Hi everyone, Bryan Here….
THE TV SERIES
HBO ‘s ‘The Wire‘ might be one of the best television shows to ever be aired on any sort of cable or primetime channel. It’s authenticity to real life Baltimore and the lives of the law enforcement, politicians, and criminals is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s so realistic and well-acted, that one might for a second think they were watching a documentary. Creator David Simon even hired real life criminals and thugs to be a part of the show to give each episode that realness we can totally see through each season.
Despite taking place in Baltimore, I feel like this show could take place anywhere. I say this, because there are always corrupt politicians, back room dealings, good and bad law enforcement, and of course drug related crime. This is pretty much everywhere, and how Simon and his top notch creative team interweave the stories between all walks of life is nothing short of amazing.
In addition to the many awesome characters and their equally awesome character names, the social and political messages in the show ring true and are current with the times. Simon even took each season and have an overall issue with a certain aspect of life, whether it be with education and kids in season 4, importing and exporting in season 2, our judicial system and law enforcement in season 1 and 3, and the media and modern day journalism in the final season.
These tones always set up the season’s overall story arc, and how one major city in America dealt with it. With an A-List cast, a consistently amazing script, fantastic acting, and a ton of suspense, ‘The Wire‘ is still one of the better shows still to this day. In the iconic words of a certain senator, “Sheeeee-it.”
“Oh my” are the words I would use to describe HBO’s new video presentation of ‘The Wire‘. There were some complaints and issues with the transfer, when HBO put an HD version on their HBOGO platform, which changed the aspect ratio and detail. People were not happy about it. But let me say this though, this Blu-ray is damn near flawless on every level in regards to its video presentation. It comes now with a brand new 1080p HD transfer and has an 1.78:1 aspect ratio, which means widescreen finally, instead of the full-screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which the show was originally shot in. Those super fans and purists out there would have wanted both formats, but why spend the extra money, when this new transfer looks so good. It really was like watching the show again for the first time. There are no soft or vague moments, visually speaking now. Detail is very sharp and vivid as you’ll be able to see each individual pin stripe on people’s suite, every individual hair on the actor’s heads and faces, as well as every imperfection in the shoddy housing projects and police headquarters. Even the wider shots show a great amount of detail, which gives the picture and the realness of Baltimore tons of depth. Colors seem to pop off screen at all times as well, specifically in the outdoor exteriors, where green trees pop, and the blue skies ring true. Skin tones are very natural and the black levels are finally deep and inky throughout the entire series. There is a very nice layer of fine grain, keeping with the original look of the show and never fluctuates like it used to. In another improvement, there are no compression issues to speak of, including aliasing, banding, or video noise, which leaves this video presentation with top notch marks.
The audio portion here comes with an excellent lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix. Yo might be wondering if this audio presentation is as good as the video portion. It’s a little difficult to answer that, but more or less than answer is “no”. That’s not saying that this audio presentation is bad by any means. It’s definitely not. In fact, it’s excellent, however there isn’t that full immersion that your would get in other movies or tv shows here, considering this is more of a dialogue driven show, than a big action series. The surround and rear speakers to emit sound from time to time, but it’s never on a consistent basis, nor is it ever robust or loud. There are some great ambient noises of Baltimore city life, and detectives chattering in the background at the station here and there, all of which sound very good. Gun shots are loud and pack a realistic punch, however, you’ll never really feel immersed in the city of Baltimore, especially in the scarier areas. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow at all times, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. the soundtrack in the show is phenomenal and might be the best thing about the audio presentation. When the hip-hop songs play or the title song of the series is heard, it’s loud and full. The bass has a nice rumble as well. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is very wide, leaving this audio presentation with high marks.
Audio Commentaries – There are 22 commentaries total over the whole series, spanning every season. These are fantastic commentary tracks with the entire cast and crew coming back together to give their thoughts on the show. Tons of information about locations, real life people, and the characters are talked about here. If you’re a fan of the show, all of these commentary tracks are worth listening to to get up on your ‘Wire’ trivia.
‘The Wire’ Reunion (HD, 85 Mins.) – This bonus feature was recently recorded at the 2014 PaleyFest, where most of the cast and series creators were on hand to answer questions and talk about the show. Definitely worth the watch.
Behind the Scenes Documentary (HD, 60 Mins.) – This documentary is in two parts and discusses all of the authentic on location filming as well as characters from those real backgrounds. Fascinating stuff here.
The Last Word (HD, 28 Mins.) – This is an extra that looks into the decaying world of journalists and journalism, where a lot of modern day journalism is more concerned with false headlines and dishonesty, than telling the trues story.
‘The Wire’ Odyssey (HD, 30 Mins.) – Here are most of the actors from the show, discussing their characters in the series an the show’s overall story and themes.
Prequels (HD, 6 Mins.) – These are all too short, but are so much fun as these are little short films that showcases some of our favorite characters, including how McNulty and Bunk first met, a young Omar and young Prop Joe. Fantastic.
THE ULTIMATE WORD
HBO’s ‘The Wire‘ on Blu-ray consists of every episode of the series, and my oh my what a series it was. I said it above, and I’ll say it again, ‘This is one of the best shows on the planet.” The video and audio presentations are top notch and the extras and commentaries are all worth watching. ‘The Wire‘ never looked or sounded this good. This is one Blu-ray set you shouldn’t think twice about owning.
– Bryan Kluger