How the hell did I miss HBO's The Wire?

I just watched Seasons 1 and 2 On Demand, and I can’t believe I never watched this show while it was on. Incredible acting, incredible writing, incredible camera work. I know this is sacrelidge, but I may actually prefer it to The Sopranos.

Can I expect the same excellence in Season 3? Does anyone know when Season 4 will begin?

Looking at past threads in Cafe Society, there don’t seem to be too many posts in the threads that were started. Now’s your chance! I highly recommend watching it if you’ve never seen it before. Just be sure you start with Season 1 and go in order - I imagine it’s not an easy show to pick up on in the middle.

Season 3 is very good. Better than season 2. In 3 they get back to the Stringer case.

Season 4 starts next month and HBO is pushing the hell out of it on the channel at least.

I’m with you… just watched it on demand. (I’d been trying to find it on DVD for a while, but none of the local places carry it, and I don’t have NetFlix).

It’s WAY better than the Sopranos, I think. But then I’ve always thought the Sopranos was a bit overrated.
What I like about it so much is that:
(a) There are no easy answers. No one is all good. Just about no one is all bad.
(b) The way that politics end up influencing the cases is just hilarious (while sad, and, I hope, not totally realistic)
© It manages to have so much going on at once, without losing watchability
(d) It almost never “feels” like a TV show. Even really good shows have rhythms of storytelling that let you know that it’s not real life you’re watching. The Wire has very little of that.
My roommate says that season 3 is even better than the first two, although he also preferred S1 to S2, while I prefer S2 to S1 by a good margin.

I watched all of season 2 in two days… it’s high on the list of best seasons of any TV show ever.

Can you tell me a bit more about it? I see seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix, and I like watching shows on DVD.

I’m just now starting season 1 of the series 24. It feels so guilty & decadent, being able to watch these shows a season at a time, without having to wait week-to-week.

First of all, it’s the perfect show to watch continuously on DVD. Like ** MaxTheVool** I watched Season 2 in about 2 days b/c I couldn’t stop. As soon as the credits rolled, I hit “Stop” then sped back to the previous menu and started the next episode like a damn crackhead. It is really that good.

The basic premise is that there’s this crime-ridden section of Baltimore with drugs, violence, etc. and there’s cops assigned to a new unit to try and stop them.

But that’s an extreme over-simplification - the bad guys and the good guys are all portrayed in an utterly realistic manner, as fully realized characters. ** MaxTheVool**'s list above is spot-on.

And then when you think this is all wrapped up, in season 2 they introduce some Baltimore dock workers, some shady “Greek” mobsters, the Port Authority Police, and you’re distracted by this for about .01 seconds before their story is seamlessly woven into the landscape of the show. In fact, in season 2 the whole drug plot is the secondary storyline, and you don’t care.

It’s simply an amazing show, worthy of your time.

[sub]Oh, and sorry about that butchering of “sacrilege” in the OP. Sheesh.[/sub]

After watching two seasons of The Shield with my roomate, as a freshman in college, we watched The Wire. I was completely underwhelmed and unimpressed. I think The Shield is a much better show, because it didn’t just focus on one gang - it had the Armenians, the Toros and Los Mags, the one-niners, the Byz Lats, various Asian gangs - not to mention serial killers. Just a much wider variety of crime, which made it more interesting. The characters of the Strike Team had a lot of personality and had real chemistry. And Vic Mackey was much more of a compelling character than the Wire guy.

Well The Shield is another one of my favorite shows, but I don’t think it’s fair to compare them. They both offer a completely different type of entertainment, IMO. The Shield focuses on just the Farmington neighborhood (fictional, BTW) and just the “Barn” police station, with lots of action and violence.

The Wire focuses on several different districts within the Baltimore Police, (homicide, port authority, the special units, the river patrol, records), as well as the East Side and West Side drug neighborhoods, plus the dockworkers, customs agents, the FBI, the Polish community as portrayed by police, dockworkers and the Church, the policitcal structure, etc etc. And it takes its time telling stories - there’s less full-on action and more prodecural.

And while I agree that Mackey is a better character than McNulty, the surrounding cast in The Wire is far superior and extensive. IMO.

Comparing The Shield to The Wire is impossible. The Shield is about bad guys who think they are good guys and how that relates to street crime. The Shield is an adrenaline based show. And ultimately it could take place in any large city, there’s nothing LA centric about it. Hell it takes place in a fictional neighborhood. The shield is designed to be in-your-face and intense.
The Wire is about the nature of crime and all the disparate things that effect it within a city. It’s slower and unfolds over time.

I watched two or three episodes of The Shield and gave up in disinterest. Fwtw.

I’ve just about finished the first season of The Wire via Netflix, and I’m enjoying it FAR more than I thought I would. Normally, I just can’t get into the lawyer/cop/doctor type shows, but this is really gripping in its realism. I loved the scene in an early episode where they were investigating an old crime scene and the dialogue consisted entirely of variations on the word “fuck,” but it was a little gimmicky, and I’m glad they didn’t try to repeat it (so far, anyway).

So, yeah, another recommendation FWIW.

I’m 5 shows into the second year on HBO ON Demand. Mrs. Blather and I just love it. Did it win any Emmys?

The first two seasons got no Emmy nominations. They finally got a writing nomination in season 3 (2005) but lost to an episode of House. They’ve surely they deserved some actor nominations too. Chris Bauer’s job doing Frank Sobotka in Season 2 is one of my favorite TV performances of all time.

Another thread indirectly praising On Demand… can you tell me where it is, and the cost per episode?

(I’m currently working my way through Soap).

The first time I saw him, I said “Holy Crap! It’s Machine from 8MM!”

I have HBO, so for me I just go to Premium Channels | HBO | HBO Series, and there it is. I’m not sure if you can buy them if you don’t have HBO.

The Wire is arguably the best show ever made, IMO, coming in a hair under Deadwood for me. My brother turned me onto it, and I watched the first season on demand a couple of years ago in about 3 days, just in time for season 2 to start, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Why this show is so underrated I have no idea. Could be that it’s too intellectually challenging for people-- you have to pay attention and stay with the thread of the story in order to get it. It’s not as complicated as Deadwood, but still pretty intense, and I think the most realistic cop show ever.

Season 4 should be starting in the fall, and focuses on the Baltimore school system, which is especially interesting for me as a teacher. There are 3 eps of Deadwood left, and I would think The Wire would take its place in the Sunday lineup shortly thereafter, no?

Also, Omar Little is the coolest character possible, rivaling Al Swearengen as a character who has earned my undying admiration for the writers to created him.

I agree that the show is excellent, completely worthy of the concentration that the intricacies of the plot and extensive cast demand, and especially suited to viewing on DVD. The first two seasons burned through my Netflix queue in record time.

The DVD format has another benefit—I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but some of the dialogue, particularly among the drug dealer characters, slips past me on the first hearing. It’s nice to be able to back up or even turn the subtitles on briefly, so as not to miss a particularly interesting phrase or bit of slang.

My one complaint: I wish they would release the seasons on DVD faster. I’ve been waiting a while for season 3, and have had to force myself not to tune in to some of the mid-season reruns that have aired on HBO lately, because I’d rather view them all sequentially.

Omar is cool enough to make dry ice seem luke warm. Then again, Stringer is almost as cool. He’s played by an English guy, BTW.

To paraphrase Terry Pratchett: “there are no good or bad people. They’re all bad, some just happen to be on our side.¨”
I think that sumes up the show and is why I love it. I’m just starting S.3.

I’m glad to see a few folks finally catching on to The Wire. It is my favorite dramatic series ever, bar none. Far better, IMHO, than * The Sopranos* and just a little better than Deadwood, if only because it’s more realistic.

The basic message of The Wire is that the “War on Drugs” is futile. It demonstrates the brutal and heartbreaking consequences of drug prohibition with a realism and depth that no other show has ever approached and few have even attempted. Unlike most TV cop shows, both the cops and the crooks have their share of smart (if flawed) guys, dumb guys, and just plain assholes. Both sides have their occasional victories and losses, but the wins often come as much through luck as planning.

The Baltimore Police Department seen in The Wire is a bureaucratic and politically screwed up mess, just like every large organization you and I have ever worked in, and unlike other TV police departments, which always seem to have the latest high-tech equipment and unlimited budgets. What’s also interesting is that the criminal outfits are also political, and if not bureaucratic, exactly, have their share of incompetent workers who can’t follow orders.

I started watching The Wire because it is set in Baltimore, my home town. I was hooked within an episode or two, once I got a feel for the characters and saw how excellent the acting and writing were. One thing I love is that there’s a bit of bad in most of the good guys and a little good in most of the bad guys. They’re all complex, multi-layered, and well-drawn characters. Some of the crooks are more interesting and likeable than the cops.

Like most of HBO’s Sunday series, The Wire’s story lines are complex and multi-threaded. You have to pay attention and listen carefully. Watching each episode twice will often reveal important details you didn’t catch the first time. And don’t look away for a second: a character raising an eyebrow may speak volumes about what’s happening in the story.

Two other things about The Wire that I love, and that are rare in ordinary TV series, is that they never have a simple, neatly tied-up happy ending; and they occasionally kill off major characters that you really care about. This gives The Wire an unpredictable and realistic quality that is very compelling.

I’m thrilled that, after killing Carnivale and Deadwood, HBO hasn’t cancelled The Wire yet, even though it doesn’t seem to have gotten as much acclaim and attention as those shows. I suspect that one reason is that it must be much cheaper to produce than the period pieces.

I can’t just wait for season 4!!!

BTW, there’s an interesting book about the making of the series.

Well I think its even more complex than that as evidenced in the Hamsterdam plot in season 3. The war on drugs may be futile but across the board sanctioning is even more destructive.

I completely disagree. While unpleasant, Hamsterdam was successful in cleaning up many neighborhoods formerly infested by dealers and concentrating the harm done by drug dealing in a few abandoned blocks. You can hardly argue that it increased drug use or did anything other than bring together in one place the unpleasantness that previously was spread all over the Western district.

And once the Health Dept. and Hopkins people started helping out with needle exchange and condom distribution, at least some of the problems were being mitigated. Hamsterdam also freed up cops to do some real policing as well as building positive relations out in the neighborhoods.

Since there are a few eps of the third season still to be re-run, I’ll put the following in a spoiler box, even though it doesn’t spoil any major plot points:

IMO, the only problem with Hamsterdam was that there was no one higher up than Bunny Colvin with the guts to say that the benefits were worth the price. Carcetti saw that the corners were cleaned up, and I hoped that he might grow a pair, but he chickened out and took the easy way out. It could be that in Season 4 Mayor Carcetti will have another look at solutions to the drug problem.

BTW, most people who live outside Maryland won’t catch this, but in a coming Season 3 episode there’s a discussion in the mayor’s offce about whether it might be politically possible to de facto legalize drugs. A character who says that the mayor would be crucified for even suggesting it is played by Kurt Schmoke, the first black mayor of Baltimore, who was widely criticized for suggesting that it was time to treat drugs as a public health problem, not a legal problem.