The Wire has become more than a TV show - until Breaking Bad or those acclaimed Netflix shows came along, The Wire was THE social barometer for if you were on the up and up of sophisticated TV viewing. David Simon's crime drama/intricate social critique lasted five seasons, over seven years, and remained one of (if not THE) highest-rated shows by critics and fans alike throughout its run.
Aside from the now-proven accuracy of its unflinching and uncensored look at life and culture in urban America, The Wire remains a talking point in the TV zeitgeist due to the fact that it never received any major awards (Emmy, Golden Globe) - just two nominations for writing over the course of seven years. Now that's criminal. However, now those who slept on the show - or claimed they couldn't get into the directorial format - will have another chance to discover one of the most famous (and talked about) shows that ever aired on American TV - because HBO is remastering The Wire in its entirety.
Previous reports have it that The Wire was being remastered for HD broadcast this September, but that's not fully accurate. After reaching out to sources at HBO, we can report that while The Wire is in fact being remastered - and September was the target date for completion - full approval of all episodes is not yet complete, and an exact timeline for completion and release has not yet been decided.
This little announcement raises two very important questions:
- Is this re-mastering for broadcast AND HD home release? Or just the latter?
- Will the show's original, old-school, 4:3 box aspect ratio be recut into the 16:9 letterbox format of today's HD broadcasts?
HBO would not comment - but the first question is a basic one, which calls to question whether or not unfamiliar viewers will be given full (and free) opportunity to discover The Wire. he latter question is more for cinematic purists who worry about whether or not authenticity is being maintained throughout the process of "upgrading" the show's visuals.
For those who don't know the technical side of things: In order to convert older, square 4:3 film ratio to 16:9 rectangular HD, you must crop part of the picture out in order to make the conversion. This means that while people might ultimately get a crisper and more HD gorgeous look to The Wire, they will not be seeing all that David Simon and Co. packed into the frame. Those drastic changes can actually have big ramifications in a show like The Wire, where one character sitting on the side or in the background of one scene may have major implication or importance to the larger narrative (see: the secret lifestyle of Dep. Comm. Rawls - or the lunchtime habits of The Greek).
Of course, if changing the look to a more modern and accepted format helps more people get into this show? Personally, I'm all for it. It has been painful to watch the rise of high-quality, high-art, cable and premium television over the last few years, while The Wire still languishes in a cesspool of disregard - despite the enduring truths of its many messages, or the gang of talent it sent forth into the world of TV - talent that has strangely managed to find recognition whenever they aren't telling the story of Urban America's plight, with a diverse cast of diverse and wonderfully complex characters.
This was a show that, as far back as 2002 counted a sensitive gay black man as the most feared (and respected) criminal in its lineup - while a tough-as-nails, soft-spoken, Blasian lesbian served as one of our primary detectives. Talk about progressive; Simon's world and characters were so far ahead of their time, that rebroadcasting The Wire now may only make it seem contemporary.
We'll keep you updated about the timeline and details of The Wire: Remastered as they come to light.