DVD Review: HBO Bids Farewell to ‘Deadwood,’ ‘The Wire’ With Series Sets

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CHICAGO – “Deadwood” and “The Wire”, two of the best television programs of the last decade, have been given lavish, must-own treatment by HBO with spectacular season sets available just in time for the holidays.

HBO has been criticized for stretching their shows out over too many discs with bloated season sets that take up twice the actual shelf space as most shows with double the actual episodes. The three seasons of Deadwood take up more than a foot of shelf space for only 36 episodes. But when shows have run their course, HBO Home Video does a spectacular job of compressing everything previously available into a well-packaged and space-saving complete series set.

Whether or not simply saving space and providing only a few new special features is worth the upgrade depends on how rabid a fan of “Deadwood” and “The Wire” you are, but if there’s anyone in your circle of gift-giving this holiday season who doesn’t own the entirety of these spectacular shows, these are clearly the way to go. There’s no reason at all for stores to even sell the individual season releases of “Deadwood” or “The Wire” again.

Deadwood: The Complete Series is available on DVD December 9, 2008.
Deadwood: The Complete Series is available on DVD December 9, 2008.
Photo credit: © HBO Home Video.

“Deadwood: The Complete Series”

The 36 episodes of David Milch’s brilliant deconstruction of the television Western are included on 19 discs in the complete series set with over two hours of new bonus content, including a discussion with “Deadwood“‘s creator about the early conclusion of the spectacular show. “Deadwood” is named after the real American frontier town that served as a dramatic backdrop for the convergence of law, greed, and even love. Set in a place where businessmen, soldiers, Chinese laborers, prostitutes, and gunfighters all struggled to survive, “Deadwood” was a consistently riveting program, not just one of the best television Westerns of all time, but also a great example of the genre in any medium.

Deadwood: Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Earl W. Brown, Titus Welliver.
Deadwood: Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Earl W. Brown, Titus Welliver..
Photo credit: Doug Hyun

“Deadwood” won multiple awards, including Emmys, a Peabody Award, and a Golden Globe and was massively critically acclaimed through its tragically short run. There were rumors of TV movies to come after HBO pulled the plug on “Deadwood” after only three seasons, but those appear less and less likely with cast and crew moving on to other projects.

Each one of the season sets have been imported untouched. That means that the excellent video and audio from the individual seasons remain intact and that previously available special features are once again included. New special features include “The Meaning of Endings”, “The Real Deadwood: Out of the Ashes”, “Q&A With Cast and Creative Team”, “Deadwood 360 Tour”, and “Al Swearengen Audition Reel (as performed by Titus Welliver)”. “Endings” is the real catch, a 23-minute discussion with Milch about the controversial end of the show in which the creator walks the set and talks about where he would have gone in season four and basically closes the door on any future adventures in the town of Deadwood. The panel discussion is also informative and includes Milch and most of the major stars of the show including Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, John Hawkes, Powers Boothe, and Robin Weigert.

The three season sets of Deadwood were must-owns for TV fans and their collection into a complete series set with gorgeous packaging and two hours of must-see, new bonus features is even more so.

The Wire: The Complete Series is available on DVD December 9, 2008.
The Wire: The Complete Series is available on DVD December 9, 2008.
Photo credit: © HBO Home Video.

“The Wire: The Complete Series”

Hailed as one of the best programs in the history of television by outlets as esteemed as The New York Times, “The Wire” never got the awards or the buzz of a program like “The Sopranos” or “Sex and the City,” but already feels like as important a part of the HBO story as those more high-profile shows. Each of the five seasons of “The Wire” focuses on a different part of the fabric of the modern city including drug dealers, blue-collar workers, politicians, the school system, and the journalists who cover it all.

The Wire.
The Wire.
Photo credit: Paul Schiraldi

“The Wire” is a stronger series when it’s viewed as a whole experience instead of season by season. Each new season of “The Wire” felt like a new chapter in one overall book, making the series a perfect fit for a complete series set. It’s one of the most insightful statements on the political, economic, and social realities of the modern city that has ever been produced.

The 23-disc DVD set of this Peabody Award-winning series takes up roughly the space of a season-and-a-half of the original season sets and includes new bonus features. The new extras on “The Wire” are less remarkable than those on “Deadwood”. It feels like the history of this spectacular show has yet to be fully chronicled and the inclusion of a “Never-before-seen Gag Reel” and “Three Prequels That Explore Life Before The Wire” doesn’t really change that feeling.

Where are the retrospective featurettes with the cast and crew? The documentary about the history of the show and the controversy over its constant snubbing by the Emmys (five years - two nominations and never for Best Dramatic Series)? It feels like there’s something missing in this “Complete Series” although fans may argue that the quality of this incredible show speaks for itself.

‘Deadwood: The Complete Series’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Timothy Olyphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker, Jim Beaver, W. Earl Brown, Dayton Callie, Kim Dickens, Brad Dourif, Anna Gunn, John Hawkes, Jeffrey Jones, Paula Malcomson, Leon Rippy, William Sanderson, Robin Weigert, Sean Bridgers, Titus Welliver, Brent Sexton, Bree Seanna Wall and Powers Boothe. It was created by David Milch. It will be released on December 9th, 2008.CST.

‘The Wire: The Complete Series’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Lance Reddick, Wendell Pierce, Deirdre Lovejoy, Clarke Peters, Reg E. Cathey, Domenick Lombardozzi, Seth Gilliam, Jamie Hector, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Doman, Andre Royo, Corey Parker Robinson, Tristan Wilds, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jermaine Crawford and Isiah Witlock, Jr.. It was created by David Simon. It will be released on December 9th, 2008.CST.

Staff Writer

Anonymous's picture

The Wire is hands-down the

The Wire is hands-down the most realistic and incredibly amazing show created. Does it sound like I’m blowing things out of proportion? Go and watch it then say that I am. Or google ‘The Wire’ and ‘greatest show’ in the same sentence and see what comes up.

It ended when it was amazing, and now has a legion of loyal fans - but without the hype of something like The Sopranos.

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