The Wire: Lester Freamon’s Dollhouse Miniatures Matter

[SPOILER ALERT: I talk about events from Season 5 of The Wire below.]




In The Wire, Lester Freamon says, “All the pieces matter,” which is the best and most succinct summary line of the whole show.

Series 5 ends with McNulty looking over Baltimore (the whole) and then pans to a closing montage of all the players (the individual pieces) before going back to city skyline (the whole) again.

Appropriate as McNulty has basically been the city’s puppeteer in Season 5.


The Wire Season 5Anyone who’s seen the show all the way through gets that it’s about the pieces-and-whole dialectic, and about understanding the city as a complex, unified system, linked together by interconnected sub-systems.

What two characters best understand this? It seems McNulty (who is the character privileged enough to close the show with the long, longing look at the city) and Freamon (who loves seeing how pieces fit together–his bulletin board is evidence of this).

What just hit me, though, is that Freamon’s interest in tiny dollhouse pieces that then fit together into whole unified sets is a sort of microcosm of his interest in how networks and systems (like drug rings) have individual pieces that all fit together. Even in his hobby the writers portray him (intentionally?) as someone who has an interest in “all the pieces”–in this case, miniatures. He is a “systems guy,” through and through.

Lester Freamon DollhouseAnd, his working at a “pawn shop” could be an echo of or allusion to the “pawns” on the chessboard that D’Angelo uses to describe how the pieces each play their part in the game. Different meanings of “pawn,” but still could be related.

My conclusion? McNulty, though he’s a “gaping [jerk],” maybe sees the system better than anyone else. And Freamon, just as he does with dollhouse miniatures, is able to navigate it more deftly than anyone else.

In that sense, though they both end up very much outside the system (i.e., no longer police), the pro-systems thinking show casts them as its ultimate heroes.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

daniel tiger


How do you follow Mr. Rogers? Well, you don’t, really. Which helps to explain PBS’s decision to move to an animated tiger as the leading host and tour guide of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

I’ll admit: I was skeptical of Daniel Tiger at first. So is my five-year-old, every time we turn it on for our two-year-old to watch. (The former sits down with the latter for every episode, though, every time.)

Mr. Rogers’s pastoral sense and uncanny ability to love, honor, and celebrate children is not quite replicated by Daniel Tiger, but Daniel does pretty well–better than I thought an animated character could do. Here’s a short clip (30 seconds) that represents how Daniel models dealing with disappointment:



It’s not uncommon for my two-year-old to answer Daniel Tiger’s questions and comments, which Daniel puts to the viewer in much the same way that Mr. Rogers did.

Daniel Tiger mp3Best of all–there’s a soundtrack for the show. This has a noticeably positive effect on our two-year-old and his assessment of life in the early morning, without having him in front of a screen. Nearly every morning at our house now begins with a collective listen through this album. The music is catchy! I have to try really hard not to sing these songs to people around me.

The big hit lately around our house has been these printable pages of the characters in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Unfortunately, my quoting, “When something seems bad, turn it around–find something good!” doesn’t always work for my two-year-old when he’s really grumpy. But it’s hard being two! And Daniel Tiger seems to get that, keeping a positive outlook throughout all the vicissitudes of toddlerdom.

My 5-year-old son reviews Wild Kratts

My 4-year-old son is now my 5-year-old son. We thought it would be a good idea for him to review his new favorite show, Wild Kratts. Here he is:

I watched it on TV and then I noticed it on there, and it became my favorite movie to watch.

It’s about Martin and Chris, and they are the Wild Kratts. Their colors are blue and green. Chris is green; Martin is blue.

Aviva, Koki, and Jimmy are in Wild Kratts, too. Aviva makes motions, like materials to help the Wild Kratts. Koki writes stuff up and checks what’s happening around the world. Jimmy controls his controller and it gets the miniaturizer to do stuff. Like, he pushed the top level button and it just, like, gets the miniaturizer to get going.

People stand on it and turn it on, and when you turn it on, it goes shoop! and then you’re that small. One of them or the other of them or two of them [Chris and Martin] get small. When they get small they check out little creatures, like a worm. That was one of them that they did a miniaturizer for.

My favorite part about the show is seeing new animals, like: a spider, a hort-hog [AKJ: warthog, he means], and… a horse. I don’t know if they have a horse one.

The tortuga is a flying kind of turtle. They get in it and it helps them fly around. They fly to wherever the rescue needs to be. (They rescue creatures.)

It’s on at 3:30 on channel number 3, PBS Kids Go. All those kids movies are called PBS Kids Go.

My brother likes it. He really sings it a lot. Now I think he really likes that one.