The show's split-perspective plotting is so richly layered, so breathtakingly authentic and based on finely drawn characters brought to life by a perfect ensemble cast, that it defies concise description. Simon, Burns, and their cowriters control every intricate aspect of the unfolding epic; directors are top-drawer (including Clark Johnson, helmer of The Shield's finest episodes), but they are servants to the story, resulting in a TV series like no other: unpredictable, complicated, and demanding the viewer's rapt attention, The Wire is "an angry show" (in Simon's words) that refuses to comfort with easy answers to deep-rooted societal problems. Moral gray zones proliferate in a universe where ruthless killers have a logical code, and where the cops are just as ambiguous as their targets. That ambiguity extends to the ending as well; season 1 leaves several issues unresolved, leaving you begging for the even more impressive developments that await in season 2. --Jeff Shannon
All of this makes The Wire well worth watching--again and again. In my personal opinion, I rank it a notch below HBO's two best series, The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, because it is sometimes confusing and hard to follow. But The Wire is far more interesting and worthwhile viewing than just about anything you'll find on network television. I can't wait for the second season to come out on DVD, too.
I was never a regular television viewer. I always preferred the VHS and later the DVD over watching a television program. Seemed like such devotion to be there every week. But what was sparked by an interesting premise, 24 hours in the life of the counter terrorist agent, and each episode in real time, lured me in. I fell for 24, than I fell for the Shield when it premiered later a few months after 24 did. I am still thankful I saw "The Shield" advertisement on the corner of 39th and 9th Avenue.
I always saw posters for The Wire on the Path Train. Had no idea what it was all about. I was chalking it up to another spy type show that ABC would produce perhaps. I heard all the critical acclaim, still didn't bite. Than I saw that HBO On Demand was showing episodes 1 through 5. So I tuned in. Watched all 5 episodes in one day. Went back and put them on a blank tape. I'm glad I didnt have to long for HBO to put a new batch of episodes On Demand. They showed 6-10 next. And that's when it got so damn hard. Episode 10 ends in such a cliffhanger and (for those who have the On Demand channels) the next set of episodes wasn't set to be available for 4 weeks or so.
And thus my life for the beginning of this year was all about when the next batch of episodes would cycle through On Demand. I thought about savoring them too, when the middle of season 2 was shown I thought of watching one a week..it could never happen though.
I could have reviewed the show and talk about the characters and the plot that just keeps going, two seasons now, with season three on the way.Read more ›
The Wire is the best of the HBO Original Series. And the most underappreciated. The only criticism one may have of The Wire is that it is too complicated. But in actuality, I think this is The Wire's best selling point. It's a rarity in television to find a series that compels the viewer to rise to the level of the writing instead of the typical lowering of the writing's quality to dumb it down to attract the most mass appeal to sell ad slots. That's the beauty of HBO - you've bought the service, so you get what you pay for or cancel your subscription. HBO is not targeting the unwashed masses to sell ads, it puts out quality television to attract subscribers. It's a beautiful system that I believe (you heard it here first) will someday become the norm in cable television (channel-by-channel subscription with no advertising).
HBO's format raises the quality and The Wire epitomizes the beauty of this system the most of all HBO Original Series. The plot is so complicated, so multi-layered that I keep watching over and over just to make sure I get it all. I feel that I am failing as a human being if I don't do The Wire justice and get the whole plot line straight. You can't criticize the Wire for being too complicated; it's quite refreshing to have a television show that challenges me as the viewer instead of spoon feeds me.
In 1961, FCC Chairman Newton R. Minow said that television was a "Vaste Wasteland." He was right. HBO wasn't founded until 1971 and The Wire didn't premier until 2002.