Much as I truly (heart) HBO’s “The Wire” — easily Dominic West’s finest moments since playing opposite Marky Mark in “Rock Star” — recent press for the series has been hyperbolic to the max. Is “The Wire” merely the best show on television, or is it the greatest cultural achievment of our lifetime? That kinda thing.
For the several million of you who’ve found the program’s charms elusive until this point, fret no longer. Slate’s Jacob Weisberg would like to help you out.
There is also the challenge of following the localized black dialect that the program tries to represent as faithfully as it does its other details. In the Baltimore ghetto, yo is both a salutation and the third-person singular pronoun; “feel me,” means “listen to what I’m telling you”; and the ubiquitous use of bitch has mostly replaced the N-word. The cops have their own language as well, in which a capable officer is “good police,” bystanders caught in the crossfire are “taxpayers,” and young boys up to no good are called “hoppers.” The dialogue becomes easy enough to follow after a couple of episodes, but first-time viewers should switch on the closed-captioning feature for the first hour or two so as not to miss anything.