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I don't subscribe to HBO. A couple of weeks ago I heard an interview
with a young actor from this series on NPR. It was described as a
"gritty crime drama" with many Baltimore locals portraying variations
on themselves. The interview made it sound interesting enough that I
decided to check out the first season on DVD.
After the first few episodes I became seriously hooked and devoted 36 hours of the next ten days to the show.
Having now watched the first 3 seasons, I believe it to be the best television series I have seen.
I do not understand why this show hasn't generated the buzz or the awards of HBO's other series, such as the Sopranos or Deadwood. It is more gripping, faster paced, and more intelligent. The other shows can be a bit plodding, with plot lines that go nowhere, and a few characters I don't much care about. That wasn't the case here.
The show is a cross between the Sopranos and the old NBC show Homicide: Life on the Street. The crime/sopranos side and the law/Homicide side run in parallel. Individually, the parallel plot lines are compelling. In tandem, they are complimentary and brilliant.
There is no way to avoid having "the best show ever" tag sound like anything but silly hype--regardless, what makes this show substantially better than any other realistic and compelling crime or police drama is the fact it is... searching. It doesn't just delve into the individual psychologies motivating these people (ala the Sopranos) or the complex interactions amongst the members of a community (ala Deadwood) it asks "what the hell can be done for all of these people" and points out the problems with any and all of the answers.
It's truly brilliant. If you like intelligent television, I envy the enjoyment you will have watching this for the first time.
Hate to be rude but don't pay attention to the moronic post below. That was some of the most lame criticism I have ever come across on this site. I doubt the guy even watched the entire first season. This show is the best thing going on TV. Writing. Direction. Acting. Its all perfection. The people behind the show are former journalists and police officers who were covering crime in Baltimore or working the beat as cops for over 20 years. They know what they speak of and don't rely on cookie cutter characterization. This is the closest thing to a novel that you will find on TV. It is so impeccably plotted and so honest and realistic that I will never be able to watch another cop show (or any TV drama) without comparing it to this example of television greatness. Did I mention its also the smartest TV show on the air too? The Sopranos gets the media attention but it can't match the sophistication and grittiness of The Wire. The Sopranos is a romanticized TV crime drama by comparison. And as for Six Feet Under? Please! It reached its peak in its final six episodes of the first season and haven't lived up to that magic since. It doesn't get any better than The Wire. Universal critical acclaim. The winner of the 2002 TV Critics awards. The winner of the 2004 Peabody award. Nuff said.
Possibly the best thing written for television ever; certainly the best
to come out in the last 25 or so years.
"The Wire" escapes the melodramatic pitfalls of shows like "the West Wing," "Six Feet Under" and even "The Sopranos" (which are all smartly written--or rather have had their moments of greatness).
Here is a show which over the course of 37 hours weaves together scores of very tautly detailed characters. It's not easy to watch--and its certainly challenging. But it is surely worth it.
The story unfolds in Baltimore and is a study on the effect of institutions on its members: police, politicians, criminals, addicts.
Some may find the show didactic. This is understandable because its creators make heavy usage of allegory (for instance, seasons three's not-so-subtle criticism of the situation in Iraq).
Didactic or not, the show forces its viewers to think about and hopefully start a larger discussion of the issues it touches upon: the failure of the drug war, the gradual extinction of the American worker and the dangers of a presumptive, preemptive war.
Hats off to creators David Simon and Ed Burns (a retired BPD detective) for creating one of the most interesting, daring shows in the history of television.
Let's hope HBO renews it for another 26 episodes.
HBO's "The Wire", another ground breaking TV crime series from David Simon who grandfathered "Homicide: Life on the Street", raises the bar for crime dramas by dedicating a whole season (13 episodes) to a single story with unparalleled realism. Telling of a motley bunch of detectives who set about to bring down a Baltimore drug ring which supplies a black innercity housing project, the gritty 12 hour first year series slowly develops a broad range of characters from street punks to senators in a world where the blacks and whites of good and evil are reduced to shades of gray and everyone is connected by their humanity for better or for worse. Not the usual cops vs bad guys fare with episodic ups and downs, "The Wire" is one long drama about people which happens in a law enforcement and crime setting. For realists only, this series will require some viewer patience while the complexities of the plot and the characters are developed. One of a kind...so far. (A)
the wire is definitely the best show ever made. most realistic stuff ever. i takes a couple of episodes to get into it because it's pretty slow compared to the average show but once you get into it, you just become addicted. unlike other police shows this one deals with ONE investigation during its 4 entire seasons while in other shows cases are closed in one episode. another good thing about THE WIRE is that we follow both cops and thugs without any superficial caricature we find on CSI and such,THE WIRE keeps it real all the way. incredibly well written, amazing photography and oustanding actors, this is the kind of show that should be covered with emmies...
Season 3 of The Wire ended like a great novel, in a series of great
novels, about crime, politics, "po-lice" and personalities in the City
of Baltimore. The Wire truly has no equivalent on American TV, more
akin to something like the British miniseries Traffik, or Robert
Altman's Short Cuts, but really in a class by itself. The show also
doesn't fetch the ratings of HBO's other blockbuster series, like The
Sopranos or Deadwood, but so far the network has stood behind what is
indisputably a creative / artistic success. Viewers accustomed to
having a Tony Soprano or an Al Swearingen to latch onto may be daunted
by The Wire's 2-dozen or so "main" characters, all given equal
importance within multiple story lines. The concurrent tales all buoy
one another, and as the season draws to a close, they begin to merge
and compliment each other in unexpected ways. No detail is too small to
not be done with great care, and no significant threads are left to
hang, which also speaks to the brilliance of the writers.
The Wire is no less than a dramatic triumph, and I can't wait for a new season.
For someone that isn't into the inter city 'drug' scene that wants to
understand how 'the system' works The Wire is a great series. Drug
Dealer/city politics 101. The so called 'good guys' and the 'bad guys' all
have an 'agenda' and everyone is part of the 'food chain' that starts with
the kids selling drugs in the projects and ends at the highest level of city
government. As the series progresses we move up the food chain, learn how
each level works and how each depends on the level below. Drugs is the glue
that keeps the system together and money is the fuel that powers the entire
The acting is top notch and blows away all competition in the genre. Here is hoping for season two as The Wire is right up there with The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, in interesting story line, exquisite acting, interesting characters, and creativeness.
Lastly, the actor who plays Omar, Michael K. Williams, is absolutely great! Why haven't we seen this actor before? Michael dominates every scene he is in.
If you have missed THE WIRE, you have missed one of 2002's best television productions. The acting is superb, the writing is fantastic, and the direction is elegant. This is the armored underbelly of Baltimore at its most grim, accurately depicted and wonderfully detailed. This isn't merely great television, this is great drama, with heroes and villains who are never all good and certainly not all bad. The performances are, without exception, marvelous and everybody involved with this magnificent series deserves to be honored when they start passing out the awards.
You want to learn something about city politics, police corruption,
drug dealing or how this tapestry of city corruption is woven together
then watch The Wire. This is truly an excellent series, with superb
acting, writing, directing, and truly outstanding characters.
With season three starting Sept 18th I can wait. First season was drugs in The Projects, second season was down on the Baltimore docks, with longshoreman, drugs, prostitution, unions, and every changing need for dock workers and space for condominiums and all the politics that go in-between.
This is a must see and makes HBO my #1 channel to watch. BTW, my favorite character is Omar (Michael K. Williams). Omar is kind of a modern day Robinhood. Steels from the drug dealers and gives to himself and his crew. This guy redefines cool. 10/10
The best thing ever made for television, and really more complex and
entertaining than all but a handful of movies as well. It's hard to
know where to begin to praise this series - there really hasn't been
anything like it before. Imagine if your all-time favorite movie, with
the most compelling characters and interesting story, could go on for
another 48 hours and only get better and you start to get the idea.
When it starts you think it's going to a standard tale of noble cops
versus sinister bad guys, but that's only the surface and you are about
to see so much more.
A "wire" is police shorthand for a wiretap a way to observe and record people without their knowledge. Soon you realize this is also a metaphor for the show itself you as the viewer are getting a chance to be a hidden observer into the workings of a modern American city at all its levels, from the streets to the corridors of power. It's really like a televised novel - a realistic, complex exploration of the characters and the world they inhabit. As episodes build the hidden web of interdependence between the people and institutions from the lowest to the highest levels in the city of Baltimore is vividly brought to life. And as in life, the quick conclusion you make after seeing the surface of a person or institution is often revealed to be a completely different truth when you start peeling back the layers.
The people who write the Wire seem to be determined to pull no punches. Realistic violence, sex, and language are a main theme of this show and will no doubt turn off some potential viewers. But the beauty of The Wire is that all of these things are put in context due to the length (five seasons) of the series, and they are never gratuitous. Actions both large and small are shown to have consequences - sometimes far down the line, sometimes far beyond what was intended.
For me one of the most outstanding aspects of this series has to do with race. The Wire manages to make race both the focal point and just a starting point for the story at the same time. Although racial realities are never avoided and hang as an omnipresent backdrop just as they do in real life, as the series progresses the hugely diverse cast proceeds to lay glorious waste to many of the stale, narrow stereotypes Hollywood has been selling us for all these years. For this alone The Wire is far ahead of its time.
Nothing this epic or comprehensive could have been so amazingly well done with out superb efforts from everyone involved, and they are more than up to the task. Every member of the cast seems destined to play their role - McNulty, Bunk, Lester, Greggs, Omar, Prez, Bunny, Stringer, Avon, Bubbles, Bodie - there are too many great performances to pick a favorite. Superb writing, terrific direction, real sets, everything top notch. Despite being little-seen by mainstream TV audiences and being nearly ignored by the Emmys, this series will one day get the credit it deserves as a towering achievement and a true ground breaker.
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