One last case to solve for detective on "The Wire"

Tue Jan 1, 2008 3:42pm EST
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By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Television critics have lavished praise on HBO's urban drama "The Wire," and the show has earned the prestigious Peabody Award. But one endorsement stands out above all for co-star Wendell Pierce.

Actual police detectives wiretapping telephone conversations on a real drug case noticed the chatter went dead during the show's hour-long broadcast, an officer once told the actor.

"The highest compliment came when a police officer told me on the set, 'They talk about you guys on the real wire,"' Pierce said in a recent Reuters interview.

Such rapt attention from the show's subjects underscores the authenticity of "The Wire," which melds crime drama with social commentary and returns on Sunday January 6 for its fifth and final season.

The series is far from a ratings hit, averaging roughly a fifth of the 8 million viewers who tuned in each Sunday for HBO's celebrated mob drama "The Sopranos" last season. But "The Wire" has consistently drawn critical raves, and its fans rank among U.S. television's most loyal and enthusiastic audience.

The Baltimore-based series will focus on the media this season, building on critical examinations in past years of the criminal justice system, politics and education.

"That same impact of the individual being lost in the institution and the moral ambiguity, all those same themes are placed in the newsroom," said Pierce, who plays Detective William "Bunk" Moreland, one of many signature characters in the sprawling, mostly black ensemble cast.

Pierce's cigar-chomping homicide detective provides regular comic relief to a show that can be bleak and heart wrenching.   Continued...