There has never been a TV show better than The Wire. Idris Elba's ice-cool performance as Baltimore drug mogul Stringer Bell deserves comparison with Al Pacino's Michael Corleone. Don't look at the HBO site too closely if you intend to watch the series; it gives too much away. You have to start at the beginning, and you can't expect to understand what's going on at first. The Wire drives home Steven Johnson's thesis about the unacknowledged complexity of the best American pop culture. The show is complex because it's as true to life as art can be. The moment locked in my mind: Det. McNulty holding a collectible edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, saying "Who have I been chasing here?"