A second viewing for a 'landmark' series,
This review is from: The Wire : Complete HBO Season 1 [DVD]   (DVD)
The Wire follows the single-story-across-the-whole-series format which was pioneered by Stephen Bochco's brilliant Murder One, Case 1 [DVD]  (stick to Series 1, though) and popularised across successive series of 24 - Season 1 [DVD].
When re-watching this series a number of things struck me.
Firstly, the first 4 or 5 episodes which were a hard watch first time round now made much more sense. Knowing the characters helps of course, but it can be difficult to get into this series to begin with because we are being introduced to so many characters. David Simon does this carefully, setting up characters and backstories that we will then follow and see develop across successive episodes and, perhaps, series. Stick with it.
Secondly, don't be afraid to use the subtitles! First time around, I didn't start using them till The Wire: Complete HBO Season 2 [DVD] and hadn't realised how much I'd missed in the way of subtleties by trying to decode the language from first principles. Herc underlines this point in an early episode when he shows that he understands street language in a way the other police don't. At times the subtitles don't cover every single word spoken - usually omitting some colourful language - but you do get the sense of what is being said. Occasionally the dramatic tension is lost when the subtitles reveal lines of dialogue well before they are spoken, and sometimes they aren't quite accurate. Bubbles likes to playfully refer to Jimmy as 'McNutty' but the subtitles po-facedly stick to 'McNulty'.
Thirdly, and unsurprisingly, the technology used in the series is - after a decade - starting to look dated, particularly phones, computers and cameras, but this doesn't in any way ruin the drama.
If you've managed to miss the series so far, give it a go. The language is as colourful as the cast, but this is a first-rate piece of TV drama in an excellent transfer to DVD.