To many, there’s no series that stands the test of time greater than David Simon’s beloved urban tale, The Wire. Now, HBO hopes a whole new generation of viewers will experience the magic of one of television’s greatest achievements - but the return won't come without some strings.
A while back, HBO revealed plans to rebroadcast the entire series in high definition for the first time. However, many began questioning if the drama’s signature 4:3 ratio would be left intact. Now it appears there’s an answer to all of it.
Beginning Friday, December 26th @12pm, HBO Signature will air every season of The Wire consecutively, one a day for five days, concluding on the 30th. Also on the 26th, the series will be made available, in HD, on HBO Go, and then on January 5th, the network will expand the series to third party digital retailers including iTunes, Google Play, Xbox and Vudu – the series is already available to Amazon Prime members under a different deal that took place earlier in the year.
However, the story of The Wire’s remastering doesn’t end there, as with the announcement came confirmation that the series would be converted to the 16:9 standard for widescreen televisions. Of course, this is what has led many to reply with a less than kind reaction as fans almost unanimously agree that the HBO drama benefits greatly from its 4:3 ratio that adds to the documentary feel of the story. That said, it seems original series creator David Simon has weighed in on the matter with some words of encouragement.
On his official site, the writer stated he’s been involved with the technical process of the remastering as much as he could be for the last few months.
There are scenes that clearly improve in HD and in the widescreen format. But there are things that are not improved. And even with our best resizing, touchups and maneuver, there are some things that are simply not as good. That’s the inevitability: This new version, after all, exists in an aspect ratio that simply wasn’t intended or serviced by the filmmakers.
Simon also explained:
Personally, I’m going to choose to believe that [executive producer] Bob Colesberry would forgive this trespass on what he built, and that he, too, would be more delighted at the notion of more folks seeing his film than distressed at the imprecisions and compromises required.
In much of the essay, Simon goes into the process of having to compromise the original composition of certain shots in order to meet the 16:9 requirements, but in order to do so, the former showrunner (along with the team in charge of the project) made sure it was the best possible version of the shot that could exist in the new format.
As digital availability of classic television becomes more and more of a thing, these are the kinds of decisions that are going to have to be made by creators. So, let’s just be happy Simon took a proactive approach in making sure the new version of The Wire people will be experiencing is the best version they could have gotten.
The remastered version of The Wire will be available on December 26th, 2014.