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  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 2, 2002
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
The Wire Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 379 Ratings

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  • Starring: Lance Reddick, John Doman, Wendell Pierce
  • Summary: In chronicling a multi-generational family business dealing illegal drugs and the efforts of the Baltimore police to curb their trade, this series draws parallels between these organizations and the men and women on either side of the battle.The words of Gary W. Potter, Professor of Criminal Justice and Police Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, in writing about the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, can also be used to illuminate some of the central premises of the show:"There is precious little difference between those people who society designates as respectable and law abiding and those people society castigates as hoodlums and thugs. The world of corporate finance and corporate capital is as criminogenic and probably more criminogenic than any poverty-wracked slum neighborhood. The distinctions drawn between business, politics, and organized crime are at best artificial and in reality irrelevant. Rather than being dysfunctions, corporate crime, white-collar crime, organized crime, and political corruption are mainstays of American political-economic life."Tim Goodman, the television critic for The San Francisco Chronicle, summed the show up perfectly when he wrote: "This show is precisely the reason you pay for HBO."In New York's Newsday, Diane Werts says: "Most TV crime series aspire to John Grisham's level. 'The Wire' aspires to Dostoevsky's."Season ThemesSeason One centers around a family of drug dealers and the innerworkings of their empire. It also follows the detectives who are trying to catch the high members of the empire. Season Two steps away from the drug trade (while still mentioning characters from the previous season) to a case of dead prostitutes which turns into a look at the corruption surrounding the Port. Season Three investigates politics and finishes the main stories that were left open in season one. Season Four focuses on four middle school students and their journeys through the public school system and continues to address the politics of an inner-city and the issues of an election. Season Five is rumored to be about the media's role in Baltimore. Season Five will be the show's final season.Theme MusicIn the Season One opening credits, the Blind Boys of Alabama did Tom Waits's "Way Down in the Hole". The Season Two opening credits feature Waits's version of the song. According to creator David Simon, "It was our way of saying: This is the same show (song) but this year, the tale itself (singer, tonality) will be different." The Neville Brothers's version of the song opens Season Three. The theme which plays over the end credits was composed by the show's music supervisor, Blake Leyh.

    International AiringsAustralia -- Monday at 12:00 p.m. on Ch.9. Currently airing Season 3.
    New Zealand -- Wednesday at 11:40 p.m. on TV2, beginning December 15, 2004.
  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jun 14, 2013
    It's loose and rambling; its dramatic climaxes don't coincide neatly with the conclusion of any given episode. Its dialogue, overseen by creator David Simon ... is so good it often sounds improvised. One criticism of the show I've read is that it's repetitive (in showing the slow process of how the police bring down bad guys). But what those critics don't get is that those qualities are exactly what make 'The Wire' the funkiest cop show on TV.
  2. Reviewed by: Steve Johnson
    Apr 29, 2013
    Spellbinding...The Wire is compelling in its complexity, heart-rending in its humanity, and surprising in the ways it finds to spin the conventions of cop drama. [31 May 2002, p.4]
  3. Reviewed by: Tom Shales
    Apr 29, 2013
    It's to the network's credit that it undertakes projects that aren't necessarily big crowd-pleasers but have a palpable artistic integrity and social significance. [1 June 2002, p.C01]
  4. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Apr 29, 2013
    The Wire is a cop drama from top to bottom. It does take a systemic view of the issue, like "Traffic," Steven Soderbergh's drug-trade saga. But it never sacrifices drama and character for lecture. [31 May 2002, p.E14]
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Apr 29, 2013
    Though it's extremely well done, The Wire lacks the signature HBO kick of discovering something brand new, that giddy feeling of freshness that immediately attached itself to "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under." With The Wire, there's a less-exciting echo: Same old, same old. Been there, done that. [31 May 2002]
  6. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jun 28, 2013
    It slowly develops into an engrossing look at the methodical nature of police work and the limits of individualism.
  7. Reviewed by: David Bianculli
    Apr 29, 2013
    After watching five hours of preview tapes, I'm interested to see how The Wire turns out. But without characters to care for, much less root for, I'm not exactly burning with curiosity -- the way I am with most of HBO's other series...When it comes down to The Wire, this show falls short.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 49 out of 49
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 49
  3. Negative: 0 out of 49
  1. Sep 20, 2011
    An amazing series. By far the best I have ever seen, and won't be surprised if I never see another. The characters connect with you in so many ways, mainly because of how real they are. And it isn't just the cops that you can connect with, the "bad guys," the high up drug dealers, the hoppers, and just about everyone.It is an amazing show with some crazy characters that are all believable. The story is just awesome! Still haven't seen the 5th season, but I guess that is a good decision as I will get to watch all the other seasons again before finishing off with the last. I can't stop recommending this series! Expand
  2. Feb 10, 2011
    The greatest achievement in television history. In five years, I never heard one single exchange of dialogue in this show that wasn't wholly believable. I have had my fill of cop, doctor and lawyer shows over the years,but The Wire is so much more than that. It navigates complex story lines between the drug dealers, the school system, the entrie heirarchy of the police force, the politicians, addicts, media and what have you with tremendous ease. Best show ever. Expand
  3. Dec 30, 2011
    Why can't I say just say "best TV show ever" rather than having to type out 150 characters to just say "The Wire is the best TV show ever"? And, by the way, did I mention that The Wire is the best TV show ever. (Hope this is 150 characters!). :) Expand
  4. Mar 3, 2012
    I've watched many, many television shows, and I can confidently affirm that The Wire is by far the greatest achievement in the history of TV. I won't bother typing up a long and well thought-out review because I'm sure the previous users have done a fair enough job of describing this show, but I will say this: no other television series compares to The Wire, and it will be a long time before another one does. Expand
  5. Nov 10, 2013
    Written for the series as a whole.

    The daily work of the law enforcement is not always flawless and rightful. From the start of forming a
    unit that could bring down a multimillionaire drug lord, going through the ups and downs of major a case crime investigation, tapping a wire to understand the network and finally maybe dropping the hammer is very much a long and rocky road. Eventually you will end up spending a whole day watching through a full season hoping to solve just one case.

    Or maybe you will create a bond with a character for some reason. A life where drugs can be a way to another state of mind or the fastest shortcut to a large amount of cash these dealers and users have to live by certain rules, learn respect and/or create a special code of honour to survive. Breaking this code or forgetting the ways of the “game” will sooner or later leave you weaved between the ruthless street thugs of Baltimore city or the its punishing police department.

    The Wire is a TV drama show about the streets of Baltimore realized through a dozen of deep and genuine characters. Drug dealers, policemen, politicians, newspapermen, teachers and their students and other significant line of people all play an important role. All which always can have an effect on the outcome of a bigger picture. And my time with the series has given me some kind of understanding of what a real “poe-lise” (police) is. It has given me other very intriguing insights too. Enough for me to also understand how these influence each other. Therefore this is the most realistic piece of genius I have ever encountered. Movies and series alike are not even close to the respectful amount of detail put in to this story and its single events, character trademark and influence, story continuance and veracity and individual career progress. So if you are looking for a “cops and robbers” drama series masterpiece you can stop looking now because this is it. 10/10.
  6. Jul 16, 2014
    The Wire to put it bluntly is the greatest TV show of all time and is arguably the best thing ever shown on a TV screen. The main concept of The Wire is its a POV of the city of Baltimore through the eyes of the Police force and the drug dealers. The sheer accuracy of its portrayal of Baltimore is of Shakespeare quality. It involves all aspects of Baltimore, the police force, the politicians, the gangsters and people in general.

    Each season has a different synopsis but the story remains the same. The way the politics affects the police force and then the gangsters is at the heart of The Wire, but more importantly its social commentary of the politicians, police and the gangsters is perhaps the most important thing of The Wire.

    I am not naive I will tell you that, I have watched all the great TV shows of our generation (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Dexter, Oz, Deadwood etc) and none of them comes close. The Wire is a realistic, well made, accurate, gripping and heart-breaking show all rolled in a 5 season roller coaster. Make sure watching The Wire is on your bucket list if it isn't already.
  7. Jun 1, 2014
    Season 1 and 2 stand the test of time. The rest of the seasons fall short. 12 years out the first 2 seasons rival anything since. If you never saw this then give it a go and you will probably end up finishing it anyway. Not as good as BB but still a mothertrucker. Expand

See all 49 User Reviews

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