The first thing that came to mind while watching the episodes of the Corner was, “Wow, this is a whole lot better than the Wire.” Now, I know there are some HBO lovers out there who are simply going to argue that any show done on HBO is going to better than anything down on a network television show, simply because it can be more real. Of course, there is something to that argument, but I think the real reason why the Corner miniseries is so much better than Homicide the television series is something different: Simon co-wrote the miniseries.
As books, I think both Homicide and The Corner are relatively similar in quality. The shows, however, are vastly different in quality (in my opinion) because the the former lacks the crucial Simon factor. Yes, they tried to adapt his work, and often, as I’m sure many people pointed out in their essays, even used direct quotes from his book. However, what Simon does best is dialogue and having him there to not simply be a influence, but actually co-write the dialogue of the Corner is what makes it stand out.
More importantly, however, Simon knows what he wants to say. In Homicide, Paul Attanasio, the creator of the show, had to try to translate, as well as understand, Simon’s ideas. In the Corner, with Simon at the helm of the writing for both, there was nothing that was lost in this translation.
And yes, I will not deny that I have a legitimate man-crush on Simon which completely makes my opinion biased, but I would go so far as to say that the argument that the dialogue on the Corner is far times better than that of Homicide is not even really a subjective argument. Yes, the detectives in Homicide talk like “real” people at times, but it still feels like television dialogue. There are clear set-ups and punch lines, and everything is constantly moving towards plot. The dialogue in the Corner, on the other hand, is much more Simon-esque (obviously). The people don’t just seem real for television; they are really, truly real (so much so, that, combined with the documentary styled beginning, I was confused, albeit for about 30 seconds, as to whether or not the series was fiction or non-fiction). For this reason, the Corner stands out as a far superior show than Homicide, and I can’t help but think that the reason for this is that the writer of the book was the same person who wrote the show.