Greatest American TV show ever? I think so.
Running for five incredible seasons, David Simon's The Wire has its roots in his factual book Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets and The Corner, which both looked at Baltimore's crime and drug problem from the police and the pushers and addicts POV respectively. Both were made into hit TV shows; Homicide: Life On The Street and The Corner. But The Wire wasn't just police and thieves, The Wire was the story of a city, and the story of our time. TV as the visual novel. Dense, entertaining and utterly thought provoking.
It's theme Way Down In The Hole was penned by Tom Waits for his 1987 album Frank's Wild Years. A gospel and blues inspired track, it fitted the show perfectly, and each season uses a different recording of it against different opening credits to distinguish each 'chapter' from the last.
The performers are, in order; The Blind Boys of Alabama, Tom Waits, The Neville Brothers, DoMaJe and Steve Earle...
It also gave us many great characters, but perhaps the most iconic was Omar, the modern day cowboy outlaw, played brilliantly by Michael Kenneth Williams