• Network:
  • Series Premiere Date: Jun 2, 2002
Season #: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
The Wire Image
Metascore
98

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics What's this?

User Score
9.5

Universal acclaim- based on 355 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • 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 CriminalIn 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

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    This is a series that goes beyond critical darling. "The Wire" is better than its own hype. If you don't watch the show, it's your fault, your loss.
  2. Variety
    Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    Those along for the ride since the beginning have rightly come to savor this as one of TV's premier hours --- a meticulously written, superbly acted program that demands undivided attention. [16 Sep 2004]
  3. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: David Zurawik
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    It's better than ever. [David] Simon has always been good, but he seems to have truly matured this year as both a writer ... and executive producer. No one is making richer television drama than he is right now. [18 Sep 2004]
  4. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Reviewed by: Tony Norman
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    There hasn't been a television drama as good as "The Wire" since the equally ignored "Homicide: Life on the Street" held down the bottom rungs of the Nielsen ratings a decade ago. [17 Sep 2004]
  5. Detroit Free Press
    Reviewed by: Mike Duffy
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    If you do that rare TV thing of actually paying close attention, HBO's complex, richly detailed crime drama will sweep you away like a fine novel. [17 Sep 2004]
  6. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Sid Smith
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    Dense, richly layered, packed with dozens of colorful characters (enough for four series), "The Wire" unfolds as a sophisticated, sometimes impenetrable and always ultra-gritty documentary. But it pays off after meticulous, devoted viewing, delivering rewards not unlike those won by readers who conquer Joyce, Faulkner or Henry James. [18 Sep 2004]
  7. Reviewed by: Terry Kelleher
    Jun 28, 2013
    88
    Gritty and engrossing as ever.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. May 13, 2014
    10
    The Wire is simply the best show ever created. Once you get into the show you will not want to stop watching it. It is totally engrossing andThe Wire is simply the best show ever created. Once you get into the show you will not want to stop watching it. It is totally engrossing and it is almost impossible not to love this work of perfection! Expand
  2. Dec 21, 2013
    10
    I can honestly say that the wire is undoubtedly the best drama series ever produced in my opinion. The levels it goes to is absolutelyI can honestly say that the wire is undoubtedly the best drama series ever produced in my opinion. The levels it goes to is absolutely phenomenal and i would recommend this masterpiece to anyone with an ounce of common sense. Expand
  3. Aug 20, 2010
    10
    In Season 3, the action returns to the streets of Baltimore. The most interesting dynamic of this season is the relationship between AvonIn Season 3, the action returns to the streets of Baltimore. The most interesting dynamic of this season is the relationship between Avon Barksdale (recently released from prison) & Stringer Bell, his 2nd in command. Avon is still a street thug & wants to battle Marlo Stanfield for the street corners Avon's operation lost when he was in prison. Stinger, however, would rather go legit as both Avon & himself have enough money that they'd never have to go back to the street. Expand
  4. May 28, 2015
    10
    The Wire is the best series I've come across. Breaking Bad gets close, but The Wire still wins out.
    I can not believe how underrated it was
    The Wire is the best series I've come across. Breaking Bad gets close, but The Wire still wins out.
    I can not believe how underrated it was back when it first came out!
    Expand
  5. 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'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
  6. Sep 27, 2013
    10
    The Wire is often categorized as a "cop show", yet this simply isn't accurate for two reasons one, because it turns TV police cliches onThe Wire is often categorized as a "cop show", yet this simply isn't accurate for two reasons one, because it turns TV police cliches on their head at every turn, mainly because of the real-life experience of its two head writers (David Simon was a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun and Ed Burns was both a homicide detective and a schoolteacher); and two, it portrays not only cops, but multiple worlds of the city the streets, docks, halls of government, schools, media and others to create a vast tapestry of storylines packed with rich social commentary, something far more ambitious than any other crime drama in television history.

    The series is a study of institutions and how they affect and often compromise individuals, with the destruction of the drug war taking center stage. It's a masterclass on crime and sociology (mostly subtle, yet often not-so-subtle), displaying how power and money route themselves through Baltimore's urban decay, while representing its hundreds of characters with honesty and moral ambiguity.

    Each season starts out slowly and carefully, but patient viewers who pay close attention to details both big and small will be rewarded in spades when things come to a head (and trust me, they always do even if it takes a few seasons). Unlike other prominent HBO dramas, there is no fat in this show, no filler every scene is there for a reason, either to make an important point or to build up to some fantastic drama, usually both.

    Season 3 is, in my opinion, The Wire at its most compelling it has near-perfect pacing and too many awe-inspiring moments to count. It's conclusion is epic, and acts as a satisfying end to the stories built up to that point. Thankfully The Wire was renewed twice more, and while its final two seasons aren't quite as well-crafted as the first three in a dramatic sense, they're every bit as powerful and potent in their commentary.
    Expand
  7. Jul 29, 2012
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. As far as I'm concerned The Wire was back in season 3. I was very happy to see the dock worker story lines gone and get back to the streets exclusively. I loved the Amsterdam plot line, and although pretty far fetched was a very interesting look into what would happen in this type of situation. I also enjoyed the new characters that this brought to the show, and am disappointed that we probably won't see much of the captain going forward as he became one of my favorite characters. My only fault with this season was the political angle brought in. I'm usually a sucker for political intrigue, however this story line did little to excite me and also brought in some rather poor characters. Overall a great season. Expand

See all 18 User Reviews

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