Mike’s Prattle


The Wire, Breaking Bad and other TV inspired thoughts

Posted by Mike on March 11, 2008

David Simon, creator of The Wire, gives a final letter to the fans here. I was particularly impressed with this quote:

We are a culture without the will to seriously examine our own problems. We eschew that which is complex, contradictory or confusing. As a culture, we seek simple solutions. We enjoy being provoked and titillated, but resist the rigorous, painstaking examination of issues that might, in the end, bring us to the point of recognizing our problems, which is the essential first step to solving any of them.

Like many, I was sorry to see the show end, but glad, at least, that even though the final season was basically shortened, the show went out on its own terms. This was quite simply one of the best dramas ever televised, if not the best, and I spent most of Sunday night with the show as part of my dreams – something epic had ended. While the finale itself may have not been the sort of over the top finale you might see on other television shows, it made perfect sense, not only were story lines wrapped up, but the inevitability of the game continuing is made clear. The problems continue to exist, and like Simon so aptly implies, they will continue to do so, while Americans continue to go for the snappy quote, the simple answer and what amounts to a black and white approach to ethics. If anything, the show illustrates quite clearly what people will do to survive whether it’s on the streets, in print or in the political race.

Breaking Bad also finished it’s strike-terminated initial season and although it has not been renewed yet, it looks promising that the story will continue. For serious drama, Breaking Bad takes over the mantle from The Wire, in terms of presenting people and the real drives that motivate their actions, every day, but in crisis. It takes a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and follows the decision making that turns him into meth cooker and distributor. Not only have there been incredible shock moments, but every bit of it makes human sense from the relationships in his own family to the ray of light that strikes the teacher and turns him from a drone into someone motivated to live every last second of his life with adrenaline.

And on other television fronts:

  • Lost is back and like many this season my interest is back up to Season 1 levels, the plots moving forward nicely and the flashforwards giving the entirely greater dimension. Appointment TV for sure.
  • Jericho, on the other hand, is only barely seeming to justify its peanut campaign, at least until last week’s shocking finale. Unfortunately in this case I think the low budget mostly hamstrung the narrative and it feels less expansive and epic, more harrowing and claustrophobic than it did last year.
  • The US Torchwood run also continues, now over half way done, and while I agree with many it has improved some, I still find it to be missing part of its soul in a way I can’t quite place, even if I think John Barrowman is much more assured that he was in previous seasons (and Doctor Who). I’m looking far more forward to the parent show’s return in about a month or so.
  • Reaper, I believe, returns opposite lost. Kind of sucks to have only a few shows to watch all week and have two in the same time slot. Fortunately, Lost can be viewed on line, but this means no watercooler chat the next day. Battlestar Galactica returns April 4th. House returns April 21st (I’m a latecomer to this one, but love it to death now).

8 Responses to “The Wire, Breaking Bad and other TV inspired thoughts”

  1. David Simon’s quote is good, but it describes every culture, not just American. And I’m not American.

    The scariest thing is when someone actually tries to solve these problems without “the rigorous, painstaking examination of issues.” We’ve seen enough examples of that in the world.

  2. Mike said

    Indeed, John – well said.

  3. Beavis Christ said

    Hey Mike,

    I’ve been lurking on your board for a while and would like to suggest an incense topic, open to all.

    What is your Holy Grail incense? Have you found it? If not, what do you think it would be like?

  4. Mike said

    Hi Beavis, thanks for the question – it’s a tough one to answer.

    Right now, some of the higher-end Tibetan incenses are my favorites, particularly the Tibetan Medical College Holy Land, Highland Incense and Samye Monastery Samanthabadra. I think what I look for is intuitive depth and that’s something you tend to get more when ingredients are authentic, particularly high quality aloeswood and real musk. So perhaps my overall Holy Grail incense would be a combination of a high end Japanese aloeswood incense (something dry like Shoyeido Ga-Ho) and Highland incense. Japanese incenses are rarely wild like Tibetan incenses, and Tibetan incenses are rarely refined like Japanese incenses, so it would be amazing to see both qualities wrapped up in one.

    I’m going to copy your question and answer to my new incenses pages at Olfactory Rescue Service, the link I’ll copy in my next post.

  5. Mike said

    Here’s the link over at ORS, I think you’re likely to get more answers from this page:


  6. Beavis Christ said

    Thanks for your answer Mike.

    I purchased some Tibetan styled incense (Pure Tibetan Herbal Meditation prepared by Chandra Devi etc. etc.) and must say it IS quite earthy. Unburned, it has a foody, curry sort of fragrance and something animalic, like you would smell on a farm.

    Not my personal favorite but the only one that was burning when I had a semi-mystical experience. Perhaps it was the campfire-like smell it has which, no doubt, taps into the shared human predisposition for enjoying fires. This has prehistoric roots the same as why people love barbecues.

    Anyway, the inspiration for the question is taken from a similar vein — perfume / fragrances. Often, on the perfume boards, people ask about their Holy Grail fragrance.

    The search for the HG incense is a journey which may eventually lead you to try your hand in creating incense yourself.

    What is a HG incense? Defining the question is a start. Next, is trying to figure out what that may be to YOU and not necessarily another person.

  7. Mike said

    Thanks Beavis. I just got in a sample of that particular Chandra Devi, it’s one I’d consider a low grade Tibetan, a little too heavy on the cheaper ingredients like juniper, cedarwood, low grade sandalwood etc. Not a bad thing in itself but there are loads of incenses like these and many better and as affordable as the CD. So no surprise it’s not your personal favorite. Me either. 🙂 Good points related to your Jungian observation on the campfires.

    My Holy Grail incense right now is the Tibetan Medical College Holy Land. Can’t get enough of it.

  8. Beavis Christ said

    Thanks. I will definitely try it myself.

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