The Wire is an outstanding five seasons HBO show, with 62 episodes released from 2002 to 2008. Just discovered it and watched in a row (with some short pauses for normal life), the thing is addictive and growing in interest every episode.
It focuses on the world of drug trafficking in West Baltimore and its criminal police unit, both shown in a crude realistic way, thousands of millenniums away from the average over-the-top Cop drama we usually can watch on TV.
The producers and writers are Ed Burns, former police officer in Baltimore and David Simon, former reporter at the Baltimore Sun. The least you can say is that they know their stuff. The five seasons become the saga of a ruined rust belt city, its massive criminality problems. But it is not only that : it is a vast novel with some 50 characters, all of them centre of a sub-plot, none of them neglected by the writers. At some point it becomes a kind of miracle in story-telling, what we are shown is so complicated but so well developed you understand everything at first sight, and be aware that a minor detail in a season can become crucial the following one.
Maybe the only flaw of the show is being a little too didactic, every season developing a specific theme, like police in season 1, the docks and the crisis of the harbour unions in season 2, the local politics in season 3, the education system in season 4, the decline of Newspapers in season 5.
But there is so much in this drama : humour, inquiry, twists, surprises, characters. The cast is amazing, many actors being themselves former mobs or corner boys, unbelievable how good they are next to professional actors.
This is a must see, a gigantic puzzle which pieces find their exact place one after the other. The first season is only very good (5/6), the second is great 6/6, the third and the fourth will be legends in the history of television (with respectively 7676577/6 and 9889797/6), the last and fifth season being a little disappointing (4/6), but with some great moments a par with seasons 3 & 4.
Great from HBO to have been through this not cancelling, since the show had difficulties to find its audience. This is not always easy to watch and the writing is so precise I think it had to be seen on DVD, you cannot miss an episode or you ll get lost. There is a point in everything characters say or do.
It is hard to say how great it is, you have to see it to get the peculiar path and mood, but I guarantee you you’ll remember forever of some of the characters, only saying their names will raise memories of fantastic breathtaking moments : Omar, Avon Barksdale, Brother Mouzone, Commissioner Rawls, Bubbles, Marlo Stanfield, Stringer Bell, Snoop, Cedric Daniels, Kima Greggs… Impossible to say which one you will love/hate more.
Sometimes cynical, sometimes depressing, sometimes hilarious, always great. Yo dawg aint a snitch no gonna spoil to you (yes I just forgot to tell half of the dialogues in west Baltimore slang are close to non-understandable… )
Watch it 6/6 !