“The Wire”: Join us for the final season

WiresonjasohnThere are two types of people in this crazy, mixed up world. Those who get The Wire and those who don’t.

(Actually there’s a third type, those who can identify Little Walter’s “My Babe” by within a nanosecond of hearing the first note, and those people also usually fall into the category of “Wire” fanatics.)

To make the most of the HBO drama’s fifth and final season, which bows Sunday at 9 p.m., Variety‘s resident “Wire” nuts — including Cynthia Littleton, Brian Lowry, Stuart Levine and any others who care to join in — will be ruminating and riffing here on each of the upcoming 10 segs. Although we’ve have had the luxury of screening the first seven episodes (thanks HBO), we’re going to be mindful of spoilers, so we’ll take go one seg at a time, the Monday after their premiere telecast.

As always, we’d love to hear from readers in this space too about the series that has never been a major ratings success for HBO but does have its fiercely loyal cadre of viewers. “Wire” has always revolved around the life of drug dealers, cops and others in tough neighborhoods in Baltimore, but at its best, it’s been more than a gritty slice of life — it’s a unrelenting look at the hypocrisy of the social order, the corruption, bankruptcy and decay of the civic institutions that were once America’s pride. To my mind, the upcoming season is more plot-driven than the others, and it’s a wild, wild ride, so buckle up.

Click here for more “Wire”-ana, Q&As with creator/exec producer David Simon, Nina Kostroff Noble and cast members Clarke Peters, Wendell Pierce, Andre Royo and Dominic West.