Todd mason


"Took"

In an episode more given over to relatively leisurely setpieces than usual this season (and marking the return of scriptwriter Richard Price to the series, and a cameo by Richard Belzer as Munch, another reference back to Homicide: Life on the Streets), this one was all about the misallocation of resources. Of course, every episode of The Wire deals with that, but rarely so completely.For example, McNulty and Freamon fake up a call from their fictional serial murderer to Templeton, the reporter who is their unwitting partner in the fraud (or, more correctly, is running his own parallel fraud to theirs). This leads to both precisely the kind of unlimited funding Lester and Jimmy were hoping for in police department funds and humanpower commitment, and an embarrassment of riches (and the looming threat of close oversight scrutiny) that might hinder their real investigation...even as it allows McNulty to quietly fund and fold in the pet cases of many of his fellow homicide detectives... read more

"The Dickensian Aspect"

Catastrophic success is the upshot of nearly everyone's gambits on this episode of The Wire.McNulty and Freamon's fraudulent case of serial killing of homeless men in Baltimore get ever more attention, and ever more promises of support, from the mayor on down the hierarchy...but no more actually humanpower or technological resources, leaving them slightly hobbled in their real investigation, into the activities of Marlo's gang. Lester brings his Major Crimes underling into the conspiracy, and between them they manage to determine that the real business of the gang is being conducted through cell-phone photos rather than text messages or coded conversation, but that just taunts them in not having quite what they need to put Marlo and his enforcers away. As Freamon notes, when Assitant D.A. Rhonda Pearlman drops by about the investigation of Clay Davis, his "official" work, it's remarkable what one can do when no one's looking over your shoulder...a luxury that McNulty and Freamon a... read more

"React Quotes"

Parallel lines run throughout this episode, as people push themselves down similar paths for similar reasons, even if their circumstances are rather different.Marlo meets with the primary Greek importer, who shows him, as it turns out, how to send email with his mobile phone...we discover that's what he's doing only at the end of the episode, as Lester discovers the same thing, after all the travails and blatant fraud to get a "wire up" on Marlo's new phone. But that's not the only new trick Marlo's working on, as he and his most trusted crew attempt to lure Omar and one of Omar and Butchie's old friends into a trap...since the latter two have been staking out an apartment where Marlo's crew has been congregating off and on for days, waiting to make their own move. (It's taken me a while to wonder if it's any coincidence that take-no-prisoners Marlo and criminal-with-rules Omar's names nearly mirror each other's.) The crew manages to get Omar's partner, when the avengers break in... read more

"Transitions"

You can feel the series winding up toward some serious payoff, with this episode if not before...there are only six episodes left, after all. And Prop Joe will not be returning. Nor, presumably, will be several key veterans at the Baltimore Sun...but their exits were less final.McNulty and Freamon, in their efforts to fake up a single serial killer focused on homeless men, enlist the aid of Freamon's old partner, an ex-homicide detective busted down to uniform duty, and spending most of night shifts sleeping so as to be ready for his daytime job as a realtor...he finds them one body to begin with, but it proves too far gone to make look like a homicide. Meanwhile, McNulty's research with the morgue opens his eyes to the extent of deaths among the homeless, particularly from narcotics overdoses; Freamon suggests a means of spicing up the serial killings with a set of false teeth, so that the "murderer" will be seen to have bitten "his" victims...McNulty has the thankless task of fa... read more

'Not for Attribution"

Schemes, and how they don't always quite work out, on this week's installment.McNulty, having tampered with a corpse at the end of the last episode to make it look like the result of murder, researches similar deaths in the Homicide files and eventually plants evidence on the tampered-with corpse, in the form of a red ribbon tied around its arm, to bolster his attempt to drum up interest in investigating a potential serial killer. In purchasing the ribbon to plant at a convenience store, he crosses paths with and almost meets Alma Gutierrez (Michelle Paress), who is out trying to find a copy of the new Baltimore Sun, the first issue to feature a front-page solo story by her (that of the murder of three people by Marlo's henchpeople in the previous episode). Later, McNulty would call her to place the story of the serial killer (she's essentially the new junior Metro crime beat reporter), but McNulty's planted story is even more soft-pedalled than Gutierrez's front-page story was; b... read more

"Power"

A very well-done episode dealing with several sensitive issues including some backstory on Diane Farrs character Megan Reeves as well as balancing the criminal investigation and the personal drama and the math and this time a bit of physics better than perhaps any other episode this season And it just might be the last episode of the seasonit seems to be the last completed episode Co-executive producer Julie Hbert gets lots of points for writing and directing this one so wellA woman Andrea Anders in a fine performance somewhat inebriated is pulled over just after she leaves a nightclub parking lot by an unmarked car with a portable blue dashboard beacon oddly enough coming from the same lot The policeman orders her out of the car we cut away at this point to Charlie and Amita discussing the possibility of teaching a class together and Amitas tentative request that she might crash at Charlies house while her apartment house is being tented for termites read more

"Unconfirmed Reports"

An episode about cutting corners, figuratively and almost literally, to get what one wants.We begin in a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, wherein Bubbles (Andre Royo) is encouraged by his sponsor (Steve Earle) to testify; he can't bring himself to do so, beyond a few jokes about the old days before sobriety. The Major Crimes Unit, now down to two detectives, keeps up their assigned duty of working the case against State Senator Clay Davis (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.), although Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) isn't about to let go of their other major investigation, of the Marlo Stanfield gang, even if he has to work it on his own time. Meanwhile, Jimmy McNulty, even more than his fellow homicide detectives, is chafing under the restrictions on budget and his reassigment back to Homicide from Major Crimes. He takes on a slightly hincty-looking death investigation out of turn more to get out of the office than anything else; this eventually puts him in the pathologists' offices at the same time... read more

"Breaking Point"

This was one of those Numb3rs episodes that felt as if it had been cut down from perhaps a seventy-minute running time or wouldve been more comfortable if it couldve run a bit longer than 48 minutes or so Everything was just a bit too compressed giving most of the more intense moments a slightly over-the-top feeling and even the more laid-back sequences couldve used more room to breatheSynopsis It begins with intercutting between Don Eppes running down with his FBI team the known specifics of an apparent kidnapping of a television news reporter and a television news interview with Charlie Eppes wherein he allows that he tries to help his brothers FBI unit solve crimes and lets slip a few more facts about the case than Dons bosses are comfortable with Don chews Charlie out Charlie perhaps excessively miffed showily takes off to his university office to do the academic work he isnt doing when consulting on FBI cases As Charlie drives to the CalTech analog where read more

"More with Less"

The Wire's back, and as sharp and real and densely packed as ever. Most nights, it's the best television drama on now, and this episode does nothing to lower that average. This fifth season will, sadly, be the last...and in ten episodes, another major player is taken on as a partial focus, the press, most notably creator/producer/writer David Simon's old stamping ground, The Baltimore Sun, and other local news outlets (such as also-real upstart competitor The Daily Record)...along with the continuing story of what has become known as the Major Crimes squad, and their ongoing attempts to rein in major players in the West Baltimore drug trade. Amid so many other threads that even bare-bones notes on this season premiere episode fill a page.David Simon wrote this episode, and I believe that it's more than simple nostalgia that has the first vignette harkening back to a gag, one we first saw in the previous brilliant Simon series Homicide: Life on the Street, wherein a young, not too b... read more

"Chinese Box"

The last new episode scheduled for 2007 reminded me of a couple of early 1970s films the brilliant The Conversation and the more obscure and not as good if still interesting Report to the Commissioner which was based on a novelas well as seeming to mark the end of Aya Sumikas role on the series though we can hope otherwiseIt begins with a fairly unexceptional mornings business at the FBI offices as Agents Reeves Diane Farr and Sinclair Alimi Ballard prepare to go pick up a suspect less routinely Liz Warner Sumika informs her boss and ex Don Eppes Rob Morrow that shes taking the opportunity to be temporarily reassigned to another unit in the Los Angeles office Eppes is surprised and conflicted but has little time to deal with that since in the lobby of the FBI building a man has charged in brandishing a gun and shooting an agent before charging into an elevator and taking a civilian hostage Sinclair exchanges himself for the hostage over Reevess ob read more

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