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In the projects. On the docks. In City Hall. In the schools. And now, in the media. The places and faces have changed, but the game remains the same. Times are tough for the detail. Mayor Carcetti has slashed the departments budget to the bone. Police are operating without overtime some without cars and radios. Angered, McNulty is off the rails again and headed down a dangerous path of deception and lies that will ally him with an unscrupulous reporter. The drug trade still rules the corners, all you have to do is read between the lines.
DVD Features: Audio Commentary Featurette
A barroom toast to Det. Jimmy McNulty Dominic West, a one-man good cop/bad cop, offered in The Wire's final episode could very well serve as this series' epitaph: "When you were good, you were the best we had." Season five bears witness to this. The 10 riveting, wrenching episodes focus on yet another beleaguered Baltimore institution, The Baltimore Sun daily newspaper, whose staff, much like the police, is forced to do more with less. One editor Clark Johnson struggles to maintain the paper's journalistic standards in the face of declining ad revenues, employee buyouts and bureau closures. An ambitious reporter Tom McCarthy undermines him by taking a page out of the Stephen Glass/Jayson Blair playbook, manufacturing sensational quotes, and eventually, whole stories, while bean-counter management encourages its rising star and keeps its eye on the Pulitzer prize. Meanwhile, on the streets, the year-long investigation of rising drug lord Marlo Sansfield Jamie Hector and the 22 bodies found in "the vacants" has been discontinued and police morale is at an all-time low the money promised to the department has been diverted to the schools. McNulty manufactures a serial killer case that will have far-reaching repercussions in the mayor's office, where Tommy Carcetti Aidan Gillen is mounting a run for governor a mere two years into his term. "I wonder what it would be like to work at a real police station," McNulty rages at one point. The Wire, as ever, is all about real. It's a gritty and unflinching look at life in one of roughest districts of a "broke-ass city." There is street justice for some characters, and street injustice for others. Some meet sad, sudden, or shocking ends that defy TV convention. Referring to Marlo, McNulty declares early on, "He does not get to win; we get to win." The hard-earned victories are mostly small, or come with a price. Not that The Wire does not offer glimmers of hope. Bubbles Andre Royo struggles to maintain his sobriety Steve Earle portrays the leader of his 12-step program and also does the theme song honors this season, and the final episode features a cameo by Jim True-Frost as the once overwhelmed teacher, "Prez," who now seems to have the hang of the job. The ratings-strapped and criminally Emmy-snubbed The Wire has always been a critic's darling with a passionate fan base. To the show's credit, it did not make itself more accessible in its final season consequently, its send-off did not receive near the fanfare of The Sopranos or Sex and the City. That should not dissuade newcomers to the show. It is heavy lifting, and if you're just joining The Wire, a visit to the show's official website for orientation is recommended. But buy it, watch it, and be patient. It's so worth it. From the masterful storytelling to the peerless ensemble, it just doesn't get any better than The Wire. But that's not exactly news. --Donald Liebenson