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The Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5 (DVD)

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Genre: Television / Suitable for 18 years and over / Actors: Dominic West ... / DVD released 2008-12-08 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL

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    13 Reviews
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      03.08.2011 23:36
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      Great show, plod on and be rewarded.

      The Wire is considered by many to be the greatest TV shows ever created, and for good reason. It is an intriguing look at 5 different aspects of Baltimore, the drug-trade (season 1), the seaport system (season 2), the city government (season 3), the school system (season 4) and the print news media (season 5).

      The strong point of the show is the quality of characters. Be it, detective Jimmy McNulty, the slightly dysfunctional, disliked and unlucky cop who hardly catches a break, or Omar, the hurt loner, who has lost his boyfriend, and decides to take it out on the people who killed him, or Bubbles, the homeless addict, working undercover for the cops. The characters really are the driving force behind this programme.

      The Wire is famous for its realistic portrayal of urban life in Baltimore and for the fact that the story is called a visual novel, due to its detailed stories.

      There are downsides however, the show can be quite difficult to get into. If you do get through the first few episodes of the first series, you adjust to the way in which the characters speak and the frequent swearing, and also the story arc begins to develop further and you are rewarded with an exciting story.

      Overall, this set is worth the money you pay for it. With interesting, contrasting and sometimes comic characters the Wire is enjoyable if you do not mind swearing. Once you watch it you will understand why it is so widely acclaimed, go ahead and buy the set.

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        11.02.2011 20:50
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        Brilliant show, a must watch

        I'm a big fan of the Sopranos and inside one of the box sets I found a small leaflet advertising The Wire. At first I thought nothing of it, but a couple years later heard a friend talking about it and gave it a go. I have been hooked ever since.

        Story

        The story line is brilliant, not only from the first episode but throughout the all of the five series. The gritty portrayal of Baltimore life from the Police, to drug dealers, the politicians and school teachers to the daily newspapers is brilliant and believable at all times. There are funny times and many serious ones, and it meets all of the viewers demands. The Wire is by far the most realistic, intriguing and gripping drama series I have ever seen.

        Setting

        Baltimore is a brilliant and sometimes sobering setting, it has so many themes which represent modern American urban life. A multicultural populace, growing poverty and drug addiction, growing wealth for a certain few and all manner of other social problems. This allows the show to delve deeply into many more issues than I have seen any in any other show.

        Characters

        Just as has been seen in that other great HBO series, The Sopranos, The Wire features some great characters. One of my, and many other people's, favourites is Omar. A homosexual robber who steals from the drug dealers and gives to the needy. Other characters include the flawed but brilliant Detective Jimmy McNaulty (the key protagonist in the show), the kind but misled drug dealer D'Angelo Barksdale and the drug-addicted police informant Bubbs. Every major character in the series is very well developed and researched, allowing the viewer to foster strong emotions towards the characters.

        Overall this series is a must watch and, in my opinion, one of the best shows to have ever been aired. A must buy for any police drama fan.

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        31.05.2010 11:15
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        Persevere - you will not be disappointed!

        I heard a number of rave reviews of The Wire. As quoted in some of the other reviews on this page, friends told me that this was the best show ever made.

        I thought I would give it a try but to be honest after watching the first episode I was not impressed. I struggled to understand the thick Baltimore accents and found the plot was slow. I gave up after the episode and thought that it just wasn't for me.

        However, the praise of the series continued and in the Times review of the decade it was given the accolade of best TV series.

        I decided to give it another go and persevered. I am so glad a did - after the 3rd episode I was hooked!!

        The Wire is a crime series set in Baltimore. Season 1 starts looking at the drug trade and life in the projects, season 2 focuses on the port system, season 3 local bureaucracy, season 4 looks at schools while season 5 is focused on the media.

        The great thing about this show is that it portrays all sides of the story, the police, the criminal and everyone in between. The story lines and very engaging and clever and really draw you in. The acting is outstanding and it is shot brilliantly.

        The best TV show ever? I think I would have to agree.

        The wire is a HBO series so you can buy the box set. However, for virgin subscribers it is often available through "On Demand".

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        24.05.2010 01:23
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        Literally the greatest TV show ever made

        The greatest show on Earth gets banded around a lot these days...so here it is again. The Wire quite simply the greatest show ever made, and most likely ever will be made. Each series develops like a novel. An episode is never one fixed movement of A to B to concluding on C. Each series is a direct representation of life where plot and story progress realistically, focusing on different aspects of the Un-winnable War on Drugs.
        Series 1 is very much the street; your ground level first acquired to progress up the drug network. The second is the docks where the drugs come in via the big cats. Some of the major money makers of the drug trade. The third moves to the corporate blue of following the money up the political ladder. The fourth focuses on drugs and school while the fifth concludes with the media's representation of the drug war.
        To even begin to describe why this works and what takes it above all other TV cop shows is impossible to explain, which is testament to the skill and artistry of the writers involved. The unexplainable beauty of the show creates the interest along with the characters in place. And with a cast of this size it is a miraculous achievement to have every character round. No character is sterile or a stereotype. You care, you love, you hate these people. They envelop you while you're finished watching for the day. When a character does something stupid - as we are human it happens - you feel the negative insurgence build up inside you and find yourself being physically restrained as your brain keeps telling you this isn't real.
        Basically, just watch it. Takes two to three episodes to get going then that's it. Sixty quid launches itself from your wallet into the greatest TV franchise ever made.

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          24.04.2010 16:41
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          An addictive, addictive show

          There is no other show like this. You need to stick with it for more than three episodes before you realise how wonderful it is. This show is a work of genius, and probably the best scripted, directed and acted show to have been on the box in a long time.

          The Wire focuses on both sides of a criminal investigation in Baltimore, the police (each with their own quirks and personal concepts of good and bad) and the drug dealers that work the corners in Baltimore. This is more than just another CSI-esque show, and it's not another gangsta flick. There is such art here. The characters are truly people, to the point where I get disappointed in them when they make mistakes, and am elated when they finally get what they deserve.

          The brilliance here lies with the fact that the cops aren't all good, and the drug dealers aren't all bad. There's a brilliant helping of humour and wit, as well as some stark realities of life on the street.

          A beautiful masterpiece. And more addictive than the heroin at the centre of the story. Buy the box set, because once you finish series one, you'll just end up buying all the others anyway!

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          31.03.2010 15:48
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          Highly recommended. Just writing this has made me want to watch it all again.

          What a fantastic series. Those who report that The Wire is the best series ever made are not far wrong!

          The Wire spans 5 series and covers the lives of police officers, drug dealers, drug users and surrounding characters in Baltimore, Maryland. Each series follows the ins and outs, ups and downs of police narcotics investigations as each side (the police and the drug dealers) try to outsmart each other and stay one step in front of the other. The series cover the drug dealer's hierarchy from importers and head honchos to street dealers and users and the changes that happen in the way they do business and who is running the show (in the police or on the street) over a few years. The Wire is extremely realistic and never misses an opportunity to explore politics at work throughout police departments affecting their actions, what they can pursue and where the funding goes.

          I have seen some say that The Wire is too slow moving, but not so for me. Its very close attention to detail is necessary to fully explore the intricacies of each character and plotline. You really do feel like you know these people and even though all of the characters are flawed in some ways, you empathise with each of them and want to see them succeed. If only McNulty and Bunk would stop drinking and sleeping around... If only Bubbles would find a way to give up the drugs, he is such a good guy... The hero of the whole series has to be Omar - what a great character, the lone vigilante who always seems to come out on top one way or another by looking after number one. His appearance in court as prosecution witness in the first series is one of the comedic highlights of the entire thing.

          I won't go into more detail on what happens in each of the series for fear of giving away plot spoilers, but this series is highly recommended. At times hilarious, at times tragic, but always realistic and intriguing, you will be hooked from the first few episodes. At the end of the fifth series, everything is neatly tied up and whilst you are happier with the outcome of some plots more than others, it left me with a sadness that it was over. I could have watched it again from start to finish straight away.

          It was shown last year, one episode every week day night on BBC 2, but is available for just over £10 per series or £55-£60 for the full 5 series box set on Amazon and Play and I'm sure many other sites, which is totally bargainous considering how much viewing pleasure you will get.

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          08.02.2010 22:19
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          Highly recomended!

          A amazing series brilliantly written and preformed thats a must see for all who enjoy gritty, realistic drama. Set in Baltimore the series follows both the police and criminals involved with the story.

          Very unusual at first and seemed slow and confusing but once you get into it you realte to all of the characters and see how the criminals have a system to beat the cops and the cops are held back by paper work and only seem interested in good reports. It makes it hard to choose who to route for, the sorry kid who is too afraid to run from the gang or the mostly dirty cops. Overall its enjoyable to watch but does some times get complicated as they do put in what I presume are realistic elements of law and enforcement that I didn't understand and parts gets lost in jargon.

          Each season is focused on a diffrent case but for the most part link up to previous characters and cases. The main character is a Irish cop (Jimmy Mcnulty) who is his own enemy as he not only tries to solve the case dispite rules but tries to find time for his ex-wife and kids inbetween drinking, played very well by Dominic West. All of the other characters are played well too and together create the feel of the city and how corroupt it is.

          One of the best TV shows you will ever seen and definitly worth £59 (Amazon.co.uk's price) for the set which contains all 5 seasons promising hours of entertainment.

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          26.10.2009 05:40
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          An extremely rewarding experience...

          The Wire is a show too epic and grand to discuss aptly in just a few hundred words, but be assured that it is easily one of the greatest shows of all time, and yet another jewel in the crown of HBO, who have produced hits like The Sopranos and Oz previously.

          The Wire takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, and revolves around Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), a good but undeniably irresponsible officer, who attempts to juggle his police work with a clearly alcohol abuse problem and an awkward home life, as well as his repeated flouting of authority.

          The show's prime focus is on drug dealers in the Baltimore area, but each season focuses on a different locale within Baltimore and also a key theme; season one is the "projects", where the drug deals largely take place, then season two is the "docks", where we meet the Polish gangs, season three returns to the streets but with a twist, season four observes the fallasy of the education system, and season five is more political, observing the newspaper industry in conjunction with how officers are prevented from solving crimes because their bosses won't pay the overtime.

          The Wire has often been noted for its novel-esque quality; the level and depth of the writing is unlike 99% of shows you'll see outside of HBO, and reinforces that they are THE network to watch for quality programming. The characters are extremely well fleshed out, and in drug dealers like Stringer Bell (Idris Elba), the show reminds us that not all criminals are idiots. There's a level of complexity here that most shows can only dream of, and the clever narrative unfolds in a way that very rarely defies logic, right up until its downright excellent finale.

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          18.10.2009 00:35
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          The best television programme ever.

          *Edited 27/10/09 to expand further on this brilliant programme* I only discovered The Wire this year when it was finally shown on terrestrial TV, as I'm sure was the case for a number of people. It is a shame that it didn't find a larger audience during it's original run, because it is quite simply the most intelligent, well scripted, well acted piece of television I have ever seen.

          Season 1 begins with a team of police attempting to bring down a drugs gang, the Barksdale crew, with Dominic West's alcoholic, womanising Jimmy McNulty being the nominal lead who bends rules in order to get the funding needed to run a "wire" on the gang. We're introduced also to the loveable Bubbles, a smack addict helping with the investigation and the unfortgettable Omar (played brilliantly by Michael K Williams)a near mythical figure on the streets of Baltimore who earns a living by robbing drug dealers. He would be an almost unbelivable character were it not for the fact he's based on a real person. It's been said that there are no good or bad guys, but that isn't necessarily true - yes a number of the cops are drink-driving unfaithful idiots and the criminals are just doing what they've always been destined to do within the enviroment they've grown up in but the cops still care about keeping the streets safe and the criminals think nothing are killing each other to get ahead. It's just thanks to each character being so well rounded that we can all identify with each one to a certain degree.

          Season 2 moves to the docks of Baltimore, with focus given to union boss Frank Sabotka as he deals with the drug czar The Greek. Although adding this element, the threads from the previous season aren't discarded as we see Avon in prison and Stringer Bell heading the crew in his stead. It manages to still bring together all the characters we've come to know (although not necessarily love) in the police department; Jimmy, Keema, Lester, The Bunk, Carver and "Herc" and Lt Daniels. As before each character is brilliantly realised through both the writing of the programme and the acting of all involved. Even an incredibly annoying character like the spoilt Ziggy ends up gaining some sympathy.

          For season 3 with see the release from jail of Avon and the conflict between himself and Stringer, as the former wants to flex his muscles against a young dealer named Marlo whilst Stringer wants to move into the legitimate business of property development (although he soon finds that those involved are still as crooked as on the street but they wear suits!). Major Colven, a long standing police officer tired of the politics involved in his position takes the drastic step of trying to legalise drugs in Baltimore. We're also introduced to the ambitious Councilman Carcetti (played by Aiden Gillen) as his attempts to gain more power in politics.

          I originally began watching season 4 thinking it was the weakest of the lot so far since the principle main characters are all young teenagers as the series decides to focus on the education system in the US. How wrong I was, all the kids giving great performances. As bleak as ever, it shows us that the people in charge care nothing of the kids, the figures looking good is all that matters. It also follows Cutty, a character introduced in season3 as he tries to make a go of his boxing club and provide a ray of hope for the kids in the neighbourhood. Marlo gets more screentime as he attempts to expand his business. I previously mentioned all characters are given rounded personalities but he's one who doesn't appear to have any redeeming features. The ending of this season is quite heartbreaking as due to the incompetence of Herc one of the kids has a tough life ahead of him.

          Season 5 follows the local newspaper as they follow the story of a serial killer and an unscrupulous reporter as he tries to get ahead. Most of the characters left alive from the other seasons make some kind of appearance, although without it feeling like they've been shoe-horned in, and the principles all get resolutions to their stories one way or another as we see life is cyclical with characters picking up the metaphorical batons of previous ones.

          By the time the final season ends I came to realise that The Wire wasn't simply about the police versus the drug dealers, it is about the city of Baltimore itself and all the men and women who live within it. Each season covers different parts of the city, and whilst characters have to be quickly established as a result, they are all written equally as well. The actors must have felt blessed to recite the dialogue they were given, because if you had to come up with memorable quotes they would fill a book. Everyone speaks with a truth in keeping with their personalities. I read once there was an almost shakespearean quality to the dialogue, which is close enough (and is relevant because it's sometimes difficult to keep up with what people are saying!) There are far too many memorable characters to go through them all here, but my personal favourite would be Omar who knows and accepts the rules of the game he's in.

          The scope of the story is breathtaking, and yet it is still about the people and the minutae of what they do to get by. Whilst it is often bleak, it is in keeping with the general storylines and doesn't feel forced. When redemption does come for certain characters you feel that they've earned it along the way to give satisfying conclusions.

          It's a shame that such incredible work has now ended, but hopefully in time it will gain the reverence it richly deserved. I can't wait to watch every episode all over again!

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          11.10.2009 12:58
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          excellent series

          This is probably one of the best series ever and i can't recommend this highly enough it is fabulous and takes you on a real journey.

          The series are set in Baltimore and follows the stories of the cops side starring Dominic West as Mcnulty and the drug dealers side starring Idris Elba as Stringer Bell. It is a gritty character focused series with each season concentrating generally on one case. Time is taken to build each character and it is time well spent as you become engrossed in both the police and drug dealers stories and become so wrapped up in it all.

          It is a shame they only made 5 seasons of this wonderfully intelligent charcter driven series that looks at different perspectives of this gritty city, it may not show Baltimore in its best light but is totally addictive viewing. I dare you to watch one and you will be hooked. i can't wait to watch it all again!

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            02.08.2009 22:34
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            If you liked the Sopranos you'll love this!

            The Wire based on the novel "Homicide" by David Simon a Baltimore journalist in the 80's is an exceptional piece of teledrama. It tracks a police unit created eventually to place a wire in various forms on a drug dealing network in the city of Baltimore in the US. A couple of the actors you shall recognise but mostly they made their names in this show itself. (The latest being Marlo Stanfield in Heroes).

            The characters are really in depth and become more and more intertwined with their stories linked Tarantino style by the end. I don't want to give too much away but all I can say is if you don't like the first episode watch the second and you'll be hooked. It's much like the Sopranos, truly addictive TV and very classy acting. I also recommend reading the book at the same time, as you'll understand more and more of what's going on, especially with the Baltimore street as well as the police slang.

            I've just started watching this in full for the second time, it's well worth the money!

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            21.07.2009 22:46
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            Top cop drama, not for the faint hearted

            The Wire is an American TV series spanning 5 series set in Baltimore concerning the efforts of a group of Detectives and their attempts to infiltrate a notorious Drug gang operating in the city. Along the way the show explores the social and economic problems in the cities' school system, political institutions and media organisations, Each series cantering on a different theme. The show has been something of a sleeper hit around the world, winning much deserved critical acclaim about the structure of the show and its ensemble of actors. The show is addictive viewing, one episode per sitting is never enough. The more you invest in the show the more it rewards.

            Be careful though as the series is often violent and littered with profanity so if you are easily offended then this may not be for you. It's a police drama like no other, the good guys often aren't that good, and don't always win but that's what gives the show it's realism and grounds it in reality. If it's car chases and explosions you're after then you may be more entertained by 24 or The Shield but if it's outstanding plot and acting performances you enjoy then this is the perfect series.

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              24.06.2009 18:09
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              There are no valid excuses not to give it a try.

              I can see why you wouldn't like the Wire. It's slow, has no discernable good or bad guys, it's overwhelming and dense, requires patience and it hasn't anything flashy or catchy. But for those who give it a try, I can almost guarantee you will be sucked in if you let it, and you are likely to discard any series after this as 'unrealistic' or 'boring'.

              Every season deals with a different aspect of the city of Baltimore, Maryland; drugs (season 1), the city docks and the failure of American capitalism (season 2), politics and the shortcoming of the Western anti-drug policies (season 3), the school system (season 4), and newspapers/the media in the final season. I simplified it because there is no way I can possibly describe all the themes in one season without doing them all justice.

              The first season focuses on the Baltimore City Police department investigating the Barksdale family, heavily involved in drug dealing and trafficking. It introduces detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), who suffers from alcohol problems, alimony payments, authority figures and relationships while also being one of the most skilled detectives in the force. He takes a special interest in the case and eventually is responsible for setting up a case unit that focuses on the Barksdale family, most notably its kingpins Stringer Bell (Idriss Elba) and Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). The first season also deals with many side-stories that affect the main story-line in many ways, such as the relationship between Avon and Stringer Bell, the failed marriage of Jimmy McNulty, the hierarchy of the Barksdale family and the downfall of Baltimore itself.

              To me nothing rivals the Wire in terms of quality, depth and realism. This is the greatest TV show ever made, in both ambition and quality. Giving too much away about this series would be sinful though I'd like too, as the acting is so awfully good, and it has so many memorable characters. I've heard comparisons liking this to a novel-disguised-as-a-Tv-Show and that is about as fitting a review as you'll need.

              5 stars for the Wire itself, but 4 for the packaging (card-board sleeves? Really?!). Of course the box saves you the trouble of getting each season individually, but do consider this.

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