01/03/2008 01:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Best Show in TV History is Finally Back


Praises! The Wire has finally returned. The best show in TV history begins its final season this week. (And that's not just me saying it---cred-worthy Slate agrees!)

In the deservedly acclaimed season four of HBO's The Wire, which aired in fall 2006, head writers David Simon, a former reporter, and Edward Burns, a former cop-turned-teacher, introduced four teenage characters about to begin their eighth-grade year in a neighborhood middle school in West Baltimore.

Namond, Duquan, Randy, and Michael are just names if you haven't seen the show. If you have, thinking about them evokes a visceral reaction. As an inner-city teacher, I felt the filmmakers nailed their portrayal of the struggling school system and urban decay with eloquence and truth. The four boys' storylines weave brilliantly with the rise of a new drug cartel, a heated mayoral campaign, and the "po-lice"--from the humps to the commissioner.


I get giddy thinking about the sprawling genius of The Wire. Each hour is like a brilliant movie, and the whole of each season is greater than the sum of the episodes. You can tell the show is made by extremely smart people outside the television industry. Novelists like Dennis Lehane (Mystic River), George Pelecanos (Hell to Pay), Richard Price (Clockers) have written for The Wire.

My relationships with some acquaintances are based solely on picking apart episodes and characters. Once my wife and I tried to list all the characters we could think of-- we got over a hundred. It was impossible to agree on ten favorites. (But Bunk, Omar, and DeAngelo have to be in there for me.)

Season five promises fireworks and closure in its ten episodes, with the theme of the media. If you haven't yet jumped on The Wire bandwagon, do it!-- but I recommend starting from season one with Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell. Your Netflix queue is a click away.

"The game is rigged." - Bodie

"A man must have a code." - Bunk Moreland

"What the fuck did I do?" - McNulty


Dan Brown is the author of "The Great Expectations School."