As one of my favorite shows after another has run out of episodes because of the strike, a simple mantra has kept me sane: "'The Wire' is coming. 'The Wire' is coming. 'The Wire' is coming."
If you've read me long enough, you know I think "The Wire" is the greatest drama in TV history, and I've been waiting for some season five episodes like a kid waiting for Santa (or Hanukah Harry, if you prefer). Yesterday, the first seven of the final season's episodes arrived, and it took most of my willpower to refrain from telling my boss I was going home to spend the rest of the day watching them. (If nothing else, I need to parcel them out a little or I'll have almost nothing left to enjoy on TV in a few weeks.)
So far, I've watched two, and while I won't spoil anything major, I can say that David Simon and company are still bringing it. As a veteran Baltimore Sun city editor (sort of a journalistic Bunny Colvin), Clark Johnson (Meldrick Lewis from "Homicide") fits into the cast like he's been on the show the whole time, and there were a number of moments where I began cursing the behavior of the characters as if they were real people. (Carcetti, not surprisingly, inspired the most profanity.) There's a scene with Herc near the end of the first episode that had me loudly whooping with laughter for a good 60 seconds, though you need a bit of "Wire" institutional memory to really appreciate the joke.
Since I don't want to seem like too much of a tease, I'm going to point you towards some new "Wire" content to tide you over until January 6: three short films telling "Wire" origin stories, as we meet both Prop Joe and Omar as children and see the first night of the McNulty/Bunk partnership. Amazon is hosting all three on their page for the season four DVD set, and I'm working with HBO to see if I can link to them directly without taking you to Amazon. All are very true to the characters, and all are very funny.
Also, HBO's going to be airing two documentaries looking back on the series and previewing the final season, at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 20 and 21. The first is "The Wire Odyssey," about the series as a whole; the second is "The Wire: The Last Word," which looks at the media theme of season five. I was interviewed for both of them, though I have no idea how much I'll figure in, if at all. (As I recall, my answers weren't as sound byte-y as I suspect they wanted.)