I'm pretty much caught up on The Wire. After weeks of avoiding Slate's discussion and bickering with David Simon about plot points and cutting out the 12 page New Yorker article that I didn't want to read until after I had finished season four on DVD, I felt pretty good. For the first time since the show began, I'm pretty well caught up with the story line as it's playing out.

Then our features editor Tom Christie asked me, “Did you see what the Times did today? They gave away a major plot point to The Wire!” Tom is still stuck early on in season four and all of my conversations with him are peppered by him saying, “Don't tell me!” Any conversation at parties or dinners about The Wire is politely prefaced with “What season are you on?” so you don't actually give away a character's death.

As Tom continues talking I didn't realize the Times article he was talking about had given away a major point of the episode that ran on Sunday night.

Tom continued, “Right in the headline! they said that … gets murdered!”

Then I yelled. Too late. I'd heard him say it, and now I've been robbed too. I haven't seen the most recent episode. I didn't know I'd have to sequester myself from the LA Times and editors still watching season four.

Don't read past here if you haven't seen Sunday's episode (that ran on Jan. 27, 2008 so there isn't any confusion). See what I did right there? I warned you. You'll not find that simple courtesy in the Times today.

I get it – it's a TV review. It's difficult to write a TV review of a single episode without mentioning things that happen on the show. But RIGHT THERE in the sub-hed (not the headline actually, Tom), they announce the murder of a major character.

Actually, I'm not going to tell you who gets killed. If you know already, I don't need to tell you. If you don't, it's not going to mean anything to you. But the idea of the spoiler alert is pretty well established by now. You warn the reader before you do it.

In The Sopranos when Tony killed Christopher, this was our headline:

Warning: Sopranos Spoiler Ahead.

We got letters of appreciation about that headline.

Cops and drug dealers and innocent bystanders are going to be killed. We know that. All we're asking for here is a little courtesy.

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