Emmy's new breed: The Wire

THE WIRE
Best episode: ‘Middle Ground,’ penned by George Pelecanos. Omar is nearly ambushed by a former rival in a ‘High Noon’-esque standoff, City Hall and the police clash over whether to close down Colvin’s renegade experiment in drug decriminalization and Stringer betrays Avon by setting him up for arrest.
Most complex character: Stringer Bell. Caught between the street and the power suites, Stringer desperately wants to leave the bloody world of the West Baltimore drug trade behind and move himself and Barksdale into legitimate business.
What should happen next season? Simon will address the role of the educational system in an urban environment. Since many events in the series are based upon the real-life exploits of series producer-writer Ed Burns, who retired from the Baltimore P.D. after one too many bureaucratic battles and turned toward a career in teaching, here’s hoping Simon will graft that part of Burns’ life on to the character of Bunny Colvin. Also, continue the storyline of Dennis ‘Cutty’ Wise ( Chad Coleman), the former Barksdale soldier who has tried to turn his life around by opening a community center.

David Simon knows a thing or two about crime.

Having been on the cop beat for the Baltimore, Simon turned in his press pass for a laptop, wrote a book on Baltimore’s drug trade and soon found himself a producer on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “The Corner” and, for the last three seasons, the creator of “The Wire.”

Devout fans of “The Wire” would say how the TV Acad has totally dismissed stellar HBO show has been nothing less than a felony.

Critical praise has been near universal, with Entertainment Weekly calling the show “the smartest, deepest and most resonant drama on TV” in 2004. The New York Times said it was “one of the smartest, most ambitious shows” on the air.

The Television Critics Assn. named it the best series on TV in its July 2003 semiannual poll, and the show was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award in 2004.

So, what gives? There are still no Emmy nominations … in any category.

Geography might have something to do with it. The show is produced in Maryland, out of sight and mind of Hollywood, and the cast members don’t enjoy the visibility afforded the stars of more popular shows. Also, “The Wire” carries the burden of being a one-hour drama in what is arguably the golden age of dramatic television, with no fewer than a dozen skeins boasting legitimate claims for Emmy attention.

At first blush, “Wire” seems to be a cop show, but a little time spent with the more than three dozen characters that populate each episode reveals a greater creative agenda. Simon and his collaborators — which include bestselling novelists George Pelecanos (“Right as Rain”), Richard Price (“Clockers”) and Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”) on the writing staff — use a familiar entry point (cops and those they police) to explore larger themes such as political corruption, America’s seemingly endless and potentially futile war on drugs and the desperate struggle of the working class to survive.

“The Wire” characters live not in black and white, but in shades of gray. British actor Idris Elba’s towering performance as Stringer Bell, the West Baltimore drug lord with Michael Corleone-esque ambitions to expand into legitimate enterprise was captivating. His partner in onscreen crime, Wood Harris, matched Elba in his ferocious, Sonny Corleonelike portrayal of streetwise boss Avon Barksdale.

Another Brit, Dominic West, anchored the series as the indefatigable, and authority-defying, Detective Jimmy McNulty, whose dogged pursuit of the Barksdale crime organization finally bears fruit, at a high price.

Veteran actor Robert Wisdom brought gravitas to his portrayal of Maj. Bunny Colvin, an honest cop on the verge of retirement who takes a gamble to try to save a neighborhood in the city he loves. The constantly riveting Michael K. Williams dominated every scene in which he appeared as the openly gay, nursery rhyme-whistling stickup artist Omar Little, whose twisted urban Robin Hood continues to vex the cops and cons who cross his path.

In December, a fan participating in online discussion on “The Wire” with creator and executive producer Simon expressed hope that the show would receive awards consideration. Simon replied that he felt the show would be “recognized with an Emmy just after a dozen monkeys in Armani tuxedos flew out of my ass.”

What are the odds Giorgio has something in a 12-extra short?

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