Great dramas, comedies, concert specials and more illustrate the pay cable channel's sweep
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"The Wire" (2002-2008)
Crime reporter David Simon had come to television to work on the critically-acclaimed NBC adaptation of his book "Homicide," and he was an Emmy-winning writer and producer on another adaptation of his work, the outstanding HBO miniseries "The Corner." "The Wire" combined the two subjects, featuring Baltimore cops investigating drug-related murders, but in a way where 2 plus 2 didn't equal 4, but a much greater, more complex number. The Great American Novel for television, it's a crime story, but so much more, as a collection of some of the most vivid characters ever put on screen (cold businessman Stringer Bell, whistling bandit Omar Little, slow-and-steady investigative genius Lester Freamon, junkie with a heart of gold Bubbs, self-destructive, narcissistic hero Jimmy McNulty, and so many more) were used to detail the death of an American city — and, by implication, America itself. "The Wire" is a work of art that would be unbearable if it wasn't so damned entertaining.