UPDATE: HBO announced today, December 2, “The Wire: The Complete Series” will be available to purchase on Digital HD January 5, 2015. The premium cable network will also be airing a marathon of the newly remastered series on HBO Signature starting December 26, with one season a day until December 30. The series Blu-ray will not be available until Summer 2015, but all 60 episodes will be available in HD on HBO Go starting December 26.
Everyone has a favorite TV show. Many even contend their television show is the best of the bunch. The top dog. The head honcho. Heisenberg. Tony Soprano. Stringer Bell — wait, no — Marlo. No, that’s not quite right. Okay, so maybe there isn’t a clear overlord of “The Wire,” but it’s still one of the most lauded television shows of all time.
Hence the fervor when news hit earlier today that David Simon’s criminally-ignored (pun intended) magnum opus (magnum Omar) was being digitally remastered at HBO. The speculation only grew with an ad surfacing online claiming the pretty new versions of a the dark, early aughts series would start running September 4 (see below), and fans claiming to have seen the ad running on the premium cable network over the weekend.
HBO representatives have confirmed “The Wire” is being remastered, but the release date has been pushed back indefinitely. Episodes are “still being reviewed,” and information outside of that is scarce. September was originally the target date for the remastered versions to air, but now the project is considered to be a “work in progress.” An executive at HBO said the ad, which titled the release as “The Wire Replay Marathon,” aired prematurely.
While everyone would love to see images of McNulty, Omar, Stringer, Bunk and Bubbles filling up their entire 16:9 HDTVs, “The Wire” has always been presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio of which it was originally released. Fans could be particularly wary of a widescreen version now, considering what FXX did to early episodes of “The Simpsons” for its own HD marathon. Cropping ruined many of the images, resulting in cramped frames and cut off faces — sometimes so egregious that viewers sometimes couldn’t even tell which characters were on screen.
If properly remastered, “The Wire” could make as much as Omar stole from Blu-ray sales and higher-priced streaming versions. Cinephiles, TV aficionados, and culturally aware individuals everywhere wouldn’t think twice about upgrading to a clearer, crisper copy of the critically-acclaimed series, especially since it’s never been available for purchase in an HD format.
Simon is currently working on a six-part miniseries for HBO titled “Show Me a Hero.” Paul Haggis has signed on to direct with Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) and Winona Ryder set to star. “Treme,” Simon’s follow-up to “The Wire,” wrapped its final season in December 2013, earning four Emmy nominations and one win (Outstanding Sound Mixing) for its five-episode fourth season.