DVDs in Review: #17 - The Wire: The Complete Third Season

Category: , By Rev/Views


"Everyone is feeling the heat in Baltimore. The drug war is a losing campaign, bodies are piling up in the street and a desperate mayor demands to see some victories before Election Day. But the police are running out of ammunition. Wire tapes aren't working, and neither are stakeouts or street busts. No matter how hard McNulty and the detail try, the dealers always seem to be a step ahead."
- Back of box blurb.

Season three of The Wire returns from Baltimore docks back to the streets and their kingpins with a vengeance. Stringer Bell is firmly entrenched in the Barksdale organisation and so cautious that none of the old tricks are working against him or his crew. Avon is back out from jail and the various kingpins have formed a cooperative group to manage distribution of their drug stashes, but there's a new kingpin on the block called Marlo Stanfeld and he wants more than his share of the action. In the police force, Major Howard "Bunny" Calvin is currently in charge of the western district (where the Barksdales operate) and is getting increasingly desperate in the face of all the failure. McNulty and the detail are stuck bashing their heads against failed surveillance and there's increasing pressure from the mayor's office to produce results. The betrayal of Frank Sobotka by a member of the FBI resulted in "The Greek" and Spiros making their escape at the end of the last season, so the flow of drugs into the city has not been halted much.

Meanwhile Bodie has risen in the ranks of the Barksdale organisation and things are looking pretty profitable for him in the future, as long as Omar's crusade against the Barksdales's doesn't bring everything down around them all. A few new players emerge on the scene as well, including the driven and ambitious councilman Tommy Carcetti - who is determined to become the next mayor of Baltimore - and Dennis 'Cutty' Wise, a former Barksdale Enforcer who's just gotten out of prison.

The third season of The Wire stacks the deck high from the very start, things have not gone well for the Baltimore P.D. despite some successes at the docks. Everything is looking bleak for the Major Crimes detail and their lack of success means they're struggling to stay afloat. It's pretty much life as usual in Baltimore, no matter how hard the police try to keep the law there's always someone out there supplying the demand.

The narrative and characterisation in the third season is superb, the show hits a stride that surpasses the excellent second season and brings you a rich, detailed and bleak world. A world where you experience both sides of the equation and learn to love or hate all the players in the picture. The third season is phenomenal, but what is even more staggering is the fact that the next season improves even further.



"You're the perfect bait. They will view you as conflicted, your homophobia is so visceral." - Brother Mauzone
"See that. I haven't even walked in the place yet and you're already calling me a c***sucker." - Lamar

The box deviates from the previous style somewhat, providing a blue filtered shot of Avon and Stringer from the viewpoint of McNulty. It's the mirror image of the shot at the top of this post, and stands to highlight the dual nature of the narrative in the show. The rest of the box has been kept in a very close style to match the previous two, on the shelf it's only the colour of the spine (and the text) that differentiates it from previous seasons. It's also has a very small shelf profile (about 1cm wide) which means it's doesn't take up much room.

The plastic DVD case contains all 5 DVDs with ease and even has room for the small booklet. It's a triumphant marriage of design and practicality.


"What the f**k did I do?" - Jimmy McNulty

In contrast to the previous two seasons, the third season has a strong selection of extras. They include a Q&A with David Simon and the Creative Team, a conversation with David Simon and 5 Audio Commentaries from David Simon and members of the writing, production and direction teams. It's a bit of a shame that there's no commentary from the cast in any of those because the second season commentary from Dominic West and Michael K. Williams was superb. But it's good to have David Simon talking about his creation again.


"The game done changed... " - Dennis 'Cutty' Wise

HMV have the third season available for £16.99 right now, which is way under what it's worth. It runs for approx 703 minutes so that's 2.4p per minute. A very respectable price for one of the best seasons of the greatest show on TV ever. It's nothing but sheer joy to watch.



Show: 10
Packaging: 9
Extras: 7
Price: 9

Final Score: 87.5%
Final Word:

I adore the third season of The Wire, it's pretty much televisual perfection. It's without a doubt the greatest experience you can get from watching a television show, it's so complex and layered that it holds up to repeated viewing with ease. Forget reality TV shows, this is as close as you'll get to reality in the media.

It's life, on television.


1 comment so far.

  1. MysterLynch 15 July 2008 at 02:22
    Season three was a nice one in that it wrapped up some storylines, while keeping others strong.

    The Wire is one of those shows that I will revisit every couple of years simply to savor the chemistry and great writing.

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