Best Police TV Shows -The Wire
This article is written as an answer to a question in the Answers section by JKenny.
The question was "Who is your favourite character in the drama show, The Wire?"
The first time I watched it, I only understood half of the dialogue, it was made up of a smattering of Anglo Saxon (yes, the F words, the S word and even, shock horror, the C word!!!), English, Hispanic and street speak.
It looked like something shady was going on and the police were trying to stop it and we all wanted to understand what all of this language we didn't understand meant.
We wanted to know about these places which looked like housing estates with lots of tower blocks that people lived in, having sofas to sit on outside in their yards.
So this introduction to the seedier side of Baltimore hooked us in immediately and some of these people looked absolutely ruthless. But then the programme introduced us to the good guys.
Introducing Jimmy McNulty
Jimmy McNulty (played by an Englishman, Dominic West) is an Irish American detective who is a good looking guy with a huge chip on his shoulder about authority.
He doesn't like authority and he doesn't pretend to like it.
McNulty tells it like it is. He is a plain speaking, anti-authority, heavy drinking, foul mouthed cop who is admired and loved by his colleagues and roundly despised by his superiors.
And yet for all his obvious flaws, McNulty is a clever cop. He figures out how the bad guys think. His gift is his ability to get onto the streets and talk to them in their own language but he is such a hot head. He only ever seems to get so far, he is a flawed hero.
You will like Jimmy McNulty because he is a real man - good and bad all rolled into one. He'll drive you mad but he'll also make you cheer for him as well.
Bunk Moreland, Kima Greggs, Cedric Daniels, Ellis Carver and Herc Hauk - Good Cops/Bad Cops
Bunk Moreland will both intrigue and disgust you. He is Jimmy McNulty's partner in Homicide but is a serial adulterer and also possibly an alcoholic. There are many scenes of him and Jimmy finishing their working day on waste ground drinking beers one after another whilst resting on their car hoods. Moreland vomits a lot - he is a man who urinates all over himself in one episode and yet, in spite of his alcoholism, he works hard and understands how to work the system to get what the squad needs.
Oh yeah, don't watch The Wire if you're easily offended. It is nothing if not controversial.
The Wire is based on real life Baltimore police officers and on real crime in Baltimore at the time. It pulls no punches and may well have done Baltimore a disservice in tourist terms but all cities have their darker sides and The Wire is all about Baltimore's darkness.
Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) is a lesbian police officer who fights as hard as the men but she has a settled home life and although she socialises with McNulty and Moreland, she is not in their league as a drinker. She is an exceptional officer who is respected by her colleagues and has worked hard to win their respect. The main female in the squad, she is often caught between the guys, splitting up arguments and occasionally saving McNulty's life in one way or another.
Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick) becomes the commanding officer of this motley crew and he is a good man who is overshadowed by a storm brewing in his financial life. At first he is seen as an interloper by Rawls but he proves to be a competent commander who places his trust in his squads' instincts and wins through in the end after a hard slog.
Ellis Carver (Seth Gilliam) is one half of the Carver and Herc double act. Both cops are gung ho, though Carver is the calmer side and Herc is the slightly crazier one. The great thing about Carver is that in spite of not getting off to a great start as a cop, he does mature during the series and is quite a different officer by the final series. he is not above being involved in some small time illegalities, using his status as a police officer to excuse his behaviour.
Herc Hauk (Domenick Lombardozzi) is the big, bruising cop who goes in with his fists first and then asks questions later. He wears a Boston Red Sox cap and is the rough half of the double act. He can get carried away at times and doesn't mind breaking the rules to get what the squad needs.
And The Missing Piece of The Puzzle - Lester Freamon
My favourite character in The Wire is Lester Freamon. Lester Freamon is played by the wonderful Clarke Peters.
Why do I like him best?
Wow, Lester Freamon is so smart! In this whole squad, he is the most thoughtful officer of them all. He is the link between all of the squad. He is the one they all turn to when things get too difficult to understand.
All of the business about telephone tapping, mobile hacking and bugs is Lester Freamon's bread and butter. He understands the way humans interact.
He watches the movements and interactions of Avon Barksdale's crew around the tenement blocks and his mind understands how the communication works.
Lester Freamon is only part of this squad because he's been demoted from another squad for coercing a fence to lie under testimony and he pays the price with a desk job for over a decade.
This talented, clever, committed man has basically been forgotten by everyone who matters and he is sent to Cedric Daniels to make up the numbers when Daniels complains that he needs extra hands.
How wonderful for audiences that we get Lester Freamon as the only 'functional' part of Daniel's dysfunctional 'family'. Freamon can go for a beer with the guys and he goes home after his beer. He has no deep secrets or strange problems.
In spite of himself, he becomes like the wise mentor to the other members of the squad and best of all, he understands that the best way to get Avon Barksdale is prison is to infiltrate the criminals means of communication. Lester listens to and recognises all of the different voices and he starts making his grids on the walls. Soon he has a flow chart of who is connected to who and the squad get closer and closer to cracking the drugs gang wrecking the lives of the young people in the tenements.
So Lester Freamon (and Clarke Peters!) - is my favourite character in The Wire.