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Q&A: Dec. 27

Question: I think the HBO series The Wire is by far the best show on TV. But it seems as if I'm the only person on the planet that watches it. What are the ratings like, and will it come back for a fifth season? They really kind of left you hanging. And why no love from the critics or the Emmys?
Ricky Sanders

Answer: Ratings have never been good for The Wire, which HBO almost didn't renew for a fourth season. The creators already have sketched out a fifth and concluding season, but HBO again will have to give the OK. It's going to be a close call.

TV critics have given the series ample love over the years, but awards ceremonies have not. It's very reminiscent of the treatment NBC's Homicide: Life on the Streets received. Also filmed in Baltimore, it won three Peabody awards in three different years but was never even nominated as best drama series by the Emmy people. Here's what creator and executive producer David Simon recently told TV critics about The Wire:

"It is complex by standards of television. But there is something that says if you keep calling something 'complex and gritty,' it's almost self-defeating. I mean, the people who come to the show and commit to it for one or two episodes are there with us for the duration. And whenever I read those two words in every review of the show, when it says 'the gritty and complex crime drama,' I just think, 'Right. Were we gritless and simple, we'd be fine.' "

Question: It is obvious that most of the news sets now have the new, mirrored, glitzy, high-tech look. But Fox4 seems to have the loudest music in between every segment! Has anyone else found this as annoying and irritating as we do?
Sharon Lowery

Answer: Well, Fox4's Good Day in particular has slumped in the early morning ratings ever since introducing its new set. Might it be the music, too? Or perhaps all the show needs is a prime-time injection of its network's two biggest hits, 24 and American Idol.

That will happen in January, creating much more traffic in prime-time and higher visibility for local news promos. In the first few months of the season, there's been little reason to watch Fox other than House and the Sunday night cartoon lineup.

On the other hand, Fox4's local 9 p.m. newscast is doing pretty well in the face of overall lousy ratings for Fox's prime-time entertainment programming during the first several months of this season. So let's see what happens when the network kicks into a higher gear.