Dylan Jones: The hype said The Wire was better than The Sopranos, which it clearly couldn't be

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The Independent Online

As the jet climbed out of Luton last Friday, bound for sunny, snowy, seemingly credit-crunch-proof Switzerland, a voice made itself heard in the seat immediately behind me.

"We're halfway through series two, and loving it, although you know what? I have to keep avoiding people in case they tell me what's going to happen. I had a meeting last week with someone who I knew had just finished series four, and I couldn't get him out of my office quick enough." A beat.

"Well, we've just started series three," said the voice sitting next to him, "and frankly I'm cancelling dinners just so we can stay at home and watch it. I reckon we can finish the whole thing by half term."

At this point I had to pipe up, just in case any vital plot points were divulged. At the time, we were a third of the way through series two, and we too had become so obsessed that any unnecessary disclosure could have ruined it for us. After all, naively, we thought it might get us through to the end of February.

It? Well, in my world there are currently only two types of people: those who have devoted the last five or six years of their lives to watching The Wire on TV, and those who have done little else since Christmas but work their way through the five-series box set. Anything remotely zeitgeisty eventually reaches a tipping point, although with The Wire it's come a lot later than usual; in fact it's come almost a year after the last episode was screened.

And I, like thousands of others, am responsible. I missed The Wire when it started: a) because the hype said it was better than The Sopranos, which it clearly couldn't be; and b) because it was buried in the TV schedules to such an extent that it was never obviously on. But the drip-drip of constant peer-recommendation forced me to dive in.

And the pool is very deep indeed. If you are still one of the many who have yet to make the leap of faith, then all I can do is add my voice to the chorus of approval. It will take you six episodes to get hooked, but then – like the Baltimore dopers who pepper the show – you'll be an addict. If not for life, then at least till Easter.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'