I didn't get to see Treme or Simon's other work aside from The House I live In documentary. I guess post hurricane Katrina New Orleans didn't make me rush out to see Treme, even though there was a great chance it was going to be good, it didn't have the same appeal as the crime themes of The Wire for me. But now I think I'll watch it. It's got a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I began watching Treme last summer after I had finished my first watch of The Sopranos. I haven't completely finished it, I guess I stopped watching around the fourth or fifth episode of the third season (with the show being four seasons at total, and the last season consists of only five episodes. I guess big-shot TV people forced them to rush it). I'm more of a crime-vibe thrilled guy as much as you are, and that was the reason why I started watching The Wire at the first place. To admit, The Wire got enlightened me to a huge extent, teaching me your typical crime drama isn't just about exciting criminal stuff, and there is a space for social background and honest satire, and harsh "in-your-face" lessons about human psychology (The Sopranos). Back to Treme, it's a nice, interesting show with lot of social examination and jazz & blue thrown in. Of course, it has a slower pace even than The Wire, but let's just give it to the show's nature: I mean, when you watch The Wire, you know eventually weapons will be drawn and moms n' pops will bust a cap on each others' backs because the most emphasized theme of the show is crime. Furthermore, Treme is a nice example of David Simon's capacity, relying not only volatile organized crime to make satirical touches on a bad society, he can also do that with dry-bleeding blues musicians. I couldn't finish the series because I had no time, but I'd strongly suggest anyone watch it especially if you want to witness how much of an investigative and experimental genius Simon is.
Maybe it wont be in the first season as I think The Wire is a bit much for people to digest at first, hence it's success after the original airing. And people were still getting their head around watching long-form movie-like TV shows , slowly but surely thanks to The Sopranos.
I think this is a major problem with the newer, younger generations of TV audience: they're lazy, and they don't want to put too much effort... despite the fact that their part of the deal is easy. However, I obviously agree with that the TV shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead have kinda warmed them up for more sophisticated, and deeper concepts in general. However, some people act like they got their thumbs jammed up their asses after seeing such shows, and they can't be openly experimental because they've become so damned perfectionist. But please don't get me wrong, I have no hostile feelings for such shows and as to say, I'm a huge fan of Breaking Bad, and I was kind of the main reason why many of my friends started watching that show. And to give an example, there is a friend of mine who is actually a "movie guy", but decided to give BB a shot, and liked it very much. Then, he came around and asked me for more, and I recommended The Wire, and also OZ. He found it really difficult to follow first. This is natural, as The Wire takes a lot of time to build up the main events meanwhile Breaking Bad is more straightforward, fast-paced and kind of action-packed. I told him to be patient, and wait for more. And that's the way of watching TV shows like The Sopranos or The Wire: you've got to wait for the ultimate prize. That's why Season 2 of The Wire is a personal favourite of mine, or Season 3 of The Sopranos is the best IMO although many people dismiss it because of Tony's heavily emphasized home issues and Jackie Aprile Jr. storyline (I like Junior's saga a lot although a lot of people seem to describe it as "utter bullcrap").
To cut it short, most of the modern TV audience do not seem to endorse such a method while watching their TV shows, or they are generally fond of more "in-your-face" materials or elements. Hence TV shows like The Wire, The Sopranos, OZ etc. have maintained a cult following in the past, but they're far from being popular nowadays. That's why I'm a bit skeptical about the birth or continuation of such sophisticated TV shows.