DVDs in Review: #16 - The Wire - The Complete Second Season

Category: , By Rev/Views

Continuing my deep and almost rabid love for the greatest story to ever grace our television screens here's my review of the second season. I give you David Simon's The Wire.

Show:

"Mr. Little, how does a man rob drug dealers for eight or nine years and live to tell about it? " - States Attorney Ilene Nathan
"Day at a time I suppose?" - Omar Little

The second season begins a while after the first season's final events. McNulty's insubordination and disrespect of authority have landed him in exactly the place he didn't want to be, working in Baltimore's harbor patrol. Stringer Bell has taken over running Avon's empire, the detail has been disbanded, Omar is still robbing gangers, Bubbles is still struggling with his addiction and Kima has been switched to a desk job after getting shot last season. In short - despite the triumph - life goes on exactly as it did before.

Things begin to change when McNulty fishes a floater out of the water and decides to screw with the homicide division by pinning it on them. They don't want it as floaters are almost impossible to solve and that means the name would stay in red on their case board, lowering their clear percentage. Then the head of the local Stevedores Union, one Frank Sobotka manages to p**s off the wrong person by donating a stain glass window to a church when Major Valchek wanted to do the same thing (in the same place). It's these two events that start the ball rolling, Valchek decides he wants to take out Sobotka and when thirteen imigrant women are found dead in a container the heat begins to turn on the docks.

The second season can be something of a shock to the viewer when you first get into it, as the show has mostly moved away from the ghetto area of Baltimore and deals with the dock area and the plight of the American blue collar worker. But familiar faces make appearances and we still get to see how things are going for Avon, Bodie, D'Angleo, Stringer and the rest. So it's not a complete jolt. The season's theme music has changed from the Blind Boys of Alabama's cover to Tom Wait's original rendition of "Way Down in the Hole".

But make no mistake, these changes are purely superficial, the show is still every bit as fantastic as the previous season and you'll soon come to love the new characters introduced. You'll laugh at Omar's star turn as a witness against Avon, you'll find Spiros and The Greek intensely interesting and Frank Sobotka will grow on you as he shows what he's made of. The second season is different from the first, but it's every bit as good. It also helps that by now the viewer will be used to the style of the show, the hardest part of "The Wire" is getting into it in the first place and the only reason that I'm not giving this season a 10/10 is because the later seasons are even better, which is amazing because the bar has been set so high already.

9/10


Packaging:

"The world is a smaller place now." - The Greek

The box for the second season is very similar to the first season, the art on the front can be seen at the start of this post. It's a continuation of the film noir style used in the first season set against metallic olive backdrop. Now thanks to knowing the right people I've managed to exchange my older larger boxes for the new smaller ones. They take up a lot less space on the shelf - about 50% less in fact - but there is one small issue with them. The episode list book included with the DVDs is slightly too wide for the case so it bends somewhat. Apart from this minor lazy oversight the rest of the product is professionally made and just evokes the feel of the show.

8/10


Extras:


"If I hear the music, I'm gonna dance." - Greggs

The extras are still rather disappointing in this boxed set, there are two sets of commentaries - on the 6th and 12th episodes - and that's it. The 6th episode commentary is from Dominic West (McNulty) and Michael K. Williams (Omar Little) and it's fantastic; lively, interesting and engaging. I just wish David Simon had been present as well, but it's still great to listen to these to actors talk about their thoughts and experiences. The second commentary is from producer Karen Thorson and film editor Thom Zimney and it's ok, worth a listen, but it not as good as the other one.

4/10


Price:

"Business. Always business." - The Greek

You can get the second season for £22 in Zavvi or £25 from play.com, but HMV lead the pack with a cracking price of £17.99 from their website. The second season is a hefty 720 minutes long which means you pay 2.5p per minute for the best character drama to have ever graced the small screen.

I'd call that an absolute bargain.

9/10




Final Score

Show: 9
Packaging: 8
Extras: 4
Price: 9

Overall: 75%

The Last Word

I really cannot stress enough how amazing this show is, it's the very thing that television was made for. It's the shining peak on the mountain that is media driven storytelling and the second season is a stunning part of that. Don't be put off by the lack of extras, in all honesty this show is so good you shouldn't really need them. There are only two types of people in this world, those who've watched The Wire and those who need to.

Which are you?

 

4 comments so far.

  1. MysterLynch 3 July 2008 at 05:52
    I have thought about it, and I honestly can't think of another drama that matches the quality and depth of The Wire.
  2. jaxvor 3 July 2008 at 12:09
    You know, I actually think I like the 2nd season best. I think it's because it's the season where everything really clicked and I became comfortable with the show.

    Plus it had a hard drinkin' duck in it.
  3. Rev 3 July 2008 at 12:15
    MysterLynch:
    I have to agree, while there are shows where the characterisation is at a similar level - Homicide, Dexter and The Shield for example - none of those shows manage to have the same narrative scope that The Wire works at.

    Jaxvor:
    I also really love the second season, it's when things really clicked for me also. Plus it helps that The Greek and Spiros are my two favourite kingpins in the show and Frank Sobotka is brilliant. But I personally feel that the 3rd and 4th seasons are stronger again. I especially love the narrative of the 3rd season.

    The 5th season I'm still not sure where to rank because I've only watched it once and I'm still left reeling and drained from the experience (nearly half a year later).

    I also loved the Duck. F**king Ziggy! :D
  4. MysterLynch 5 July 2008 at 23:48
    Not sure if it will be released in the U.K., but HBO will be releasing a special box set of the entire series for the holidays.

    I am still waiting for details regarding bonus features.

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