Bubbles is his own man, skillfully played by Andre Royo, who conveys the sadness, guilt, hope and hopelessness of a man at the bottom of everything.
Omar is a thief and a killer. He wears a kevlar vest and a trenchcoat; he carries a sawed-off shotgun, and every time he walks down the street, all the men and boys call out, "Omar comin' " and scatter out of the way. He makes a living by robbing drug dealers, and he's got a lot of blood on his hands: not only the people he's killed, but those who were with him, those who could be gotten to while Omar couldn't. For all that, Omar is a total badass, but he doesn't curse, doesn't drink or use drugs, and he would never turn his gun on "anyone who wasn't in The Game." He lives by a code; there is honor among thieves. Also, and totally incidentally, Omar is gay.
Nearly every other character is, in some way, enslaved by a system. The police are hamstrung by the need to report good numbers to City Hall, and we often see justice sacrificed in the name of protecting the department or one of its higher-ups. Officer McNulty, who is a lovable rogue of an Irish cop, gets the ball rolling in season 1 by telling a judge about a drug lord by the name of Avon Barksdale who has taken over the projects on the West side and is responsible for at least a dozen murders in the last year. The judge orders the creation of a detail to investigate and shut down the Barksdale operation, pulling officers from homicide and narcotics off their regular rotations. McNulty's superiors are none too pleased with him for talking out of school, and they miss no opportunity to berate, threaten, and otherwise interfere with the members of the detail, honest cops who are doing what cops are supposed to do, going after the bad guys. McNulty's dogged pursuit of Barksdale and his crew, which by season's end sees most of them dead or in prison, results in his demotion and assignment to the marine unit, the one place he did not want to go.
We see it over and over again: the union boss on the docks, driven by the slow death of business at the port, into bed with traffickers of drugs and sex slaves, the mayor who can't make a move without considering how the ministers and city council will respond politically, the teachers who can't do anything except teach to the test and babysit their charges. A modern American city has all these institutions, built up over the years, which are supposed to function for the people, but instead function for themselves, and the people, the good, honest people who got into public service to do good, end up compromising themselves and their work in order to protect the institution. As much as The Wire is a cop show, it is also a comment on urban America in the 21st century, a testament to how we have let our government and our businesses run rampant and grind everyone under the wheels.
There are so many other good reasons to watch, so many great characters, each with their own arc. Briefly in the first season, we hear about a city councilman named Clay Davis, then we see a bit of him again on season 3, but his story comes full circle in season 5, when he becomes the target of the investigation. The series rewards the attentive viewer; how many times do we hear about Fat Face Rick before we actually see him? The writers and creators are actually from Baltimore, and infuse the show with dialogue straight from the streets, so distinct it's almost a different dialect.
So there you have it: 60 episodes, 51 days, and I loved it, I wanted more. It's entertainment, yes, but I really feel like I learned something; it had the ring of truth, the feeling of reality, and I could think of no higher compliment. If you have seen The Wire, I ask, do you agree? What did you like, or not like? If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?

09 September 2009

Nerd alert!!!

I just found out some totally geek-tastic news: Katee Sackhoff, aka Starbuck, will be joining the cast of 24 for its eighth season. There are so many ways this could be awesome: catfights with Chloe, chasing bad guys with Jack, laying the smackdown on dudes trying to kill innocent Americans. I wasn't sure I would enjoy another go-round with 24, but this pretty much guarantees that I'll be there, every Monday night, for the whole season.