(Not) On Demand

I think complaints about the first few episodes of this season of The Wire were legitimate. But I suspect the problems were mostly a result of Simon having to cram in the usual four or give episodes of setup into the first two, maybe three, hours. And if the last few shows — episodes seven, eight, and especially nine — didn’t reaffirm your faith in the show’s lasting greatness, well, you may as well just feed your eyes to zombies or something now, because nothing will ever satisfy you, and at least that way some zombies won’t go hungry.

So naturally, after last night’s episode, I was deeply anxious to see the series finale. Scratch that. I was more than anxious. I was mad, frenzied, crazed with anticipation. I worried at the office today that I’d end up having to get dentures from grinding my teeth. I lost the rest of my thinning hair. I couldn’t trace accurate masks in Photoshop because my hand was trembling so much. The wait was unbearable!

And thank goodness I wouldn’t have to wait a week, because, as HBO’s commercials advertised, every episode of this season would be available a whole week early on OnDemand. Sure enough, I checked this morning before work, and there was episode 60, waiting to be watched upon my return home. All day I labored not to read anything — anything — about the show that might give something away. When your job is to sit in front of a computer for eight hours at a stretch, that’s more difficult than it sounds, but I managed.

After rushing home from work tonight, I invited a handful of Wire fanatic friends, ordered pizza, cracked open a beer, and…


Apparently those commercials advertising every episode a week early were, well, fibbing. (Or, as I’m convinced: deliberately screwing with my head.) What they meant was, every episode but the finale. Which seems to me like kind of an important difference. Sure, an episode 60 shows up in my OnDemand program list, complete with that enticing little “New!” label. But when you watch it, all you get is a blurb that says that this episode won’t be available for another week, promising, along the way, that it’ll be “worth the wait.”

All I can say is, it better be, because right now I’m about as frustrated a TV viewer as you’re ever likely to find.