1.2: Puppies and Parasites

By Peter Honig

“I owe you, okay?”—Cantrell

Daniels is immediately reluctant to head the newly-formed Barksdale Detail, but it’s not until the opening scenes of “The Detail” that he begins to realize the real scope of his predicament. It’s starts off with the detail’s exile to the basement, but then he sees the parade of humps who Burrell gave him for the case. They appear to be a ragged assortment: two lazy drunks hiding behind seniority, a dull wall-shooting reject, and a mute wallflower absorbed in his own strange trinkets. Daniels asks for more manpower, and he gets the department’s waste (“dead wood,” “garbage”). At this point he realizes that he is being dragged down into the quicksand of departmental politics courtesy of a special force known as “suction.”

1.1: McNulty on the River Kwai

By Peter Honig

“I’m gonna do this case.”–McNulty
Leave it to The Wire. Even when the show does something conventional and cliche, it does so with such style and flexibility that it feels unconventional. Take the catch phrase, one of the oldest and cheapest of all television conventions. From “Don’t have a cow man” to “That’s what she said,” a catch phrase is an easy way to establish a simple character trait in a way that almost pre-programs the audience to respond in a particular way. They also make for great T-shirts.