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David Simon Interview

October 4, 2012

For those of you who don’t recognize the name, David Simon is a journalist by trade and the writer of Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Corner, The Wire, Generation Kill, and currently, Treme. He recently did an interview with Salon, and discusses all things TV. He is one of the leading minds and talents in the industry, and 50 years from now, when many people won’t even have heard of CSI, Law and Order, or Friends, The Wire and Generation Kill will not only be known but still be watched. From the interview:

This sounds really snobbish and I don’t mean it because it’s not like I don’t watch TV, but I find a lot of it to be unwatchable, because I don’t see it as being reflective of anything. …I start seeing those seams where people have sewn together melodrama and they’re not really interested in what the invasion of Iraq at 30 days can tell us or what the years after Katrina in this city that suffered a near-death experience can tell us…

When I start seeing scenes of that, that they don’t care about Iraq or they don’t care about why there’s violence in the inner city, I have no interest in watching. I’d have no interest in reading if that were a novel and it was cheated that much. A lot of TV is about sustaining the franchise. …

…But “The Wire” got sold by word of month. And that matters as much or more than criticism in the moment. And I didn’t get that. It’s not like we had a plan with “The Wire,” but I now believe in it. Take “Generation Kill,” which came and went with fairly decent reviews, but got clobbered in the New Yorker, for example. And I’ll tell you now, that’s probably the best-executed seven hours of television I’ve ever been involved. Better than “The Wire.” Better than “Treme.” Not in terms of the value of the piece. But in terms of, this is what we’re trying to do, this is what is important to convey, these are real people, we’re going to use the real names of the real Marines, we’re only going to stick to what happened, and then tell the story as best as you can. For the time and the money we put into that, I don’t think I could be prouder of anything.  …

To Kenai, you have to watch The Wire. To Blank and Zos, Generation Kill is a must. To rED, Grymm, and everyone else, you have to watch both! I am currently watching Treme and loving it.

I’ve included one more interesting quote after the jump, and some clips from The Wire.

…It’s a very funny story, but at some point after Season 3 of “The Wire,” and we introduced the political in Season 3, we wrote a spinoff show for city hall. We actually went to Chris Albrecht and said, “Here’s a pilot of a show called ‘The Hall’ that follows the Carcetti character and his political career. And we want to run them in tandem.” So after Season 3 of “The Wire” you would get Season 1 of “The Hall,” then you’d get Season 4 of “The Wire,” then Season 2 of “The Hall.” This poor guy must have been listening to this and saying, “Yeah that’s what I need, I need two shows that nobody’s watching in Baltimore, Maryland. What the …” He had to be laughing his ass off inside.

Oh, how I wish he had been able to make that!

Now, for some scenes from The Wire.

I have always maintained that there is more “story” in 5 minutes of The Wire than there is in an entire episode of regular TV.

And a bonus clip.

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6 Comments
  1. October 8, 2012 10:59 am

    Love! “Generation Kill”. Thank you again Suns (for my Christmas gift). I plan on watching it again (with Seth) over the Holidays.

    “The Wire” Phyllis and I watched several episodes a couple months ago. Really, really enjoyed it. Fascinating how well it is done. How real. The only problem is that what we were dvr’ing from tv was like season 5 or something (one of them was the “nail gun” episode). We want to start at the beginning. My library carries all the seasons. I will pick up season 1 pretty soon and “gets to starting…”

    We became addicted to “Breaking bad” over the past couple months. Saw the pilot episode, then a couple shows from last season. Then we watched all of this season. That is a show that really draws you in (even if you don’t want it to).

  2. October 8, 2012 3:31 pm

    Kenai, that is great! I look forward to talking to you about the show as you watch.

    These shows really are different from “regular” TV. I cannot even imagine starting The Wire, or Breaking Bad in the middle. They are both this generation’s “novel”. It is a new form that has its beginnings in the “mini-series” of the 70s.

    How crazy would it be to start a novel in the middle? Regular tv you can just watch an episode here or there and miss almost nothing. Not so with these other shows.

  3. October 9, 2012 8:27 am

    I do need a new show to watch. I was watching Skins (UK) on Netflix via Hate’s suggestion and got really into it. Was in the middle of the 3rd season and Netflix removed the whole 3rd season while I was mid-episode. So I took a break from that show, finished season 2 of The Walking Dead, started watching Hell on Wheels and loving that.

    I do have The Wire and Generation Kill on my to-do list, but I’m savoring it for when there isn’t much for me to watch so that I can invest in the shows.

  4. October 11, 2012 3:10 pm

    I am loving Blue Mountain State is well written college humor. I needed a brake from “How I met your mother” because that show becomes predictable and repetitive every now and then, but it has been better in the last seasons on Netflix.

    I loved Dead Snow

    Get the Gringo was ok.

  5. October 11, 2012 11:17 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up on these shows and movies, Frenik.

  6. October 16, 2012 6:15 pm

    There is a podcast available now in which David Simon describes how he took some stories right out of the papers and worked them into Treme. Outstanding stuff!

    http://www.propublica.org/podcast/item/david-simon-a.c.-thompson-talk-about-fictionalizing-a-real-life-investigati/

    http://www.propublica.org/nola

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