Since all five seasons are available on DVD, here's a tip of a hot to another, better blog, where I discuss my five reasons for enjoying this show (and I'm finishing season 4 on DVD via Netflix):
- It's probably the best "visual novel"/use of story arcs ever done - I know many people have a hard time with this show, because you have to watch from the beginning. JMS may have begun the trend with Babylon 5 (and even he admits being influenced by Blake's 7 and The Prisoner), but The Wire is one of those shows that demands your attention from the beginning. What other series can claim that?
- Lester Freamon = Frickin' Cool - what other guy can be a hardcore, rough-and-tumble cop and make little dollhouse-sized furniture....on the job? (Although I'm sure Dave Campbell has a few other ideas....)
- It's the Most Honest Portrayal of Urban Life - although it's wrapped in cop show clothing, The Wire focuses primarily on major urban institutions. Quite frankly, watching it reminds me of life in St. Louis....and that is not meant as a compliment. Although both cities share several things in common (huge segregation, great decline, being independent of counties), watching The Wire makes Baltimore seem more real - almost as if I've lived there....
- Things Happen. No Formulas Abound - unlike 99% of television dramas, characters rarely (if ever) suffer the consequences of their actions. A cop who decides to legalize drugs in his district....a man running for mayor....a cop who decides to go after a major drug dealer...all of these people suffer major consequences to their actions. Trying to predict what will happen is pointless, and The Wire is formular-free, making it must-watch television.
- It's All About the Writing - this relates to the above points, but the writers of the show have actually lived - and worked - in Baltimore. Any and all of the typical cliches of dramatic television are neatly avoid. The world of The Wire is both a black-and-white world (in terms of racial dynamics)...but its morality is anything but.