Blu-ray Spotlight: The Wire – The Complete Series


Check out our Blu-ray Spotlight coverage of this superbly engaging HBO drama series that is making its debut on Blu-ray just in time for Father’s Day. From the drug-infested streets of West Baltimore to the corruption of City Hall, The Wire chronicles the tribulations of a post-industrial American city. Viewed from the perspectives of both the police and their targets, the award-winning series captures a world where easy distinctions between good and evil, and crime and punishment, are challenged at every turn.

My Thoughts:

The Wire depicts an American urban dystopia, framed in our time, in which easy distinctions between good and evil and crime and punishment are challenged at every turn. In five successive seasons, the series depicts a Baltimore in which institutional prerogatives, economic inequalities and a brutalizing drug war confound the efforts to advance the city and its people. The series’ first season lays out the futility of the drug war, while the second highlights the deindustrialization and the death of the working class. The third season introduces the city’s political culture and lays out the forces that stand in the path of actual reform. The fourth season addresses the educational system and the actual opportunities that remain to coming generations. The fifth and final season examines the media culture and its role in perpetuating the status quo. Amid all of this, carefully drawn characters on both sides of the law and from a variety of Baltimore cultures move forward as best they can, human to a flaw, struggling against a system that seems weighted against civic progress.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to the watch The Wire during its run on HBO. I heard nothing but rave reviews about it from those that did and have had many recommend it on home video. With my busy review schedule I simply didn’t have the time but when HBO announced its release on Blu-ray I jumped at the chance. I watched the series with my wife and we were instantly hooked. The characters are rich on both sides of the narrative equation and compliment that show’s edgy themes and engaging dramatic content. I enjoyed The Wire through and through and am sure that I speak for its many fans when I say that I am thrilled to own the entire series in high definition.

The 20-disc box set featuring all 60 episodes of the hit series has been beautifully remastered in 16×9 Full-Frame HD from more than 8,000 reels of original 35mm camera negative and is showcased with newly redesigned box art. The Wire: The Complete Series on Blu-ray with Digital HD ($199.99) is loaded with an exciting slate of bonus materials, including four behind-the-scenes documentaries, three prequels that explore life before The Wire, and an all-new cast and crew Q&A from the Paley Center for Media’s The Wire reunion event.

The series looks and sounds great on Blu-ray and will be of interest to fans hankering for the opportunity to own The Wire: The complete series in high definition. If you’ve never seen The Wire, I can’t think of a better introduction than this terrific boxed set.

Release Date: June 2, 2015

The Wire: The Complete Series comes to Blu-ray containing the following Special Features:

  • Four behind the scenes documentaries
  • 22 audio commentaries with cast/crew
  • Three prequels that explore life before The Wire
  • All-NEW Paley Center for Media event: The Wire reunion
  • Digital HD Copy

The The Wire: The Complete Series comes to Blu-ray Disc from HBO Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.

This 1.78:1 framed video presentation offers good high definition resolution that has a filmic texture that works very well with the show’s theme. Images are stable and relatively sharp with plenty of discernible texture and revealing fine detail during close-ups. Many of the show’s sequences are shot in uneven and low lighting. For the most part Shadow delineation and depth is quite good. Blacks have excellent dynamic range and contrast is slightly elevated but is never a detriment to fidelity. Colors are snappy and bright and sullen and muted where appropriate. Fleshtones appear descriptive with variable depth that brings out the finest gradations in the differing complexional types among the cast. Other than a little digital noise against a few dark backgrounds I didn’t notice any overt instances of video related artifacts.

Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
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The DTS-HD MA surround mix won’t knock your socks off but I found it rendered the components of the original recording quite well. The auditory is clean, with excellent dialogue intelligibility that is never lost amidst the other sounds emanating from the front soundstage. There is little call for deep low end support as things appropriately remain in the limited dynamic spectrum provided by the soundtrack. The end result is a satisfying and appropriate audio presentation.

Audio: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
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  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA

The Wire is among the best original programming offered by Home Box Office and is justly deserving of the accolades it has received. I am a fan and highly recommend this long awaited Blu-ray release from HBO Home Entertainment.

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package