From ‘The Wire’ to the ‘Black Market’

Michael Kenneth Williams — known for his role as Omar Little on 'The Wire' — can deliver as the host of VICELAND's 'Black Market,' which follows real people involved in criminal activity.

click to enlarge Michael K. Williams hosts VICELAND’S Black Market - Photo: VICELAND
Photo: VICELAND
Michael K. Williams hosts VICELAND’S Black Market

When VICE Media’s TV network VICELAND first launched in February, it seemed good enough — a variety of docu-series that all inform and entertain. They almost all feature a different host who visits a new city or country each week, looks into the overall culture of that place and then explores food, fashion, weed, LGBTQ issues — whatever the series’ theme is.

But you can only watch so many nerdy white dudes explain Atlanta trap-houses or European modelesque young women discuss beauty standards in the Congo before you start to taste the ick of privilege and crave an authentic experience.

In the case of Black Market With Michael K. Williams (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Tuesday, VICELAND), the host can deliver.

Actor Michael Kenneth Williams is known to many for his role as Omar Little on The Wire, a Baltimore stick-up man and captivatingly complex character. Williams’ connection to Omar goes beyond playing an incredible fan-favorite role — he actually suffered an identity crisis during filming, beginning to mimic some of Omar’s drug use and behavior. And this context makes a difference as we watch Williams investigate the realities of illicit trade.

Black Market has a comparable format to true-crime cable news shows like Drugs, Inc., following real people involved in criminal activity. In this week’s premiere, Williams goes to Newark, N.J., to see how the popularity of joyriding has led to the development of an international crime operation in the city.

WEDNESDAY 29

Another Period (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – A prince’s arrival at Bellacourt Manor sparks a showdown between Beatrice and Lillian; Peepers and the prince’s butler squabble over service techniques.

THURSDAY 30

Greatest Hits (Series Premiere, 9 p.m., ABC) – Each episode features a mix of singers and bands performing songs from a particular five-year period. This week Pitbull, REO Speedwagon, Ray Parker Jr., Kool & The Gang, Kenny Loggins, Kim Carnes, Rick Springfield and Jason Derulo sing hits from 1980 to 1985, including a tribute to Michael Jackson. But why?

Thirteen (10 p.m., BBC America) – As Ivy settles in back home, she reveals pieces of her experience to her family, who try to tread lightly.

FRIDAY 01

Marcella (Series Premiere, July 1, Netflix) – This British detective series comes from the creator of the Scandinavian police drama The Bridge and follows London detective Marcella Backland. After leaving the force to focus on her family, her husband walks out anyway. At a loss, she returns to her job in the murder unit and joins a case that feels all too familiar to her.

SUNDAY 03

Preacher (9 p.m., AMC) – Jesse finally meets the angels Deblanc and Fiore and gets some answers about his new powers and their source.

Ride with Norman Reedus (10 p.m., AMC) – Reedus cruises from Austin to San Antonio, Texas and discusses horror-makeup effects maestro Greg Nicotero with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.

MONDAY 04

Randomizer (11 p.m., VICELAND) – Fourth of July-themed visual art. Why not?

TUESDAY 05

Cyberwar (Series Premiere, 10:30 p.m., VICELAND) – Ben Makuch (yes, another white guy) hosts this new series that delves into the future of hacking, spying and online warfare. First up: Exploring “hacktivist” non-organization Anonymous.

The Mindy Project (Season Finale, Hulu) – A mix-up at Leo’s school forces Mindy to spend time with Danny. Jody tries to get back in Mindy’s good graces by dropping “dolla-dolla” bills on a fancy present.


CONTACT JAC KERN: @jackern

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