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The Wire

The Wire is an American television drama series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created 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, comprising 60 episodes over five seasons.

Each season of The Wire focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In chronological order they are: the illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and 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. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution they are committed to.”

Despite only receiving modest ratings and never winning major television awards, The Wire has been described by many critics as the greatest TV drama of all time. The show is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, its literary ambitions, and its uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes.

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 or cuts 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 cutting (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. In addition, actors’ faces are rarely seen in the title sequence. At the end of the sequence, a quotation is shown on-screen that is spoken by a character during the episode. The three exceptions were the first season finale which uses the phrase “All in the game”, attributed to “Traditional West Baltimore”, a phrase used frequently throughout all five seasons including that episode; the fourth season finale which uses words written on boarded up vacant homes attributed to “Baltimore, traditional” and the series finale, which started with a quote from H. L. Mencken that is shown on a wall at The Baltimore Sun in one scene, neither quote being spoken by a character. Progressive story arcs often unfold in different locations at the same time. Episodes rarely end with a cliffhanger, and close with a fade or cut to black with the closing music fading in


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