What first seemed a simple HBO cop show was anything but simple. Ex-newspaperman David Simon built this series into a to-scale replica of the city of Baltimore, from the streets to City Hall to the docks to the schools to the newsrooms. No series has ever been so granular: zoom in on one area and you get the detailed struggles of a junkie, zoom in on another and see the whirrings of the political machine through a watchmaker’s lens. On top of that it had pitch-perfect dialogue, elegantly plotted crime stories and a tone that ranged from elegiac to raunchily funny. This pissed-off love poem on the life and death of American cities was as good as TV ever gets.