The Wire: The Complete First SeasonWarner Home Video, $99.99
There's a reason why the HBO series The Wire has not captured a larger audience. Unlike conventional crime dramas like Law & Order or the CSI franchise, The Wire is unapologetically demanding. The series ripens with each carefully shaped episode, luring and challenging viewers instead of coddling them. In short, The Wire is not your ordinary, wrap-it-up-in-an-hour police drama. In fact, calling it a police drama is a disservice. While the series follows the efforts of a special Baltimore police unit working to bring down a deeply rooted drug lord, the scope of The Wire is larger and more complex. The boundaries defining good and evil are frayed and imprecise. Yet, it is at this ragged boundary where The Wire stubbornly takes hold. And this five-disc set of its first season is an ideal format in which to view the series. Like a good novel, it can be relished two or three episodes at a time. Extras are limited to episode commentaries by series creator David Simon, other series writers, and cast members. However, the meatiness of the series is more than enough to engage viewers and perhaps woo viewers of less challenging crime dramas.