Tag Archives: TV

The Wire: Smacketology

I don’t normally post about TV stuff here on PPH, but I’m going to make an exception because I’ve stumbled across something quite stupendously brilliant, and it’s about my favourite TV show ever*: David Simon’s deep, dark, complex, funny, suspenseful and educational HBO drama The Wire.

The writers at US-based sports and culture website Grantland, tired of conjecturing over who is The Wire’s greatest character, have put a plan in motion to decide once and for all.  They’ve drawn up a basketball style set of ‘brackets’, divided the characters into regional sections, and pitted them against each other.

Obviously, Barack Obama’s Favourite Ever Wire Character™ Omar Little is the runaway favourite, but what about the shark-eyed nihilism of Marlo Stanfield, the deadpan militance of the underrated Brother Mouzone or even the androgynous, hair-trigger marauder Snoop (played by real-life ne’er-do-well Felecia Pearson)? Hell, what about Stringer Bell? It’s not all about violence either; how’s about fuck-up turned teacher-with-a-conscience cop Prezbo? The social revolutionary and Hamsterdam architect Bunny Colvin? Or even one of the tragic kids from Season 4? That’s the beauty of The Wire. Has there ever been a show with as many rich, unforgettable characters?

You can participate yourself over at their Facebook page, and read their opening article here. Furthermore, you can – and absolutely should – also follow Grantland on Twitter @Grantland33. It’s a great site.

The game’s already underway (it was ever thus, and “it done changed” etc…), and in what was a ridiculously high-calibre first-round tie, Marlo’s ice-cool yet vicious lieutenant Chris Partlow was vanquished by reformed hard-man and boxing gym owner Dennis Wise (no, not that one) aka ‘Cutty’.

In tribute to Partlow, who remains one of my own personal favourites, I’ll sign off here with the most disturbing Wire clip I could think of (from Season 4, Episode 10: Misgivings), but not just for shock value. I also happen to consider it one of the very best moments of the show’s near-faultless five season run. Directed with fearless precision from former Spike Lee collaborator (and Do The Right Thing DOP) Ernest Dickerson, the scene is a masterclass in creating suspense, and advancing character development through carefully judged use of violence; the explosion of brutality from the normally precise Partlow speaks for his past in a way that he’s never likely to be prepared to do through dialogue. It’s probably best not to watch it if a) you’re faint-hearted or b) haven’t got to Season 4 yet. *SPOILER ALERT* “Enjoy”:

*apart from Cheers.

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“Black as midnight on a moonless night”: The Twin Peaks UK Festival 2011

Photo by Mateusz Witek

Though I am a proud supporter, defender and member of the geek club, I have never been to a convention. And this – The Twin Peaks UK Festival 2011 at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios – may be the nearest I ever get to the dizzy heights of show fandom. It turns out Peaks freaks – the nickname given to fans of David Lynch’s cult TV series – are wonderful people. Not only are they (or should I say we?) friendly and approachable, they are more than willing to dress up. And thank heavens for that, as Dad and I have done just that. My father, who in the daytime is a (mostly) serious and respected academic, has grown a thick greying mullet for the occasion, donned a garishly vile Hawaiian shirt and some psychedelic braces, and is instantly transformed into Laura Palmer’s psychotic psychiatrist Dr. Jacoby. I arrive much tamer, and have opted for white tights, red velvet, lipstick and black and white brogues, with the appropriate beauty spot, to go as serial seductress Audrey Horne. Walking round the rather Lynchean maze that makes up the journey to Riverside Studios, we start to get nervous – what if no-one’s dressed up? What if somebody recognises me?

Our fears are instantly allayed as, walking into the foyer, we spot two couples in matching outfits: the men dressed as Special Agent Cooper in impeccable suits and slicked back hair, and the girls in mint green Twin Peaks waitress outfits. We breathe a sigh of relief, and so it begins.

Twin Peaks cupcakes!

To enjoy the Twin Peaks festival experience, you really do need to be a fan of the show. That’s not to say you need to have watched all of the episodes, but you’ll require a more than lukewarm interest in it to get you through fourteen hours of Lynchean obsession. You read correctly – fourteen hours of screenings, interviews with stars of the show, and burlesque performances from the David Lynch-themed cabaret group The Double R Club that make up the day’s festivities. A diner decked out like the Red Room provides the audiences with Lynch’s brand of coffee, unlimited free doughnuts and cherry pie, and a variety of American diner-inspired snacks, including Twin Peaks cupcakes with Laura Palmer’s dead face drowning in blue icing made to look like waves!

Burlesque performances by the Double R club break up the day’s events. Highlights include a superbly surreal Lady With the Log striptease (think double entendres on getting wood, and the log as a boob-jiggling prop), a Special Agent Cooper look-a-like strumming ‘Halleluyah’ on the ukulele, a fire-eating long-haired Bob look-alike, and wonderful compering from a gentleman with black and white face paint who alternates between delivering Lynch-inspired performance poetry to strobe light dancing and outré introductions.

Photo by Mateusz Witek

Two stars from the show – Al Strobel who plays the One Armed Man, and Kimmy Robertson who plays kooky secretary Lucy – are interviewed by Time Out film journalist Tom Huddleston. Both actors are charming, and fill the Q&A session with hilarious in-jokes and titbits from the set. Apparently, Kimmy kissed David Lynch “French style”, and he likes to drink red wine at parties. She’s also kissed Elton John and John Belushi: “It’s a hobby”, she states.

As the day comes to a rather exhausting close, I mull over what I’ve achieved essentially sat on my ass in a cinema. I met The One Armed Man! He complemented my dad’s parenting skills! I ate loads of doughnuts and cherry pie! I tripped out on Lynch coffee while watching Japanese animated video art played along to a single from the Lynch’s debut album ‘Crazy Clown Time‘!  I freaked out when I thought I saw my ex-boyfriend in the foyer of the Riverside Studios! I don’t know what David Lynch puts in his coffee but after three cups and fourteen hours of wonderful festival madness, I have absolutely lost my mind, in the best possible way. Rest assured, it’s what David would have wanted.

Time Out's Tom Huddleston leads a Q&A in the Riverside Studios' transformed auditoria

The Twin Peaks UK Festival 2011 took place on 26 November 2011 at Riverside Studios, London.

Holy Shit!

Felecia ‘Snoop’ Pearson from The Wire has been arrested in a massive drug raid, The Washington Post reports. Ya heard!?

Art imitating life? Life imitating art? Life imitating blah blah blah… Or, just insert your own inane phrase to disguise the fact that this is merely a blogger posting a vaguely interesting news story in order to get some hits.