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  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 2, 2002
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5
The Wire Image
Metascore
95

Universal acclaim - based on 17 Critics What's this?

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9.1

Universal acclaim- based on 224 Ratings

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  • Starring: Lance Reddick, John Doman, Chris Bauer
  • 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.
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  • Genre(s): Drama
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Reviewed by: Hal Boedeker
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    The Wire doesn't receive the attention of other HBO dramas, but it should. It often surpasses them in the chances it takes and the stories it tells. [1 Jun 2003]
  2. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    It's flat-out brilliant. [1 Jun 2003]
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    The Wire, while brilliant,is not exactly user-friendly. Attention is required, but the series more than repays the time and effort invested.
  4. Reviewed by: Joanne Ostrow
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    One of the best series anywhere. [8 Jun 2003]
  5. Reviewed by: Alessandra Stanley
    Jul 18, 2013
    90
    One of the best shows on television. ... The show, which prides itself on unvarnished realism, is almost willfully jagged and hard to follow. But it is just as hard to turn off.
  6. Reviewed by: Jonathan Storm
    Jul 18, 2013
    90
    An immensely satisfying - and immensely complicated - police drama. [31 May 2003]
  7. Reviewed by: Tony Norman
    Jul 18, 2013
    80
    There's something inspiring about series creator David Simon's trusting his audience enough to tell a complex story about the elusive motives of cops, drug dealers and longshoremen without shortchanging his characters' humanity in the process. [31 May 2003]

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 15
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 15
  3. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. Mar 3, 2012
    10
    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
  2. Aug 19, 2013
    10
    The second season follows the edge of perfection. A brilliant story and script, as in the first season. You know watching this season why the people consider The Wire, as one of the best series ever. Expand
  3. Jun 28, 2012
    10
    Yet another brilliant season of the greatest TV drama of all time. The story of the middle class being screwed over by the city they helped to built was tragic and powerful, with some splendid new characters and the usual dramatic gut-punches one grows to expect from 'The Wire'. PS: Valchek is a d*** Expand
  4. May 24, 2013
    10
    The Second, 12 episode, Season of the critically acclaimed 'The Wire' picks up proceedings not long after the events of year one with the investigative team lead by Daniels now disbanded. Rather than jumping straight back into the aftermath of the Barksdale drug empire (which becomes more of a background story this time around) the writers instead choose to introduce the viewer to another social group found in the city of Baltimore, namely the dock workers that are struggling to make ends meet in modern times. When thirteen bodies are found in an unclaimed container another unpredictable and intriguing case starts to unfold.

    All credit must go to the writers and cast who are able to effortlessly craft another fascinating tale despite a completely new focus and the introduction of a whole host of extra characters. As with Season One the line between the supposed good guys and bad guys remains blurred as the show takes the time to fully explore the motivations of its entire cast and it is this that makes The Wire far more than just another cop show.
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  5. Jul 19, 2013
    10
    simply the standard by which all other shows are judged. i have the sopranos slightly higher, but the wire holds quality quite well throughout and the quality is simply incredible. this is the story of a city told from the ground up. the first season is a dive into an immense world that just keeps getting deeper and deeper until you realise we are all part of the world beyond the wire and yet the city rolls on.

    this first season is judged on its own merits, easily a 10, and no amount of idiot middle class who love it because they were told to, despite never seeing the show, or counter counter culture descreditors are going to make me forget that.

    1 is a ten based on its own merits.
    the series is a 10 based on its own merits.
    the weaker seasons are a 10 based on the fact they are that much better than anything else on tv, at what they do, with a very few key exceptions.

    9.5 rounded up.
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  6. Mar 31, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Like a good book, The Wire is hard to put down. You don't just come back because the occasional episode has a mind bending cliffhanger; you come back to see more excellent drama unfold. Judging by the first two Seasons, I can say that The Wire has been the most consistent show I've watched since Breaking Bad. Thinking of a weak link in the chain of this cop drama is near impossible.

    My main complaint for why this is a '9' instead of a '10' is one that's hard to articulate and you may or may not agree. I feel that through the middle of the Season, not a whole lot of exciting developments occur. At this point, a lot of episodes felt like typical The Wire episodes and they all just kind of blended together in my mind. On a more narrow scope, I also felt that with the task force, headed by Daniels, was annoyingly trying too hard to emulate the success of Season 1. Some awesome situations arised, but a lot of it felt too familiar. Drama over the wire-tap again? Seriously guys? It's called The Wire but it gets on my nerves a when shows repeat that same old same old. I mean, even the detail had similar members. It was occasionally thrilling to have the characters reunite but the pay-off of revisiting the first Season's successes wasn't overly grand.

    On the other hand, the opening and closing segments where absolutely amazing. It is common for dramas to do this and sink a bit in the mid-Season, and while I feel this Season did this, I also feel that the middle chunk was a hell of a lot better than most shows' best efforts. Plus, I'd be remiss not to mention the almost masterful "All Prologue" that lands dead centre in the Season's 12 episode run (the part where The Wire ever so slightly stumbles come before and after this pivotal episode).

    Okay, so first of all, if Omar Little wasn't one of your favourite characters before, that courtroom scene will change your mind. I believe I'm quoting a legitimate TV critic when I say that there is no character ever created quite like Omar. The tough-as-nails robber has enough swagger with just him and his shotgun to scare of legions of Barksdale's men into hiding, as shown in the first Season. He's also got a relatable sense of justice and a sharp wit. I mean, yeah, I'm sure most of us won't shoot up the people who killed your lover, but Omar seems to know when to go to the cops or take matters into his own hands. He's also distinctly unique for being gay; there's no one quite like him, although Issac from the seventh Season of Dexter is the closest I can think of for both character's sexual orientation, similar street smarts and general wit. Where the two differ, however, comes in Omar's relative independence and the general purpose of Issac vs. Omar (Issac was merely a half Season villain, while Omar has more longevity).

    Anyway, "All Prologue" also featured D'Angelo's emotional departure. The true test of whether or not this move was effective came later in the game. McNulty and D'Angelo are often compared to one another as two sides of the same coin. Before his death, D believed thoroughly that no matter how hard you try, you did what you did. You can say you've changed, but the past is what makes you who you are. McNulty is a cop at heart but he tries to change that by retiring and making amends with his ex-wife. After he fails, he goes back to the detail, doing the things he truly loves. You can often see the character's joy on the detail, as he is once again played impeccably by the talented Dominic West.

    I'm quite surprised to hear that a lot of folks found Frank Sobotka's (Chris Bauer) shipping empire to be uninteresting. I'm quite on the contrary; I think this plot line was just as interesting as the Barksdale dealings that occurred both this and last Season. For me, it was really hard not to feel for Frank. Since his job wildly depends on uncontrollable factors, it's hard to blame him for trying to provide for his family (a la the early Seasons of Breaking Bad).

    However, this is very much Nick Sobotka's (Pablo Schreiber) story. Superior than his cousin Ziggy (James Ransone) in a lot of ways, Nick unintentionally drives his cousin into making some very bad decisions to prove himself as a man. At the very end, his cousin is in jail and his uncle is dead. His arc seems to be far from over, and I'll look forward to seeing him down the line as he possibly tries to hunt down "those Greek bastards".

    There's a lot to talk about this Season, but only so little space. If I know The Wire, than all the various interesting character and plot threads will add up into something big. Not just Seasonal arcs. I predict The Wire will continue to use every second of screen-time preciously until the final episode, not stopping to aid the contemporary audience that just doesn't get it. Everything is moving along nicely so far, as we're given a good closure on this Season and enough loose ends to keep us wanting more.

    Chapter 2, complete....
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  7. May 6, 2014
    0
    one of the worst seasons in television history.. while the acting is very good the story of the season is very very dull compared to the show in full.

See all 15 User Reviews

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