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Its first episode aired to little notice on HBO on Sunday June 2 2002 but perhaps the story of television’s most ambitious, quietly groundbreaking and wide-ranging social-realist drama The Wire begins in 1984 when a Jewish crime reporter and an Irish cop walked into a bar.

Journalist David Simon spent decades working the crime beat for the Baltimore Sun and was covering the arrest of local drug kingpin Melvin Williams, a case that was headed by veteran city policeman Ed Burns and which had been advanced by the use of wire-tap surveillance. The two smart, forthright and morally outraged diehard Baltimore men swiftly became firm friends...

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