"No one wins. One side just loses more slowly."

There was a great article about the upcoming final season of The Wire in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. It talks about th…wait, where?

In the post-“Sopranos” world, “The Wire” is more central to HBO’s strategy than in years past. The network’s looking to the series to retain subscribers at a time when many in the industry say it’s on shaky ground. In many ways “The Wire” is HBO’s closest cousin to “The Sopranos” — they’re both gritty dramas and they’re loved by critics. (Slate’s Jacob Weisberg has called “The Wire” “the best TV ever broadcast in America.”) It doesn’t hurt that the season will be premiering in early January, against other lineups weakened by the writers’ strike — much of what’s being scheduled is reality television and reruns. “The stakes are higher this time,” says Brad Adgate, a media analyst with ad-buying agency Horizon Media. “The golden age of HBO is over, back when they had ‘Sex and the City,’ ‘Six Feet Under’ and ‘The Sopranos.’ ”

Named for the wiretap that a special police unit uses to listen in on members of a Baltimore drug ring, the show’s title doubles as a metaphor for viewers’ experience of listening in on worlds they’re not usually privy to. When the show first aired in 2002, it focused on a police investigation. In the four subsequent seasons, the program’s scope has spiraled out to include the stevedores’ union, local politics, the school system and the media — in short, it’s a portrait of a struggling American city.

I can’t say it often enough: if you’re not watching this show, start. What with the writer’s strike right now, there’s no better time to pick up the best show on TV today.

[tags]the wire, wall street journal[/tags]

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