By Amy Ryan
August 08, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

I admit it: I’ve been slacking on the job. And that’s a painful thing to acknowledge when your job consists largely of watching TV. But I’ll say it: I haven’t been watching The Wire. I know, lots of TV critics, including EW’s, routinely call it the best show on TV. But as with many serial dramas, I felt like, because I didn’t get on the boat at the beginning, it’s too late to hop on now.

I suspect that many of you have also found excuses not to watch The Wire. New Jersey Star-Ledger critic Alan Sepinwall notes that there are a number of reasons the show hasn’t been more popular. Besides its daunting complexity and massive cast of characters to keep track of, there’s also the fact that The Wire features a cast of relatively unknown actors (including Dominic West and Sonja Sohn, pictured), most of them African-American. Then there’s the show’s generally bleak outlook and its refusal to settle for simple moral judgments, though these are also hallmarks of other HBO dramas like The Sopranos and Deadwood.

Whatever your reason, there’s really no excuse anymore. Season 3 is out on DVD today; Season 4 starts on Sept. 10. So let’s make a pledge to each other that we’ll catch up with The Wire and watch Season 4. Because if it really is that good, you’ll want HBO to make a fifth season and not fumble it like Deadwood. Let’s keep each other on the path, folks; if you need a sponsor to watch your back, you can arrange for one via the Comments section below.

addCredit(“The Wire: Paul Schiraldi”)