Customer Review

148 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as television gets, 12 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5 [DVD] (DVD)
Having watched all 5 series in a very short space of time (over the past 2 months)this might colour my review slightly, however as of writing I can safely say that there has never been anything better I have seen, and that probably extends to movies as well as previous television series.

In a programme of great, great characters (the list is endless, Omar, Avon, D'Angelo, Bubbles, Daniels, Bunk, Rawls - not exactly likeable but certainly brilliant, and of course Stinger Bell) Jimmy McNulty rises just about to the top - quite simply one of the best and most enjoyable characters you are likely to see.

'Multi-layered' is one of those descriptions that you read and often it doesn't mean that much, but is some critics attempt to sound intelligent, but in this case the definition is spot on. This can be viewed on so many levels and each series brings something different. The story regarding Bubbles in itself is a masterpiece, they could take out all his scenes from across the 5 series and put them into a film, and it would win oscars across the board. To an extent Omar's story runs parallel, and whilst this doesn't pull on the heart strings in quite the same way, it is still exceptional.

My only slight criticism would be the level dips slightly in my opinion in series 2 (although people do disagree with that, so maybe is just how I see it and how I loved the storyline and characters of series 1 and 3) but 3,4 and 5 are exceptional. In a very, very (very) sad way by the end these characters felt like your friends, and it was pretty emotional that last episode montage.

Before it was the Soprano's, which I loved and was fantastic, but ultimately it didn't sustain it too well over the whole period, and don't think it had the depth of the Wire and did focus on one character a lot more, even if Tony Soprano was one hell of a character. I certainly don't remember as feeling as 'involved' in that as with the wire.

Films I have seen since, even very good ones, have felt slightly odd and light - how can a film develop a character over 2 and a half hours in the way this has done over 60 hours. Impossible.

One word of warning, if you're expecting a Prison Break / 24 / Lost type series, you're in the wrong place. This isn't cliffhanger television, or popcorn television in the way those programmes (much as i enjoy the first 2, not seen lost) they are fun and enjoyable, but ultimately there is no real depth to them.

And another - pay this the attention it deserves, you need to sit and watch this properly, not be doing other things whilst its on, it requires, and deserves, your full concentration. You will be rewarded.

One tip - I needed subtitles for a lot of it, it does help.

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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Oct 2008 17:06:35 BDT
ALSSA says:
Great review,I must have watched this over the same time period as you.I agree it's really hard not to compare any movie/series watched since but check out "The Corner" HBO mini series (import only DVD).It preceded "The Wire" and is if anything more character driven!Also set in Baltimore, it features a few well known faces from "The Wire" but at 6 hours is much shorter.

Posted on 12 Nov 2008 13:01:16 GMT
I've never thought to try watching with the subtitles on, though over the years I have occasionally had to pause and rewind as I watched the show (taped from FX), just to catch the odd phrase or two that I'd missed or that may not have been perfectly recorded. (I do have tinnitus, which probably doesn't help, and our flat overlooks a busy main road.)

Perhaps a history of having watched HLOTS and The Corner means my ear has become a little better attuned to the nuances of the accents and dialects of Balmer.

I think it's worth paying attention to the rhythm of the language rather than going for the subtitles button too quickly. I'm not being critical, but just feel that viewing without the subtitles makes the show all the more rewarding.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2008 04:00:52 GMT
Anita says:
Maybe you are right. But when English is not your first language, watching it without subtitles is TORTURE, believe me. I would have never finished watching season 1, and I would have lost so much.

Posted on 16 Aug 2009 12:16:00 BDT
R. D. Grillo says:
Excellent summary. I'm just finishing Series 4 (on BBC2) and am looking forward to Series 5. Disagree with you about Series 2, tho'! And, yes, you need the subtitles, but the language is fascinating.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Aug 2009 21:17:58 BDT
Series 4 was excellent, an improvement of series 3 in my improvement. What an incredible programme. Definitely the best television programme of the decade

Posted on 14 Feb 2010 18:39:37 GMT
I'm just in the middle of series 3, having been bought the whole lot as a Christmas present, and I'm torn, really torn. Part of me can't wait to see the next show (which is only an 'insert disc' away), and the rest wants to put off viewing to make the experience of The Wire last longer. It is without doubt the best police drama I've ever seen. It's impossible not to empathise with such multi-dimensional characters: to like the bad guys as well as the good and find much to despise in the good as well as in the bad. This actually feels like what is happening on the streets of Baltimore, not in writer's imagination. Ah well, guess it's going to be 'insert disc'.

Posted on 27 Sep 2010 12:23:04 BDT
M. connolly says:
Oh yes,here is the ultimate, never been bettered HBO Series.This show has all the right moves and can pull a tear from the hardest of hearts.My Wife and I have just finished the whole series in as short a time as we could.We laughed,cried,shared the frustrations and heartache of the both the good and the bad and never missed any word spoken.The Actors deserve the highest praise and no one should be slated for their contribution.What is going to replace this Masterpiece?Certainly not The Sopranos.Its a weak,made for a certain type of audience plot and looking at the first part of the first series it reminds of a watered down version of The fifteenth making of the Godfather.I shall however persevere in the hope it may redeem itself even though I know that it will be a hard slog.The Wire on the other hand deserves to be placed up there among the Classics.Yes it does need a good hearing aid and missing out a lot of the jargon can be a bit frustrating.I solved the problem by playing it on my xbox and using my x31 headset. It also has very good subtitles.Thank you HBO for making shows what they should really be.

Posted on 21 Feb 2011 01:51:17 GMT
Hartson 75 says:
Totally agree with your spot on review and I'm glad I'm not the only one who had difficulties with the second series. It is not that I didn't enjoy it I just found the dock workers hard to like and empathise with. Unlike say a D'Angelo and who struck me as a decent man trapped in his family's indecent trade.

I feel I need to say a little about Slim Charles as I have been re-watching the series recently and I have to say he is fast becoming my favourite character. He is a very stark representation of the moral ambiguity a lot of the characters in The Wire inhabit. He is a man who whilst being a mass murdering gangster also has great integrity, consistently demonstrates loyalty, can keep his head whilst even the likes of Stringer Bell are getting a bit fraught and has a moral centre. Which it could be argued are positive attributes some of the characters who are supposedly on the side of right do not possess. For example, the high-ups of the Baltimore Police Department such as Burrell possess no integrity at all and appear incapable of showing loyalty to anyone. In a less nuanced programme you would not see that. It would just be "goodies" in white hats and "baddies" in black hats. And I praise David Simon and all the rest of the programme's creators and actors, such as Anwan Glover (Slim), to the highest for respecting their audience's intelligence and for producing such excellent, thought provoking and sometimes down right emotionally draining entertainment.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2011 19:45:59 BDT
Yeah, The Wire is brilliant but so is The Sopranos. To compare the two isn't fair, as they are two totally different experiences. The Wire is so broad, but The Sopranos is about one man, and how he sees the world. I find it hard to connect with characters in The Wire, whereas with Tony, you feel you know him. Two of the best though.
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