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David Simon Q&A: how Homicide: Life On The Street influenced The Wire

IN PRAISE OF HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET

Shelley: To what degree did you feel a desire or compulsion to make The Wire because Homicide: Life On The Street was in some way lacking something ? And, if so, what was that ? Or, if not, where do the two meet and part ?
David Simon: “No degree whatsoever. I felt Homicide was an excellent drama and it sought to do things on its own terms. The Wire had different intentions and a different logic and while it was more akin to the actual dynamics of Baltimore as I knew them that alone do not mitigate against the storytelling that Homicide achieved. Authenticity is by no means a singular measure of any creative representation of anything.”

Shelley: Are there any details or episodes that to you sum up what a truly great series Homicide was ? Any favourite episodes or scenes or stories ?
Simon: “While there were certainly continuing storylines in Homicide, the drama worked best when considered not against novelistic criteria, but as a series of interconnected short stories set in and around the Baltimore Police department’s homicide unit. Like The Dubliners or Olive Kitteridge in a visual framework. When the story was a good or great one, it proved to be drama of the finest kind, and the overall cumulative effect of the episodes was powerful. Tom (Fontana) and Barry (Levinson) did a great job and I was proud to learn everything they could teach me on that project.”

Shelley: How highly do you rate Homicide ? Would you put it on a par with The Wire – or did you set out to create some greater and feel you achieved that ?
Simon: “This is not for me to say. I don’t rate The Wire except to say that I think it will stand as a creative work. Homicide too.”