The Wire, perhaps one of the grittiest, dirtiest shows on television, is getting a full HD remake courtesy of HBO, giving us all the opportunity to bask in the glory of crystal clear track marks and shaving cuts. It updates the original 4:3 ratio to a full HD 16:9. But it might not be all good news.
While there are some 4:3 shows that have been on HD TV for a while and they just look terrible (check out Sex &The City or early Simpsons), updating show like these aren’t always for the best. Have you ever seen the colourised version of Night of the Living Dead? The show’s creator David Simon agrees. You can read his entire blog here for yourself (and it makes for some fascinating reading).
Now looking at this you can clearly see that no, it is not the horror that Night of the Living Dead was. It is still The Wire. It is still a stunningly epic piece of visual storytelling. But there is just not enough going on at the edges. You can clearly see that this series was framed in 4:3. This is a scene comparison that Davis Simon likes, but I still think that the frame needs a more ruthless squeeze. After all, in HD, if you can get all that extra detail, then you can notice the blank spaces more too.
Similarly, in this comparison, which Simon believes makes the scene a little weaker, the characters seem a little too far off in the distance, and gives a greater emphasis to a, suddenly distracting, background.