There’s not much I can say about this show that hasn’t been said already. I got into it late, two-and-a-half years after the last episode aired. But all it took was that first episode, and I was hooked.
This has been listed by many critics as one of the best shows ever to grace the small screen. I agree. The cop parts are cop parts. There have been good cop procedural shows out there, and there will be more. This isn’t about the cops, though. As with all really good shows, it’s about the characters. And the cops are only half of it. You’ve got the criminals and, in a few instances, those loved ones that the cops leave in their wakes.
While watching this final season, it was the journey of one character that I came to care about. We’re introduced to Bubbles in the first episode. He’s a drug addict and a snitch. Throughout the entire five seasons of the show, he’s the only recurring character who seems to learn and grow from his mistakes. There are times when it looks like McNulty can change, but he’s an inevitable and constant backslider.
You end up really caring about Bubbles. You're happy when he decides to get clean, but disappointed when he relapses. When he loses friends, we feel his pain.
According to the Internet Movie Database, I’ve seen Andre Royo, the actor who plays Bubbles, as a guest actor in a few shows here and there, but for the life of me I can’t remember them. A month and a half ago, though, the truly awesome TV blog Warming Glow mentioned Royo would be guesting on the third season of Fringe, which has Lance Reddick (Lt. Daniels) in a supporting (but major) role.
I think it’s a bit crazy that these extremely talented actors and actresses (or is everyone just an actor now?) are more well-known. I realize that The Wire was an HBO show with limited viewers. Every single actor, from the cops to the drug lords to kids slinging dope on the corners make you feel like this is real, like it’s a really good documentary rather than a fictionalized drama.
I’m going to single out one other actor because I feel his IS getting the stardom he deserves. I first saw Idris Elba in The Office (of all places, where I also saw Amy Ryan for the first time). He was a straight man in a cast full of funny men (and women). That made me take notice. Seeing the first trailer for The Losers (and then the movie itself) put him on my must-watch actor list. The Wire has cemented that status. I even sat through a Tyler Perry movie because of him. He’s got Takers in theaters now, which I’ll see when it comes out on DVD despite co-starring Hayden Christensen and Paul Walker, and he'll be in Thor next year. Good for him.
The last thing I’ll mention is the strong eye to detail and continuity that the show gave the audience. Characters that were season specific were brought up when old plot points were mentioned, either as a new plot point or just in passing. It’s attention to detail like that that shows an audience that the people behind the show care about what they’re doing, that they’re not just in it for the paycheck.
As was mentioned before, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill cop procedural show. Just because you like Law & Order or CSI doesn’t mean this’ll be for you. This is for people who are into quality scripted dramas like The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, etc. What I’m saying is, if you like good TV, you’ll love this show and kick yourself for not watching it sooner.