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'The Wire': React quotes, Vol. 1

January 29, 2008 |  3:35 pm

As we take a breather before Sunday's episode, I thought I'd take a moment to respond to some reader mail received here at Showtracker Plaza. As always, feel free to send any comments via email or the handy-dandy "comments" link below -- we welcome any and all thoughts, feedback, screeds and diatribes.

Let's get this party started. First, a sampling of concerns about Sunday's post:

Thanks to you and your editor for making sure that anyone just glancing at the entertainment page today would be sure to find out about the killing of a major character on a highly acclaimed show. Thanks for ASSUMING  that anyone who is interested in watching the show ALREADY SAW IT. . . Some of us are too busy to build our schedules around watching a show the first minute it's available. Thanks for your consideration. -- Charles Webb

But wait, there's more:

Gah! I was scanning over the site today and I stumbled across the promo for your latest "Wire" post, in which I happened to learn right away that something bad happens involving Proposition Joe. Something involving a gun and Chris? Or Marlo? I tried to look away as quickly as I could, but I feel like the damage has already been inflicted. -- Patrick Day, fellow Times employee and "Wire" fanatic

Dear Charles and Patrick (and all the rest): First of all, I apologize. While I have no regrets about leading a Showtracker post with what was, naturally, the biggest news out of the episode, the way it was promoted on the Entertainment page was a definite spoiler with a capital "S." While that wasn't my decision and the team regrets any hard feelings, I must caution you that the Internet is a very, very treacherous place when dealing with the aftermath of serialized programming such as "The Wire," "Lost" and even "American Idol." The story has advanced, and those who still cling to what's become a relatively archaic standard of "appointment TV" generally want to discuss or read about an episode shortly after it's aired.

We'll definitely do our part to keep the "common areas" of the site free from specifics from now on, but by the same token when you've got an episode simmering in your TiVo (or, however improbably, your VCR), it might be safest to be exceedingly selective with your Web browsing. Entertainment and TV-related sites are fraught with peril, and it might be best to just stay away until you've caught up, as harsh as that may sound. When I missed an episode of "Lost" last year I did everything short of throwing a bucket over my head and hitting it with a wooden spoon whenever I logged on -- you just never know where this news is going to be discussed. While that may be extreme, the Internet is an unforgiving place for those who fall behind. We'll do our part moving forward -- just be careful out there as well.

Elsewhere, a question looking for a bit of background:

Tnx very much for today's column re "The Wire." We just started watching this year, and it's very difficult for us to understand what is going on. Your column helps. One thing we can't understand is what is happening vis a vis the Greeks. Much money is being brought to them in a briefcase -- looks like a great deal of money -- but they don't want it and try to send it back. Why? What is expected of them in return for this money? If you could let us know by Reply email or include it in your next column we will be grateful to you.-- Barbara and Ethan

First, kudos to you both for jumping on "The Wire" bandwagon late. As much as I love the show, it's not particularly forgiving to those who haven't been there from the beginning, so what you guys are trying to do is commendable. But even then, some of the interplay between the characters can be really subtle. For instance, in the case of the Greek (who, in another fun twist, isn't even Greek), Marlo presented Vondas with the briefcase of dough as "a gift" -- or, more specifically, a big sum of money to declare his intentions to buy his way into being their new point-person for drug distribution in Baltimore. Marlo wanted to be -- and now is -- the new Prop Joe for the Greeks.

Now, here's where I'm even a bit fuzzy. As you guys pointed out, Vondas repeatedly tried giving the money back, which from what I gather was a test of Marlo's resolve on really wanting to do business with them. While Vondas seemed perfectly content to continue to do business with Prop Joe as they had for years, something about Marlo changed the Greek's mind at the diner. Was it just that he kept coming back? Is that really all it takes it to just be a pest? Even what Marlo saw as approval for him to kill Prop Joe -- the acknowledgment that there was a viable need for "insurance" on Marlo's investment -- was cloaked in very nonspecific language. Given how security-obsessed every criminal figure in "The Wire's" world is, this shouldn't be a surprise. But was anyone else a little mystified initially that the Greek had, in fact, given Marlo an endorsement to move ahead with his plan to squeeze out Prop Joe?

More of this to come as the need arises. In the meantime, keep listening.

-- Chris Barton