Author Topic: List of the Very Best TV Shows  (Read 10881 times)

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Offline Plastiq

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List of the Very Best TV Shows
« on: April 07, 2012, 08:07:16 AM »
Seems like there should be a thread like this here already, but I ran a search and couldn't find one. Sorry if there is and I missed it.

In relatively recent history it seems like there's been a proliferation of very high quality, compelling TV shows made (or else I missed them before). So much so that I normally prefer to watch TV shows than movies now.

This thread is to list the programs you think are absolutely unmissable, the best of the best. The ones with the most skillfully written scripts, authentic, entertaining, compelling characters, and flawless acting. The ones you can sit down in front of in the weekend and marathon-watch because they're so enthralling and such fantastic escapism.

Here are the ones I've seen that fall into that category in arbitrary order:
  • Deadwood. Its premature cancellation was a travesty.
  • The Wire
  • Homeland
  • Breaking Bad
  • Boardwalk Empire. That scene in series 2 with Enoch and Jimmy was superlative (won’t say any more than that for spoilers).
  • Louie. This one's a curious beast. Individual shows are sometimes quite ho-hum, but overall I find the show super-compelling. Can't wait for more.
  • The Sopranos
  • Band of Brothers. Debatable as to whether to put mini-series on here, but I’m doing it.
  • The Pacific
  • Generation Kill
  • Justified. This is the silliest thing on the list. Probably takes itself way too seriously, but damn it, it’s just so watchable and enjoyable. Walter Goggins’s character Boyd is huge fun.
Honorable mentions:
  • Dexter. Very borderline. I started out loving this show, but either my tastes have become more demanding, or the show has slipped. These days it just seems a bit lame and lacking authenticity. Dexter’s silly, po-faced monologues and appearances of his father are getting tiresome.
  • Northern Exposure. Quirky and watchable enough, but I couldn't really call it a high quality show.
  • Dead Like Me. Again quirky and watchable, but short of top notch.
  • Six Feet Under. One thing that really bugged me about this was the constant unrealistic appearance and participation of dead people.
  • Californication. Watchable, but flawed. Lead character’s flakiness is verging on intolerable.

What are your favorites?

Offline ting-bu-dong

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2012, 08:36:21 AM »
There have been 'recommend stuff to watch' threads, but here are a couple of my favourites.

Babylon 5
The first season is slow and wooden and the last season suffers from executive meddling, but the middle is excellent military science fiction with an emphasis on politics. Notable for being accused of an anti-Bush polemic by people who don't know it was made in the 90s.

Stargate SG-1
Taking the Ancienct Astronauts premise and running with it for 10 seasons. And in my opinion when they did old school science fiction anthology stuff, they did it consistently better than anything Trek has done in the last 20 years.

Supernatural
Monster hunter show focusing on two brothers with father issues. Good storytelling on a per episode basis, although the arcs can be hit or miss. Notable for worldbuilding involving the supernatural that doesn't require the viewer to go into believer mode to buy the plot.

Veronica Mars
Crime drama in a high school setting with noir influences and a recurring theme of class warfare. An underlying mystery spanning two seasons that actually gets resolved in the end and makes sense.

Batman the Animated Series
It's one of those childrens shows that has straightforward plots without being childish. For its circumstances it has rather dark and mature themes and for anyone who likes the superhero genre at all, this is the best there is.

The West Wing
Focusing on the two-term presidency of a Democratic president in the late 90s/early 2000s. With hindsight it's fascinating to see the political culture change during that time.

Offline smithkhome

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 09:43:07 AM »
Can't forget Seinfeld. When I catch a rerun if the show, I still find it funny. I think that the genius of the show is that the creators and writers of the show gave the best lines to the supporting characters of George, Kramer and Elaine.

Offline Calinthalus

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2012, 10:16:56 AM »
Wait....Firefly hasn't been mentioned?

I also really liked the reboot of Battlestar Galactica and am liking Game Of Thrones

Another short lived show you really should check out if you haven't is Terriers.  That really should have lasted longer.

As for what's on TV right now...I think Game of Thrones and Justified are the only two currently running that I look forward to every week.
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Offline Plastiq

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2012, 10:29:19 AM »
Can't forget Seinfeld. When I catch a rerun if the show, I still find it funny. I think that the genius of the show is that the creators and writers of the show gave the best lines to the supporting characters of George, Kramer and Elaine.
I should try watching Seinfeld again. I only saw the odd one when it was originally on.

Wait....Firefly hasn't been mentioned?
Haven't seen it. Is it a best-of-the-best type show?

I also really liked the reboot of Battlestar Galactica and am liking Game Of Thrones.
I found BSG to be verging on intolerably inconsistent. The good ones were good, though.

Another short lived show you really should check out if you haven't is Terriers.  That really should have lasted longer.

As for what's on TV right now...I think Game of Thrones and Justified are the only two currently running that I look forward to every week.
Have to look into Terriers and Game of Thrones. Have to admit, I was put off by the commentary about GoT on SGU. They likened it to the nonsense of Lost.

Offline ting-bu-dong

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2012, 10:36:19 AM »
Wait....Firefly hasn't been mentioned?
Haven't seen it. Is it a best-of-the-best type show?

It's a typical Joss Whedon show which means it has likeable and well written characters who form an ad hoc family that withstands hardship in a setting with nonsensical worldbuilding. Because it ran only for 13 episodes it has a low number of clunkers and it never had an opportunity to disappoint viewers, and the holes in the setting never became as apparent as they did in (for example) Buffy, which means any inconsistency can be explained by the writers having planned to address it later.

Offline David E.

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2012, 11:13:47 AM »
M*A*S*H
Babylon 5
MST3K  (Joel and Mike)
Dr. Who (even if I never got into the new Dr's)
Law&Order.  Before the spinoffs
Iron Chef.  It was so quirky cool.
The Soup. 
The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Batman the Animated Series
Looney Tunes. 

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Offline Citizen Skeptic

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2012, 11:34:29 AM »
The only show I've watched in reruns is the original star trek, so it must be the best.
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Offline David E.

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2012, 12:05:31 PM »
The only show I've watched in reruns is the original star trek, so it must be the best.

The show is very re-watchable. 
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Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2012, 12:26:18 PM »
I'm gonna keep my list family friendly.

Miniseries:

From the Earth to the Moon

John Adams

Planet Earth

Earth: The Biography (Titled differently in the UK)

Series:

Monk

Daria

Firefly

The Twilight Zone

I'm not sure if this is totally family friendly, but 3rd Rock from the Sun

Also, let me say that I really dislike superhero stuff, but from an artistic point of view Batman: The Animated Series is such well done Greco Noir (a style I love) and is so much darker and more brooding, with better characterization than most children's shows, that I do have to recommend it for kid's viewing.

And the best show ever on TV: Whose Line Is It Anyway? (EDIT - I linked to the British version, but I prefer the US version).
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Offline Plastiq

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2012, 02:02:33 PM »
There have been 'recommend stuff to watch' threads, but here are a couple of my favourites.
Yeah, I suppose the distinction I'm aiming for here is that this should be only the absolute best of the best. Although that might end up being meaningless given the disparity of taste.

Batman the Animated Series
It's one of those childrens shows that has straightforward plots without being childish. For its circumstances it has rather dark and mature themes and for anyone who likes the superhero genre at all, this is the best there is.
I remember watching that and loving how atmospheric it was. Might have to try to track it down.

I'm gonna keep my list family friendly.
Why?

Also, let me say that I really dislike superhero stuff, but from an artistic point of view Batman: The Animated Series is such well done Greco Noir (a style I love) and is so much darker and more brooding, with better characterization than most children's shows, that I do have to recommend it for kid's viewing.
What's Greco Noir? Couldn't find a definition.

Offline Andrew Clunn

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2012, 03:43:47 PM »
The greco is in reference to the architecture of the city portrayed.  The noir to the dark minimalist color scheme.
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Offline Ajzzz

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2012, 04:21:33 PM »
The Wire
Generation Kill
Firefly
Deadwood
John Adams
Band of Brothers
Freaks and Geeks
Archer

New shows:
Game of Thones
The Borgias

Shows that went downhill after first season:
Veronica Mars
Dark Angel
Dead Like Me
Dexter

Offline kendranoelle

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2012, 04:34:25 PM »
M*A*S*H (best. show. ever. nobody can tell me otherwise)
X-Files (well... until David Duchovny left)
Pushing Daisies
Law and Order: SVU (until they started playing musical ADAs)

And for mini-series, I really liked Stephen Fry's tour of America. :3

Offline Gerbig

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Re: List of the Very Best TV Shows
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2012, 04:39:35 PM »
Sherlock?

Dr Who?

 

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