Tuesday 21 May 2013

The Wire vs. Sherlock

The sense of verisimilitude show runner David Simon achieves in The Wire is phenomenal. A slow burn ensemble piece,  it gives the audience a wonderful window on institutional absurdity. Nuanced Dilbert topped by a throat-cutting edge,  it's rewarding viewing.

Simon has his head screwed on straight; interviews reveal a clear thinking and spiritually aware individual unencumbered by the raging narcissism so rampant in the entertainment industry., His work is refreshing,  challenging,  dark,  wearying,  exhausting,  rewarding,  and brilliant.

Characters are well rounded,  have motivations one can identify with,  believable abilities,  and face an exterior world of crushing weight and overwhelming power. Most shows preach the solipsistic idea that we are indispensable to the world (Fringe, for example). This one actually acknowledges a reality outside the psyche.

It's in stark contrast to Steven Moffat's Emmy nominated Sherlock,  starring the fantastic Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. The first few episodes are engrossing,  but before long the show's tropes begin to grate. Superficial,  flashy and endlessly self-congratulatory,  Sherlock's buoyed by a swelling musical score,  ostentatious cinematography,  frequent all-caps 'acting' moments,  and other pretentious affectations. Still,  it barrels along at an incredible pace,  hoping to keep ahead of the plot holes,  dazzling the audience with snappy dialogue and quick cuts.

Natural Sherlock is not. A Superman comic book would feel more real. The saving grace is Cumberbatch,  who has great presence on screen. He rocks the role,  and one hopes to see him get the opportunity to lead on the big screen., The shows are very different beasts. As a drama,  Sherlock can't reach the shins of The Wire. It's like comparing a glittering puddle to a  deep,  quiet lake.

Different strokes for different folks.

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