As The Wire comes to a close, three TV critics past and present discuss which HBO series is the best TV drama ever: Matt Zoller Seitz argues for David Milch's Deadwood, Time Out New York's Andrew Johnston for David Chase's The Sopranos, and the Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall for David Simon's The Wire. The podcast was recorded in a diner, so if you're listening on headphones, look out for the crashing-dishes background noise, but it's a fun eavesdrop on an argument many of us have probably had.
I've watched exactly one episode of Deadwood and didn't care about it one way or the other, so I can only speak to the other two, but I considered Sopranos the best show ever for years, and resisted watching The Wire because people tended to praise it in a way that suggested that I was bound to be disappointed. I started watching The Wire in November; I've now watched every episode except the series finale, and in my opinion it's the better show -- considerably. I still love Sopranos and always will, I defended that finale and will continue to, but I rewatched some S2 eps recently and I couldn't believe how slow they felt. Every ep of The Wire feels jam-packed with story, ten pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag.
Anyway, you can find the podcast here, or at Seitz's or Sepinwall's blogs. Feel free to step to the comments there to cast your own vote, or discuss it here on our forums.