Connecting the Dots

TV's best drama, The Wire isn't a cop show. It's the news

HBO television show "The Wire" with Clarke Peters and Dominic West

The fifth and final season of HBO's The Wire--TV's greatest current work of social criticism, of drama, of, well, TV--is about the failures of the media. In that spirit, let me begin with an apology. The odds are good that you have not yet watched the first four seasons of The Wire, which returns on Jan. 6, and that means that I as TV critic have failed you. Mea culpa.

What are you missing? A bleakly funny critique of struggling postindustrial American cities; a novelistic, street-smart social drama; a passionate, un-p.c. look at race and class dynamics--all wrapped up in a...

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