(This will, hopefully, be relatively spoiler-free)
There are a lot of people who swear by Babylon 5 as a great example of limited-run, arc storytelling. So much so that they will fight to the death in defense of it. Personally, having just finished watching the series finale, I think I can say with some honesty - and pride - that The Wire is possibly the best, most sharply written, limited-run multiple-arc show in the history of television.
Even with an admittedly shortened season (10 episodes versus the usual thirteen), The Wire has really hit all of the sweet spots that I've blogged and podcasted about before - and in many ways, it's hit home for me on more than just a plain viewer level.
One of the overarching themes of the show - besides an examination of urban life and the social and political forces within - is that of personal reinvention, or how people move towards one direction, and suddenly, either find themselves moving backwards...or in a completely different way.
Part of why this is hitting home is that Baltimore, in many ways, is like St. Louis - structurally, politically, and psychically. As I am reconnecting with old friends from my past (even as far back as grammar school), there's something about the ability to move forward, to surpass expectations, that seems tied to a particular location. In St. Louis, I had an open book - in Chicago, although I've build a nice, adult life...there are times where I still feel like that kid back in Bridgeport, trapped by my limitations.
But The Wire shows us characters who end up in slightly different positions - friends have become antagonists, people who are flawed end up in perfect power positions...and for at least one character, there's a head start towards redemption. And all told and directed in a visually stunning, sharply written, solidly acted package.
So, yes, you can keep your Joss Whedons....for me, David Simon is the guy. Only no comics/pop culture blogger will give him his due.