Thursday, October 6, 2011

The ultimate showdown

We knew it would come to this. The two best characters from the greatest television drama of all time are up for debate yet again. Only this time, they are off their normal surroundings of west Baltimore and cooped up in an office, or in one's case, The Office.

Stringer Bell, or as he is occasionally referred to, Idris Elba, and Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) have recently gained something else in common. Besides being influential cogs on HBO's groundbreaking series The Wire, they have both been employed by NBC sitcoms in the famed Thursday night comedy block. While Elba had been employed at Dunder Mifflin Paper on The Office for a number of episodes a few seasons back, Williams has just been hired as the new biology teacher at Greendale on Community. This begs the question: which former king of the streets is the best office-dweller?

The argument for who is the best character from The Wire is never-ending. Stringer was fantastic, calculated, evil, entrepreneurial and everything else you would want from the man calling the shots behind Avon Barksdale. Omar, on the other hand, was memorable, inspiring, heroic, and, frankly, bad-ass. He was the perfect lone star, running the streets without need of posse or muscle, just the soothing tones of a whistled nursery rhyme. There is no wrong answer for who was the better character. More accurately, there is no Right answer.

However, moving to a life of books and policy and mission statements may leave us with a different outcome. It is still much too soon to tell since Michael K. Williams has just started his first semester at Greendale but he has an awful lot to live up to.

As Charles Miner on The Office, Idris Elba took over control of the Scranton paper company for half a season. He was installed to create an atmosphere of productivity and seriousness that was lacking under current management. What he ended up bringing was his tremendous American accent, his stoic demeanor in even the most outrageous situations and, oddly, the love of both soccer and volleyball. Stringer will be hard to top here.

What we need out of Omar this season on Community is more than he may be capable of. Only more biology classes will tell us for sure. In the mean time, let us bask in the glory that is typecast actors working in roles we are not used to seeing them in and not being able to separate them from where we know them and loved them. By the way, when does Dominic West start shooting that children's cartoon?

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