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'Homicide: Life on the Street' (1993)
The plot: Based on the work of reporter-turned-TV producer David Simon, "Homicide: Life on the Street" captured the inner workings of the Baltimore Police Department. The series put the emphasis on the politics of police work, and the personal toll it takes. Additionally the show came packed with plenty of audience-taunting unsolved cases, such as the Adena Watson mystery given to Det. Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor) and Det. Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher, pictured) in the post-Super Bowl pilot. / How many watched: 28.1 million / Touchdown of fumble: Touchdown. OK, so "Homicide" was never exactly a ratings darling, but it did manage to last for seven seasons. Additionally, critics are still raving about the show, and it set the template for HBO's "The Wire," especially the fourth and fifth seasons, which follow a Baltimore gang war.