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Picks and Pans Review: The Wire

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HBO (Sundays, 10 p.m. ET)

Good police work takes time to bear fruit. Remember that as you approach this gritty new drama from creator David Simon (The Corner). The 13-episode series (premiering June 2) revolves around a complex narcotics investigation in a depressed Baltimore neighborhood. Detectives Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) and Shakima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) pursue the case diligently, but the detail is led by a lieutenant (Lance Reddick) whose zeal is questionable and loaded with cops who are either aging and lazy or green and inept. Meanwhile we observe the targeted drug gang, headed by the feared and shadowy Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). Avon’s nephew D’Angelo (Larry Gilliard Jr.) successfully supervises pushers in the projects but may be entering the danger zone of moral confusion.

Early episodes can seem as static as a stakeout, and the viewer has a ton of information to absorb—much of it conveyed in obscenity-laced slang. But as we gradually get to know the players—Jimmy with his drinking and bitter divorce; Shakima with her lesbian relationship; D’Angelo with his junior-management pressures—The Wire grows electric.

Bottom Line: Stay connected