The Wire: The Complete First Season

The Wire: The Complete First Season
Descriptions like "gritty," "compelling" and "astounding" are thrown around by all the big media (Newsweek, Time, USA Today) to describe one of the best TV shows ever, The Wire. And while they are all unquestionably deserved, they don't explain why The Wire is arguably the greatest cops/robbers (or, in this case, "poolice"/drug dealer) crime drama on television. The Wire's strength is its incredibly intricate ensemble cast of Baltimore criminals and police, and its complex, densely layered storylines and numerous sub-plots. Initially, its staggering amount of characters, subplots and story lines (exploring the lives of both its protagonists and antagonists, and those caught in the middle) can pose trouble for the uninitiated, but once immersed, each episode seems over in the blink of an eye, leaving the viewer aching for the next. The first season of The Wire (currently in its third offering) follows the exploits of a patchwork Baltimore police unit thrown together to make some quick arrests and demonstrate token progress on the war on drugs, which threatens to consume Baltimore's streets. However, as the team surpasses its mandate and digs deeper and deeper, they become entrenched in a game of cat and mouse with the top drug dealing crew, encounter city wide political corruption and even find themselves at odds with their own department. While many crime shows seems hopelessly out of date with the culture they portray (and the one-dimensional characters that compose them), The Wire is never kitschy or dumbed down (being shown on HBO and TMN allows it to be more "realistic" than shows constrained by prime time), and it portrays the street culture more accurately than any show before it. Also, The Wire isn't a judgemental show. Sure, the lines of right and wrong are defined, but the depth and motivation of its characters (especially that of its criminal element) places it firmly in the grey area. As Omar (the baddest gay rip and run artist around) says, "the game's out there, it's either play or be played." In terms of extras, what's included doesn't match the striking silver and black box that houses this remarkable series, featuring only three commentaries, and only one from writer/creator David Simon. Considering The Wire has spawned its own book explaining its creation and real life Baltimore inspirations, to expect the equivalent for its box-set doesn't seem out of the question. (Warner)