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January 10, 2007


Jones, one of the Jones boys

Here's something random: throughout the whole first season, I kept wondering whether Lester Freamon's surname was a pun. Since he's, you know, basically "the Morgan Freeman character" (from "Seven", in particular)


Dear God, I hope not.


I know this post could be considered off-topic, but I think it's relevant to Season 5.

In an interview with slate.com (http://www.slate.com/toolbar.aspx?action=print&id=2154694), David Simon previews Season 5:

"The last theme is basically asking the question, why aren't we paying attention? If we got everything right in the last four seasons in depicting this city-state, how is it that these problems—which have been attendant problems regardless of who is in power—how is it that they endure? That brings into mind one last institution, which is the media. What are we paying attention to? What are we telling ourselves about ourselves? A lot of people think that we're going to impale journalists. No. It's not quite that. What stories do we want to hear? How closely do they relate to truth; how distant are they from the truth? We have a story idea about media and consumers of media. What stories get told and what don't and why it is that things stay the same.

What's happened to the Baltimore Sun locally is what has happened to that whole second tier of journalism—below the New York Times and the Washington Post: They're being eviscerated by price per share. There used to be 500 reporters; now there are 300. They keep telling us they can do the same job, they just need to be more effective. Bullshit. Five hundred reporters is 500; 300 is 300; you can't cover the city the same way with fewer people."

This story from "The Nation" is related, I think, to what Simon talks about in the Slate interview: http://www.thenation.com/docprint.mhtml?i=20070129&s=nichols

Jones, one of the Jones boys

Was I the only one who thought that? But, like much of the rest of the cast, Freamon has deepened since his humble beginnings as a fairly stock character (see also: McNulty, Griggs et al.).

Different topic: which other dysfunctional-institutions-at-the-basis-of-urban-decline could they have devoted a season to? They've "done" the police and gangs, unions and the workforce, politics and reform, schools and education and next up, as Phil points out, is journalism. What else? The obvious omission is health care, but presumably Simon & co. didn't feel they had the expertise to cover it.


In that Slate interview, Simon talks about how they only had enough ideas to support five seasons. If they did a sixth season it would be about the impact of Central American immigration, but he doesn't seem too sanguine about the idea, not in the least because it looks like the fifth season will be the last.


Off topic again, but season 2 seemed pretty weak, especially in comparison to season 1. The projects subplots don't come to any real conclusion and take a long time going there and (spoiler) D'Angelo's death seemed more like a way to remove him from the cast than a meaningfull development of Stringer taking more power. Herc's anger over being ignored seems to go nowhere, as does the main case...


I felt the same way, Isaac. The second season had a tough job rebuilding the detail after the bureaucratic apocalypse that ended the first season. It took a good four or five episodes just to clean up the damage. But the writers complicated their task by holding onto the West side crew while introducing a completely new set of criminals across town. I thought the D'Angelo plot worked well, but it was a distraction from the main investigation--albeit a welcome one, since I never took to the union characters the way I did to Bodie and the rest. (Ziggy in particular--a character who was exceptionally boneheaded to serve the plot, not because it made him a compelling character.)

Some of those threads will continue in later seasons, though. Herc and Carver's frustration leads them to the Western DEU in season three, where they are acting very much out of the Daniels mold (and Bunny Colvin's...)


I actually came around to Ziggy near the end of the season, when his motivations became clearer. But otherwise, the union characters weren't as interesting, especially since Frank's quest to drain the canal is always sort of undeveloped.

I liked the West side plots, but's Stringer's actor seems increasingly limited when he doesn't have the more volitile Avon around.

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