The Wire The Complete Fourth Season

The Wire The Complete Fourth Season
Considering all the HBO causalities — great shows that weren’t The Sopranos or Six Feet Under — that barely made it to the end of their first season (sorry, John From Cincinnati), the fact that The Wire is still on the air, and heading into its fifth and final season, is remarkable. Awash in the current red (tape) sea of police procedurals (which it is most certainly not), this "po’lice” show deals with so much more besides just cops and drug dealers in Baltimore — inner city decay, political machinations, the failing educational system, blue collar corruption, etc. "It could have, if we had done everything wrong, been a cop show,” says creator David Simon during the end of one of the two featurettes included here, but The Wire is so much more. In season four, it’s Baltimore’s education system that comes under investigation, following the trials and tribulations of four young students struggling against the lure of the corners, the loss of innocence, the death of the family unit and any number of horrors beyond their years. While a major theme this season — the failure of the educational system — the mayoral race comes to a head, while the investigation into Marlowe Stanfield (the city’s new drug kingpin) continues its herky jerky trajectory. As well, the juggling of numerous characters and threads from past seasons continues without pause. The Wire’s strength has always been its ability to humanise all of its characters, whether a cop, a drug dealer, a student or dock worker, and this is what makes it so much more than a traditional "cops versus robbers” show. In the two solid featurettes, it becomes crystal clear how heavily invested everyone is in making The Wire one of the greatest shows on television, even if the show hasn’t been recognised as such, something that those involved are well aware of. On top of the two featurettes, there are six episode commentaries with various cast and crew members but only one with the creative team of David Simon and Ed Burns, whose experiences The Wire is based on. While informative and revealing, it’s clear that neither seem entirely into discussing their baby, or into doing commentary in general. While not overly encumbered with extras, compared to other HBO titles, it delivers a healthy portion, but, as always, it’s this incredible show, which captures the decline of an American city (and America) with incredibly poignancy, that’s the reason to own. (Warner)