For me, this did become one of the greatest series ever. I started late. Real late. I think the fifth season was about to begin when I finally accepted the strong recommendations of friends and bought the first season on DVD and started getting into it.
The first episode, first time through, was a hard start for me. I let it sit for a day or two, then as soon as I was really in the mood to dig into it again, I watched it over and then went on to the second episode. Now I started to feel fairly comfortable with the goings on. But I still wanted a better feeling of understanding, so I browsed the HBO/Wire website for a while, finally settling into reading the synopses for those first two episodes. Wow! Suddenly all the lights turned on. Since I was finding the various interactions and street dialects and whatnot fairly challenging to take in and comprehend as well as I wanted, this was a godsend. These synopses were detailed, covering every scene and who does what to whom. I was so excited by what this overview had given me that I went back and watched those first two episodes one more time...this time in a state of pure ecstasy. Now I had arrived.
I soon made that my routine -- watch the next episode, go online and read the synopsis to pick up anything I'd missed (often more than I'd care to admit), then either watch that episode again, or if I felt fine with it, move on to the next. I eventually got to where two episodes per day was just perfect. I later discovered one other incredible boon, which was repeating particularly difficult passages with subtitles turned on. All of this probably sounds like I was way overdoing things, but in my desire to be truly immersed in this, it turned out to be the most wonderfully rewarding approach ever.
Okay, so I got through Season One, and by then had already picked up Two. And...whoa! Talk about switching gears. Whole new story, right? Well, I as soon as I got into this season, I was just as hooked as before with the new locale, situation, and characters. Really, seriously, hooked. And then what did Season Three do but thrust us back into the city proper with some of the more familiar goings on, and some really incredible new characters to boot?
I had finally read enough commentary to appreciate that the whole concept of the series was to illustrate the gradual disintegration of the institutions in a major 20th-century American city: police, unions, politics, schools, journalism. And what a journey those remaining seasons would be. A thing unmatched.
It just happens that around this time I'd also discovered the writings of Laura Lippman; namely, her Tess Monaghan series of mysteries taking place in and around Baltimore.
[EDIT: She and David Simon married, and if that isn't one of those made in heaven, I don't know what would be.]
Between these books and The Wire, I rapidly fell in love with a city I'd only ever seen in the distance from the vantage point of interstate highways. I just happen to love cities and learning my way around them, anyway, so I picked up a street map of Baltimore and started making notes on the whereabouts of things and places featured in Lippman's books and on The Wire. When friends and I decided to go to one of the Edgar Allan Poe birthday events held there in January, I went down a day early, map in hand, and explored all of that to my immense satisfaction, really learning my way around the place in the process. That experience would take a whole 'nother series of posts, and I shan't bore you with it. Suffice it to say I've become fascinated with, and enamored by, all that is wonderful and horrible about Baltimore. I have no roots there myself, but it's now a passion.
Ever since going through all of that some five years ago, I've looked forward to my eventual return to the series after a suitable break, and I'm always telling people how "it won't be long now". Those DVDs are beckoning, waiting patiently, and with the revival of interest sparked here by Ron's postings, I think that return will be happening sooner rather than later.
Sorry to be so long-winded about it!
Edited by Charles Smith, September 05 2013 - 07:08 AM.