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on May 10, 2010
It is very easy to get caught in the media hype of current popular entertainment, considering the longevity of so many reality-TV, sitcom and hospital drama series that play so perfectly to the nuances that reign in the mainstream demographic.

Enter... The Wire. No media hype - just critics that have been blowing a horn with few people taking the time to open their ears to hear.

Critics have hailed it as one of the masterpieces of TV - one of the best ever produced (See: Metacritic, Salon, Slate, Time, New York Times, London Guardian, London Telegraph)

The series was created by David Simon, a former police reporter with the Baltimore Sun, in partnership with former Baltimore homicide detective Edward Burns. Over its 5 seasons it didn't gain a large audience, but it is saturated with relevant social and political themes that will resonate for a long time to come.

The name of the series refers to the small squad of Baltimore detectives who's directive is to bring down the burgeoning drug business of Avon Barksdale. Their tactic is to implant wire-taps on the pay phones in and around the tenement buildings surrounding an inner-city Baltimore courtyard where most of the small but lucrative drug deals go down. As a viewer, the problem you are immediately faced with is that both sides of the law in this series have characters that you are empathetically drawn to. Jimmy McNulty provides the outward bravado for the team of detectives, with his supporting crew of Herc, Freamon, Sydnor, Greggs and his new lieutenant Cedric Daniels each having richly written story-lines that are equally compelling. The same holds true for Barksdale and his ilk - his nephew D'Angeloe Barksdale, Bodie, Poot, and most notably Stringer Bell being the business minded mastermind, using Robert's Rules of Order for his meetings with his underlings. Throughout the first few seasons he is suave and persuasive but not afraid to lay a heavy hand when it comes time to claim territory.

The cast is composed of numerous character actors, mixed in with the likes of folks you've seen playing fantastic roles in other series. Watch for the singer/songwriter Steve Earle as Walon, the leader of the 12 step program attended by Bubbles, a scene stealing drug addict who is quick to to give a tip now and then to the detectives for a few bucks. The opening song, "Way Down in the Hole" is a song composed by Tom Waits. Each season it is performed by a different artist. In the first season by The Blind Boys of Alabama, then in successive seasons by The Neville Brothers, DoMaJe, Steve Earle, and for the final season, Tom Waits.

Season 1: Deals primarily with the Barksdale syndicate, and sees the introduction of Omar, the somewhat equalizing foe who plays both sides to his advantage. The detectives work to build their team, while Barksdale sees to build his empire.

Season 2: Focusses on the corruption on the Baltimore docks, with a Russian/Greek mafia understory that adds even more mystery as the episodes play out.

Season 3: Brings a political theme to the forefront, with the power-plays of city councillors and mayoral candidates in their quest to make their way to the top, exposing the gritty reality of all levels of government in the microcosm of Balitmore politics.

Season 4: The school system is explored, as a member of the detectives team, having made a fatal error in judgment on the police force, takes a job as a teacher. His attempts to divert one of his students from a life of crime are noble, yet too little for the magnetic pull of the upward mobility of a young drug hustler.

Season 5: A serial killer myth is perpetuated by McNulty and Freamon, leading the media down a path that they think serves their needs, but ultimately becomes the machine of their undoing.

This series is entirely satisfying. It serves as a magnifying glass on any big city and the various cultures that ultimately result. It is not a case of "favorite episode", "favorite season" or "favorite quote" - the compendium of The Wire should be watched in its entirety.

Immerse yourself in the phenomenon, you won't be disappointed.
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on February 19, 2009
Great characters (Hey, it's Omar!), great plots and dialogue. The best TV series people haven't heard of.

This is not mindless entertainment. It *is* entertaining but it also makes you think. It doesn't spoon feed you, you have to pay attention to figure out what's going on. In the meantime you end up learning a lot about police procedurals, gang life, inner city life, working on the docks, teaching inner city schools and working in a city newsroom -- because each season takes the core group of characters through different venues.

There are no stereotypes, no plot twists that are put in just to amp up the story line. Instead there are characters that feel real, that you end up caring about.

Check it out!
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on April 4, 2010
I don't want to write a long review for The Wire because nothing I could say would be adequate. Simply put: The Wire is the best police drama that I have seen in all my years of watching television. Set in a decaying Baltimore, the Wire explores the city's drug dealers and the police who investigate them. Each season profiles a different public institution: the police, the ports, the municipal government, the schools, and finally in the fifth season, local journalism. I discovered it on DVD and watched each season in long weekend marathons because I simply could not stop watching it. It is that compelling. See it.
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on February 20, 2012
This is the best show you've never heard of. It is a great inner city crime drama. You really care about the characters. I enjoyed all the episodes and am saddened that there are no more episodes to watch. The only negative is that it is not filmed in high def so the episodes are a little grainy. The series was filmed before hi-def was the standard (started in 2002). Buy this box set, you won't be disappointed!
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on May 7, 2010
I've never felt the need to write a review on Amazon before, but the very fact that so many people don't know about this fantastic show compelled me to do so. I'm sure everything I love about this show has been written much more eloquently by others so let me just say, this is better than Sopranos, better than Six Feet Under and better than Dexter. If you only have time to watch one TV show, buy this. If you don't have time to watch a TV show, buy this. If you're thinking of buying any other TV series out there, buy this instead. The ONLY possible downside of watching this show is that it will probably set the bar far too high and you may not be able to fully enjoy another show ever again. Still worth it, in my opinion.
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on April 26, 2009
I bought this show only on the basis of HBO's Rep in paid TV and from other shows.I never seen The Wire because i didn't have HBO but i still bought the boxset and hesitated to watch it because i was scared that it would be ok or bad but OMG once i had hit episode 3 of the 1st season i watched it non-stop on a long weekend and neglected family because it grabbed me like a drug and i couldn't let go.After watching all the seasons i was in a wire state of mind and couldn't focus straight for a week.I was bragging about it at work.
I highly recommend this show on all levels.Great Show Period....
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on March 22, 2009
After renting every disc of this 5 season show I felt compelled to purchase the whole series. HBO never fails to make well crafted television, but THE WIRE surpasses the Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome and even Six Feet Under. Listen to the fascinating commentaries about the actors and the local characters who were brought in for smaller parts. The creators understood the decline of the American city and painted it with depth and colour. The seasons showing the lives of dockworkers and of street kids trying to make it in the deteriorating school system were the highlights. There is not an untrue moment in the whole series. You must watch from the beginning because every season covers a separate story line, although main characters continue or reappear throughout the 5 years. I watched many of the episodes twice because the commentaries were so fascinating. THE WIRE has been called Dickensian, and there is truth to the comparison. This is a great American novel, highlighting the sad state of the inner city and the scarred souls who inhabit it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon June 18, 2015
"Also, I do want to point out that a blu-ray version of this show is unlikely." - Reviewer Gregory Fenton, 2012

And here we are in 2015. The Wire is out on Blu-ray which is a good thing as equally as it is a bad thing. The Wire itself is one of the best, if not The Best, series to come to televison so far. It is #1 on EW's list of best series of all time (even though time has not ended yet). If you have not seen the show do yourself a favour and get it. But here's the rub: is Blu-ray the way to go or regular DVD?
I first watched the entire series on DVD. Even though the most of the series was framed for 16:9 (widescreen) it was all originally aired as 4:3. This gives the show, watching it today, a certain rawness to it considering the decade The Wire takes place in as well as it's location in the ghetto of Baltimore. I personally would recommend watching it this way.
The reason for Blu-ray would be for the extra extras (if you're into that sort of thing) and perhaps the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Clarity in picture quality may come into play too but I don't see a huge difference in that regard. It is nice however, that the picture fills up the HD display now.
My recommendation is rent/borrow the original DVDs, or catch the original series on an HBO marathon (HBO did recently air the entire series in HD prior to the Blu-ray release as well) or something and then buy the Blu-ray version for prosperity.
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on December 27, 2012
A lot of people around me heavily suggested that not watching The Wire at least once in your lifetime would mean you wouldn't know what "real" TV was.

They were right.

During the first few episodes, you'll be spending most of your time learning about characters and what the story revolves around. Then you'll be completely sold. While I personally am the kind of person to try to sit through as many episodes in a row as possible, with The Wire I could only watch 1-2 a day so that I'd have time to digest all the information and try to figure out what would happen in the next few episodes. The show makes you want to think and speculate. I can't even imagine how it was when the show first aired, people must have gone mad having to wait a week per episode and a few months between seasons.

It is a very powerful drama show that takes many different directions, starting at the very root of Baltimore's problems (drugs) to show how it could affect just about everything. Great cast, amazing dialog, music is spot on.

Definitely a must buy/watch. I blindly bought this without reading any review other than what my friends told me (which wasn't much aside from "just buy it") and have not regretted my investment.
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on February 22, 2012
I've never encountered anyone who has not been able to wholeheartedly recommend this show. It's incredible. I'm only up to season 3, but there's no doubt that it's something special. The reason that I'm leaving this review is - as many others have stated in their reviews - the manufacturing quality of this box set is so incredibly poor that at least some of the DVDs are defective (not scratched, but actually defective). I didn't encounter a problem until the last disc of season 2 when the ending of an episode froze up and simply refused to continue. I moved the disc between my XBOX 360 and my Sony Blu-ray player, and neither one of them would let me finish the episode. When I went to play the other episode on the same disc, the season 2 finale, the episode wouldn't play at all. The disc had never left the box set before I popped it in. When I inspected it: no scratches, smudges, or other marks. I tried giving it a clean, no luck. Thankfully I had a Chinese DVD player in the house that is designed to play DVDs of any quality. But even after I set that up, the disc immediately skipped to half way through the episode; I had to rewind it back to near the start just to watch it properly.

Amazon has a return policy of 60 days. Obviously, watching 5 seasons of The Wire takes longer than that, unless you have a much less busy lifestyle than I do. By the time I stumbled across a clearly defective disc, I had nowhere to turn. Now I have to cross my fingers that I don't come across another disc that doesn't work, as I'm still not finished working my way through the full show.

Buyer beware - it's great to own a box set of The Wire, but picking up this set could be a risky proposition. Or at least a frustrating one. If you've got the coin, it's probably safer to buy the individual seasons.

Also, I do want to point out that a blu-ray version of this show is unlikely. Also, the show displays naturally at a 4:3 aspect ratio because of the way it's filmed (all five seasons are like this). The show's creators have stated this aspect ratio is part of the feel of the show. They were going for a less polished look, meaning that you might need to adjust your screen settings and shouldn't hold out for blu ray. That being said, the show looks gorgeous as it is (when the DVDs work).
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