The Wire

infobox television
bgcolour = #feee8e
show_name = The Wire


caption = "The Wire" promotional art
format = Crime Drama
camera = Single-camera
picture_format = 480i SDTV
audio_format = Dolby Digital 5.1
runtime = approx. 55 min.
creator = David Simon
executive_producer = David Simon
Robert F. Colesberry (Seasons 1-2)
Nina Kostroff Noble (Seasons 3-5)
starring = Dominic West
John Doman
Idris Elba
Frankie Faison
Larry Gilliard, Jr.
Wood Harris
Deirdre Lovejoy
Wendell Pierce
Lance Reddick
Andre Royo
Sonja Sohn
Chris Bauer
Paul Ben Victor
Clarke Peters
Amy Ryan
Aidan Gillen
Jim True-Frost
Robert Wisdom
Reg E. Cathey
Clark Johnson
Tom McCarthy Seth Gilliam
Domenick Lombardozzi
J. D. Williams
Michael Kenneth Williams Corey Parker Robinson
Chad L. Coleman
Jamie Hector
Glynn Turman Gbenga Akinnagbe
Neal Huff
Jermaine Crawford
Tristan Wilds
Michael Kostroff
Michelle Paress
Isiah Whitlock, Jr.
opentheme = "Way Down in the Hole"
Season 1:
The Blind Boys of Alabama
Season 2:
Tom Waits
Season 3:
The Neville Brothers
Season 4:
DoMaJe
Season 5:
Steve Earle
endtheme = "The Fall" by Blake Leyh
country = United States
network = HBO
first_aired = June 2, 2002
last_aired = March 9, 2008
num_seasons = 5
num_episodes = 60
list_episodes = List of The Wire episodes
imdb_id = 0306414
tv_com_id = 8800
website = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/|

"The Wire" is an American television drama series set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland. Created, produced, and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States. "The Wire" premiered on June 2, 2002 and ended on March 9, 2008, with 60 episodes airing over the course of its five seasons.

Each season of "The Wire" focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. They are, in order: the drug trade, the port, the city bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Simon has said that despite its presentation as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals, and how ... whether you're a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge [or] lawyer, you are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution you've committed to."cite video
people = David Simon
year = 2005
title = "The Target" commentary track
medium = DVD
publisher = HBO
]

Despite never seeing commercial success or winning any major television awards,cite web
author = David Simon
year = 2004
title = Ask "The Wire": David Simon
publisher = HBO
accessdate =
url = http://boards.hbo.com/click.jspa?searchID=-1&messageID=100296266
] "The Wire" has frequently been described by critics as one of the greatest television series of all time.cite web
url=http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/feature/2007/09/15/best_show
title=The best TV show of all time
date=2007-09-15
last=Traister
first=Rebbeca
accessdate=2008-03-07
publisher=Salon.com
] cite web
url=http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/wireseason4?q=the%20wire
title=Wire, The Season 4
accessdate=2008-03-07
publisher=MetaCritic
] cite web
url=http://www.metacritic.com/tv/shows/wireseason5?q=the%20wire
title=Wire, The Season 5
accessdate=2008-03-07
publisher=MetaCritic
] The show is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, artistic ambitions,and uncommonly deep exploration of sociological themes.

Production

Conception

Simon has stated that he originally set out to create a police drama loosely based on the experiences of his writing partner Ed Burns, a former homicide detective. Burns, when working on protracted investigations of violent drug dealers using surveillance technology, had often faced frustration with the bureaucracy of the police department, which Simon related to his own ordeals as a police reporter for "The Baltimore Sun". Simon chose to set the show in Baltimore because of his familiarity with the city. He approached the mayor to get approval to portray it bleakly and was welcomed to work there again. During his time as a writer and producer for the NBC program ', which was based on his non-fiction book ', Simon had come into conflict with network executives over the show's pessimism, and wanted to avoid a repeat of these arguments. He chose to take "The Wire" to HBO because of their existing working relationship from the 2000 miniseries "The Corner". Owing to its reputation for exploring new areas, HBO was initially dubious about including a cop drama in its lineup, but eventually agreed to produce the pilot episode.cite web
author = Ian Rothkirch
year = 2002
title = "What drugs have not destroyed, the war on them has"
publisher = Salon.com
accessdate =
url = http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/tv/int/2002/06/29/simon/index.html
] [cite book
last = Alvarez
first = Rafael
year = 2004
title = The Wire: Truth Be Told
publisher = Pocket Books
location = New York
pages = 18–19, 35–39
] Simon hoped that the show would change the opinions of some viewers but said that it was unlikely to have an impact on the issues it portrays.

Casting

The casting of the show has been praised for avoiding big-name stars and providing character actors who appear natural in their roles.cite web
author = Chris Barsanti
year = 2004
title = Totally Wired
publisher = Slant Magazine
accessdate =
url = http://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/dvd_review.asp?ID=481
] The looks of the cast as a whole have been described as defying TV expectations by presenting a true range of humanity on screen.cite web
author = Bill Wyman
title = "The Wire" The Complete Second Season
publisher = NPR
accessdate =
url = http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4512945
]

The initial cast was put together through a process of auditions and readings. Lance Reddick received the role of Cedric Daniels after auditioning for several other parts.cite web
author = Joel Murphy
year = 2005
title = One on one with... Lance Reddick
publisher = Hobo Trashcan
accessdate =
url = http://www.hobotrashcan.com/interviews/lancereddick.php
] Michael K. Williams got the part of Omar Little after only a single audition. [cite web
author = Joel Murphy
year = 2005
title = One on One With Michael K. Williams
publisher = Hobo Trashcan
accessdate =
url = http://www.hobotrashcan.com/interviews/michaelkwilliams.php
]

Several prominent real-life Baltimore figures, including former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Rev. Frank M. Reid III, former police chief Ed Norris, and former mayor Kurt Schmoke have appeared in minor roles despite not being professional actors.cite news
author = David Zurawik
title = Local figures, riveting drama put "The Wire" in a class by itself
page = 1E
publisher = The Baltimore Sun
date = 2006-07-12
] "Little Melvin" Williams, a Baltimore drug lord arrested in the 1980s by an investigation that Ed Burns had been part of, has had a recurring role as a deacon since the third season. Jay Landsman, a longtime police officer who inspired the character of the same name,cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Jay Landsman| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/jay_landsman.shtml] played Lieutenant Dennis Mello.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/dennis_mello.shtml|title=Character profile - Dennis Mello|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Baltimore police commander Gary D'Addario served as the series technical advisor for the first two seasonsCite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_2.shtml|title="The Wire" season 2 crew|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=HBO|year=2007] and has a recurring role as prosecutor Gary DiPasquale.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/gary_dipasquale.shtml|title=Character profile - Grand Jury Prosecutor Gary DiPasquale|accessdate=2008-02-12|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Simon shadowed D'Addario's shift when researching his book "" and both D'Addario and Landsman are subjects of the book.cite book
last = Simon
first = David
year = 1991, 2006
title = Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets
publisher = Owl Books
location = New York
pages = photo insert section
]

Crew

Alongside Simon, the show's creator, head writer, show runner and executive producer, much of the creative team behind "The Wire" are alumni of "" and Emmy-winning miniseries "The Corner". "The Corner" veteran, Robert F. Colesberry, was executive producer for the first two seasons and directed the season 2 finale before passing away due to complications from heart surgery in 2004. He is credited by the rest of the creative team as having a large creative role for a producer, and Simon credits him for achieving the show's realistic visual feel. He also had a small recurring role as Detective Ray Cole.cite web
year = 2004
title = Org Chart - The Law
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-10-16
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/orgchart/law.shtml
] Colesberry's wife Karen L. Thorson joined him on the production staff.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_1.shtml|title="The Wire" season 1 crew|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=HBO|year=2007] A third producer on "The Corner" Nina Kostroff Noble also stayed with the production staff for "The Wire" rounding out the initial four-person team. Following Colesberry's death she became the show's second executive producer alongside Simon.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_3.shtml|title="The Wire" season 3 crew|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=HBO|year=2007]

Stories for the show are often co-written by Ed Burns, a former Baltimore homicide detective and public school teacher who has worked with Simon on other projects including "The Corner". Burns also became a producer on "The Wire" in the show's fourth season.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/season_4.shtml|title="The Wire" season 4 crew|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=HBO|year=2007] Other writers for "The Wire" include three acclaimed crime fiction writers from outside of Baltimore: George P. Pelecanos from Washington, Richard Price from the Bronx and Dennis Lehane from Boston. Reviewers drew comparisons between Price's works (particularly "Clockers") and "The Wire" even before he joined."The Wire" Complete Third Season on DVD", ASIN B000FTCLSU] In addition to writing, Pelecanos served as a producer for the third season.cite web
last = Birnbaum
first = Robert
title = Interview: George Pelecanos
publisher = Identity Theory
accessdate = 2007-09-17
url = http://www.identitytheory.com/interviews/birnbaum100.html
] Pelecanos has commented that he was attracted to the project because of the opportunity to work with Simon. Staff writer Rafael Alvarez penned several episodes' scripts, as well as the series guidebook "The Wire: Truth Be Told." Alvarez is a colleague of Simon's from "The Sun" and a Baltimore native with working experience in the port area.cite web
last = Goldman
first = Eric
title = IGN Exclusive Interview: "The Wire"'s David Simon
publisher = IGN
accessdate = 2007-09-27
url = http://uk.tv.ign.com/articles/742/742350p1.html
] Another city native and independent filmmaker, Joy Lusco Kecken, has also written for the show in each of its first three seasons. [Alvarez 10.] Baltimore Sun writer and political journalist William F. Zorzi joined the writing staff in the third season and brought a wealth of experience to the show's examination of Baltimore politics.

Playwright and television writer/producer Eric Overmyer joined the crew of "The Wire" in the show's fourth season as a consulting producer and writer. He had also previously worked on "Homicide". Overmyer was brought into the full-time production staff to replace Pelecanos who scaled back his involvement to concentrate on his next book and worked on the fourth season solely as a writer.cite web
year = 2006
title = "The Wire" on HBO: Play Or Get Played, Exclusive Q&A With David Simon (page 17)
accessdate = 2007-10-16
url = http://www.members.aol.com/TheWireHBO/exclusive-16.html
] Emmy-award winner, "Homicide" and "The Corner" writer and college friend of Simon David Mills also joined the writing staff in the fourth season.

Directors include "Homicide" alumnus Clark Johnson,cite web
author = Todd Weiser
year = 2002
title = New HBO series "The Wire" taps into summer programming
publisher = The Michigan Daily
accessdate =
url = http://www.michigandaily.com/media/storage/paper851/news/2002/06/17/Arts/New-Hbo.Series.the.Wire.Taps.Into.Summer.Programming-1411494.shtml
] who directed several acclaimed episodes of "The Shield",; and Tim Van Patten, an Emmy winner who has worked on every season of "The Sopranos". The directing has been praised for its uncomplicated and subtle style. Following the death of Colesberry, director Joe Chappelle joined the production staff as a co-executive producer and continued to regularly direct episodes.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/crew/joe_chappelle.shtml|title=Joe Chappelle biography|accessdate=2007-10-13|publisher=HBO]

Episode structure

When broadcast on HBO and on some international networks, the episodes are preceded by a recap of events that have a bearing upon the upcoming narrative, using clips from previous episodes. Each episode begins with a cold open that seldom contains a dramatic juncture. The screen then fades to black while the intro music fades in. The show's opening title sequence then plays; a series of shots, mainly close-ups, concerning the show's subject matter that changes from season to season, separated by fast jump cuts (a technique rarely used in the show itself). The opening credits are superimposed on the sequence, and consist only of actors' names without identifying which actors play which roles. At the end of the sequence, a quotation that will be spoken by a character during the episode is shown on-screen. Progressive story arcs often unfold in different locations at the same time. Episodes rarely end with a cliffhanger, and normally close with a fade to black and the closing music fading in.

Music

Audio samples of "The Wire" ()sample box end
"The Wire" is unusual in using primarily diegetic music; that is, music that emanates from a source within the scene. [Alvarez 239–242.] For example, police bars play Irish music (in particular the song "Body of an American" by the Pogues is usually played when showing police wakes in the show), while the street gangs play rap in their cars. This rule is occasionally breached, notably for the season-ending montages and occasionally with a brief overlap of the closing theme and the final shot.cite web
year = 2006
title = On The Corner: After Three Seasons Shaping The Wire's Background Music, Blake Leyh Mines Homegrown Sounds For Season Four
publisher = Baltimore City Paper
accessdate =
url = http://www.citypaper.com/music/story.asp?id=12203
]

The opening theme is "Way Down in the Hole", a gospel- and blues-inspired song originally written by Tom Waits for his 1987 album "Franks Wild Years". Each season uses a different recording of it against a different opening sequence, with the theme being performed, in order, by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Waits himself, The Neville Brothers, "DoMaJe" and Steve Earle. Season four's version of "Way Down in the Hole" was arranged and recorded specifically for the show, and is performed by five Baltimore teenagers: Ivan Ashford, Markel Steele, Cameron Brown, Tariq Al-Sabir, and Avery Bargasse.cite web
year = 2006
title = "The Wire" on HBO: Play Or Get Played, Exclusive Q&A With David Simon (page 16)
accessdate = 2007-10-17
url = http://www.members.aol.com/TheWireHBO/exclusive-16.html
] Earle, who performed the fifth season's version, is also a member of the cast, playing the recovering drug addict Walon.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/walon.shtml|title=Character profile - Walon|accessdate=2008-03-12|publisher=HBO|year=2008] The closing theme is "The Fall", composed by Blake Leyh, who is also the show's music supervisor.

During season finales, a song is played before the closing scene in a montage showing the major characters' lives continuing in the aftermath of the narrative. The first season montage is played over "Step by Step" by Jesse Winchester, the second "Feel Alright" by Steve Earle, the third "Fast Train" written by Van Morrison and performed by Solomon Burke, the fourth "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" written by Dr. John and performed by Paul Weller, and the fifth uses an extended version of "Way Down In The Hole" by The Blind Boys of Alabama, the same version of the song used as the opening theme for the first season. While the songs reflect the mood of the sequence, their lyrics are usually only loosely tied to the visual shots. In the commentary track to episode 37, "Mission Accomplished", executive producer David Simon says: "I hate it when somebody purposely tries to have the lyrics match the visual. It brutalizes the visual in a way to have the lyrics dead on point. ... Yet at the same time it can’t be totally off point. It has to glance at what you're trying to say."

Two soundtrack albums, called "" and "Beyond Hamsterdam", were released on January 8, 2008 on Nonesuch Records.cite web |url=http://journal.nonesuch.com/journal/2007/11/nonesuch-to-rel.html#TheWireHBO|title=Nonesuch to Release Music from Five Years of "The Wire"|date=2007-11-12|accessdate=2007-11-14] The former features music from all five seasons of the series and the latter includes local Baltimore artists exclusively.

Themes

Realism

The writers strive to create a realistic vision of an American city based on their own experiences. Central to this aim is the creation of truthful characters. Simon has stated that most of them are composites of real-life Baltimore figures.cite news
author = Richard Vine
year = 2005
title = Totally Wired
url = http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theguide/archives/tv_and_radio/2005/01/totally_wired.html
work = The Guardian Unlimited
accessdate =
] [cite web
last = Walker
first = Jesse
authorlink = Jesse Walker
year = 2006
title = Localist Television
publisher = Reactionary Radicals
accessdate =
url = http://www.reactionaryradicals.com/?p=88
] The show often casts non-professional actors in minor roles, distinguishing itself from other television series by showing the "faces and voices of the real city" it depicts.Cite web|url=http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/22/071022fa_fact_talbot?currentPage=1|title=Stealing Life|accessdate=2007-10-14|publisher=The New Yorker|year=2007|author=Margaret Talbot] The writing also uses a lot of contemporary slang to enhance the immersive viewing experience.

In distinguishing the police characters from other television detectives, Simon makes the point that even the best police of "The Wire" are motivated not by a desire to protect and serve, but by the intellectual vanity of believing they are smarter than the criminals they are chasing. Many officers portrayed on the show are incompetent, brutal, self-aggrandizing, or hamstrung by bureaucracy and politics. The criminals are not always motivated by profit or a desire to harm others; many are trapped in their existence and all have human qualities. Even so, "The Wire" does not minimize or gloss over the horrific effects of their actions.

The show is realistic in depicting the processes of both police work and criminal activity. Many of the plot points were based on the experiences of Simon and Burns. There have even been reports of real-life criminals watching the show to learn how to counter police investigation techniques. [cite news
author = William K. Rashbaum
title = Police Say a Queens Drug Ring Watched Too Much Television
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/15/nyregion/15drug.html?ex=1154664000&en=c6b05200199da2db&ei=5070
format = Subscription required
work = The New York Times
date = 2005-01-15
] cite web
author = Jesse Walker
date = 2004
title = David Simon Says
publisher = Reason
accessdate =
url = http://www.reason.com/0410/fe.jw.david.shtml
] The fifth season portrays a working newsroom and has been hailed as the most realistic portrayal of the media in film and television.Cite web|url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117978111.html?categoryid=1682&cs=1#TheWireHBO|title='The Wire' gets the newsroom right|accessdate=2007-12-22|publisher=Variety|year=2007|author=Brian Lowry]

In December 2006, "The Washington Post" carried an article with local African-American students saying that the show had "hit a nerve" with the African-American community, and that they themselves knew real-life counterparts of many of the characters. The article expressed great sadness at the toll drugs and violence are taking on the African-American community. [cite news |first= Leoning|last= Carol D.|title= 'The Wire': Young Adults See Bits of Their Past|url= http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/10/AR2006121001034.html|publisher= The Washington Post|page= B01|date=|accessdate=2007-03-17]

Institutional dysfunction

Simon has identified the organizations featured in the show—the Baltimore Police Department, City Hall, the Baltimore Public School System, the Avon Barksdale drug trafficking operation, and the stevedores' union—as comparable institutions. All are dysfunctional in some way, and the characters are typically betrayed by the institutions that they accept in their lives. Simon described the show as "cynical about [its] institutions" while taking a humanistic approach toward its characters.A central theme developed throughout the show is the struggle between individual desires and subordination to the group's goals. Whether it is Officer Jimmy McNulty using all his cards to pursue a high-profile case despite resistance from his own department, or gang member D'Angelo Barksdale accepting 20 years in prison contrary to his strong desire to turn in his uncle Avon and take a plea, this type of conflict is pervasive in all aspects of the show.

urveillance

Central to the structure and plot of the show is the use of electronic surveillance and wiretap technologies by the police—hence the title "The Wire." Salon.com described the title as a metaphor for the viewer's experience: the wiretaps provide the police with access to a secret world, just as the show does for the viewer.cite web
author = Dan Kois
year = 2004
title = Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire"
publisher = Salon.com
accessdate =
url = http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2004/10/01/the_wire/index.html?pn=4
] Simon has discussed the use of camera shots of surveillance equipment, or shots that appear to be taken from the equipment itself, to emphasize the volume of surveillance in modern life and the characters' need to sift through this information.

Visual novel

Many important events occur off-camera and there is no artificial exposition in the form of voice-over or flashbacks, with the sole exception of one flashback at the end of the pilot episode. Thus, the viewer needs to follow every conversation closely in order to understand who's who and what's going on. Salon.com has described the show as novelistic in structure, with a greater depth of writing and plotting than other crime shows. Each season of "The Wire" consists of 10-13 full-hour episodes, which form a single narrative. Simon chose this structure with an eye towards long story arcs that draw a viewer in and then result in a more satisfying payoff. He uses the metaphor of a visual novel in several interviews, [Alvarez 28, 35–39.] describing each episode as a chapter, and has also commented that this allows a fuller exploration of the show's themes in time not spent on plot development.

ocial commentary

Simon described the second season as

a meditation on the death of work and the betrayal of the American working class.… [I] t is a deliberate argument that unencumbered capitalism is not a substitute for social policy; that on its own, without a social contract , raw capitalism is destined to serve the few at the expense of the many."
He added that season 3 "reflects on the nature of reform and reformers, and whether there is any possibility that political processes, long calcified, can mitigate against the forces currently arrayed against individuals." The third season is also an allegory that draws explicit parallels between the War in Iraq and the national drug prohibition, which in Simon's view has failed in its aims and become a war against America's underclass. [Alvarez 12.]

Writer Ed Burns, who worked as a public school teacher after retiring from the Baltimore police force, has called education the theme of the fourth season. Rather than focusing solely on the school system, the fourth season looks at schools as a porous part of the community that are affected by problems outside of their boundaries. Burns states that education comes from many sources other than schools and that children can be educated by other means, including contact with the drug dealers they work for.cite web
year = 2006
title = Interviews—Ed Burns
publisher = HBO
accessdate =
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/interviews/ed_burns.shtml
] Burns and Simon see the theme as an opportunity to explore how individuals end up like the show's criminal characters, and to dramatize the theory that hard work is not always justly rewarded.cite web
year = 2006
title = Behind The Scenes Part 1—A New Chapter Begins
publisher = HBO
accessdate =
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/behindthescenes/ontheset/part1.shtml
]

Cast and characters

"The Wire" employs a broad ensemble cast, supplemented by many recurring guest stars who populate the institutions featured in the show. The majority of the cast is African American, which accurately reflects the demographics of Baltimore. However, this is a rarity in American television drama. On February 3, 2008, with the airing of its 55th episode, "The Wire" became the second-longest running drama with a predominantly African American cast in the history of American prime-time television. Only "Soul Food" has aired more episodes.

The show's creators are also willing to kill off major characters, so that viewers cannot assume that a given character will survive simply because of a starring role or popularity among fans. In response to a question on why a certain character had to die, David Simon said,

[W] e are not selling hope, or audience gratification, or cheap victories with this show. "The Wire" is making an argument about what institutions—bureaucracies, criminal enterprises, the cultures of addiction, raw capitalism even—do to individuals. It is not designed purely as an entertainment. It is, I'm afraid, a somewhat angry show." [cite web
author = David Simon
year = 2003
title = David Simon Answers Fans' Questions
publisher = HBO
accessdate =
url = http://web.archive.org/web/20031204070427/www.hbo.com/thewire/interviews/index.html
]

Principal cast

Image stack
align=right
image_size=249



image1_c
Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski, Cedric Daniels, Jimmy McNulty, Lester Freamon (seated), Rhonda Pearlman, and Kima Greggs.



image2_c
Wee-Bey Brice, Stringer Bell, D'Angelo Barksdale, Poot Carr, and Bodie Broadus.



image3_c
The Greek, Nick Sobotka, and Frank Sobotka.


image4_c
Duquan "Dukie" Weems, Randy Wagstaff, Michael Lee and Namond Brice.
The major characters of the first season were divided between those on the side of the law and those involved in drug-related crime. The investigating detail was launched by the actions of Detective Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), whose insubordinate tendencies and personal problems played counterpoint to his ability.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/dominic_west.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Jimmy McNulty| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/jimmy_mcnulty.shtml] The detail was led by Lieutenant Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick) who faced challenges balancing his career aspirations with his desire to produce a good case.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/lance_reddick.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Lance Reddick as Cedric Daniels|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Lieutenant Cedric Daniels| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/cedric_daniels.shtml] Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) was a capable lead detective who faced jealousy from colleagues and worry about the dangers of her job from her domestic partner.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/sonja_sohn.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Sonja Sohn as Shakima "Kima" Greggs|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Detective Shakima "Kima" Greggs| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/kima_greggs.shtml] Her investigative work was greatly helped by her confidential informant, a drug addict known as Bubbles (Andre Royo).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/andre_royo.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Andre Royo as Bubbles|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Bubbles| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/bubbles.shtml] Like Greggs, partners Thomas "Herc" Hauk (Domenick Lombardozzi) and Ellis Carver (Seth Gilliam) were reassigned to the detail from the narcotics unit.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/seth_gilliam.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Seth Gilliam as Ellis Carver|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/domenick_lombardozzi.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Domenick Lombardozzi as Thomas "Herc" Hauk|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] The duo's initially violent nature was eventually subdued as they proved useful in grunt work, and sometimes served as comic relief for the audience.cite web
author = Dan Kois
year = 2004
title = Everything you were afraid to ask about "The Wire"
publisher = Salon.com
accessdate = 2006-07-12
url = http://dir.salon.com/story/ent/feature/2004/10/01/the_wire/index.html?pn=4
] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Ellis Carver| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/ellis_carver.shtml] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Thomas "Herc" Hauk| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/herc_hauk.shtml] Rounding out the temporary unit were detectives Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) and Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski (Jim True-Frost).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/clarke_peters.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Clarke Peters as Lester Freamon|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/jim_truefrost.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Jim True-Frost as Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Though not initially important players in the operation, Freamon proved a quietly capable investigator with a knack for noticing tiny but important details,cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Lester Freamon| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/lester_freamon.shtml] and Prez turned out to be a natural at following paper trails.cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/prez.shtml]

These investigators were overseen by two commanding officers more concerned with politics and their own careers than the case, Major William Rawls (John Doman) and Deputy Commissioner Ervin Burrell (Frankie Faison).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/frankie_r_faison.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Frankie R. Faison as Ervin Burrell|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Ervin Burrell| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/ervin_burrell.shtml
] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/john_doman.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - John Doman as William Rawls|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - William Rawls| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/william_rawls.shtml] Assistant state's attorney Rhonda Pearlman (Deirdre Lovejoy) acted as the legal liaison between the detail and the courthouse and also had a casual relationship with McNulty.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/deirdre_lovejoy.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Deirdre Lovejoy as Rhonda Pearlman|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Rhonda Pearlman| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/rhonda_pearlman.shtml] In the homicide division, Bunk Moreland (Wendell Pierce) was a gifted, dry-witted detective partnered with McNulty under Sergeant Jay Landsman (Delaney Williams), the jovial squad commander.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/wendell_pierce.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Wendell Pierce as William "Bunk" Moreland|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Bunk Moreland| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/bunk_moreland.shtml] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/delaney_williams.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Delaney Williams as Jay Landsman|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Jay Landsman| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/jay_landsman.shtml] Peter Gerety had a recurring role as Judge Phelan, the official who started the case moving.

On the other side of the investigation was Avon Barksdale's drug empire. The driven, ruthless Barksdale (Wood Harris) was aided by business-minded Stringer Bell (Idris Elba).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/avon_barksdale.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Wood Harris as Avon Barksdale|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Avon Barksdale| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/avon_barksdale.shtml] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/idris_elba.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Idris Elba as Stringer Bell|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Stringer Bell| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/stringer_bell.shtml] Avon's nephew D'Angelo Barksdale (Larry Gilliard Jr.) ran some of his uncle's territory, but also possessed a guilty conscience,Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/larry_gilliard.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Larry Gilliard, Jr. as D'Angelo Barksdale|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - D'Angelo Barksdale| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/dangelo_barksdale.shtml] while loyal Wee-Bey Brice (Hassan Johnson) was responsible for multiple homicides carried out on Avon's orders.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/hassan_johnson.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Hassan Johnson as Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/weebey.shtml|title=Character profile - Roland "Wee-Bey" Brice|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Working under D'Angelo were Poot (Tray Chaney), Bodie (J.D. Williams), and Wallace (Michael B. Jordan), all street-level drug dealers.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/tray_chaney.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Tray Chaney as Malik "Poot" Carr|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/jd_williams.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - JD Williams as Preston "Bodie" Broadus|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Wallace was an intelligent but naïve youth trapped in the drug trade, and Poot a randy young man happy to follow rather than lead.cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Malik "Poot" Carr| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/poot.shtml] Omar Little (Michael K. Williams), a renowned Baltimore stick-up man robbing drug dealers for a living, was a frequent thorn in the side of the Barksdale clan.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/michael_k_williams.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Michael Kenneth Williams as Omar Little|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Omar Little| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/omar.shtml]

The second season introduced a new group of characters working in the Baltimore port area, including Spiros "Vondas" Vondopoulos (Paul Ben-Victor),Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/paul_ben_victor.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Paul Ben Victor as Spiros "Vondas" Vondopolous|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Beadie Russell (Amy Ryan),Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/amy_ryan.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Amy Ryan as Beatrice "Beadie" Russell|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Frank Sobotka (Chris Bauer).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/chris_bauer.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Chris Bauer as Frank Sobotka|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Vondas was the underboss of a global smuggling operation,Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/port/spiros_vondas.shtml|title=Character profile - Spiros "Vondas" Vondopolous|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Russell an inexperienced Port Authority officer and single mother thrown in at the deep end of a multiple homicide investigation,Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/beatrice_russell.shtml|title=Character profile - Beatrice "Beadie" Russell|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Sobotka a union leader who turned to crime in order to raise funds to save his union.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/port/frank_sobotka.shtml|title=Character profile - Frank Sobotka|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Also joining the show in season 2 were Nick Sobotka (Pablo Schreiber), Frank's nephew;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/pablo_schreiber.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Pablo Schreiber as Nick Sobotka|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/port/nick_sobotka.shtml|title=Character profile - Nick Sobotka|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Ziggy Sobotka (James Ransone), Frank's troubled son;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/james_ransone.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - James Ransone as Ziggy Sobotka|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/port/ziggy_sobotka.shtml|title=Character profile - Ziggy|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and "The Greek" (Bill Raymond), Vondas's mysterious boss.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/port/bill_raymond.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Bill Raymond as The Greek|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/port/the_greek.shtml|title=Character profile - The Greek|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] As the second season ended, the focus shifted away from the ports, leaving the new characters behind.

The third season saw several previously recurring characters assuming larger starring roles, including Detective Leander Sydnor (Corey Parker Robinson),Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/corey_parker_robinson.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Corey Parker Robinson as Leander Sydnor|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Bodie (J.D. Williams), Omar (Michael K. Williams), Proposition Joe (Robert F. Chew),Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/robert_f_chew.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Robert F. Chew as Proposition Joe Stewart|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin (Robert Wisdom).Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/robert_wisdom.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Robert Wisdom as Howard "Bunny" Colvin|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Colvin commanded the Western district where the Barksdale organization operated, and nearing retirement, he came up with a radical new method of dealing with the drug problem.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/bunny_colvin.shtml|title=Character profile - Howard "Bunny" Colvin|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Proposition Joe, the East Side's cautious drug kingpin, became more cooperative with the Barksdale Organization.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/prop_joe.shtml|title=Character profile - Proposition Joe Stewart|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Sydnor, a rising young star in the police department in season 1, returned to the cast as part of the major crimes unit.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/leander_sydnor.shtml|title=Character profile - Leander Sydnor|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Bodie had been seen gradually rising in the Barksdale organization since the first episode; he was born to their trade and showed a fierce aptitude for it.cite web| year = 2006| title = Character profile - Preston "Bodie" Broadus| publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2007-12-19| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/bodie.shtml] Omar had a vendetta against the Barksdale organization and gave them all of his lethal attention.

New additions in the third season included Tommy Carcetti (Aidan Gillen), an ambitious city councilman;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/aidan_gillen.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Aidan Gillen as Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/tommy_carcetti.shtml|title=Character profile - Thomas "Tommy" Carcetti|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Mayor Clarence Royce (Glynn Turman), the incumbent whom Carcetti planned to unseat;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/glynn_turman.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Glynn Turman as Clarence Royce|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/clarence_royce.shtml|title=Character profile - Clarence V. Royce|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Marlo Stanfield (Jamie Hector), leader of an upstart gang seeking to challenge Avon's dominance;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/jamie_hector.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Jamie Hector as Marlo Stanfield|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/marlo_stanfield.shtml|title=Character profile - Marlo Stanfield|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Dennis "Cutty" Wise (Chad Coleman), a newly released convict uncertain of his future.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/chad_l_coleman.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Chad L. Coleman as Dennis "Cutty" Wise|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/cutty.shtml|title=Character profile - Dennis "Cutty" Wise|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008]

In the fourth season, four young actors joined the cast: Jermaine Crawford as Duquan "Dukie" Weems;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/jermaine_crawford.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Jermaine Crawford as Duquan "Dukie" Weems|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Maestro Harrell as Randy Wagstaff;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/maestro_harrell.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Maestro Harrell as Randy Wagstaff|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Julito McCullum as Namond Brice;Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/julito_mccullum.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Julito McCullum as Namond Brice|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Tristan Wilds as Michael Lee.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/tristan_wilds.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Tristan Wilds as Michael Lee|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] The characters are friends from a West Baltimore middle school.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/namond_brice.shtml|title=Character profile - Namond Brice|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/michael_lee.shtml|title=Character profile - Michael Lee|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/randy_wagstaff.shtml|title=Character profile - Randy Wagstaff|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/duquan_dukie_weems.shtml|title=Character profile - Duquan "Dukie" Weems|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Another newcomer was Norman Wilson (Reg E. Cathey), Carcetti's deputy campaign manager.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/reg_cathey.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Reg E. Cathey as Norman Wilson|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/norman_wilson.shtml|title=Character profile - Norman Wilson|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008]

The fifth season saw several actors join the starring cast. Gbenga Akinnagbe returns as the previously recurring Chris Partlow, chief enforcer of the now dominant Stanfield Organization.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/gbenga_akinnagbe.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Gbenga Akinnagbe as Chris Partlow|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/chris_partlow.shtml|title=Character profile - Chris Partlow|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Neal Huff reprises his role as Mayoral chief of staff Michael Steintorf having previously appeared as a guest star at the end of the fourth season.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/neal_huff.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Neal Huff as Michael Steintorf|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/michael_steintorf.shtml|title=Character profile - Michael Steintorf|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Two other actors also join the starring cast having previously portrayed their corrupt characters as guest stars - Michael Kostroff as defence attorney Maurice LevyCite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/michael_kostroff.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Michael Kostroff as Maurice "Maury" Levy|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/maury_levy.shtml|title=Character profile - Maurice "Maury" Levy|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] and Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as senator Clay Davis.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/isiah_whitlock_jr.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Isiah Whitlock, Jr. as R. Clayton "Clay" Davis|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/clay_davis.shtml|title=Character profile - R. Clayton "Clay" Davis|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Crew member Clark Johnson appeared in front of the camera for the first time to play Augustus Haynes, the principled editor of the city desk of "The Baltimore Sun".Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/paper/clark_johnson.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Clark Johnson as Augustus "Gus" Haynes|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/paper/augustus_haynes.shtml|title=Character profile - City Editor Augustus "Gus" Haynes|accessdate=2008-01-07|publisher=HBO|year=2008] He is joined in the newsroom by two other new stars; Michelle Paress and Tom McCarthy play young reporters Alma Gutierrez and Scott Templeton.Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/actors/paper/tom_mccarthy.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Tom McCarthy as Scott Templeton|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/paper/scott_templeton.shtml|title=Character profile - Scott Templeton|accessdate=2008-01-07|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/maury_levy.shtml|title=Cast & Crew - Michelle Paress as Alma Gutierrez|accessdate=2008-01-15|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/cast/characters/paper/alma_gutierrez.shtml|title=Character profile - Alma Gutierrez|accessdate=2008-01-07|publisher=HBO|year=2008]

Plot synopsis and episode list

eason 1

The first season, which began airing on June 2, 2002, introduces two major groups of characters—the Baltimore police department and a drug dealing organization run by the Barksdale family. The season follows the investigation of the latter over its 13 episodes.

The investigation is triggered when detective Jimmy McNulty meets privately with judge Daniel Phelan following the acquittal of D'Angelo Barksdale for murder after a key witness changes her story. McNulty tells Phelan that she has probably been intimidated by members of a drug trafficking empire run by D'Angelo's uncle, Avon Barksdale, having recognized several faces at the trial, notably Avon's second-in-command, Stringer Bell. He also tells Phelan that nobody is investigating Barksdale's criminal activity, which includes a significant portion of the city's drug trade and several unsolved homicides.

cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 01 The Target
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-07-24
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode01.shtml
] cite episode
title = The Target
episodelink = The Target (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-06-02
season = 1
number = 1
]

Phelan takes issue with this and complains to senior Police Department figures, embarrassing them into creating a detail dedicated to investigating Barksdale. However, owing to the department's dysfunctionality, the investigation is intended as a façade to appease the judge. An interdepartmental struggle between the more motivated officers on the detail and their superiors spans the whole season, with interference by the higher-ups often threatening to ruin the investigation. The detail's commander, Cedric Daniels, acts as mediator between the two opposing groups of police.

Meanwhile, the organized and cautious Barksdale gang is explored through characters at various levels within it. The organization is antagonized by a stick-up crew led by Omar Little, and the feud leads to several deaths,

cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 07 The Wire
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-02
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode07.shtml
] cite episode
title = One Arrest
episodelink = One Arrest (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-07-21
season = 1
number = 7
] bringing further police attention.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 08 The Wire
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-10-07
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode08.shtml
] cite episode
title = Lessons
episodelink = Lessons (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-07-28
season = 1
number = 8
] Throughout, D'Angelo struggles with his conscience over his life of crime and the people it affects.

The police have little success with street-level arrests or with securing informants beyond Wallace, a young low-level dealer and friend of D'Angelo.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 10 The Cost
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-04-08
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode10.shtml
] cite episode
title = The Cost
episodelink = The Cost (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
serieslink = The Wire (TV series)
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-08-11
season = 1
number = 10
] Eventually the investigation takes the direction of electronic surveillance, with wiretaps and pager clones to infiltrate the security measures taken by the Barksdale organization. This leads the investigation to areas the commanding officers had hoped to avoid, including political contributions.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 09 Game Day
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-02-08
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode09.shtml
] cite episode
title = Game Day
episodelink = Game Day (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns, David H. Melnick, Shamit Choksey
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-08-04
season = 1
number = 9
] When an associate of Barksdale's is arrested by another team and offers to cooperate, the commanding officers order a sting operation to wrap up the case. Detective Kima Greggs is seriously hurt in the operation, triggering an overzealous response from the rest of the department.

cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 11 The Hunt
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-07-26
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode11.shtml
] cite episode
title = The Hunt
episodelink = The Hunt (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-06-02
season = 1
number = 11
] This causes the detail's targets to suspect that they are under investigation.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 12 The Hunt
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-07-31
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode12.shtml
] cite episode
title = Cleaning Up
episodelink = Cleaning Up (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-09-01
season = 1
number = 12
]

Wallace is killed by his childhood friends Bodie and Poot, on orders from Stringer Bell, after leaving his "secure" placement with relatives and returning to Baltimore. D'Angelo Barksdale is eventually arrested with a large quantity of drugs, and learning of Wallace's murder, is ready to turn in his uncle and Stringer. However, D'Angelo's mother convinces him to rescind the deal and take the charges for his family. The detail manages to arrest Avon on a minor charge and gets one of his soldiers, Wee-Bey, to confess to most of the murders, some of which he did not commit. Stringer escapes prosecution and is left running the Barksdale empire. For the officers, the consequences of antagonizing their superiors are severe, with Daniels and McNulty both assigned to undesirable jobs.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 13 Sentencing
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-04
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season1/episode13.shtml
] cite episode
title = Sentencing
episodelink = Sentencing (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2002-09-08
season = 1
number = 13
]

eason 2

The second season, along with its ongoing examination of the drug problem and its effect on the urban poor, examines the plight of the blue-collar urban working class as exemplified by stevedores (longshoremen) in the city port, as some of them get caught up in smuggling drugs and other contraband inside the containers that their port ships. In a season-long subplot, the Barksdale organization continues its drug trafficking despite Avon's imprisonment, with Stringer Bell assuming greater power.

McNulty harbors a vendetta against his former commanders for reassigning him to the marine unit.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 14 ebb tide
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-06
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode01.shtml
] cite episode
title = Ebb Tide
episodelink = Ebb Tide (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-01
season = 2
number = 01
] cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 15 collateral damage
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode02.shtml
] cite episode
title = Collateral Damage
episodelink = Collateral Damage (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-08
season = 2
number = 02
] When fourteen young unidentified women are found dead in the port area, he makes a point of proving that they were murdered in his commanders' jurisdiction. Meanwhile, police Major Stan Valchek gets into a feud with stevedore union leader Frank Sobotka over competing donations to their old neighborhood church. Valchek demands a detail to investigate Sobotka. Cedric Daniels, having impressed the major with his work on the Barksdale case, is assigned to lead the detail.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 17 hard cases
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode04.shtml
] cite episode
title = Hard Cases
episodelink = Hard Cases (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Joy Lusco
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-22
season = 2
number = 04
]

As with the previous season, the targets of the investigations are explored and fully realized as characters. Life for the blue-collar men of the port is increasingly hard and work is scarce. As union leader, Sobotka has taken it on himself to reinvigorate the port by convincing politicians to support much-needed initiatives. Lacking the funds needed for this kind of influence, Sobotka has become involved with a smuggling ring. Around him, his son and nephew also turn to crime, as they have few other opportunities to earn money.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 16 hot shots
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode03.shtml
] cite episode
title = Hot Shots
episodelink = Hot Shots (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-15
season = 2
number = 03
]

It becomes clear to the Sobotka detail that the dead girls are related to their investigation, as they were in a container that was supposed to be smuggled through the port.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 19 all prologue
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode06.shtml
] cite episode
title = All Prologue
episodelink = All Prologue
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-07-06
season = 2
number = 06
] They again use wiretaps to infiltrate the crime ring and slowly work their way up the chain towards The Greek, the mysterious man in charge. But Valchek, upset that their focus has moved beyond Sobotka, gets the FBI involved. The Greek has contacts inside the FBI and starts severing his ties to Baltimore when he learns about the investigation.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 23 storm warnings
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode10.shtml
] cite episode
title = Storm Warnings
episodelink = Storm Warnings (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-08-10
season = 2
number = 10
]

After a dispute over stolen goods turns violent, Sobotka's son, Ziggy is charged with the murder of one of the Greek's underlings. Sobotka himself is arrested for smuggling; he agrees to work with the detail to help his son, finally seeing his actions as a mistake.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 24 bad dreams
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode11.shtml
] cite episode
title = Bad Dreams
episodelink = Bad Dreams (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-08-17
season = 2
number = 11
] However, the Greek learns about this through the FBI and scuppers the case against himself by having Sobotka killed. The investigation ends with the fourteen homicides solved but the perpetrator already dead. Several drug dealers and mid-level smuggling figures tied to the Greek are arrested, but he and his second-in-command escape uncharged and unidentified.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 25 Port in a Storm
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode12.shtml
] cite episode
title = Port in a Storm
episodelink = Port in a Storm (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-08-24
season = 2
number = 12
] The Major is pleased that Sobotka was arrested; the case is seen as a success by the commanding officers, but is viewed as a failure by the detail.

Across town, the Barksdale organization continues its business under Stringer while Avon and D'Angelo Barksdale serve prison time. D'Angelo decides to cut ties to his family after his uncle organizes the deaths of several inmates and blames it on a corrupt guard to shave time from his sentence.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 17 hard cases
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode04.shtml
] cite episode
title = Hard Cases
episodelink = Hard Cases (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Joy Lusco
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-22
season = 2
number = 04
] Eventually Stringer covertly orders D'Angelo killed, faking it as a suicide.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 19 all prologue
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode06.shtml
] cite episode
title = All Prologue
episodelink = All Prologue
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-07-06
season = 2
number = 06
] Avon is unaware of Stringer's duplicity and mourns the loss of his nephew.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 20 backwash
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode07.shtml
] cite episode
title = Backwash
episodelink = Backwash (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Rafael Alvarez
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-07-13
season = 2
number = 07
]

Stringer also struggles with the loss of his drug suppliers and bad quality product.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 18 undertow
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode05.shtml
] cite episode
title = Undertow
episodelink = Undertow (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-06-29
season = 2
number = 05
] He again goes behind Avon's back, giving up half of Avon's most prized territory to a rival named Proposition Joe in exchange for a share of his supply.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 22 stray rounds
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode09.shtml
] cite episode
title = Stray Rounds
episodelink = Stray Rounds (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-08-03
season = 2
number = 09
] Avon, unaware of the arrangement, assumes that Joe and other dealers are moving into his territory simply because the Barksdale organization has too few enforcers. He contracts a feared assassin named Brother Mouzone. Stringer deals with this by tricking his old adversary Omar into believing that Mouzone was responsible for the vicious killing of his partner in their feud in season one.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 24 bad dreams
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-06-22
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season2/episode11.shtml
] cite episode
title = Bad Dreams
episodelink = Bad Dreams (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2003-08-17
season = 2
number = 11
] Seeking revenge, Omar shoots Mouzone, but realizes Stringer had lied and calls 9-1-1. Mouzone recovers and leaves Baltimore, and Stringer is free to continue his business with Proposition Joe.

eason 3

In the third season, the action focused back on the street and the Barksdale organization but expanded the scope to include the political scene. In addition, a new subplot was introduced to examine the potential positive effects of legalizing the drug trade within the limited boundaries of three uninhabited city blocks—referred to as "Hamsterdam". These were continuations of storylines hinted at earlier.

The demolition of the towers that had served as the Barksdale organization's prime territory pushes their dealers back out onto the streets of Baltimore.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 26 Time After Time
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-07
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode01.shtml
] cite episode
title = Time After Time
episodelink = Time After Time (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-09-19
season = 3
number = 01
] Avon Barksdale is released from prison early, as promised for his role in unveiling the cause of the inmate deaths.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 29 Hamsterdam
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-07
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode04.shtml
] cite episode
title = Hamsterdam
episodelink = Hamsterdam (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-10
season = 3
number = 04
] Stringer Bell continues his reform of the organization by cooperating with other drug lords, sharing with one another territory, product, and profits.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 30 Straight and True
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode05.shtml
] cite episode
title = Straight and True
episodelink = Straight and True (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-17
season = 3
number = 05
] Stringer's proposal is met with a curt refusal from Marlo Stanfield, leader of a new, growing crew. Against Stringer's advice, Avon decides to take Marlo's territory by force, and the two gangs become embroiled in a bitter turf war with multiple deaths.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 31 Homecoming
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode06.shtml
] cite episode
title = Homecoming
episodelink = Homecoming (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Rafael Alvarez
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-24
season = 3
number = 06
]

Omar Little continues to rob the Barksdale organization wherever possible.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 26 All Due Respect
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-07
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode02.shtml
] cite episode
title = All Due Respect
episodelink = All Due Respect (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-09-26
season = 3
number = 02
] Working with his new boyfriend and two women, he is once more a serious problem. In a heist gone wrong, one of Omar's crew is shot and a Barksdale enforcer is killed.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 28 Dead Soldiers
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-07
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode03.shtml
] cite episode
title = Dead Soldiers
episodelink = Dead Soldiers (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Dennis Lehane
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-03
season = 3
number = 03
] The violence related to the drug trade makes it an obvious choice of investigation for Cedric Daniels' now-permanent Major Case Unit.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 31 Homecoming
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode06.shtml
] cite episode
title = Homecoming
episodelink = Homecoming (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Rafael Alvarez
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-24
season = 3
number = 06
]

Councilman Tommy Carcetti begins to prepare himself for a mayoral race. He manipulates a colleague into running against the mayor to split the black vote, secures a capable campaign manager, and starts making headlines for himself.

Coming to the end of his career, Major Howard "Bunny" Colvin decides to achieve some real change in the neighborhoods he has long been responsible for. Seeing the spread of drug dealing into previously unscathed areas following the destruction of the towers, he assumes the task of containing the problem. Without the knowledge of central command, he sets up areas where drug trade would go unpunished and cracks down on any traffic elsewhere. His scheme achieves his aims and reduces crime in his district,cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 32 Back Burners
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode07.shtml
] cite episode
title = Back Burners
episodelink = Back Burners (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Joy Lusco
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-07
season = 3
number = 07
] but is eventually exposed to his superiors and city politicians,cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 34 slapstick
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode09.shtml
] cite episode
title = Slapstick
episodelink = Slapstick (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-21
season = 3
number = 09
] including Carcetti, who uses the scandal to make a grandstanding speech. With top brass outraged, Colvin is forced to cease his actions, accept a demotion, and retire from the department on a lower-grade pension.

Dennis "Cutty" Wise, once a drug dealer's enforcer, is released from prison alongside Avon. His struggles to adapt to life as a free man show an attempt at personal reform. Cutty tries to work as a manual laborer and then flirts with his former life, going to work for Avon. Finding he no longer has the heart for murder, he eventually uses funding from Avoncite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 36 middle ground
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode11.shtml
] cite episode
title = Middle Ground
episodelink = Middle Ground (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-12-12
season = 3
number = 11
] to set up a boxing gym for neighborhood youths.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 35 reformation
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode10.shtml
] cite episode
title = Reformation
episodelink = Reformation (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-28
season = 3
number = 10
]

The Major Case Unit learns that Stringer has been buying real estate and developing it in order to fulfill his dream of being a successful legitimate businessman. In order to grow his income before he is able to realize significant returns from his real estate deals, he continues to manage his organization in the drug trade.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 33 Moral Midgetry
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode08.shtml
] cite episode
title = Moral Midgetry
episodelink = Moral Midgetry (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Richard Price
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-14
season = 3
number = 08
] Believing that the bloody turf war with Marlo is poised to destroy everything the Barksdale crew had worked for, Stringer gives Major Colvin information on Avon's weapons stash.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 36 middle ground
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode11.shtml
] cite episode
title = Middle Ground
episodelink = Middle Ground (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, George P. Pelecanos
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-12-12
season = 3
number = 11
] But Stringer is himself being betrayed by Avon: Brother Mouzone had returned to Baltimore and tracked down Omar to join forces. Mouzone tells Avon that his shooting must be avenged. Avon, remembering how Stringer disregarded his order which resulted in Stringer attempting to have Brother Mouzone killed, possibly still furious over D'Angelo's murder (Stringer having finally confessed the truth), and fearing Mouzone's wrath, informs Mouzone of Bell's upcoming visit to his construction site. There, Mouzone and Omar corner him and shoot him to death.

Colvin tells McNulty about Avon's hideout, and armed with the information gleaned from selling the Barksdale crew pre-wiretapped disposable cell phones, the detail stages a raid, arresting Avon and most of his underlings.cite web
year = 2004
title = Episode guide - episode 37 mission accomplished
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-08-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season3/episode12.shtml
] cite episode
title = Mission Accomplished
episodelink = Mission Accomplished (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-12-19
season = 3
number = 12
] Barksdale's criminal empire lies in ruins, and Marlo's young crew simply moves into their territory. Thus the drug trade in West Baltimore continues with little change.

eason 4

On September 10, 2006, "The Wire" returned for a fourth season, expanding its scope again to include an examination of the school system. Other major plots include the mayoral race that continues the political storyline begun in season three, and a closer look at Marlo Stanfield's drug gang, which has grown to control most of western Baltimore's trafficking.

The show introduces Dukie, Randy, Michael, and Namond, four boys from West Baltimore, as they enter the eighth grade.cite web| year = 2004 | title = Episode guide - episode 38 boys of summer | publisher = HBO | accessdate = 2006-08-09 | url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode01.shtml ] cite episode | title = Boys of Summer | episodelink = Boys of Summer (The Wire episode) | series = The Wire| credits = David Simon, Ed Burns | writers = | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2004-09-10 | season = 4 | number = 01] At the same school, Prez has begun a new career as a math teacher. Despite mentorship from the more seasoned faculty,cite web| year = 2006| title = Episode guide - episode 39 Soft Eyes | publisher = HBO| accessdate = 2006-08-09| url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode02.shtml] cite episode | title = Soft Eyes | episodelink = Soft Eyes (The Wire episode) | series = The Wire| credits = David Mills, Ed Burns | writers = | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2004-09-17 | season = 4 | number = 02] Prez has difficulties maintaining order and keeping his students focused in the chaotic and sometimes violent classroom.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 40 Home Rooms
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-09-25
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode40.shtml
] cite episode
title = Home Rooms
episodelink = Home Rooms (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Richard Price, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-09-24
season = 4
number = 03
] Namond, and later Michael, work as drug runners for Bodie, who has had middling success selling Proposition Joe's product independently.

The cold-blooded Marlo has come to dominate the streets of the west side, using murder and intimidation to make up for his weak-quality drugs and lack of business acumen. His enforcers Chris Partlow and Snoop conceal their numerous victims in boarded-up row houses where the bodies will not be readily discovered. The disappearances of so many known criminals come to mystify both the major crimes unit investigating Marlo and the homicide unit assigned to solve the presumed murders.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 41 Refugees
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-10-03
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode04.shtml
] cite episode
title = Refugees
episodelink = Refugees (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Dennis Lehane, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-31
season = 4
number = 04
] Marlo coerces Bodie into working under him, and attempts to bring Michael into the organization as well.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 42 Alliances
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-10-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode05.shtml
] cite episode
title = Alliances
episodelink = Alliances (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = David Simon, Ed Burns
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-08
season = 4
number = 05
]

McNulty has found peace working as a patrolman and living with Beadie Russell, and refuses promotions from Daniels, now a major commanding the Western District. Detectives Kima Greggs and Lester Freamon, as part of the major crimes unit, investigate Avon Barksdale's political donations and serve several key figures with subpoenas. Their work is shut down by Commissioner Ervin Burrell at Mayor Clarence Royce's request, and after being placed under stricter supervision within their unit, both Greggs and Freamon request and receive transfer to the homicide division.

Meanwhile, the city's mayoral primary race enters its closing weeks. Royce initially has a seemingly insurmountable lead over challengers Tommy Carcetti and Tony Gray, with a big war chest and major endorsements. Royce's lead begins to fray, however, as his own political machinations turn against him and Carcetti starts to highlight the city's crime problem. This propels Carcetti to victory in the primary,cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 43 Margin of Error
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-10-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode06.shtml
] cite episode
title = Margin of Error
episodelink = Margin of Error (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, Eric Overmyer
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-15
season = 4
number = 06
] and he easily wins the general election to become Baltimore's new mayor.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 45 Corner Boys
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-11-09
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode08.shtml
] cite episode
title = Corner Boys
episodelink = Corner Boys (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, Richard Price
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-05
season = 4
number = 08
] Carcetti's desire to reduce crime leads him to restrict Burrell's duties and promote the more competent Daniels, whom he is considering later appointing Commissioner.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 46 Know Your Place
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-11-15
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode46.shtml
] cite episode
title = Know Your Place
episodelink = Know Your Place (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, Richard Price
writers = Kia Corthron
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-12
season = 4
number = 09
]

Other familiar characters become involved in the same middle school where Prez works. Howard "Bunny" Colvin joins a research group attempting to study potential future criminals while they are still young. Dennis "Cutty" Wise continues to work with boys in his boxing gym, and accepts a job at the school rounding up truants. Bubbles takes a homeless teenager named Sherrod under his wing. He encourages the boy to attend class, which he fails to do. The two of them later find themselves assaulted and robbed constantly by a persistent drug addict.

Prez has a few successes with his students, but some of them start to slip away. Disruptive Namond is removed from class and placed in the research group, where he gradually develops affection and respect for Colvin. Randy reveals to the assistant principal knowledge of a murder in a moment of desperation, leading to his being interrogated by policecite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 44 Unto Others
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2006-11-01
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode07.shtml
] cite episode
title = Unto Others
episodelink = Unto Others (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, William F. Zorzi
writers =
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-10-29
season = 4
number = 07
] and thereafter labeled a "snitch" by his classmates.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 48 A New Day
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-03-29
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode48.shtml
] cite episode
title = A New Day
episodelink = A New Day (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, David Simon
writers = Ed Burns
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-26
season = 4
number = 11
] Michael is unresponsive to the adults around him, including Prez, Cutty, and Bodie, who all see promise in him. When Michael feels he must make his hated stepfather leave home in order to protect his little brother, he calls on Chris, the only authority figure whom he thinks he can trust.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 47 Misgivings
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-03-29
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode47.shtml
] cite episode
title = Misgivings
episodelink = Misgivings
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, Eric Overmyer
writers = Ed Burns, Eric Overmyer
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-11-19
season = 4
number = 10
] Dukie, who had been nurtured by Prez, is transferred to high school through social promotion, and thus will have to leave their relationship behind.cite web
year = 2006
title = Episode guide - episode 49 That's Got His Own
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-03-30
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode49.shtml
] cite episode
title = That's Got His Own
episodelink = That's Got His Own (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ed Burns, George Pelecanos
writers = George Pelecanos
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-12-03
season = 4
number = 12
]

Proposition Joe engineers a conflict between Omar Little and Marlo in order to convince Marlo to join the New Day Co-Op. After Omar robs Marlo, Marlo frames Omar for a murder and attempts to have him murdered in jail, but Omar manages to beat the charge with the help of Bunk. Omar learns Marlo set him up, and gets revenge on him and Proposition Joe by robbing the entire shipment of the Co-Op. Meanwhile, the co-op members, including Marlo, are furious at Joe for allowing the shipment to be stolen. Marlo demands satisfaction, and as a result, Joe sets up a meet between him and Spiros Vondas, who assuages Marlo's concerns. Having gotten a lead on Joe's connection to the Greeks, Marlo begins investigating them to learn more about their role in bringing narcotics into Baltimore.

Freamon discovers the bodies Chris and Snoop had hidden. Bodie offers McNulty testimony against Marlo and his crew, but is shot dead on his corner by a young Stanfield soldier named O-Dog.cite web
year = 2006
title = "The Wire" episode guide - episode 50 Final Grades
publisher = HBO
accessdate = 2007-10-17
url = http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season4/episode50.shtml
] cite episode
title = Final Grades
episodelink = Final Grades (The Wire episode)
series = The Wire
credits = Ernest Dickerson
writers = David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story)
network = HBO
station =
city =
airdate = 2004-12-10
season = 4
number = 13
] Sherrod dies after ingesting a poisoned vial of heroin that, unbeknownst to him, Bubbles had prepared for their tormentor. Bubbles turns himself in to the police and tries to hang himself, but he survives and is taken to a detox facility.

Michael has now joined the ranks of Marlo's killers and runs one of his corners, with Dukie leaving high school to work there. Randy's house is firebombed by school bullies for his cooperation with the police, leaving his caring foster mother hospitalized and sending him back to a group home. Namond is taken in by Colvin, who recognized the good in him. The major crimes unit from earlier seasons is largely reunited, and they resume their investigation of Marlo Stanfield.

eason 5

HBO announced on September 12, 2006 that it commissioned a fifth and final season consisting of 13 episodes, which was later reduced to ten. [cite web
url=http://undercoverblackman.blogspot.com/2007/02/just-to-tease-you-fans-of-wire.html
accessdate=2007-03-14
author = David Mills, updated by Matthew Byrne 01.17.08
title = Just to tease you fans of "The Wire"…
date =
] Season 5 focuses on the media and media consumption.cite news
author = Jacob Weisberg
title = The Wire on Fire: Analyzing the best show on television
page = 1
publisher = Slate
date = 2006-09-13
url = http://www.slate.com/id/2149566/
] The show depicts the newspaper "The Baltimore Sun", and in fact elements of the plot are taken from accounts of real-life events (such as the Jayson Blair NY Times scandal) and people at the Sun. [NPR interview with Simon broadcast the week of Jan. 12 2008] The theme, according to another interview with Simon, deals with "what stories get told and what don't and why it is that things stay the same." Issues such as the quest for profit, the decrease in the number of reporters, and the end of aspiration for news quality would all be addressed, alongside the theme of homelessness. In the same interview, Simon indicated that no other theme seemed substantial enough to warrant a sixth season, except possibly the large influx of Latinos into Baltimore. He noted, however, that since no writer on the show spoke Spanish or had any intimate knowledge of the city's Latino population, the field work would be too cumbersome.

On April 30, 2007, production for season five officially began. Filming wrapped early in the morning of September 1, 2007 and the first episode aired on January 6, 2008. cite web
url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/02/AR2007090201454.html
title=Down to "The Wire": It's a Wrap for Gritty TV Series
last=Wiltz
first=Teresa
publisher=Washington Post
date=2007-09-03
accessdate=2007-09-03
] The series finale aired March 9, 2008.

15 months after the fourth season concludes, Mayor Carcetti’s cuts in the police budget to redress the education deficit force the investigation of Marlo Stanfield to shut down.cite episode|title = More with Less|episodelink = More with Less|series = The Wire|serieslink = The Wire (TV series)|credits = Joe Chappelle|writers = David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story)|network = HBO|station = |city = |airdate = 2008-01-06|season = 5|number = 1] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode51.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 51 More with Less|accessdate=2008-01-22|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Cedric Daniels secures a detail to refocus on the prosecution of Senator Davis for corruption. Detective McNulty returns to the Homicide unit and to drinking heavily and womanizing out of frustration.cite episode | title = Unconfirmed Reports | episodelink = Unconfirmed Reports | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Ernest Dickerson | writers = William F. Zorzi (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-01-13 | season = 5 | number = 2] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode52.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 52 Uncomfirmed Reports|accessdate=2008-01-22|publisher=HBO|year=2008] McNulty decides to divert resources back to the police department by faking evidence to make it appear that a serial killer is murdering homeless men.cite episode|title = Not for Attribution|episodelink = Not for Attribution|series = The Wire|serieslink = The Wire (TV series)|credits = Scott and Joy Kecken|writers = Chris Collins (story and teleplay), David Simon (story)|network = HBO|station = |city = |airdate = 2008-01-20|season = 5|number = 3] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode53.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 53 Not for Attribution|accessdate=2008-01-22|publisher=HBO|year=2008] The "Baltimore Sun" newspaper also faces budget cuts and the underfunded newsroom struggles to adequately cover the city, omitting many important stories.cite episode | title = React Quotes | episodelink = React Quotes | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Agnieszka Holland | writers = David Mills (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-02-03 | season = 5 | number = 5] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode55.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 55 React Quotes|accessdate=2008-02-05|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite episode | title = Clarifications | episodelink = Clarifications | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Anthony Hemingway | writers = Dennis Lehane (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-02-24 | season = 5 | number = 8] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode58.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 58 Clarifications|accessdate=2008-02-29|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Ambitious reporter Scott Templeton is secretly fabricating details of stories. Commissioner Burrell continues to falsify crime statistics until Deputy Commissioner Valchek leaks unmodified figures to Carcetti. Carcetti fires Burrell and positions Daniels to replace him.cite episode | title = Transitions | episodelink = Transitions | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Dan Attias | writers = Ed Burns (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-01-27 | season = 5 | number = 4] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode54.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 54 Transitions|accessdate=2008-02-05|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Templeton falsely implicates Daniels in Burrell's departure and Burrell passes the file on Daniels' history of unexplained assets to politician Nerese Campbell. Free from investigation, Stanfield plots to accumulate more power. He learns from Proposition Joe how to launder money and evade investigation. Once Joe is no longer useful to him, Stanfield has Joe killed and usurps his position with the Greeks and the New Day Co-Op. Stanfield lures his enemy Omar Little out of retirement by having Snoop and Chris Partlow murder Omar's mentor Butchie. Michael Lee continues working as a Stanfield enforcer despite openly questioning orders. Michael uses his earning to provide a home for his friend Dukie and younger brother Bug. Dukie tries to distance himself from the drug trade and take his life on a different path.

Omar returns to Baltimore for revenge against Stanfield but is ambushed and is forced to leap from a window to escape. He injures his leg but continues to kill Stanfield organization members, steal and destroy their money and drugs, and spread the word that Stanfield is too cowardly to face him directly. Omar's mission has just begun when he is shot and killed by Kenard, a young boy who deals drugs on a Stanfield corner.

Templeton claims to have been contacted by McNulty's fake serial killer. City Editor Gus Haynes becomes suspicious, but his superiors are enamoured of Templeton. The story gains momentum and Carcetti spins the resulting attention on homelessness into a key issue in his imminent campaign for Governor and restores funding to the police department.cite episode | title = The Dickensian Aspect | episodelink = The Dickensian Aspect | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Seith Mann | writers = Ed Burns (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-02-10 | season = 5 | number = 6] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode56.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 56 The Dickensian Aspect|accessdate=2008-02-29|publisher=HBO|year=2008] cite episode | title = Took | episodelink = Took | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Dominic West | writers = Richard Price (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-02-17 | season = 5 | number = 7] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode57.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 57 Took|accessdate=2008-02-29|publisher=HBO|year=2008]

Bubbles is recovering from his drug addiction while living in his sister's basement. He works selling the "Sun" newspaper and also volunteers at a food kitchen. Bubbles finds it hard to bear his grief over Sherrod's death, but after befriending "Sun" reporter Mike Fletcher, ultimately opens up to his Narcotics Anonymous group about the boy's death.cite episode | title = Late Editions | episodelink = Late Editions | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Joe Chappelle | writers = George Pelecanos (story and teleplay), David Simon (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-03-02 | season = 5 | number = 9] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode59.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 59 Late Editions|accessdate=2008-03-10|publisher=HBO|year=2008] Fletcher writes a profile of Bubbles.cite episode | title = -30- | episodelink = -30- (The Wire episode) | series = The Wire | serieslink = The Wire (TV series) | credits = Clark Johnson | writers = David Simon (story and teleplay), Ed Burns (story) | network = HBO | station = | city = | airdate = 2008-03-09 | season = 5 | number = 10] Cite web|url=http://www.hbo.com/thewire/episode/season5/episode60.shtml|title="The Wire" episode guide - episode 60 –30–|accessdate=2008-03-10|publisher=HBO|year=2008]

Disgraced police officer Thomas "Herc" Hauk now works as an investigator for Stanfield's attorney Maurice Levy. Herc leaks Stanfield's phone number to the police department. Bunk is disgusted with McNulty's serial killer scheme and tries to have Lester Freamon reason with McNulty. Freamon helps McNulty to perpetuate the lie and uses the funds for an illegal wiretap on Stanfield. Bunk distances himself from them and resumes working the vacant house murders. Bunk's efforts lead to a murder warrant against Partlow for killing Michael's stepfather.

Freamon and Leander Sydnor gather enough evidence to arrest Stanfield and most of his top lieutenants, seizing a large quantity of drugs. Stanfield suspects that Michael is an informant, and orders Snoop to murder him. Michael realizes he is being set up and kills Snoop instead. Michael separates from his makeshift family for their protection. He persuades an Aunt in Howard county to take in Bug with money and a promise of more to come. With his support system gone Dukie lives with drug addicts. Michael begins a career as a stick-up man.

McNulty is unable to end his elaborate lie and cannot enjoy Freamon's success. McNulty feels guilty about interfering with crime scenes and the wasted manpower expended on the fictitious homeless murders and tells Kima Greggs about his fabrications to prevent her wasting time on the case. Greggs tells Daniels about the scheme. Daniels and Rhonda Pearlman take this news to Carcetti, who orders a cover-up because of the issue's importance to his campaign.

Davis is acquitted, but Freamon uses the threat of federal prosecution to blackmail him for information. Freamon learns that Levy is involved in selling copies of sealed indictments to drug lords and tells Pearlman. Levy is thrilled when Herc intimates that the source listed in the Stanfield arrest warrants could be an illegal wiretap. Pearlman approaches Levy to negotiate a deal and he manages to reduce his own corruption to a bargaining chip because of the wiretap. Levy ensures Stanfield's conditional release while his subordinates will have to accept long sentences. Pearlman insists that Stanfield must retire from drug trafficking and Stanfield sells the connection to The Greeks back to the Co-Op. Stanfield plans to become a businessman with his profits but cannot resist the lure of the corner.

As the cover-up begins a copy cat killing occurs and McNulty is aghast at the consequences of his actions, but quickly identifies and arrests the culprit in a final act of police work. Pearlman tells McNulty and Freamon that they can no longer be allowed to do investigative work and warns of criminal charges if the scandal becomes public; both detectives opt to retire. Haynes exposes Templeton but the managing editors ignore the fabrications and demote anyone critical of their star reporter. Carcetti pressures Daniels to falsify crime statistics to aid his campaign. Daniels refuses and Campbell intervenes, threatening to expose his history. Daniels decides to step down quietly and promotes Ellis Carver to lieutenant before his departure. As McNulty faces the future without his career he gazes over the city and scenes from the past and the future flash by: Freamon enjoys retirement; Templeton wins a Pulitzer; Carcetti becomes Governor; Haynes is sidelined to the copy desk and replaced by Fletcher; Campbell appoints Valchek as commissioner; Dukie injects heroin; Michael becomes a stickup boy; Pearlman becomes a judge and Daniels a defense attorney; Bubbles is allowed upstairs where he enjoys a family dinner; Chris serves his life sentence alongside Wee-Bey; the drug trade continues; and the people of Baltimore go on with their lives.

Reception

Critical response

The first season received positive reviews from critics,cite web
title = Television Critics Association Introduces 2003 Award Nominees
accessdate =
publisher = Television Critics Association
url = http://tvcritics.org/press/2003/06/television-critics-association.html
] [cite web
title = The Wire: The Complete First Season
publisher = Rotten Tomatoes
accessdate =
url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wire_the_complete_first_season/?show=all
] some calling it superior to HBO's better-known "flagship" drama series such as "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under". [cite news
author = Alan Sepinwall
year = 2006
title = Taut 'Wire' has real strength.
page = 1
publisher = Newark Star-Ledger
date = 2006-08-06
] [cite web
author = Aaron Barnhart
year = 2006
title = 'The Wire' aims higher: TV's finest hour is back
publisher = Kansas City Star
accessdate =
url = http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/entertainment/columnists/aaron_barnhart/15410184.htm
] [cite web
author = Leslie Ryan
year = 2003
title = Tapping "The Wire"; HBO Police Drama Tops Television Week's Semiannual Critics Poll List
publisher = Television Week
accessdate =
url = http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go2037/is_200307/ai_n8968965
] One reviewer felt that the show was partially a retread of themes from HBO and David Simon's earlier works but still valuable viewing and described the series as particularly resonant because it parallels the war on terror through the chronicling of the war on drugs.cite web
author = Robert David Sullivan
year = 2002
title = Slow Hand
publisher = Boston Phoenix
accessdate =
url = http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/arts/tv/documents/02394694.htm
] Another review postulated that the series might suffer because of its reliance on profanity and slowly drawn-out plot, but was largely positive about the show's characters and intrigue.cite web
author = Todd Weiser
year = 2002
title = New HBO series "The Wire" taps into summer programming
publisher = The Michigan Daily
accessdate =
url = http://www.michigandaily.com/media/storage/paper851/news/2002/06/17/Arts/New-Hbo.Series.the.Wire.Taps.Into.Summer.Programming-1411494.shtml
]

Despite the critical acclaim, "The Wire" has received poor Nielsen Ratings, which Simon attributes to the complexity of the plot, a poor time slot, heavy use of esoteric slang, particularly among the gangster characters and a predominantly black cast. Critics felt the show was testing the attention span of its audience and felt that it was mistimed in the wake of the launch of the successful crime drama "The Shield" on FX. However, anticipation for a release of the first season on DVD was high at "Entertainment Weekly". [cite web
year = 2003
title = DVD Request of the Week
publisher = Entertainment Weekly
accessdate =
url = http://www.ew.com/ew/report/0,6115,465300_21_0_,00.html
]

"The Guardian" described the second season as even more powerful than the first and praised it for deconstructing the show's central foundations with a willingness to explore new areas.cite web
author = Jim Shelley
year = 2005
title = Call The Cops
publisher = The Guardian Unlimited
accessdate =
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/tvradio/story/0,14676,1542359,00.html
] One reviewer with the "Boston Phoenix" felt that the subculture of the docks failed to come to life as well as that of the housing projects. However, the review continued to praise the writers for creating a realistic world and populating it with an array of interesting characters. [cite web
author = Jon Garelick
year = 2004
title = "A man must have a code"—listening in on "The Wire".
publisher = Boston Phoenix
accessdate =
url = http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/arts/tv/documents/04139983.asp
]

At the close of the third season, "The Wire" still struggled to maintain its ratings and the show faced possible cancellation. [cite web
author = Dana Stevens
year = 2004
title = Moyers Says "Ciao" to "Now," but HBO had better not retire "The Wire."
publisher = Slate magazine
accessdate =
url = http://www.slate.com/id/2111014/
] Creator David Simon blamed the show's low ratings in part on its competition against "Desperate Housewives" and worried that expectations for HBO dramas had changed following the success of "The Sopranos".cite web
author = Marisa Guthrie
year = 2004
title = "The Wire" fears HBO may snip it
publisher = New York Daily News
accessdate =
url = http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/story/262101p-224444c.html
] The critical response to the third season remained positive. "Entertainment Weekly" named "The Wire" the best show of 2004, describing it as "the smartest, deepest and most resonant drama on TV." They credited the complexity of the show for its poor ratings.cite web
author = Gillian Flynn
year = 2004
title = The Best of 2004
publisher = Entertainment Weekly
accessdate =
url = http://www.ew.com/ew/article/commentary/0,6115,1009257_3_0_,00.html
] The "Baltimore City Paper" was so concerned that the show might be cancelled that it published a list of ten reasons to keep it on the air, including strong characterization, Omar Little, an unabashedly honest representation of real world problems, and its unique status as "broadcast literature." It also worried that the loss of the show would have a negative impact on Baltimore's economy. [cite web
author = Brent McCabe, Van Smith
year = 2005
title = Down To The Wire: Top 10 Reasons Not To Cancel "The Wire."
publisher = Baltimore City Paper
accessdate =
url = http://cpgo.citypaper.com/film/story.asp?id=9538
]

As the fourth season was poised to begin, almost two years after the previous season's end, Tim Goodman of the "San Francisco Chronicle" wrote that "The Wire" "has tackled the drug war in this country as it simultaneously explores race, poverty and 'the death of the American working class,' the failure of political systems to help the people they serve and the tyranny of lost hope. Few series in the history of television have explored the plight of inner-city African Americans and none—not one—has done it as well."cite web
author = Tim Goodman
year = 2006
title = Yes, HBO's 'Wire' is challenging. It's also a masterpiece.
publisher = San Francisco Chronicle
accessdate =
url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/06/DDG7BKV7HK26.DTL
] Meanwhile, "The New York Times" called the fourth season of "The Wire" "its best season yet." [cite web
author = Virginia Heffernan
year = 2006
title = Higher Learning in the Drug Trade for Four Baltimore Students
publisher = The New York Times
accessdate =
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/09/arts/television/09wire.html?ex=1315454400&en=678cccd2cfd5056f&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
] Doug Elfman of the "Chicago Sun-Times" was more reserved in his praise, calling it the "most ambitious" show on television, but faulting it for its complexity and the slow development of the plotline. [cite web
author = Doug Elfman
year = 2006
title = It's not easy to tap into 'The Wire'.
publisher = Chicago Sun-Times
accessdate =
url = http://www.suntimes.com/output/elfman/sho-sunday-elf03.html
] The "Los Angeles Times" took the rare step of devoting an editorial to the show, stating that "even in what is generally acknowledged to be something of a golden era for thoughtful and entertaining dramas—both on cable channels and on network TV—"The Wire" stands out." [cite web
author = Los Angeles Times
year = 2006
title = High 'Wire' Act
publisher = Los Angeles Times
accessdate =
url = http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-wire02sep02,0,4994849.story?coll=la-news-comment-editorials
] "TIME" Magazine especially praised the fourth season, stating that "no other TV show has ever loved a city so well, damned it so passionately, or sung it so searingly." The website Metacritic, which gathers reviews from published news sources and translates them into a percentage score, has assigned to "The Wire"'s fourth season a weighted average score of 98%, the highest for any television show since Metacritic began tracking them in 2005. Several reviewers have called it the best show on television, including "TIME",cite web
title = TIME: Best and Worst of Television in 2002
publisher = TIME
accessdate =
url = http://www.time.com/time/bestandworst/2002/tv.html
] cite news
author = James Poniewozik
title = 10 Best TV Shows
publisher = TIME
page = 184
date =
] "Entertainment Weekly", "The Guardian",cite web
author = Jim Shelley
year = 2005
title = Call The Cops
publisher = The Guardian Unlimited
accessdate =
url = http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/tvradio/story/0,14676,1542359,00.html
] the "Chicago Tribune",cite news
author = Steve Johnson
title = Why HBO's 'The Wire' is the best show on TV
page = 1
publisher = Chicago Tribune
date = 2003-06-01
] "Slate", the "San Francisco Chronicle"cite web
author = Tim Goodman
year = 2003
title = HBO scores again with a stellar second season of 'The Wire'
publisher = San Francisco Chronicle
accessdate =
url = http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/05/30/DD157653.DTL
] and the "Philadelphia Daily News".cite web
title = It's time to get 'Wire'-d - after all, it's the best show on TV
publisher = Philadelphia Daily News
accessdate =
url = http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/living/15467592.htm
] Charlie Brooker, a columnist for the British newspaper "The Guardian" has been particularly copious in his praise of the show, in both his column "Screen Burn" and his BBC Four television series Screenwipe, in which he often speaks highly of it, calling it possibly the greatest show of the last 20 years. [cite web
url=http://www.offthetelly.co.uk/reviews/2006/charliebrooker.htm
title=Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe
last=Buckley
first=Rob
publisher=Off The Telly
date=February 23, 2006
accessdate=2007-11-14
] [cite episode
title=Unknown
series=Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
serieslink=Screenwipe
network=BBC Four
"The best show... of the last twenty years is another HBO show—not as well known—called "The Wire". "The Wire" is quite simply a stunning piece of work... it physically pains me to use this phrase, because anyone who uses it sounds like a tosser, but it is physically multilayered; it is just fucking brilliant." —Charlie Brooker
]

In January 2008, Presidential hopeful Barack Obama was quoted in the Las Vegas Sun as saying that "The Wire" is the best show on television. [cite web
url=http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/jan/14/obama-gloves-off/#/Obama_at_Culinary_Union_226/
title=Obama goes gloves off, head-on
last=Coolican
first=J. Patrick
publisher=Las Vegas Sun
date=January 14, 2008
accessdate=2008-06-12
]

In the May 4, 2008 issue of the Sunday New York Times Magazine, in a profile of Andrew Stanton, the oscar-winning director and writer of "Finding Nemo" and "A Bug's Life" was quoted as saying that "The Wire" is one of his two favorite TV shows (the other being "Battlestar Galactica") because, "There will never be a smarter show." [cite web
url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/magazine/04wwln-domains-t.html
title=An Animated Life
last=Levine
first=Edward
authorlink=Ed Levine
publisher=The New York Times
date=May 4, 2008
accessdate=2008-06-04
]

*"TIME" Magazine's Best/Worst List
** 2002 - Top Television Show WON
** 2006 - Top Television Show WON
*Peabody Award [cite web
title = George Foster Peabody Award Winners Book (page 73)
publisher = University of Georgia
accessdate = 2007-10-16
url = http://www.peabody.uga.edu/winners/winners_book.php
]
** 2003 WON
*American Film Institute Award
** 2003 - Television Program of the Year [cite web
title = AFI Awards 2003: Television Programs of the Year
publisher = American Film Institute
accessdate =
url = http://www.afi.com/tvevents/afiawards03/tvshows03.aspx
] WON
** 2006 - Television Program of the Year [cite web
title = AFI Awards 2006: Television Programs of the Year
publisher = American Film Institute
accessdate = 2007-10-17
url = http://www.afi.com/tvevents/afiawards06/tv06.aspx
] WON
*Edgar Award
** 2003 - Best Television Episode "Nominated"
** 2007 - Best Television Feature/Mini-Series Teleplay [cite web
title = Curtains Receives Edgar Award Nomination
publisher = Theatre Mania
accessdate =
url = http://www.theatermania.com/content/news.cfm/story/9924
] WON
*NAACP Image Award
** 2003 - Outstanding Drama Series "Nominated"
** 2004 - Outstanding Drama Series "Nominated"
** 2004 - Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series - Wendell Pierce "Nominated"
** 2005 - Outstanding Drama Series "Nominated"
** 2005 - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Idris Elba"Nominated"
** 2005 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series - Sonja Sohn "Nominated"
** 2007 - Outstanding Drama SeriesCite web|url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/features/e3i1df4dfd4706f9fc31fefc3974392be1d|title=2007 Image Award nominees and winners|accessdate=2007-11-05|publisher=Hollywood Reporter|year=2007] "Nominated"
** 2007 - Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series - Michael K. Williams "Nominated"
** 2007 - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Wendell Pierce "Nominated"
** 2007 - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series - Glynn Turman "Nominated"
** 2007 - Directing in a Dramatic Series - Seith Mann "Nominated"
*Television Critics Association
** 2003 - Program of the Year WON
** 2003 - Outstanding New Program "Nominated"
** 2003 - Outstanding Achievement in Drama "Nominated"
** 2004 - Outstanding Achievement in Drama [cite web
title = Television Critics Association Introduces 2004 Award Nominees
accessdate =
publisher = Television Critics Association
url = http://tvcritics.org/press/2004/07/television-critics-association.html
] "Nominated"
** 2007 - Program of the Year "Nominated"
** 2007 - Outstanding Achievement in Drama
*ASCAP Award
** 2004 - Film & Music TV Award WON
* Broadcasting & Cable Critics Poll
** 2005 - Best Drama
* Emmy Awards
** 2005 - Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series [cite web
title = Emmy Awards: TV Drama Nominations (cached)
publisher = Emmy Awards Online
accessdate =
url = http://72.14.207.104/search?q=cache:NuaViQyy5IsJ:www.emmyawardsonline.com/2005-emmy-nominations/2005-emmy-nominations-drama.html+&hl=en&lr=&strip=1
] "Nominated"
** 2008 - Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series - "-30-" teleplay by David Simon, story by David Simon and Ed Burns [cite web
title = 60th Primetime Emmy Awards
publisher = Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
accessdate = 21 September 2008
url = http://cdn.emmys.tv/awards/2008pte/60thpte_nomswin_pt.php?action=search_db#1
] "Nominated"
*Writers Guild of America Award
** 2007 - Dramatic SeriesCite web|url=http://wga.org/subpage_newsevents.aspx?id=2653#TheWireHBO|title=2008 Writers Guild Awards Television & Radio Nominees Announced|accessdate=2007-12-13|publisher=WGA|year=2007] Cite web|url=http://www.variety.com/awardcentral_article/VR1117977607.html#TheWireHBO|title=WGA announce TV, radio nominees|accessdate=2007-12-13|publisher=Variety|year=2007] Cite web|url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3i51057e90b0ae537411989f7513cd3991#TheWireHBO|title=HBO tops WGA awards list with five noms|accessdate=2007-12-13|publisher=The Hollywood Reporter|year=2007]
** 2007 - Episodic Drama - "Final Grades" teleplay by David Simon, story by David Simon and Ed Burns
*ITV3 Crime Thriller Award
** 2008 - International Crime Drama of the Year [cite web|author= Allen, Katie|title= Rankin and P D James pick up ITV3 awards|url= http://www.thebookseller.com/news/68347-rankin-and-p-d-james-pick-up-itv3-awards.html|work= theBookseller.com|date= 2008-10-06|accessdate= 2008-10-06]

Broadcasters

HBO aired the first four seasons of the show in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006, respectively. New episodes were shown once a week, occasionally skipping one or two weeks in favor of other programming. Starting with the fourth season, subscribers to the HBO On Demand service were able to see each episode of the season six days earlier. [cite web
year = 2006
title = "The Wire," "Def Comedy Jam" Set For On-Demand Premieres
publisher = World Screen News
accessdate =
url = http://www.worldscreen.com/newscurrent.php?filename=hbo71206.htm
]

American basic cable network BET also airs the show. [cite web
year = 2006
title = Catch "The Wire" on BET
publisher = BET
accessdate =
url = http://www.bet.com/BETShows/thewire.htm?wbc_purpose=Basic&WBCMODE=PresentationUnpublished&Referrer=%7B5538883B-DA39-4F14-8524-CA51A4742831%7D
] BET adds commercial breaks, blurs some nudity, and mutes the word "fuck" and its derivatives. Much of the waterfront storyline from the second season is edited out from the BET broadcasts. [cite web
year = 2007
title = BET’s editing butchers 'The Wire' story line
publisher = The Daily Bruin
accessdate =
url = http://www.dailybruin.com/news/2007/apr/16/ibets_editing_butchers_wire_story_linei/
]

In the United Kingdom, the show has been broadcast on FX. In a world first, British newspaper "The Guardian" made the first episode of the first season available to stream on its website for a brief period. [cite news|url=http://media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,,2131239,00.html|title=Guardian website to stream The Wire|accessdate=2007-07-20|date=2007-07-20|publisher=The Guardian] In Ireland, season 5 of the show is currently broadcast on Monday nights on TG4 and season 1 is now being shown on Channel 6. In Australia, the fourth season is currently broadcast on the free-to-air Nine Network at varying times soon after midnight on Wednesdays as well as seasons 1 and 2 on the cable television channel FOX8. It also airs in France, under the title "Sur écoute" ("wiretapped") on the pay channel Jimmy. The Polish channel TVN shows the series under the name "Prawo ulicy" ("law of the street"). The Swedish public service network SVT has shown the first four seasons of the series. In Norway, the NRK aired the first season of the show in the autumn of 2007. In Israel, the show is broadcast on the Xtra Hot channel, under the name "HaSmuya" (הסמויה - The Covert Unit). The show airs in Canada, on The Movie Network, Movie Central and OMTV channels. In Finland the series is shown on Subtv and MTV3 channels under the name "Langalla" ("On the wire"). The show has been broadcast in Hungary on Duna TV since March 2007 under the name "A drót" ("the wire").

DVD releases

The DVD sets have been favorably received, though some critics have faulted them for a lack of special features. [cite web
author = Jason Clark
year = 2006
title = "The Wire": The Complete Third Season
publisher = Entertainment Weekly
accessdate =
url = http://www.ew.com/ew/article/review/dvd/0,6115,1219875_2_0_,00.html
] [cite news
author = James Poniewozik
title = 5 stellar series to catch up with on DVD
publisher = TIME
page = 72
date = 2006-08-14
]

References

External links

*" [http://www.hbo.com/thewire The Wire] " — Official HBO website
* [http://www.ncjrs.gov/html/bja/gang/pfv.html Gang and Drug-Related Homicide: Baltimore's Successful Enforcement Strategy] — Ed Burns discusses some of the investigations and individuals which inspired "The Wire".
* [http://citypages.com/databank/27/1337/article14551.asp Ten Thousand Bullets] — an interview with George P. Pelecanos.
* [http://blogs.citypages.com/pscholtes/2006/07/george_pelecano.asp George Pelecanos on "The Wire" and D.C. pulp fiction] — A supplement to "Ten Thousand Bullets."
* [http://extrapolater.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/virginia-festival-of-the-book-writing-the-wire/ George Pelecanos and David Simon speak at the Virginia Festival of the Book] — A breakdown of the Q&A with hints about the fifth season.
* [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/10/22/071022fa_fact_talbot?printable=true The New Yorker Profiles David Simon] — A long profile article about David Simon with info about season five as well as his next project.
* [http://www.thisjustin.com/2007/02/16/the-message-the-wire-wired-to-the-max/ HBO sketch comedy "The Message"] parodies "The Wire"
* [http://smokingsection.rawkus.com/TSS/?p=3365 David Simon Speaks At USC The Smoking Section]
*" [http://www.visitmybaltimore.com/video/449/ David Simon's Baltimore] " — The Wire creator talks about how Baltimore inspires and informs The Wire
* [http://www.hobotrashcan.com/interviews/thewire.php A collection of interviews with Wire cast members] from HoboTrashcan.com (interviews include Michael K. Williams, Lance Reddick, Robert Wisdom, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Isiah Whitlock Jr. and more)
* [http://www.reason.com/news/show/126026.html Reason Magazine Interview with Ed Burns] The Wire co-creator talks about how Baltimore inspires and informs The Wire, and opinions on the "War on Drugs" from his and other co-creators experiences.
* [http://maps.live.com/?v=2&encType=1&cid=C6E1DC4500EDAB7E!219 Scene locations for The Wire]


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