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The Wire’s depressing urban decay to be rendered in stunning HD

Recognizing that, for too long, the only way for viewers to see the drug-and-violence-strewn ghettos of Baltimore has been through the grimy filter of standard definition, HBO has finally remastered The Wire for broadcast in HD. Starting Thursday, Sept. 4, the HBO Signature channel will be running all episodes of the series on weeknights at 8 p.m. ET—this time with an all-new digital transfer that will allow those with HD television sets to see every sparkling crack vial, every wrinkle in every face weathered by the relenting hopelessness, every fracture in the crumbling façade of American bureaucracy. Also, the harbor should look real pretty in season two.

While all of The Wire was produced in 4:3 aspect ratio, in keeping with—as DP David Insley says—David Simon’s belief that it “feels more like real life and real television,” the first three seasons, at least, were “future-proofed” by being framed as 16:9. (A widescreen version even streamed briefly on Amazon.) A commenter on HBO Watch, where the report originated, who claims to be working in the VFX house where the remaster is taking place says the show will be broadcast in 16:9—though obviously we won’t know for sure until Thursday. In the meantime, purists are advised to begin freaking out.

The marathon was announced with the below promo, which promises that the hard-won tapped phone lines and the workaday drudgery of listening to them in order to glean the smallest bit of information will be soon be gloriously searing your eyeballs.

UPDATE: HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall now says HBO tells him that the date given for the premiere of the HD remaster was “premature,” and it is, in fact, still working on it. So it looks as though you’ll have to take in the squalid surroundings of Baltimore through regular old, grimy SD for now.


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