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145 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, Vol. 5
This review will NOT spoil your enjoyment, I promise!

If you've watched the first four seasons of The Wire (and there's no point watching this if you haven't) you will know by now what to expect:
a gripping storyline with a new theme which allows David Simon and his team of writers to explore their Baltimore universe from a fresh angle, exposing the...
Published on 28 April 2008 by Petrolhead

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hugely overrated - not in the same league as 'The Sopranos' or 'Breaking Bad'
I bought the series 1 to 5 box set solely on the basis of the extent to which people seem to regard 'The Wire' as being TV at its very, very best, though I have to say I am quite disappointed.

Having watched `The Sopranos', `Breaking Bad' and also `Homeland', I certainly don't need my TV drama to be spoon-fed. However, with its convoluted plot,...
Published 2 months ago by Biggis


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145 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece, Vol. 5, 28 April 2008
By 
Petrolhead (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
This review will NOT spoil your enjoyment, I promise!

If you've watched the first four seasons of The Wire (and there's no point watching this if you haven't) you will know by now what to expect:
a gripping storyline with a new theme which allows David Simon and his team of writers to explore their Baltimore universe from a fresh angle, exposing the goodness in the bad guys and the badness in the good guys.

Except of course, you don't know what to expect at all, because Simon and his team of writers have always been brutally realistic in bumping off very serviceable characters (by the end of Season Four, almost none of the original hoodlums were still at large) and The Wire's storylines unfold unpredictably - previous episodes managed to veer from sickening loss to heart-warming camaraderie without ever losing the various threads of plot. Season Five is no different, either in its unpredictable plotlines or its nail-biting, tear-jerking, awe-inspiring mood swings.

This time, the new theme is the media - or more specifically the Baltimore Sun newspaper, where The Wire's creator David Simon cut his teeth as a reporter. As a reporter myself, I can attest that the depiction of the paper and its staff rings absolutely true. But more significantly, the bosses of the real Baltimore Sun agreed to have the paper feature in The Wire without disguising its name, which is testament to the trust they place in The Wire's writers and to their appreciation of its verisimilitude and integrity.

There's plenty of politics in this season, and as usual most of it is decidedly dodgy: back-handers, back-stabbing and below-the-belt punches.
Barack Obama told a US television magazine that this was his favourite show, so it can't be too wide of the mark. Of course it's not just the politicians doing the politics. There's intrigue and infighting all over Baltimore. Some of those caught red-handed (or even suspected of
complicity) are dealt with summarily, while others are dealt with "the Western District way". Without giving anything away, there are moments of sweet revenge, rough justice and triumphant "gotcha!" that linger long in the memory.

If I have one complaint about this season, it was that one plotline, involving the loveable rogue McNulty and some gentlemen from the media, was allowed to run so long. It's not so much that it was unrealistic, just that I found it extremely frustrating that the situation only got more tense as time went on, while I was practically chewing the arm off the sofa in my desperation for a resolution. Still, I suspect that it is my personal experience as a journalist that drove me to the brink, not any problem with the storyline itself, because when the resolution came, it was an ecstatic and sudden and brilliant denouement that totally redeemed the situation and restored my faith. I had been squirming for weeks as I tried to guess how things might play out, but was wrong every time. The simple turned complex, the complex simple. So if you too find yourself having doubts about one or two storylines, fear not, for The Wire will come back and hit you right between the eyes as usual.

As well as McNulty, who is back centre-stage after his low-key role in Season Four, this season stays in close touch with all the old favourites, while introducing a Baltimore Sun newsroom that includes all the psychological complexity you would expect from The Wire. The season has plenty to offer admirers of those charmers Bubbles, Bunk and Omar and it finally gets under the skin of that legal lizard Maury Levy, who had previously only slithered on and off occasionally. I'd been wanting to see more of him since he first dragged blabbermouth D'Angelo out of the cells by the ear in Season One. Here he recruits a new assistant, who you may recognise...

Season Five is unusual in that it only has 10 episodes, but the final episode is a wrap-`em-all-up double-length slam dunk which will leave you slack-jawed and wide-eyed at the brilliance of it all. Unlike Season Four, which left us hanging with a virtual "to be continued...", this one ends with a resounding finale which bids a fond or fearsome farewell to each of the characters still standing after five series. Crucially for The Wire's fans (including my entire office, now frequently calling out "Five-Oh, Five-Oh", "Red tops, Red tops" and the like), this is a satisfying ending. It would have been a disaster if Simon had bungled things right at the end of the best show ever, but rest assured, he doesn't.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great final season to an exceptional show, 8 Jun 2008
By 
T. Lynes - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
like the other review said i don't want to spoil anything. This final season of the wire focuses once again on the lives of the people involved in Baltimore's drug problems. As well as McNulty and co, and Marlo and his crew, we now have the news press perspective on the war on drugs as it unfolds.
Whats really makes this a great show is all the little details, like a scene you may have remembered from an earlier season, and you did not take much notice of what happened, but then you see something in this season and it all makes sense !!
There are plenty of characters from earlier seasons that show up, and in my opinion it ties everything together nicely. Its hard trying to write anything else without giving anything away !!
Just for anyone mad enough who might think of watching this without watching the first 4 seasons , don't !. Watch them in order and you will be in for some treat, i would love to be able to sit down to the wire for the first time again. So njoy the final season of the finest show on television.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the road home, 5 Oct 2008
By 
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
And so another televisual odyssey ends. 60 episodes over five seasons and a programme which has been described as more talked about than watched (this is the problem of a series playing on satellite/cable channel FX) - although the DVD box-sets of The Wire are on the best-seller lists here at Amazon. With just 10 episodes in the final series David Simon seems to be trying to 'do more with less', a phrase used several times in the offices of The Baltimore Sun newspaper which features largely. Simon of course worked at that very newspaper for 12 years and so it seems almost obvious that he would chose to focus on the media at some point. What he shows is that interplay between media, politics and policing; the symbiotic relationship these agencies have with each other and how each in turn can be exploited by the other.

McNulty is back. His presence was missed in the last season, so it's good to have him back, but he's in a very worrying place; looking like he could skid off that road again at any time and driven by that passion which can create 'good police' but also perhaps lead him to test the boundaries of what is acceptable (and indeed legal). Carcetti, now installed as mayor, has come face to face with a huge deficit in his budget which leads to massive cutbacks for the police: no overtime and an effective end to the special crimes unit. This leads McNulty to hatch a plan that will give the papers what they want and therefore place pressure on the Mayor to provide funds for police work: a serial killer. Now, I love this programme, but this plot-line had me wrinkling my nose in discomfort. It isn't that I didn't believe it was possible, Simon shows in intricate detail how it can all be manufactured, but I just didn't believe that this would be the course any detective would take, even a true maverick like McNulty. The fact that Freamon, who has always been a moral yardstick of sorts, is part of the whole conspiracy only compounded my worry. It wasn't until the penultimate episode (which is the best of the season, possibly the series) that I began to feel it might work. Such a grand scheme allows Simon to bring so many elements of his story together, it's just crucial that having got so many balls improbably into the air we see them come crashing back down to earth.

That said, there's something about this season that doesn't quite work. It's like a programme which knows that it's coming to an end, tying up its loose ends, bringing things full circle and showing that people and events will continue in the same vein after the credits roll. It's all just slightly self-conscious.

But I don't want to dwell on that. As someone (I think it was Freamon) says, 'It's about the journey, not the destination.' And it's been a hell of a journey. I have written previously about the impact television can have when we, the viewers, make an investment in the characters. Over such a prolonged period of time (60 hours of television) we can see so much of their lives, so much development that, as when we read a novel, there is a connection there which means that even a serial murderer like Chris can arouse our sympathy even whilst beating someone to death. A junkie like Bubbles can have us hoping and praying that he can make it another clean day. A morally ambiguous anti-hero like Omar can have you wanting to put him out of his misery like a wounded pet. That is extraordinary television. To be able to put forward complex sociological arguments, economic theory, and political discourse together with street slang, profanity and poetry whilst leaving the audience concentrated on the characters is quite an achievement. Let's also not forget the other character in the piece: Baltimore. I genuinely feel that if I went there now I would know where, and more pertinently where not to go. Just as The Sopranos gave a real sense of New Jersey The Wire has shown in great detail the differences between the projects, the docks, city hall, 'Hamsterdam', the corners and the variety of people that populate them. The final episode has its heart on its sleeve as it shows what this programme has always been about: the people of Baltimore. Along the way of course it has shown us some important aspects of modern life relevant to all of us.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Awesome, 22 July 2008
By 
LFP (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
This is without a doubt the finest piece of television drama that I have ever seen. The sprawling cast of characters is never allowed to get out of control and somehow the numerous plot lines, some of which carry on from previous series, all manage to dovetail. I watched the series out of sequence (3,1,4,5,2) which, surprisingly, worked. Of course you get a little more background detail watching the characters develop if you watch in sequence but the writing is tight enough that you do not need to commit to watching 1-5 straight through.

The series is gritty but not in a brutally sensationalist way - while much of that is down to the subtlety of the plotting there are also stylistic devices used (such as the 'surveillance style' filming as opposed to in your face jump-cuts used in the Shield) to brilliant effect. In addition to that there is balance. There is, amazingly, a small amount of redemption in some of the plots and some dark humor but the over-arching narrative is what it is: an extraordinarily ambitious portrait of modern America, refracted through a view of a deeply troubled city - Baltimore.

This series should have over-reached itself and failed on many levels - consistency, continuation, pretension, interest and more. The fact that it does not is simply extraordinary. The comparisons to 'Russian' novels are apt in that sense.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...And so it goes, 28 Aug 2008
By 
Amazon Customer "Boo62" (Ilkeston Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
Four consistantly brilliant series has seen this brutal tale of the war between the drug barons of west side Baltimore and the police department, in particular a surveillance unit set up to monitor the gangs.
As the series rolled around so it became obvious that there were never going to be any outright winners. A victory or two by one side would be rapidly wiped out by defeat elsewhere.
This reaches the only conclusion in the fifth & final series that it possibly can..everyone loses. Whether the loss is life, job's or honour &pride eventually only 1 character walks away from this having truly gained anything,(& in the usual perverse style of both life & this programme it is a character who has had 'victim' stamped all over them throughout),while everyone else just gets chewed up & spat out.
As ever the acting is of the highest calibre & all involved give of their best.
McNulty, always living close to the edge, finally falls over it & takes just about everybody with him. The gangs implode & turn on each other & themselves continually as Marlo steps up the fear factor but fails to earn respect.
Carcetti & the whole political circus descend into an abyss from which they will not return with Daniels feeling the backlash.
It is all pretty dark & hopeless and reflects reality all too clearly. The good vs evil battles taking place on the streets is not winnable by either side. In the end coming out of it with their lives is all any of the characters could realistically hope for & many don't even manage that.
So a superb end to a superb programme that has consistently entertained & pushed boundaries. The wire will be sorely missed by it's many fans & I really don't see anything taking it's place just yet. But it ended at the right time & as it should, instead of some pin-head just pulling the plug & leaving us all high & dry as happens with far too many series now, the wire has had a full season to wrap it up slowly & in style.
If you haven't seen the wire before then start at the beginning, season 1 sets the tone, but be aware it is not for the timid. Very strong language, violence, sexual scenes & drug use are common, it would have been pretty unrealistic otherwise!
The sound & picture are very good, not as easy as it may sound, as much takes place in gloomy or near dark areas. The extra's are better than usual but they are unlikely to make you feel any happier about this being the final series.
I have looked forward to every release of this & enjoyed every episode. The final series has seen me once again watching '1 more episode' well into the night. This was the final series the wire deserved.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest TV show ever made., 27 Jun 2008
By 
D. Brookes "getpersonal" (Chorlton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
You see that this has had reviews already and it hasn't even screened in the UK? That's because this show creates obsessives, diehards who stream it after some US fan rips it and puts it online. It creates fans so dedicated that they watch it on some crappy streaming site, then buy it all over again and lend it out to friends, who in turn buy it. This show creates its own language between people, codes and characters to identify with.

Series five is not the best series of The Wire in my opinion, but The Wire at its worst is still absolutely fantastic. It's the final series too, so all the threads you want tied up get tied up whilst leaving the openness of what happens next in the show's 'reality' down to you in a phenomenally satisfying way.

Yes there are fewer episodes, but the final episode is feature length, so it's roughly as long as all the other series. To understand it fully, you need to watch in order. It cannot be understated how excellent and important this show was; it shows us that we can still make things that matter.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The End but what an End!, 27 Sep 2009
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This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
What can I say it doesn't disappoint, the fact that Simon & Burns always find somewhere new in Baltimore to look into, this time it the local paper The Baltimore Sun. Clarke Johnson's Gus Haynes becomes this seasons conscience as previous series cast members make brief but effective appearances with Kima, Bunk, Bubbles, Daniels as well as the Political wrangling s of the city hall with Mayor Thomas Carcetti all making sizeable contributions

Those worried about Mcnulty's back seat season 4 need not worried he's pushed to centre stage for Season 5 and him and Lester's deception is compellingly brilliant. The brutal cullng of the cast is shocking but so refreshing, you really don't know who's going to make it till the end.

Beware some favourites will disappear before it ends and you won't see it coming!

I'm not sure I can single a season out as a favourite I was ready to proclaim Season 3 to not up to the par of Season 2 but season 4 made me rethink that, I think after Season 1 without the doubt the worst if that's possible every subsequent season just bulids on the next.

If you watch the special features, the 2 docs on the Season 5 DVD someone eludes the Wire to being a modern day Dickens's, high praise indeed but you know what I think The Wire will still be being debated over in 50 years time and each subsequent generation will hand it down to the next. It's a slow burner but the shadow the Wire will cast will be wide and extremely intimidating for any drama following it.

The fact that this has not been lavished with awards shows some people just haven't got it, well your welcome to all your big budget superficial 24's, CSI's and Prison Break and the like give me the harsh reality of the Wire over their flash bang pyrotechnics. The Wire is for the heart, mind and the soul.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Help, it's nearly over!, 3 Mar 2009
By 
S. Laporta "Bookasaurus" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
This series sneaks up on you. At first you think "So? What's everyone on about?" After the first 5 episodes your hooked. It doesn't need the car chases and detailed forensics of other series, as what you get here is good acting, amazing writing and character development that you just don't see on telly any more. If anyone can recommend a series to follow this (I keep hearing about The Shield, but will it live up to The Wire, I think not) let me know!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fond farewell, 21 Feb 2009
By 
Mr. A. Whiteside "tonyjackie3" (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
The first thing I have to say about series 5 of 'The Wire' is that it isn't the strongest series in the collection. There are a few too many times when events occur that I wasn't convinced about. I will talk about them later without giving away too much but I must add that even 'The Wire' slightly under par is just about better than anything else on TV.

The things in this particular series that niggled me were the behaviour of certain character's. Lester and Sydnor helped McNulty out in a way that seemed to stretch imagination a little which felt out of place with the reality of the previous seasons. Perhaps my biggest gripe was the way one of the most popular character's was killed off (if you have already watched this series then you know exactly who I mean). It seemed rushed and perhaps strange and even the aftermath of their killing was dealt with in an anti-climatic way. I can understand why the writers did it like this but it did bother me for a while. A couple of weeks later it does make more sense but it did feel a shame that it seemed such an anti-climax. For all of my doubts though there are moments of brilliance to be had.

One of the very best segments involves Clay Davis in court and it is a treat when he takes the witness stand. It is funny and a real highlight as he has the court eating out of the palm of his hand as he faces corruption charges. The character of Bubbles has a much better time of it and that was pleasing to see. As usual, the acting is excellent throughout and how this brilliant drama hasn't won a truck load of Emmys is a complete mystery.

So although I don't honestly think series 5 is the best it still deserves five stars simply because it is such an outstanding piece of television. There are so many character's that will linger in the memory...McNulty, Bubbles, Omar, Bunk, Avon, Stringer Bell, Bodie, Snoop, Chris, Prop Joe, Marlo, the list is pretty much endless and there are many more beside those listed. All five series can be watched over and over and that is the best compliment I can pay to 'The Wire', one of the finest TV dramas of all time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a shame., 15 Jan 2011
By 
D. T. Brunetti "manmadeofjam" (North London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] (DVD)
Season 4 of the Wire was clearly a benchmark for a television series. It was multi-layered, multi-faceted and each character shone. This formula of creating a web of characters and, ultimately, roping in old ones to begin to tie up the 5 series worked really well.

4 and 5 are essentially part of one large season, as 1-5 are: as if 1-3 are part 1 and 4-5 are part 2.

Season 5 book ends onto 4 but loses a lot of credibility by running McNulty's fake case. I would suggest that they should not have ran it all, but I could see the purpose it served. Personally I felt cheated as we've watched McNulty and Freamon throughout and, while it can be suggested that their morals dictate their actions for a higher cause, I disagree and feel their actions to be out of character and just serve a purpose to push the media story lines and the mirroring of character.

McNulty falling off the wagon again is also unbelievable, as we've watched him screw up and then re-emerge in main because he'd made Barksdale his raison d'etre. And without a high structured case, he fell apart, but then a good woman makes him whole.

McNulty becoming an alcoholic again seems to not only discredit all of his action and storyline before, but seems to only serve a purpose and hold up their tenuous storyline.
Another less believable idea is that Freamon could chase all of the paperwork, and the illegal wire tap, and make his furniture and maintain a healthy balanced relationship with his younger girlfriend.
The sheer idea that we're watching two amazingly brilliant 'natural police' who make massively unbelievable mistakes loses the Wire some credibility for me.

This is also in part because the seasons have constructed characters who are unbeatable, who fine-tooth comb every document, but with McNulty's case, we see people like Rhonda not check any document and let it ride..

However, on the positive, the other storylines that follow are excellent and believable - they book end onto season 4 well and follow logical and realistic progressions.
From Omar to Bubbles, Michael and Dukie.. each plays a part in an excellent crime series.

If this season had more time spent on it, more thought put into how to realistically make it, it would've been a five star, as all the other seasons are.
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The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD]
The Wire: Complete HBO Season 5 [DVD] by Dominic West (DVD - 2008)
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