Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir Without End (Amen?)

From: James R Winter (
Date: 03 Apr 2005

THE WIRE is most definitely noir. Doom does not mean that you don't come back next week. Doom means your screwed. As for eternal damnation, the characters all started out that way. McNulty and Daniels are cops trying to do the right thing and are constantly told that "Baltimore's a poor town. We can't afford good police work." McNulty especially has to deal with a control freak homicide commander, and while he's a good cop, he's not above screwing over anybody to get the job done, even his own lover. Presboluski is really screwed because on the street, he's a loose cannon who likes to play with his gun. Only when he's deskbound and his career is pretty much over, does he find his niche, which is crunching the numbers to find the bad guys. That whole squad, in fact, is doomed and keeps falling to a new level of it every week.

And that's just season 1. One of the things Dennis Lehane said about Season 3 was that he saw no reason not to kill off a major character in one ep. In other words, you DON'T know if they're coming back next week. Hell, I'm only on season 1 and was surprised to see Kima listed in season 3 after the bullet she took.

Doom is not like being unique. There really are degrees of doom. Christopher Reeve was doomed. He was impressive as hell after meeting his doom, but full paralysis is, in fact, doom. Terry Schiavo (and please don't take this as a cue for an off-topic debate on Ms Schiavo's fate) was doomed when she had the heart attack. The controversy was over what to do about it. Death is the ultimate doom, but it's not the only one. How many people do something with their lives that leaves them in a perpetual state of hell for years to come?

Noir doesn't necessarily mean your protag is completely destroyed. A truly vicious author will leave his character to live out his doom, wherein the only escape is death or exile.

So Mackey is doomed. Eventually. McNulty is perpetually doomed. They're not doomed like a Jim Thompson character, but then would you trade places with either of them? (Or any of Thompson's characters for that matter?)

Jim Winter

Northcoast Shakedown

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Apr 2005 EDT