A one-hour drama forHBO
The W ireIS a drama that offers multiple mearungs and arguments. It will be, in the
stnctest sense. a police procedural set in the drug culture of an Amencan rust-belt cay, a cops-
and-players story that exists withm the same vernacular as other television fare.
But as with the bestHBO senes, The WIre WIllbefar more than ~c~p _~!?-ow_!
and to the
extent that It breaks new ground, it will do so because of larger. universalthemes that have more
to do with the ~uman C_~nditIOn,
thenatureof theAmencan CItyand, indeed, thenational culture.
The SQPJ~os becomesart whenIt stands asmore. thana mob-story, but as a treatise on the
Amencan.faifuly. 6ihs at its best when It nses beyond the framework of a pnson:story and finds
env1l'Onment and our own, external-world So, too, should The Wire
beJudged not merely as a descendant of Homicide or NYPD Blue, but as a velucle for making
The grand theme here is.nothmglessthan a national existentialism: ItIS a pobce story set!
ar@d-J~e9ysf1Jn.ftj9n an<findlf"ferenceof an.urban.department -- one that has failed to-comeoo--
terms W ith the permanent nature of urban drug culture, one in which thinking cops, and thinking
street players, must make their way independent of Simpleexplanations.
Inthis sense, The WIre extends thecop-drama universe beyond-theus-against-them
herOICSof NYPD Blue, even pasJ)heflawed-but -sull-viable furruly of the Homicide.squad rogm.
Visually, this dramaW Ill be the next generation in what has become classic Amencan televrsion
fare, and as such,ItW Ill be hard for other police procedurals to Ignore the imphcanons
Structurally, each season of The WIre -- be Itrune or thirteen episodes -- exists as a stand-
alone Journey Som~~arAc_t~rs may progress to the following-season forconunurty; most others
W illhave their stor~s reso!~ed m a_s~gl~-season (a design that allows for g~ter:latltude'm
Each story arcmust provlae episodes that stand alone as dramatic television, but at the
same tune the whole must make a cogent argument about thenational condiuon, using thestreets
and stones of one city as a rmcrocosm
-\----.- Each story arc ultlmatel~gravllates:toward:one_cQ_fI!!I!on fea1.u.re_,a-proI6nged-=:.;J
_ wiretaplSurvelllance~ffort (hence thetitle) thatreveals mlncacl~s_W1d_:connecuons:mJhe:1!!"~
would ordinarily pass-as unseen to even thebest-street-cops And each wiretap
ulnmately Rroves as dl~_<;_om..fitmg
to the authonties as-It-does to those-targeted ThISIS a world in
wluch krlowledge is always'a double-edgedsword"
Thestyle-~'rihesh~; can becalled h~r-realism
Itshould beshotclemrrrand hand-:.;_]ac-::7P
·~ld. though thecoming VIdeo technologies may argue for something even more expenmental
But more than Just VIsually, The W ife -- by using precise geography, a fully conceptualized city
and pohce bureaucracy, and story developments culled from actual casework -- should present
Itself as somethmg so clearly real that the traditional conceits of pohce melodrama are seen as
such Nothing should happen on screen that hasn't in some fashion happened on the streets, and
the showW Ill unhze a senes of vereran.detectrves andBalumore-street-figures-tor-story.lmes