It began with Homicide: Life on the Street, with the murder po-lice, the Waterfront, the dark and twisty tales of life in a Baltimore cop shop. Who can forget following right along with newbie Tim Bayliss as he desperately sought Edina Watson’s killer in season one? How we agonized when the brilliant Frank Pembleton was brought down, not by bullets, but by a stroke? Seven seasons of awesome by Tom Fontana and based on David Simon‘s Homicide: Life on the Killing Streets.
After Homicide made its final bow, as desperate as Bayliss for equally brilliant entertainment, I uncovered Oz. I didn’t have HBO when Oz actually aired, but was lucky enough to score DVDs via Netflix. As with Homicide, I was instantly hooked and quickly mainlined the entire six season run in less than two months.
I even got to tell Tom Fontana how much the show meant to me in a brief encounter during MWA’s Edgar cocktail party one year. He probably thought I was insane.
After I finished this fix, I faced a whole lotta nothing. At this point, I still didn’t have premium cable and though there were a few shows I enjoyed, none had the hard-hitting edge I craved. I needed something other than bright shiny Hollywoodized characters with improbably pretty actors. I’m not against pretty. Pretty has its place, but having gotten a taste of something more visceral, more real, I wanted more. Fabulous writing merged with excellent casting/acting. It had to be there.
Then, there it was. From a familiar source: The Wire – a different view of Charm City and yet another show that I had to wait to see until it was done and available via iTunes/streaming. My inner addict breathed more easily. All too soon, however, I finished watching the five seasons.
I cast my wandering eye about, hoping for a new fix. A new show to fill that gap. Sure, I watched other dramas, but nothing that resonated with me as much. Some tried too hard. Some not at all. How could I settle for bland polished Hollywood pablum when I’d been exposed to the real thing?
Continue reading True grit: My kind of reality television