David Simon’s The Wire is easily one the greatest television shows that ever existed. Its multifaceted look at politics, the media, drugs, education and law enforcement gave us colorful characters, memorable moments and a rich storytelling structure.
HBO aired five seasons of the series, which was criminally only nominated for two Emmys. In the aftermath of such a rare gem, fans of the show have been left with a gaping hole that used to be filled with the drunken exploits of Bunk and McNulty. Simon is unlikely to revisit the world of The Wire (and maybe that’s a good thing). But let’s take a moment to imagine what it might be like if some of the characters from the series (which is available to stream on HBO Go and HBO NOW) did, in fact, get their own spin-off shows. (And, yes, Omar Little is here because who else can whistle and wield a shotgun better?)
Definite spoilers here…
Jimmy McNulty & Bunk Moreland
Title: Baltimore Shadows
Synopsis: Bunk and McNulty had a little bit of a falling out in the final season of The Wire when McNulty went off the reservation to create a fake serial killer in order to get more funds diverted into the department. Bunk opposed the strategy, one that ultimately led to Jimmy resigning from the force. When Baltimore Shadows begins, McNulty is trying to find work wherever he can. With his rock, Beatrice, by his side, Jimmy tries his hand at running a small landscaping business. When a man covered in blood runs out of a home he’s servicing, Jimmy happens upon a murder scene. Bunk is given the lead on the case, and with Jimmy as the primary witness, the two strike up a conversation again during a routine questioning.
The incident leaves Jimmy wondering if investigative work is his calling in life, and with the urging of Beatrice, he obtains a P.I. license. For his first case, Jimmy is tasked to follow a man whose wife suspects he is cheating. What Jimmy finds is more sinister: The man may be a killer, and further, he may be tied to the murder case that Bunk is investigating. Jimmy and Bunk pool their investigations together, and begin to uncover that not only are their cases related, but they may have stumbled onto a statewide syndicate of serial killers for hire.
Title: All In the Game
Synopsis: Omar Little met his demise in season five of The Wire, when he was shot from behind in a corner store (damn you, Kenard!). This prequel documents Omar’s rise.
A teenaged Omar and his older brother Anthony live with their grandmother, Josephine, after the pair was abandoned by their drug-addled parents. Omar looks up to Anthony, a drug dealer and thief who teaches his little brother the code of the streets. Unlike his brother, however, Omar’s upbringing is strongly influenced by his God-fearing grandmother, who instills in him a sense of honor and respect. One day, Anthony robs a jewelry store but is later apprehended by police. With Anthony locked up and awaiting trial, Josephine struggles with the bills, no longer receiving help from the older Little while also squirreling away funds for his legal defense. The threat of losing their home is a real one.
Between classes at Edmondson-Westside High School, Omar happens to witness a senior underneath a stairwell handing off some pills to another student while handling a wad of cash. After school, Omar quietly follows the student back to his home, stopping briefly to buy a small box of stockings at a corner store. Remembering a row of bushes that Anthony pointed out as a drop spot for gang members to dispose of weapons, Omar retrieves a small handgun and heads to the drug-dealing student’s home as night falls over the city.