July 9, 2013 by mockthegeek
Ten of the Best: My Top Ten TV Shows of All Time
I believe when it comes to storytelling that TV will win every single time over film. With a movie you get one shot to tell your story and if it fails then you are screwed. With a TV show the creator gets multiple opportunities depending on the length of the show. A TV show allows you to dive more into the mythology of a show and gives it more depth and also allows you to explore more characters which is becoming more the norm in current shows.
During the standard TV season I must watch about 10-20 shows a week depending on the schedule. In the last 15 years or so I have crossed off a lot of hours in front of the TV or the PC watching countless TV programmes and with that in mind I have decided to give you my personal top ten list.
10. Family Guy
When I was growing up the Simpsons was television gold and when it was on I watched. When South Park came along I enjoyed the movie but I never got in to the TV show. Then came Family Guy. The problem with The Simpsons in later years was that it became the victim of its own success. Whenever I do catch a new episode which is not often it doesn’t have the same quality as it did in previous years. To me there was a hole in the market for a good animated TV show and Seth McFarlane jumped in head first.
Family Guy is a show that’s got better as it’s went along. When it first started, having the infant Stewie as a genius evil mastermind was a great decision by the writing team and they even made the right decision when they made his character lean towards being gay as it freshened up the character. The show has also saw Peter the dad of the family go from a slightly stupid character to a full blown retard. The shows humour sits perfectly right in the middle between the more wholesome and family friendly Simpsons and the controversial and no holds barred South Park. Its use of cut away scenes to add extra humour has at times come under criticism but I feel they can be the highlights of the show. Personal highlights are any episodes when Brian, the talking family dog, and Stewie are put into focus.
The show is currently on its 10th season in America and it has been one of the best seasons in a long time. Seth McFarlane has recently said he doesn’t know how much longer the show will run and this is probably due to the criticism that the Simpsons has gotten in its recent seasons but as the quality doesn’t seem to be wavering I reckon for now Family Guy will remain on our screens for the foreseeable future.
24 was successful in doing two things. It kept me hook for 8 years and it also gave Kiefer Sutherland his career back which to be fair he should never have lost it. The premise of the story is that each season would be 24 episodes long and that each episode would be 1 hour in a 24 hour day. The concept had never been done before so it already had something for a hook. Even with a unique concept some shows can fail and so it was up to the cast to make sure this didn’t happen. Due to its format there were a lot of characters used throughout the season. Most TV actors you see nowadays have at least appeared in 1 episode.
Another reason for its success was purely down to Keifer Sutherland’s portrayal of the now legendary Jack Bauer. I don’t know if Kiefer is anything like his 24 character but the way he played the part if I ever met him I would stay on his good side just incase.
The show also had me hooked. I wasn’t made aware of the show until its 3rd season when I was giving all three seasons on boxset. I became that hooked there was a scene where the ctu (counter terrorism unit) would be getting their new district manager at quarter to (I can’t remember the specific time but I know that much). Now I looked at my own clock and thought to myself, its ok they have plenty time left as it was only five past on my clock. To my shock the person turned up 10 minutes and I was left scratching my head as to why they had come early. Then I clicked and realised how stupid I had been. To be fair to myself this just shows how lost in the show you could get.
8. Sons of Anarchy
If this show had finished on its current 4th season then it would have been higher up on the list. Due to the fact it still has three more seasons and potentially more depending on its success I have decided to stick it here because you just never know how a TV show is going to go. Heroes would be a perfect example of this. If Heroes had stopped after its first season it would have walked into this list with its head held high.
I mentioned this show in my TV shows to catch up on and I made the bold claim that it’s currently the best show on TV and I stand by it. Kurt Sutter the creator who was also partially behind the Shield has taken a unique concept and ran with it very successfully. It tells the story of a motorcycle gang out of California who deal in guns and are generally not nice people. Despite this you find yourself routing for these bikers every week which may say more about me than anything.
Hopefully the show will continue its fine form into its upcoming season and if it does then this show will see itself move up in this list. Until then it sits quite comfortably in 8th place.
The only bad thing about this show was that it ended after just 13 episodes. Joss Whedon seems to be hit and miss with his TV shows but in my eyes he is a legend which is apparent as this is his 1st of 3 entries on this list. I don’t think the network could have ever gotten behind the idea of a cowboy in space but it worked perfectly. Nathan Fillion played the main character Mal who was the captain of the ship Serenity. The other characters were also played well with a standout being Adam Baldwin’s Jane. It also featured an early appearance of the stunning Christina Hendricks.
There was a silver lining to the show being cancelled and that was it allowed Joss Whedon to close off his story by making the film Serenity. It actually was voted the best film of 2005 on BBC’s late night film review with Jonathan Ross which just goes to show the power of the internet geek.
The problem with this show is that it was watched by enough people but it was watched by people online and so the show didn’t get the viewing figures and was therefore cancelled well before its time. I doubt we will ever get any more from this franchise as the film came out 7 years ago and Whedon is now on to making the Avengers but despite the little time we had it still did enough to warrant its place on this list.
From one Adam Baldwin show to another. Chuck nearly suffered the same fate as firefly on so many occasions. So many times the axe hung over the head of chuck and if it wasn’t for its loyal fan base we would have never made it to its 5th and final season which just completed its run last week in the states. If you are male you probably tuned in for Sarah played by the beautiful Yvonne Strahovski but it wasn’t all it had to offer. The writers were obviously geeks at heart as there was no shortage of references to multiple TV shows and Films of the past. Whether it was Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Die Hard this show seemed to have it covered.
The show was also famous for its humour in amongst the drama and this was kept alive in the buy more which was the main character chucks cover for being a spy. We were treated on a weekly basis to the comedic talent of Jeff and Lester or as they were better known, JEFSTER. The creators also decided that the best way to pull in the audience was to include about 100 guest stars over the course of its 5 year run with such cameos and regular roles with names such as Mark Hamil, Linda Hamilton, Timothy Dalton, Dolph Lundgren, Brandon Routh and countless others which would probably take days to remember and name.
With its constantly threat of cancellation it was never going to go very far as a TV show but the series finale didn’t leave a lot of doors open so you never know what Chucks future holds.
5. The Shield
So now we break into my top 5 and I can’t think of a better way to do that than The Shield. The Shield was created in 2002 and ran for 7 seasons. It told the story of Vic Mackey and his strike team and the corrupt ways they kept their city in check. Over the seasons it was all about other characters trying to bring Mackey down and also the implosion of his character.
Vic Mackey was played by Michael Chiklis who despite going on to star as the thing in the Fantastic Four, gave the best performance of his career to date. Other characters worth mentioned were Vik’s right hand man Shane played by the brilliant Walter Goggins and detective Wagenbach played by Jay Karnes.
The show played with your morality as you’re not supposed to root for Vik Mackey but Chiklis’s portrayal gets you eating out of the palm of his hands. The show ends on quite a sad not for Mackey which is no more than he deserved but Ryan Murphy the creator has stated that if he can he will revisit the characters one day to continue the story and I hope he does.
4. The Wire
If you read a lot of lists detailing the best TV shows then you tend to always get The Wire and The Sopranos. Now as shocking as it is I have never seen the Sopranos but I have seen the wire and I can honestly says it’s one of the best TV shows I have ever seen.
One of the strange things about the Wire is that if you asked me who the best character is I would say Mcnulty played by Dominic West every single time but if you asked me what the best season of the 5 is I would say season 4 which see’s Mcnulty take a back seat in the story. This just shows the writers ability to take the best character out and yet still give you a great story.
The show has a number of characters within the show who stand out. Omar, Stringer Bell, Avon Barksdale and many others and this is why it stand sup as one of the best TV shows of all time. If you are a fan of TV then I would suggest catching this programme. A lot of shows on this list are genre specific and might only appeal to certain people but I think the Wire is something anyone can watch and get enjoyment out of.
There are 3 shows on this list which are untouchable. Angel is the first. Joss Whedon is in my eyes, Untouchable. Despite his cancellations with Dollhouse and Firefly, the man is a genius and one of the greatest story tellers of this generation.
Angel was spin-off from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and saw its main character, the vampire with a soul angel played by David Boreanez move to LA to fight evil. The show was darker than its parent Buffy and this added something different this already tried and tested world of Joss Whedon. It also took the characters of Wesley and Cordelia also of Buffy Fame and added in some new characters of the years like Gunn, Fred and Lorne.
As the season went on the show got better and better and seasons 4 and 5 are some of the best TV I have ever seen. If you asked me to name a weak episode within the 5 season I honestly don’t think I could. Its best episode though is Apocalypse Nowish in season 4 which saw the introduction of the Beast who in my opinion is the best villain angel and his team came up against in its run.
The show lasted 5 years and continued on into the comic book world and if you have ever seen the last episode of season 5 then you might have also been tempted to throw your TV through the window as instead of ending the story with a sense of closure Joss decides to end it in mayhem. I’m guessing some who read this won’t have seen Angel so I won’t spoil how it ends but imp telling you now you may want to punch someone after you have seen it.
A lot of people who know me would probably guess that Smallville would be my number 1 show of all time. The superman symbol tattooed on my arm would probably cement that prediction in anyone’s mind. Despite this it only comes in at number two and that is definitely not a failing on the shows part.
The show is the longest running sci-fi show of all time which is a great achievement for a show based on a superhero. Tom Welling brilliantly portrays a young Clark Kent and gives the creators a great chance to tell the story of how an alien became a legend. Smallville isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it. Every week as soon as it was available id be glued to the screen ready to find out what happened next and also anticipating the moment where he would eventually fly away. It only took them 10 years to give me this.
This show probably won’t go down as one of the greatest of all time and I don’t think you will find it on many lists but it’s earned its place on my list and it would have to take something special to move it.
It did however take something special to beat it and therefore my number 1 pick is………..
1. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Well here it is my favourite TV show of all time. This was the first show I ever properly watched. It was 1997 and I was 13 years old. BBC 2 was running adverts about a new show starting called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had never seen the film that came out before it so luckily I had nothing to put me off tuning in. I sat down in my room ignoring my Grandad who had came to visit (I’m bad I know) and started on a 7 year journey which saw me watch some of the best TV ever made.
I have absolutely no criticisms when it comes to this show. Each season was a progression and a step up for the characters. It was so good it spawned off another show which made it to number 3 on the list.
At the time I was even obsessed with Sarah Michelle Gellar and to this day I will watch anything she makes out of respect for her starring in this show. Every character brought something different. No character included was one that I thought the show could do without. Anthony Steward Head, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, James Marsters, David Boreanez, Charisma Carpenter and even later additions such as Michelle Trachtenberg and Emma Caufield each added something brilliant to the show.
There are a lot of people to praise when talking about this show but one man who deserves the most credit is Joss Whedon. I know I have already praised the man enough but he truly deserves it. His idea for the show was that he was sick of seeing the girl in horror movies be weak and need to be rescued and so created Buffy the ass kicking vampire slayer. He took a bold step in changing the game in terms of on screen heroes and it paid off hugely. Whedon will be taking on the Avengers next and although I am a huge comic book fan I don’t know if anything can top what he did here with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Prison Break – brilliant in the first season but went a bit stale afterwards, still compelling TV for four years but could have been so much better.
Lost – I might have let this into the top 5 if it had bothered to answer any of the million questions I had. I am a little bit bitter.
Heroes – As mentioned above this would have made the list based on its first season but went severely downhill in its following seasons.
Supernatural – Seasons 1 and 2 kind of stop this from getting into the top 10, it was good but compared to some of the shows above its now on the same level.
Dexter – seasons 1-3 good, season 4 brilliant, season 5 – ok, season 6 – worst twist ever.
Friends, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory – I didn’t include any sitcoms and not due to their quality but due to the fact I tend to stick with the more serious TV shows.