I'm not one for cop shows really. I much prefer things like Supernatural, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy, Angel etc. but having just finished the BBC2 run of season 1, I have to say The Wire is truly excellent.
A multi-layered show that covers every conceivable angle of the drug trade and the police efforts to stop it, from junkies, dealers and snitches to cops, judges and district officials, The Wire highlights the institutional bureaucracy and entrenched corruption of the Baltimore Powers-That-Be, and the hampered police efforts in trying to make cases against local drug dealers and their organised outfits. With no budgets for equipment or manpower, the Detail have to build their case from the ground up with a variety of department misfits, while simultaneously waging a constant battle with their over-zealous and petty superiors from having the rug pulled out from under them.
It also features the efforts of the dealers to stay one step ahead of the police, and the traumas and dangers they face as a result of the illegal trade they push. There's plenty of focus on the ethics of what they do, the humanity of those desperate to get out, and the unscrupulous nature they all have to have if they're to survive. Weakness is exploited and loyalty rewarded, but a bullet or handcuffs are only one wrong choice away.
There are so many good things about The Wire it would do the show a disservice to try and cover it all, and I don't thing you could unless you had a few thousand words to play with. Needless to say the way it so effortlessly shifts between every level of the Baltimore City Infrastructure, and manages to make even the most boring and innocuous of events seem interesting and important, says much about the writers, producers and directors, not to mention the actors playing the roles.
Can't wait to start season 2.