NEW YORK—Despite heaping lavish praise on the HBO crime drama The Wire, television critics across the country admitted Monday that not one of them has ever sat down to watch an entire episode of the show. "The Wire has done what no other television program has come close to achieving—namely, presenting the life of a decaying American city and doing so with the scope and moral vision of great literature," said New York Times critic Virginia Heffernan, who was surprised to hear that the groundbreaking series had already started its fifth and final season in early January. "It sounds fantastic. I really wish I had HBO." Many reviewers from top media outlets assured reporters that they would start watching the Peabody Award–winning show just as soon as the first season reaches the top of their Netflix queues.