We Own This City: Are You People Ready to Say That Out Loud? Is Anybody?
April 28, 2022 5:51 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

(HBO site, trailer, review) This six-episode series, based on the book by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton, developed and written by George Pelecanos and David Simon, details the rise and fall of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force.
posted by box (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like that this is going to be told non-linearly, and the viewers will learn about the corrupt cops through the investigation. A more straight forward rise and fall story would end up making Sgt. Jenkins look like kind of a badass, like a six hour long version of Training Day.
posted by riruro at 8:38 AM on April 29


I'm enjoying this so far but, just like The Wire, I'm having a difficult time keeping track of who is who. It's also tricky because there are so many people from The Wire in different roles and it's somewhat distracting. I almost wish they hadn't re-used any of the actors.

It's very different watching a cop show in 2022. Back when I watched The Wire I still had it in my head that the cops were mostly the good guys, or at least supposed to be.
posted by bondcliff at 8:24 AM on May 4


Two episodes in. This show is getting really good.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:28 PM on May 4


At the end of the first episode, the shot of Jenkins walking in to his interview with IA... and seeing his extremely physical walk - man - that body language is living rent-free in my brain.
posted by entropone at 6:16 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]


D. Watkins (discussed here on Metafilter) who appeared in this episode is also one of the writers for this miniseries. David Simon posted a photo of the writers staff on Twitter some time ago. I can’t find it because searching on Twitter is a pain.
posted by riruro at 6:30 AM on May 10


I'm enjoying this so far but, just like The Wire, I'm having a difficult time keeping track of who is who. It's also tricky because there are so many people from The Wire in different roles and it's somewhat distracting.

I'm confused with the added time jumps as well, but seeing "Marlo" and "Duquan" bring down a murder with the help of "Marla Daniels" was pretty great. Dookie looked so tall and handsome, I was beaming like I could have been his mother.

What a knife-twist that scene with Jenkins being called into his sergeant's office over beating on a man for sitting on his own steps. Hearing, you're an earner, we'll always protect you, as the capper.
posted by gladly at 7:21 PM on May 10


this was very good. as a narrative it has some structural problems from weaving a bunch of sprawling true stories together; easier to dovetail everything when you go straight fiction. there's a lot of talking and maybe one too many scenes putting a button on some of the themes. you can tell that Simon et al still have nostalgia in their hearts for a certain kind of "good" policeman that can feel like it borders on the naive.

but it's as thorough and angry an indictment of the failure of the War on Drugs as I've ever seen and as honest a depiction of the ceaseless brutality of the police state as I think we can get in a high-profile piece of media these days. the performances throughout are incredible, which helps with a lot of those talking scenes.
posted by Kybard at 5:41 PM on May 31 [2 favorites]


I'm only halfway through this show and while I really, really want to like it, it's a sad, pale version of The Wire. The problem here is that -- despite the fact that this is based on true facts -- none of these people seem like 3-D characters. With the exception of the FBI agent being a flautist, none of these people say or do anything that doesn't directly affect the corrupt police story they're trying to tell. In The Wire, we'd get to find out that McNulty was a drunk and a slut, and while it did inform his decisions, it didn't drive the story. It was just a way to flesh him out.

There is nothing like that here. Every time we are shown these people, they are talking directly about the plot or The Theme of This Story.

There should be a Bechdel-type test where, to pass, characters have to say and do things that provide depth to their characters that has nothing to do with the plot. Maybe We Own This City will pass that in the second half, but so far, no dice.
posted by nushustu at 3:45 PM on June 5


OH-KAY. Having finished this, it didn't improve exactly, but I still enjoyed it. Watching the homicide detective's story was hard, because they certainly played him as a guy trying his best, and you just knew it was going to go bad for him.

But holy damn John Bernthal. I didn't know that guy had it in him. I don't know if he watched videos of the actual guy he was portraying, or if that all came from him, or what, but what a virtuoso performance. Great stuff.
posted by nushustu at 5:37 PM on June 7


With the exception of the FBI agent being a flautist, none of these people say or do anything that doesn't directly affect the corrupt police story they're trying to tell.

I had the same thought. Bear in mind this is only six episodes, though - far fewer than the early seasons of The Wire got - so that pressure to always be cracking on with the plot is something that's constantly weighing down on them. HBO's been good about continuing to back Simon's projects (despite his various shows' modest ratings), but the price paid is imposing tight, tight seasons with fewer episodes to play with than I'm sure he'd like.

As a cop series set in Baltimore, it was always inevitable WOTC would be compared with The Wire, but that's a bit unfair in itself. Judged on its own merits, WOTC is still among the very best TV around right now.

One small detail I love about the show is seeing cops check the spelling of people's surnames as they note them down. That drives me mad in most shows - it's the first thing any competent cop or journalist would do with that kind of information, as a casual mistake in spelling at that stage could sabotage any further investigation (and that's doubly true in the age of digital search). I understand why other shows leave this moment out - why hold up the story? - but it's good to see WOTC getting it right.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:54 PM on June 11


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