Tuesday, 28 March 2017
The Wire, Season 3 (2004)
Pretty much the only reason this is a "Qualified" recommendation is because you probably need to have seen the first two seasons of The Wire in order to get the most impact out of this season. If you have seen those first two seasons, then you can go straight to a full recommendation, because this is an exceptionally well put-together show. The acting is solid, the characters are rich and complex, and the scripts are tight as a drum. There are no lazy "idiot ball" moments here. When characters mess up - and they do, often - it's for plausible, in-character reasons: they've got a pre-established weakness or blind spot, or they're acting on incorrect information or deductions. If only more writing - be it for TV, the big screen, or on the page - was as rigorous.
This season sees intense political pressure on the Baltimore Police Department to bring down crime numbers "by any means necessary". The politicians are probably expecting some creative reclassification of cases and a few more police brutality complaints. They get both of those things, but they've underestimated just how creative some senior officers can be, which may well cause the whole initiative to blow up in their face.
At the same time, Lieutenant Daniels and his team are trying to make cases against violent, drugs-related offenders: a brief which becomes a lot more urgent when notorious kingpin Avon Barksdale is released from prison and destabilizes what had been a relatively quiet time - in terms of murders, at least - in the narcotics industry.
Not that Barksdale is free of troubles of his own: his right hand man Stringer Bell has led the organisation in a different direction while Avon was incarcerated, and there are young up and comers on the street who are pushing into the gap that's been left.
The Wire is top notch stuff.