Fans of great television can rejoice this holiday season as HBO has announced that remastered HD episodes of “The Wire” will begin broadcasting on HBO Signature Friday, Dec. 26 at 12 p.m. ET. The plan is to marathon one season per day, wrapping with the fifth and final season on Tuesday, Dec. 30.
It was first announced that HBO would be remastering David Simon‘s 2002-2008 award-winning series for HD in September. In addition to improving the visual quality, the aspect ratio of the series has been expanded from its original 4:3 aspect ration to the current 16:9 industry standard.
The remastered series will also be available to watch in its entirety from Dec. 26 on HBO GO. It will be available for a full series purchase on Monday, Jan. 5 via various platforms including iTunes, Google Play, X-Box Video and Vudu. While a Blu-ray release is planned, it is currently on the schedule for next summer.
Series creator David Simon took to his own blog to talk about the remastering process for his beloved Baltimore-set drama, and his initial lack of involvement.
Although HBO had told him they wanted to tinker with expanding “The Wire” to HD and a 16:9 ratio about a year ago, according to Simon, he heard about the final conversion plans at the same time as the rest of the industry — when HBO started airing promo ads about it.
“No offense was taken,” Simon wrote. “Particularly when the production people explained that the transfer to HD had been laborious and ornate, and … there was a further assumption at HBO that as a transfer to HD could provide a fresh audience for the drama, there was no real disincentive to an HD transfer of ‘The Wire’ on any terms; if it could be done, they reasoned, it should be done.”
Simon further suggested that at least one of the reasons that HBO missed their initial September launch for the remastered episodes was because Simon and his production team asked to be a part of the process at that time.
In doing so, he discovered that while some scenes transferred to the new 16:9 ratio with minimal impact, there were others that were designed specifically for 4:3, and were not so easily remastered. And so, tough decisions had to be made about framing and cropping that did ultimately alter in some cases what was presented on the screen.
“At the last, I’m satisfied that 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,” Simon wrote. “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, touchups and maneuvers, 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 at the moment that that camera was rolling and the shot was being framed.”
“The Wire” in HD begins broadcasting in marathon format at 12 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 26 on HBO Signature. The network will marathon one season per day through Tuesday, Dec. 30.