The Wire: Season 1, Episode 1

The Target (2 Jun. 2002)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Thriller
8.1
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Baltimore Det. Jimmy McNulty finds himself in hot water with his superior Major William Rawls after a drug dealer, D'Angelo Barksdale who is charged with three murders, is acquitted. ... See full summary »

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Title: The Target (02 Jun 2002)

The Target (02 Jun 2002) on IMDb 8.1/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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D'Angelo Barksdale (as Larry Gilliard Jr.)
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Domenick Lombardozzi ...
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Storyline

Baltimore Det. Jimmy McNulty finds himself in hot water with his superior Major William Rawls after a drug dealer, D'Angelo Barksdale who is charged with three murders, is acquitted. McNulty knows the judge in question and although it's not his case, he's called into chambers to explain what happened. Obviously key witnesses recanted their police statements on the stand but McNulty doesn't underplay Barksdale's role in at least 7 other murders. When the judge's raises his concerns at the senior levels of the police department, they have a new investigation on their hands. Lt. Cedric Daniels is put in charge with Kima Greggs as the lead detective. As for Barksdale, he finds himself demoted to a low-level dealer after his arrest and he obviously has to prove himself yet again. Written by garykmcd

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Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

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2 June 2002 (USA)  »

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4:3
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Trivia

Each season uses a different recording of the opening theme "Way Down In The Hole," against a different opening sequence. This season, the first, the theme is performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama. See more »

Goofs

(at around 19 mins) When the camera pans down to a long-dead corpse, some twitching is evident on the corpse's face. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty: So your boy's name was what?
Snot Boogie's Friend: Snot.
Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty: You called the guy "Snot"?
Snot Boogie's Friend: Snot Boogie, yeah.
Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty: Snot Boogie? He like the name?
Snot Boogie's Friend: What?
Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty: Snot Boogie?
[the kid does not answer]
Det. James 'Jimmy' McNulty: This kid, whose mama went to the trouble to christen him Omar Isaiah Betts... You know, he forgets his jacket, his nose starts running and some asshole, instead of giving him a Kleenex, he calls him "Snot". So he's Snot forever. Doesn't seem fair.
[...]
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Connections

References Hawaii Five-O (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Way Down in the Hole
(uncredited)
Performed by The Blind Boys Of Alabama
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User Reviews

 
"It's America, man."
17 November 2008 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

The Wire has the most uncommon thing for an HBO show: a teaser (so far, In Treatment is the only other series of the cable network that has the same thing on a regular basis). And in that teaser, which has absolutely nothing to do with the events of the episode, the series' real intent is exposed: while talking to a kid about a murder victim who was nicknamed Snot Boogie, Homicide detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), the show's hero (asssuming there is one), finds out his guy had a tendency to steal money from certain people every time they had a late-night card game. He feels compelled to ask the kid: "Well, if Snot Boogie stole the money, why'd you let him play?". The answer is the most unpredictable one: "Got to. It's America, man.". As such, The Wire is no ordinary cop show: it's a vivid, bleak portrait of life in the USA.

The real story, which kicks in right after the opening credits ("Way Down In The Hole" is used to express the program's mood), with the trial of D'Angelo Barksdale (Larry Gilliard Jr.). He walks after a witness changes her story in court, and McNulty, who wasn't even involved in the case, tells Judge Phelan (Peter Gerety) that D'Angelo is more important than he appears, as he happens to be the nephew of Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris), the primary drug dealer of West Baltimore. Naturally, no one's ever heard of him, but since Avon is allegedly behind most of the drug-related murders in the city, Phelan calls McNulty's direct superiors, William Rawls (John Doman) and Erwin Burrell (Frankie Faison) and demand something be done about this mess. Rawls, who already hates McNulty, has him included in a special task force, which will be coordinated by Narcotics lieutenant Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick). Meanwhile, McNulty's partner "Bunk" Moreland (Wendell Pierce) provides some pseudo-philosophical advice on the colleague's reckless attitude, and D'Angelo gets back on the street, only to find out that Avon and his associate, "Stringer" Bell (Idris Elba) have found it fitting to give him a new assignment.

The first thing that catches the eye about The Wire is its incredible attention to detail: many critics have pointed out how the show does in one season what even 24 would have gotten over with in one episode, and it's true - 57 minutes after the start of the first episode, the task force has barely been set up. The comparison with 24 is also necessary in regard to the ending: whereas each episode of Fox's real-time thriller ends on a cliffhanger, this show's inaugural hour doesn't really end at all. The narrative arc covers the entire season, not single episodes. Alongside the detail, series creator (and episode writer) David Simon, who previously worked on Homicide: Life on the Street deserves praise for his dialogue: more than any other street-based crime drama, The Wire feels and sounds like the real thing, with slang expressions, police jargon and the inevitable swearing being used as a natural part of the environment, not a gratuitous decoration.

The same goes for the cast: anyone with good enough knowledge of crime movies or shows might have recognized Faison from the Hannibal Lecter trilogy or Reddick from the fourth season of HBO's Oz, but the fact that most of the actors were complete unknowns by the time the series first aired is the most vital contribution to the show's realism. One gets the feeling that every thespian involved is completely immersed in the role he or she plays. They're not "characters", so to speak: they're fully formed American people, to the point that it still feels a bit odd to learn that West and Elba are actually 100% British.

The first episode of The Wire doesn't immediately strike as brilliant, must-see TV, like The Sopranos or Six Feet Under did. It's more complex, paced and attention-demanding than anything else on the small screen, and if one commits for the long run, it might even be more satisfying than most serials. And given we're talking about HBO, that's probably the best compliment they'll ever get.


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