I have an unfortunate tendency to reject something that's been praised to the skies, because it's rare for the TV series, hot new band or feature film to match the hype being heaped upon them. British music newspaper NME seems to have spent much of the past quarter century gamely predicting the next big thing and, unsurprisingly, getting it wrong more often than not. Many, many people raved about Martin Scorcese's film The Departed, but I found it hard to care about any of the characters when I watched the movie.
So, when people started raving about HBO's TV drama The Wire, I stayed away. I mean, how good could it really be? Would it match other great shows from the US subscription channel, such as The Sopranos or Deadwood? I tried watching a random episode while in America on holiday in 2004 and was left scratching my head, not realising that watching a random episode of The Wire is like reading chapter 11 of any Charles Dickens' novel - not the best way to start. You begin a novel at the beginning, and the same is true of The Wire.
After yet more raves by various bloggers, I bought the first season of The Wire in a DVD sale. I even watched the first episode, but found it a little slow and lacking that killer ending that makes you want to know what happens next. So, I put The Wire to one side once more. Finally, it was a class with writer-director Annie Griffith that convinced me to give The Wire another chance. She showed clips from various episodes and extolled the show's many, many virtues.
Guess what I've been watching over Easter? Twelve episodes of Lost, back to back, in fact - but that was for a work assignment. In my Copious Spare Time I've been watching season one of The Wire. About halfway into it and yes, for once, you can believe the hype. Maybe this show's greatness is being exaggerated by comparison with what's been happening on Lost lately, but The Wire is bloody good. It's a slow burn, sure, but the depth of characterisation and nuace is great. It really is like watching a novel come to life. Best of all, I've still got half of this season still to watch and several more already awaiting me on DVD. Bring it on...