Slav’s excellent critique of modern television got me thinking—what are the eleven best shows of all time? Why eleven? Because I was going to do ten but couldn’t decide which one to cut. I am only going off of my own experience here, so right off the top, I’ll admit that I haven’t seen “The Wire” or “The West Wing,” so they won’t be included on this list, as deserving as they may be. Also, on-going talk shows did not merit consideration, so no “Real Time with Bill Maher” or “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn” (and yes, I realize I said Kilborn and not Ferguson—Kilborn was the fucking man). Also, the amount of a show that I have watched came into play—everyone raves about the Sopranos, but I only saw the last two seasons, which were absolute shit, so it’s not on the list. Also, I saw a decent amount of Rome’s second season, but not enough to pass judgment on it, so it, too, fails to make the list. I’m sure I forgot some others, too, so feel free to mention them in the comments. Here’s one intrepid blogger’s opinion:
11: Entourage. Through the first two seasons, this show was headed higher on this list. Much higher. The jokes were hilarious, the characters fairly well-developed, and it was just a lighthearted, hilarious look at the life of a charmed Hollywood celebrity. After Season 2, though, there were a bunch of problems. The show started focusing more on Ari, which can be good, but too much Ari makes him tiresome. The whole “biggest star in the world can’t get a part, then magically does, then is in the gutter again” cycle was repeated a couple of times. The two Don debacles were awful. And the dialogue was nowhere near as funny as before. There were always a few good jokes per episode in recent years, but they just didn’t click like Drama’s “Um, no, I, DON’T.” The 5th Season finale was proof that this show has lost its way a bit—out of the blue, despondent Vince lands a Marty Scorsese movie? Fucking ridiculous. However, the first few seasons were so good that it deserves to be on this list.
10: Star Trek: Deep Space 9. Yeah, so I’m a fucking nerd. So what. Quit laughing. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. Big fucking bully—Stop it! STOP IT! MOM!!! MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM! OK, now that that’s out of the way, I have to say that yes, I do enjoy the Star Trek series a little bit. No, I am not anticipating the new movie, simply because it looks way too effects-driven, and it seems that J.J. Abrams would be happy to light DeForest Kelley and James Doohan’s graves on fire, just so he could piss on them to put it out. Simon Pegg? Come the fuck on. Anyway, DS9 was a little darker than other Star Trek series—once the Dominion War got going, this show was awesome. Of course, there were too many “cute” episodes mixed in there, but overall this show deserves a spot somewhere in the top ten.
9: Battlestar Galactica (2001-2009): Like the Sopranos, I got into this show sort of in the middle of things. Luckily, Sci Fi made a handy catch-up guide where I was able to learn pretty much everything important in eight minutes or so. Sure it lagged at times, and there were times where you wondered what the frak…err…fuck was going on, but I found the (apparently extremely polarizing) finale to be excellent. And, I have to say, I called it from the minute I started watching. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but “FUCK YEAH!! IN YOUR FUCKING FACE RON MOORE!!!” Apologize for the outburst. Even though it might be a little to Sci-Fi-ish for a lot of you out there, those who watched it know it is far more than some simple-minded sci-fi drivel like those Stargate shows.
8: Mad Men. I’m only half-way through Season 2 at this point, but Mad Men is a fantastic show. It’s a throwback to a time when women and children knew how to treat their men. Don Draper is my hero. He’s thirsty? One of the kids better fix him a drink, quick! Dinner’s not ready when he gets home? Unacceptable! Combine this with the man’s creative sensibilities, and the adventures of our heroes at Sterling Cooper, and this show is a great watch. I hope to finish out this season before it returns in the fall. I just don’t understand why HBO didn’t pick this up—they could have made it Top-3 material.
7. Family Guy. Sure it can fail spectacularly at times, and yes it seems like some random new chick is writing every third episode, especially this season, causing the jokes to fall flat since she obviously does not get the character dynamics or the show’s sense of humor at all. But overall, you have to admit, they have more hits than misses. Brian and Stewie are great, and the evolution of the show from cheap, one-trick pop culture reference to nuanced one-trick pop culture reference has been great to watch. I don’t know why it’s still funny, OK? It just fucking is.
6. The Office (UK). What a great show. Though the U.S. version has become a very good comedy in its own right, it all started with Ricky Gervais’ portrayal of David Brent in the British version. The writing was absolutely “spot on” throughout the entire series, and the characters were quite well-developed. More importantly, the show actually was able to provoke an emotional response—quite a rarity for a comedy. I’m not gonna lie—at the end of the Special, it got a little bit dusty in my dorm room. So what? What, am I less of a man because I cry? Every night? Waiting for the sweet, sweet booze to dull the…I CAN’T FUCKING TAKE THIS ANYMORE! I HATE IT!!! I FUCKING HATE IT!!!”…ok, sorry…I’m back…everything’s cool dude…nothing is fucked, dude…
5: Frasier. When is the last time that you ever watched an episode of Frasier? Come on, be honest. Even though it is buried in syndication on Lifetime, the beauty of Tivo is that you don’t have to sit through the countless promos for absolutely awful-looking movies starring Sigorney Weaver and LeAnn Rhimes. But I digress—Frasier is the smartest sitcom to ever grace the airways. The level of acting and writing, even when the show uses more “screwball” elements, is just a notch above even Seinfeld. Frasier is so pompous, yet insecure, that he makes for a great, yet flawed, protagonist. Niles is flat out one of the best characters in television history—the way he combines snobbery, weaselness, and cowardess with enough endearment to make you root for him was an amazing performance by David Hyde Pierce. Marty and Daphne keep the show somewhat grounded in reality, making fun of the two brothers for their opera and wine club habits. I would highly recommend you put this on season pass right now and dig right in.
4: Seinfeld. This was an agonizingly close call between Seinfeld and Frasier. Absoultely agonizing. I guess that’s more a testament to how good both shows are as opposed to my own pussiness. In the end, I think the reason Seinfeld won out is because I have literally watched every single episode at least 3-5 times, some of them many, many more. It’s not only the characters and the excellent dynamic they had, or the “popular” lines (“yada, yada, yada!” “Spongeworthy!”), but rather a lot of other “throwaway” lines that have found their way into the lexicon without many people realizing it. At one point, JSugar and I watched Dumb and Dumber and we counted around 50 lines from that movie that people use all the time without realizing it. Seinfeld is the exact same way. Overall, that’s why it gets the nod over Frasier.
3: South Park. What a masterpiece. I have no idea how two guys in their thirties (forties?) still manage to make such good tv. Cartman has always been fantastic, but in recent seasons, I have to admit, Randy Marsh has really come into his own. I think he represents what a lot of the show’s initial fans have become—guys who are tied down and have to try to act respectable, but in their hearts, just want to play video games and stay young. An absolutely amazing show.
2: The Larry Sanders Show. I have previously written about the “Best-of” DVD set, but I still don’t think that people realize how fantastic this show was. Aside from introducing three of the greatest characters on television (Larry, Artie, and “Hey Now!” Hank Kingsley, the show was incredibly well-written and just a how-to seminar on comedic writing. The ancillary characters, such as Wallace Langham’s disgruntled writer Phil and Bob Odenkirk’s Ari Emmanuel/Gold-channeling sleazy agent really tied the show together. I implore you to rent season 1 and the “Best of” discs since those are the only options for watching it at the present. You will not be disappointed.
1: LOST. What is there left to say that has not already been said? The show that already had everything—drama, intrigue, hot chicks, comedy, mystery, and, perhaps most of all, excellent character development—recently added the one element that could possibly catapult the series into a completely different level: fucking time travel. Sure it’s not clear what the “rules” are necessarily, and sure they’ve had a couple too many “What is it?” “More like WHEN is it!?!” exchanges this season, but this season has done a fantastic job of tying up some mythology-based loose ends while advancing the ball quite a bit. I have to say, I’m a big fan of Sawyer’s Dharma puppet regime (does anyone think that Horace is really in charge here?). Also, it’s good to see Kate and Jack get their comeuppance now that they made it back to the island. Despite the overall coolness of the “WE HAVE TO GO BACK!!!” line at the end of Season 3, maybe Jack will find that being a janitor on an island where you constantly live in fear of a giant fucking smoke monster and a nerdy teenager with round glasses isn’t exactly the greatest situation to be in. By far the best show of all time—it just isn’t even a contest. If you haven’t started watching yet, here’s what to do:
1. Go to Blockbuster/your NetFlix queue. Rent LOST Seasons 1-4/make sure LOST Seasons 1-4 are at the top of the queue.
2. Watch around 1 season per week/weekend. Go ahead—it’s ok. G-Gel Unit, Slav and I once watched 12 hours of season 2 straight. It was fucking awesome.
3. Buy this season on iTunes. Trust me, by the end of season 4, you’ll be begging for it.
4. Sit on the floor of a cold, dark room, clutching your knees, Thursday-Wednesday, with the TV turned to abc. Keep repeating “4,8,15,16,23,42” while gently rocking back and forth. At 9/8 central on Wednesday, sit up straight and don’t blink for one hour. Repeat next week.
So that’s pretty much it. Until next time.
Questions? Comments? Disagree with my rankings? Fuck you! E-mail the Blogmogger team at firstname.lastname@example.org.