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The Wire: Season 1 (2004)

Dominic West , Sonja Sohn , Clark Johnson  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,842 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Jr. Larry Gilliard, Wendell Pierce, Idris Elba
  • Directors: Clark Johnson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: October 21, 2014
  • Run Time: 780 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,842 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002ERXC2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,091 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Wire: Season 1" on IMDb

Special Features

Audio Commentary: With Series creator/executive producer David Simon, writer George Pelecanos, and director Clark Johnson on episodes 1, 2, and 12
Season 2 Preview

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

From David Simon, creator and co-writer of HBO's triple Emmy-winning mini-series The Corner, this unvarnished, highly realistic HBO series follows a single sprawling drug and murder investigation in Baltimore. Told from the point of view of both the police and their targets, the series captures a universe of subterfuge and surveillance, where easy distinctions between good and evil, and crime and punishment, are challenged at every turn.

After one episode of The Wire you'll be hooked. After three, you'll be astonished by the precision of its storytelling. After viewing all 13 episodes of the HBO series' remarkable first season, you'll be cheering a bona-fide American masterpiece. Series creator David Simon was a veteran crime reporter from The Baltimore Sun who cowrote the book that inspired TV's Homicide, and cowriter Ed Burns was a Baltimore cop, lending impeccable street-cred to an inner-city Baltimore saga (and companion piece to The Corner) that Simon aptly describes as "a visual novel" and "a treatise on institutions and individuals" as opposed to a conventional good-vs.-evil police procedural. Owing a creative debt to the novels of Richard Price (especially Clockers), the series opens as maverick Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West, in a star-making role) is tapping into a vast network of drugs and death around southwest Baltimore's deteriorating housing projects. With a mandate to get results ASAP, a haphazard team is assembled to join McNulty's increasingly complex investigation, built upon countless hours of electronic surveillance.

The show's split-perspective plotting is so richly layered, so breathtakingly authentic and based on finely drawn characters brought to life by a perfect ensemble cast, that it defies concise description. Simon, Burns, and their cowriters control every intricate aspect of the unfolding epic; directors are top-drawer (including Clark Johnson, helmer of The Shield's finest episodes), but they are servants to the story, resulting in a TV series like no other: unpredictable, complicated, and demanding the viewer's rapt attention, The Wire is "an angry show" (in Simon's words) that refuses to comfort with easy answers to deep-rooted societal problems. Moral gray zones proliferate in a universe where ruthless killers have a logical code, and where the cops are just as ambiguous as their targets. That ambiguity extends to the ending as well; season 1 leaves several issues unresolved, leaving you begging for the even more impressive developments that await in season 2. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
345 of 367 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even superlatives aren't enough October 26, 2006
Over the last two decades I've watched a great deal of television, maybe even more than the average for my generation, and out of all of it The Wire is doubtless the most challenging and important show I've ever seen, leaving even other classics like The Shield and The Sopranos in its dust, and this first season remains its defining document. All thirteen of these episdoes are filled with amazingly detailed and complex storytelling, sharp characterization, and endless insights into the nature of modern crime and punishment--and they're mighty exciting to watch, to boot. The whole season covers the participants in a single case, as an impromptu squad of cops is assembled to bring down the housing-project drug empire of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell, but the implications of the investigation, and the show's ambitions, stretch far beyond one tiny front in the interminable drug war. We watch the case, built almost entirely on electronic surveillance (hence the title) come together piece by piece from the ground up, with the emotional stakes and social relevance being ratcheted up consistently along the way, right up until a harrowing conclusion that takes up the last two episodes. Watching the Wire, one thing is certain: Law and Order this ain't; you'll be thinking about it a lot longer afterward.

Even if nothing else, season one of The Wire would be notable for its narrative structure, which represents a new twist of the serialized TV format-the visual novel, with everything connected, so an event that happens in one episode can be referenced seven or eight episodes later and the viewer had better know what's going on.
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256 of 282 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT buy this set unless... October 15, 2004
By A Fan
You are willing to invest 13 hours in a richly-textured, beautifully-cast and acted drama. Do not mistake this for a typical crime show. You can't just pop in the disc and expect entertainment without investing your full attention. This has the depth and detail of a well-written novel and I find myself watching each episode multiple times to absorb the nuance of the storytelling. I cannot praise this show enough. David Simon has amde a commitment to not dumbing-down his content, but it's a two-way street and you can't expect to catch little snippets of the show and understand what's going on. However, some of those little snippets are worth the price of admission themselves. Also fun to watch considering that two of the leads, Dominic West and Idris Elba are Brits, but they speak Bawlmer-style without a hitch. I have loved the Sopranos from the very first episode, but "The Wire" may well be the best television ever.
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123 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First came Oz, then the Corner, and now... September 29, 2004
The Wire is HBO again hitting it straight out of the ball park. Just like Oz and the Corner (two of HBO's other critically acclaimed but under-appreciated dramas) the Wire makes your heart bleed for the "bad" guys, makes them and the people that chase them seem, at the end of the day, human-- flawed, fragile, evil, in need of redemption, and in some cases, better off with a bullet in the brain. This first season was great, and the second season managed to be even better.

The best thing about this show is that it turns every part of your brain ON. You can't watch it after you had a couple beers and are ready to doze off in front of the TV. You need to be awake, alert to follow the twists and all subtle character stuff. In a word: bliss. Thank you, thank you David Simon and crew!
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90 of 103 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent show, but DVDs have major flaw January 17, 2008
The Wire is a five-star show; it's absorbing and precise in the way that only the greatest stories are. But many other people here have said that.

What they may NOT have said is that this DVD set contains terrible, unwelcome spoilers. To view an episode, one must click on an episode, then click "watch episode" AGAIN on a screen where a plot synopsis is splashed across the screen. I had to train myself to close my eyes each time that I wanted to watch the show. My wife had one of the major surprises of season one blown for her because she accidentally selected one episode in the future and read the first sentence of the plot description.

The set's clearly fine for those who are seeing the show the second time around, but those seeing it the first time should be warned. I'd be much happier if the DVD menu designer had shown a bit of consideration for the many people who are watching this the first time around.
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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best show on television, now or ever, hands down. October 18, 2004
How can I title this review such? The writing is the first reason. You could have the same cast and general storyline with terrible or sub-par writing and have an instantly forgettable show. With the writing of the first season of The Wire, not to mention the second or third seasons, we are practically giddy as we experience these characters uttering these masterful words and performing their acts. We do not instantly forget but are left with impressions that will probably never leave us. Who will ever forget D'angelo's lecture to the young dealers about the man who came up with the chicken mcnugget? The second reason would have to be the realism. We get the feeling that while we know that this is fiction it COULD be real. The mean streets of Baltimore as interpreted by David Simon, et al. What differentiates this from other shows of its kind? A drug dealer is a person. A real person with problems, heart, and at times extreme intelligence. Take Stringer Bell, a drug kingpin who takes college economics classes to better his drug business. Also take D'angelo Barksdale , a man who doesn't like his underlings to treat the junkie customer with disrespect, as a dog.

In an article I read not too long ago about the third season of The Wire the show was described as a novel (each season) cut up into chapters (each episode). Don't think that you can start in the middle of the season; you might as well start in the middle of a novel. This series is a show for the thinking person. You must be willing to invest your time and mind. Don't expect it to be simple; do expect to enjoy the mental ride.

How can I truly put into words how great this series is? After you watch the first episode you will be hooked.
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