David Simon Weighs in on HBO’s HD Remastering of ‘The Wire’

David Simon HBO
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HBO is about to release an HD remastering of the critically beloved series ‘The Wire,” a rebirth of sorts that prompted a nearly 3,000-word discourse on the effort by series creator/exec producer David Simon.

Simon admits he has mixed feelings about the new version as the shift to a 16:9 ratio frame inevitably means changes for the early seasons that were shot in 4:3. He cited the mentoring he received from the late filmmaker Bob Colesberry in his decision to be involved in the transfer process along with “Wire” producer Nina Noble.

The 60 episodes of “Wire’s” five seasons will be available in January as an HD download and, in the summer, on Blu-ray. HBO will also air a marathon of the remastered version from Dec. 26-Dec. 30 (one season per day) on its HBO Signature channel.

As Simon says: “At the last, I’m satisfied what while this new version of ‘The Wire’ is not, in some specific ways, the film we first made, it has sufficient merit to exist as an alternate version. There are scenes that clearly improve in HD and in the widescreen format. But there are things that are not improved. And even with our best resizing, touch-ups and maneuver, there are some things that are simply not as good.  That’s the inevitability: This new version, after all, exists in an aspect ratio that simply wasn’t intended or serviced by the filmmakers.

“Still, being equally honest here, there can be no denying that an ever-greater portion of the television audience has HD widescreen televisions staring at them from across the living room, and that they feel notably oppressed if all of their entertainments do not advantage themselves of the new hardware. It vexes them in the same way that many with color television sets were long ago bothered by the anachronism of black-and-white films, even carefully conceived black-and-white films. For them, ‘The Wire’ seems frustrating or inaccessible — even more so than we intended it. And, hey, we are always in it to tell people a story, first and foremost. If a new format brings a few more thirsty critters to the water’s edge, then so be it.”

He also urges viewers to donate to the NYU Tisch School scholarship established in memory of Colesberry, who died while the “Wire” team was prepping the show’s third season.

Here’s a link to Simon’s post.


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  1. Alan says:

    Pretty clearly, it wasn’t Simon’s idea and he would rather it was just seen in the original 4:3. But HBO didn’t give him a choice and he had to grin and bear it. They believe people won’t watch a show with pillarboxes. They may be right, it’s depressing that now the original show will never be broadcast, probably never sold, again looking as it was intended.

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