We’re well into the second season of The Wire now and completely hooked. But something brave and rather intriguing has happened in the plot; one of the main protagonists – an attractive individual full of moral contradictions -has been murdered. Now, I know this creates a rich potential for all sorts of dramatic tensions and graphically confirms the series’ gritty realism but it also comes at the price of all the effort that went into building up the character and his credibility. The series has been been described as modern Dickens but you wouldn’t get Dickens killing off one of his favourite characters at the beginning of Chapter Six. Unlike a fantasy series, such as Lost, there is no artificial exposition (flashbacks and the like) in The Wire and, unlike Lost, the series was, I believe, written out before filming began, so characters could not be written out (or in) according to the dictates of opinion polls and focus groups. It’s a brave thing to do, therefore. Such deliberate dismissal of commercial imperatives in favour of dramatic potential is an illustration of why the series never reached the heights of popularity enjoyed by lesser productions.