Wire, The: The Complete Second Season (DVD)
(HBO Dramatic Series) The most unvarnished, uncompromising and realistic police drama ever returns for another hard hitting season. McNolty has been demoted to harbor patrol, Daniels is in the police archive dungeon, Prez is chafing in the suburbs and Gregs is stuck behind a desk. Meanwhile, on the docks of the Baltimore harbor, the rank and file scrounge for work and the union bosses take illegitimate measures to reinvigorate business, but a horrific discovery is about to blow the whole port inside out. While the detail is on ice, a new case begins...
It hardly seems possible, but The Wire
's second season is even better than the first
. The "visual novel" concept of this masterful HBO series is taken even further in a rich, labyrinthine plot revolving around the longshoremen of Baltimore's struggling cargo docks, where corruption, smuggling, and murder draw the attention of detective McNulty (Dominic West). What follows is a series of events which at first seem unrelated (including 13 bodies found in a cargo container), and then the ongoing effort to topple the drug empire of "Stringer" Bell (Idris Elba) and the imprisoned Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris), whose business is suffering from short supply, high demand, and disruption of distribution. The dutiful diligence of a Marine Police Patrol Officer and the moral outrage of the longshoremen's union leader are also factored into the suspicious goings-on at the loading docks, and what unfolds in these 12 episodes is an American crime epic easily on par with the Godfather
saga. Yes, it's that
Detailed synopsis is pointless; The Wire must be seen, heard, and absorbed to fully appreciate the way in which over 40 characters are flawlessly incorporated into a sprawling but tightly disciplined plot that deals, in the larger sense, with the deindustrialization of America and the struggle of longshoremen in a changing economical climate. Offering a privileged and occasionally frightening glimpse of the inner workings of shipping ports and cargo transports, The Wire is also a detailed exposé of organized crime and blue-collar corruption, and an authentic, well-informed study of political maneuvering among police and city officials. There's not a single false note to be found in the cast, direction, or writing of this phenomenal series, hailed by many critics as "the best show on television." With all due respect to HBO's other excellent series, The Wire tops them all. --Jeff Shannon