The Wire: In what order should I watch the seasons?

Just to add to a post i made earlier in the thread, HBO has announced that the remastered, widescreen, HD version of The Wire will be available the day after Christmas.

It will be introduced on HBO’s main channel with a 5-day, 5-season marathon, one season per day, starting on December 26 and finishing on December 30. It will also be available on HBO Go, and in early January will be available for purchase from a variety of digital outlets such as Google Play and iTunes.

David Simon has a fascinating post on his blog, in which he discusses the process of remastering the show, and where he also talks about some of the benefits and drawbacks of taking the original cinematography, which was explicitly and consciously shot to maximize the 4:3 format, and shifting it to a 16:9 widescreen format.

The first three episodes of every season are murky and confusing. You aren’t sure who some of the players are, or who’s actually important, or why they are doing some of the bizarre things they’re doing. Then around the fourth episode, the strands start to weave together.

Don’t putz it up by trying to skim or skip - you are honestly better off passing on the whole series until maybe you are in a patient mood. It’s a very different series and watching it through, paying attention to the details, will pay off - in both immediate satisfaction and your appreciation of its artistry.

This is good advice. I watched season 1 and 2 in a binge, but for whatever reason I couldn’t get into season 3. Rather than skip ahead, I just put it aside and will come back when I am ready to give it the proper attention. This is not a show to “skim” through.

Each season is self contained but not independent. Season 1 for instance can easily be watched without going on. Each season is like that. There is an over all story arc for that season which is independent. But many of the characters continue from season to season and they change and grow. Things about the character will be lost if you don’t know what happened before.

And there are are small details. There’s a cameo in one of the very last episodes by an important character from (I think) the second season. It’s a telling bit, but will be lost if you haven’t watched what went before. Multiply by dozens.

Season 2 is the most disconnected. It’s almost a tangent but still a good story.

I’ve heard that Simon considered making every season almost that different - show the structure of Bawlmer from five or six or seven completely different viewpoints, with only slight overlap between the players each time. They ended up doing almost that but with a less radical shift in cast and focus.

Each Season shows how America is rotting from the inside out and each takes on a different aspect (there is some overlap though):

Season One: The Police
Season Two: The American workforce
Season Three: Politics
Season Four: Schools
Season Five: The Media

DEFINITELY don’t watch out of order. You MIGHT be misremembering the most common advice regarding The Wire: **give it time. **

I liked it from the start, but LOTS of people will say they weren’t sold until four or five episodes in. It’s structured weird with minimal exposition and slow pacing, so it seems kinda superficial and dull to start, like a generic cop show except not much happens. The depth and intricacy of the serialized story builds slowly as it goes.

The only out of order thing I’ve ever heard with The Wire is that I’ve heard a couple people suggest skipping season 2 because some people really didn’t like it and it doesn’t tie in as tightly to the rest…but I think that’s terrible advice, too. I think season 2 is great and definitely has important ties and info for the rest of the show.

I watched the first season and really liked it. But when i realized that the next season would require me to learn an entirely new criminal gang I said fuck it. At the time I wasn’t ready to reinvest. You gotta watch the first season though.

The Wire - Season 3
Homicide - Season 1
Homicide - Season 2
Homicide - Season 3
Homicide - Season 6
Homicide - Season 7 + Forgive Us Our Trespasses
Homicide: The Movie

…and then there are the slapstick moments…

I really liked S1 quite a bit. Couldn’t make it all the way through S2 though. It got REALLY boring and I lost interest. It really does seem like a totally different show IMHO. Maybe I’ll have to try again and get to S3.

Season 2 seems to be the hardest for most people, but it’s another example of patience paying off. It seems disconnected, but it does tie in to the overall story arc eventually - the drugs have to come from somewhere.

I love Season 2.

When i started watching it for the first time, years ago, i was a bit put off by the shift to the docks, but it’s a season that rewards patience, and also rewards repeated viewing, IMO. And, having lived in Baltimore, and having seen its working-class white neighborhoods, i think it’s great that Simon decided to incorporate them into his story.

Season 2 episode 1 was the first episode I saw. I stumbled upon it at some ridiculous hour on NZ TV and I was hooked by the end of the episode.

It took me several months to find the box set of season one. So I first watched the Wire out of order - 2,1,3,4,5. It didn’t put me off, but I wouldn’t recommend it that way.

Oh and I also love season 2, and personally rate it second best of all, just a tad behind 4.

Frank Sobotka is one of the all-time-great tragic heroes of American TV, a decent-enough person who felt he had to make deals with the devils in order to provide for his people who were being squeezed by a world in which they were seeing themselves become increasingly useless.

“Gentlemen! The future is now!”

“They used to make steel there, no?”

I just finished the series and I think watching it in order is smart. I will say this though, I thought season 2 was by far the best. Season 1 starts slow but stick with it, they are introducing you to a LOT of characters and it takes a while. I almost didn’t keep watching after S1E1 but everyone said to give it a few more and I’m so glad.

Look out. Omar comin

Watch the first season, then quit. Just my opinion. Gets pretty tedious after that.

I’d also recommend watching the first few episodes a couple of times (with subtitles) before moving on. I had a hard time figuring out who was who and what was going on at first, but I was also on drugs post-surgery at the time. It helped a lot.