We finished the fourth season of The Wire this evening. It left us feeling thoroughly depressed. There is a growing sense of claustrophobia. There is no way out for characters like Michael (left), who despite his fundamental innocence evolves almost inexorably into a hitman and killer. Whilst the dealing trade plays itself out perpetually on the streets and corners, a reformist mayor finds he has inherited a massive budgetary hole that obliges him to make hard choices between crime and education, choices (already) coloured also by his contemplation of his next move up the greasy pole of politics. The discovered corpses of a score of victims of the drug wars become a gruesome political football and a desperate education system starts to teach exam answers by rote as the only way of achieving the results that might guarantee basic funding. It all boils down to statistics and basic acts of human kindness are washed away by systems. All very Manichaean – and brilliant writing.