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The Wire: The Complete First Season (2002)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: "The Target" -- Creator/writer David Simon Rating:9.3/10 (3 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on September 27th, 2009:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
The wizard of THE WIRE, David Simon, quickly proves as intelligent and compelling as the programme he is commenting on. He's also very good company and you soon wish he was providing commentaries for every episode (he does at least occasionally refer forward to events in other episodes).
On a wide-ranging track, Simon covers everything from an overview of the series - "It's really about the American city and how we live together" - to how they set out to make a new type of TV cop show, shooting in a more filmic style, eschewing music cues, and presenting a less episodic, more structured narrative, like a novel. And also a more honest TV cop show, disregarding what he calls "that Protect and Serve nonsense" to show that in the end "It's all just business".
Throughout the track Simon highlights the parallels between the police and the dealers, positing them as competing institutions who operate differently and with differing standards of professionalism. (Later reflecting that crime stories have become the new Westerns.)
He also has plenty to say about the Baltimore setting, and we learn that it's not just the locations that are real but also many of the characters, some being amalgams and others, such as Bubbles, based on specific people; while the cop conversations that top and tail the episode were also taken directly from real life.
And considering the strong vein of verisimilitude that runs through the series there's a surprise in store when Simon reveals where and why this most authentic of series still needed to use some CGI...
Simon even addresses the criticism the series received over the amount of swearing, simply saying that it accurately reflects what he experienced when working as a journalist.
There are several (short) silences, but these are considered silences not just dead air, and you know what's coming will be worth the wait.
THE WIRE was already an essential DVD purchase and this is icing on the cake.
Reviewed by musíl65 on March 5th, 2021:Find all reviews by musíl65
Simon talks about the concept of The Wire, the style, the new approach to a crime show, Baltimore, the characters, the feedback from HBO, his background and his art of storytelling.

There are a few gaps and he talks in a monoton way, but it is a very good track. 9 out of 10.
Commentary 2: "The Detail" -- Director Clark Johnson Rating:7.5/10 (2 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on September 27th, 2009:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
Actor/director Clark Johnson provides a much less substantial and jokier track than the previous one and seems to struggle to think of things to say almost from the start - we're less than 4 minutes in when he declares "I've nothing to say here!"
A pity because when he does talk he proves an entertaining guide and we do learn a few things about the casting of the show as well as the films that served as his inspiration for the look of this episode.
And there's plenty of praise for David Simon especially at how, "for a white Jewish guy from the suburbs," he was able to catch the feel and language of the street so accurately.
Johnson also talks about the differences between crews/shooting styles on the east and west coasts, but this can't disguise the fact that this is a fairly lightweight track with several silent stretches.
So nothing crucial - Lester would certainly flag this one as "non-pertinent" - but still worth a listen.
Commentary 3: "Cleaning Up" -- Creator David Simon and writer George P. Pelecanos Rating:9.5/10 (2 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr on September 27th, 2009:Find all reviews by Gavin Millarrrrrrrrrr
A welcome return for Simon, and having a co-commentator to bounce off allows his sense of humour to shine through while still offering plenty of insights and information.
Simon clearly has a good rapport with Pelecanos who he explains was chosen to script this particular episode due to the similar structure and plotting of his novels which, like this episode, often build towards a culminating moment of violence - this episode features a particularly brutal and affecting slaying ("It's your episode, George. I blame you" teases Simon) which Simon says took the series to a new level.
There's plenty of banter between the two (food scenes emerge as another Pelecanos trademark), though where THE WIRE is happily unencumbered by political correctness - as Simon says, the world of THE WIRE is "not the happy melting pot of American myth, but the uncomfortable and corrupted melting pot of reality" - the same obviously can't be said for some individual contributors as Pelecanos is keen to distance himself from the line about "that Jew Lawyer", prompting a blunt put-down from Simon!
As before, Simon is full of praise for the cast, highlighting the importance of having such a depth of good actors across all roles so that "you're not serving the characters with the plot as in most episodic TV, you're serving the story with the characters. To tell the best possible story".
He also finds time for several digs at his former employers 'The Baltimore Sun' (something that came to full fruition in Series 5 of course) and there's a great story about Larry Giiliard Jnr (D'Angelo) and that battered couch at the low-risers...!
Finally, during the jokey wrap-up Simon reveals he's not actually set to benefit financially from these DVD releases - now that really is criminal!!