Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Time of the Season: S4 of The Wire (2006)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 21, 2007

I do still know how to write other articles, sort of

Sometimes I think maybe there’s only room in my life for either The Sopranos or The Wire. When the second half of the sixth season of The Sopranos was letting me down pretty hardcore with its overreaching and heavy-handedness, The Wire was there for me with its relatively low-key ambitions and tight storytelling. But when The Sopranos started coming back into form in its grand drama (Christophuh!), starting the fourth season of The Wire was sort of disappointing. Now…it’s sort of hard to say.

Anyway, season four probably isn’t as good as season three–in fact it might ultimately be the least appealing of the four. But saying “The Worst Season of The Wire” is sort of like saying “The Worst Pixies Album” or “The Worst John Cazale Movie,” and indeed, it’s still one of the best things on TV. The focus of this season is the public education system, part of creator David Simon’s attempt to prove that all institutions are similarly corrupt and compromised, or some such business.

It takes a while to get into the new drama with the schoolkids–there are a lot of them and the roles of each are sort of confusing at first–but ultimately it’s the most heartfelt and least cynical of the seasons thusfar, even if it does end up being one of the most depressing. As Bunny Colvin (the Hamsterdam ingeneur of S3) tries to sequester the school’s bad kids in an attempt to teach them social niceties, and former officer Presbilewski tries to make a difference with the others, their efforts have the same sort of consequences as everyone in the last seasons’–some kids do learn, some kids revert to their old ways, and some kids could never be saved in the first place. The fact that it’s kids involved for once and not jaded authority figures means that the stakes are higher than ever. When they go bad, it’s heartbreaking, when genuine progress is made, it’s some of the most affecting stuff I’ve seen on TV.

Apparently the next season doesn’t start until 2008. It’s gonna be a miserable year of TV in the meantime.

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2 Responses to “Time of the Season: S4 of The Wire (2006)”

  1. Josh Love said

    wait…how did you get ahold of this? are they just re-airing it on HBO or something, ’cause I don’t see where the actual DVD has been released or even announced.

  2. Andrew Unterberger said

    torrents, my man. Wouldn’t be able to get a hold of half the shit I watch otherwise.

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