There go my Sunday evenings . . .

I didn’t become a fan of The Wire until the fourth season. Oh, I knew about the series, but I just couldn’t see that a show about the drug trade in inner-city Baltimore could be anything but dreary and depressing. The fourth season, though, was the centered around the schools, and as someone with an interest in the American educational system, I though, “Well, might as well take a look.”

Like all those TV reviewers whose ecstatic ravings I’d been ignoring, I was blown away—completely hooked by the time Felicia Pearson’s Snoop left the hardware store with with her top-of-the-line nail gun in the first episode I saw. Half the time I had no clue what was happening in any given episode, but couldn’t do anything but watch, fascinated.

Far from the depressing experience I’d expected, watching The Wire was exhilarating and enraging. Even though my late start with the series left me without a lot of the back story, the characters were complicated and human. They were ordinary people figuring out their lives in unenviable situations that seemed normal to them.

The complete 23-disk boxed set now sits on my DVD shelf. It took me about a month, I think, to watch all five seasons–I’d meant to confine myself to three episodes each evening, but some nights I just had to keep going. The fourth and fifth seasons were even better the second time around with all the background on everybody filled in. Sometime later this year, I plan to watch the whole thing again—I expect I’ll catch lots I missed the first time round.

That will have to wait, though. Tonight’s the start of David Simon’s new HBO series, Treme. The Washington Post’s Hank Stuever says it has the potential to be better than The Wire, which wouldn’t surprise me at all, even though I think The Wire is the best television ever made. But if it’s only almost as good, it’ll still be better than anything else on TV this year and well worth successive Sunday evenings.

I guess I need to start saving up my pennies for the boxed set.

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