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The Wire!!
2024/04/10

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"The Wire" may not have received as much praise for its writing and visual style compared to other HBO shows like "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," but that doesn't mean it lacks its own unique appeal. This 13-episode fictional investigation into the life of an African-American drug lord in Baltimore is different from other shows in its loose and rambling rhythm. The dialogue, overseen by creator David Simon, is so good that it often sounds improvised. Some critics argue that the show is repetitive in its depiction of the slow process of bringing down criminals, but what they fail to realize is that these qualities are exactly what make "The Wire" the funkiest cop show on TV.

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Funk, in the context of performances, is when actors can make scripted material sound spontaneous and break away from cliched behaviors. Bernie Mac in "The Bernie Mac Show" embodies funk, while Damon Wayans in "My Wife and Kids" does not. Funk is also prominent in music. Genres like James Brown's grooves and George Clinton's rhythm embrace a loosely repetitive yet tightly rhythmic style. Even 30 years later, the retro-70s Nike ads featuring Clinton and Bootsy Collins continue to capture the funk spirit.

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Funk is not exclusive to race, as seen in television characters like Dennis Franz's Sipowicz in "NYPD Blue," who may be a good character but lacks funk. Michael Chiklis in "The Shield" tries too hard to be funky and comes off as unfunky. On the other hand, "The Wire" showcases Detective McNulty, played by Dominic West, as the epitome of funk. McNulty's scratchy voice and insinuating lilt convey his confidence and power. He also has a great rapport with his African-American partners.

In the fifth episode of "The Wire," McNulty's unit cracks the code that ties drug kingpin Avon Barksdale to large-scale drug running. The episode weaves together various storylines, including the moral dilemmas faced by Barksdale's young nephew. The show also dissects the multilayered bureaucracy and highlights the tensions of a workday. With each week, McNulty gets closer to disrupting Barksdale's business model. The future of "The Wire" may be uncertain, but one thing is for sure - McNulty is going to tear it down.

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