Post Your All-Time Top 10 Television Shows

BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
edited May 15 in General Movies & TV Posts: 1,246
I looked for an existing thread, but gave up.


TOP 10 TELEVISION SHOWS
Most all have at least one weak season, some have many, generally towards the end of the show’s lifespan. Yet the quality, however concentrated throughout each show’s respective run, negates and overwhelms any problematic periods.

1. THE TWILIGHT ZONE 1959-1964
My mother claims that when I was very young I would sit up in bed with her and watch the original run, but my first memories of this show are the early ‘70s reruns on WPIX out of New York. A few subpar episodes are scattered throughout the five seasons, but The Twilight Zone is the pinnacle of what television could and can be.
2. GUNSMOKE 1955-1975
This show began airing seven years before I was born and ended when I was in my early teens. I never watched it growing up, but I began listening to the original radio program that the television show was based on about 15 years ago. It stands out as being far more adult and well-written than any of the contemporary programming. I had always assumed that the television show would be a watered-down version, but last year I dived into the series and found out how wrong I was. Most of the scripts for the first six seasons (the half hour episodes) are taken directly from the radio show, which was almost entirely penned by creator John Meston . With the hour-long episodes, the mood and pacing changes, but the quality remains.
3. STAR TREK 1966-1969
As with its contemporary cultural behemoth, Batman, we got two superb seasons followed by a disappointing third (with a few gems still hidden within), hampered by a slashed budget and lesser writers. I remember standing in the living room with my father watching the original airing of my favorite episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, and being uncomfortably shocked when Kirk said, “Let’s get the Hell out of here.”
4. SEINFELD 1989-1998
It began a little weak, and ended horribly, with two nearly unwatchable final seasons (though I love the “backwards” episode) made after co-creator Larry David’s departure as head-writer (his return for the show finale was a disaster), but the years in-between were some of the funniest and smartest pieces of television I have ever seen.
5. THE HONEYMOONERS 1955-1956
As with The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, I credit ‘70s WPIX reruns for allowing this show become a big part of my life.
6. ALL IN THE FAMILY 1971-1979
Adapted from the British sitcom 'Til Death Do Us Part. A show that changed what was possible in the medium. I grew up with this show, and the many spin-offs of varying degree of quality. The last few years were a bit rocky, but those early episodes still make my head spin. What performances from those leads!
7. COLUMBO 1971-1979
I’m only including the original run that was a rotating component of The NBC Tuesday Mystery Movie. I am not so enamored with the made-for-television follow-ups.
8. BATMAN 1966-1968
Not only do I remember watching this twice weekly in the original run, I saw the attached movie in a theatre, where my mother bought me the Matchbox Batmobile in the lobby (the same theatre where we saw Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a few years later, and also bought the Matchbox car in the lobby). As with Star Trek (see above), season three takes a dive, but I will never forget that inner tingling of excitement, sitting on a couch with my family, watching the debut of Batgirl in the season opener. Only matched a season earlier by the cliff-hanger announcement at one episode’s conclusion, that the following week would guest start The Green Hornet and Kato. Remember, no internet. It came as a complete shock: the first live-action superhero cross-over.
9. THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES 1962-1971
No weak seasons, hilarious all the way through.
10. LOST 2004-2010
I wasn’t interested in watching the original airing, but by two-season in, the show’s reputation drove me to catch up. After the first four episodes I was convinced that it was quite possibly the greatest thing put to television. But, of course, that momentum and that level of quality and excitement cannot be sustained for too long. Though the show continued to periodically enthrall me throughout its life, the payoffs became less frequent and, for the most part, less satisfying as the seasons progressed. It fell victim to its own success, where the studio demands more episodes, thereby postponing and muddying any preset vision or timeline, dragging the thing out until it becomes a confused, aimless, and unsatisfying mess. This has happened frequently to popular shows. Unlike many, I don’t hate the resolution, but it was rather underwhelming and didn’t fit with much that had gone prior. The show also suffers from the same major problem that crippled the brilliant Twin Peaks, of which it shares quite a bit, a show that would most likely appear on this list had it been a Top 20. Both shows ask us to invest in a mystery. We are given clues of all kinds; visual , through conversation, through monologue, through flashback, through innuendo. Both shows became national phenomena, with fans obsessing over every detail, parsing dialogue, comfort in knowing that there is a plan that would one day payoff. In both cases it turned out that there was no plan, leading to unsatisfying, illogical, and frustrating conclusions.

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Comments

  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,798
    I assume we're excluding comedy sitcoms? If so:

    24
    Breaking Bad
    Batman The Animated Series
    Batman 1966
    Twin Peaks
    The Newsroom
    Star Trek TOS
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Cowboy Bebop
    True Blood
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger Each moment I draw closer to the Divine.
    Posts: 43,970
    The Simpsons
    Futurama
    Pippi Långstrump (Pippi Longstockings)
    Centennial
    X-Files
    Twin Peaks
    Vikings
    Vikingane (Norsemen)
    Hellfjord
    Fawlty Towers
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    I assume we're excluding comedy sitcoms? If so:

    24
    Breaking Bad
    Batman The Animated Series
    Batman 1966
    Twin Peaks
    The Newsroom
    Star Trek TOS
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Cowboy Bebop
    True Blood

    No, please feel free to include anything. My list is nearly half sitcoms.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    edited January 1 Posts: 17,249
    In no particular order:
    Star Trek TOS
    Star Trek: The Next Generation
    The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr.
    Eureka
    Nikita
    The Mandalorian
    The Expanse
    Firefly
    Battlestar Galactica TOS
    The Prisoner


    There are SO many more (Monty Python's Flying Circus, Airwolf, Dark Angel, Buffy, Twilight Zone, Kung Fu, CHUCK, etc. etc.), but the op said ten!
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    Several of the ones mentioned by you guys (Twin Peaks, The Prisoner, The (early) Simpsons, Monty Python, Breaking Bad, Batman: The Animated Series) would most likely make my Top 25.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,798
    Birdleson wrote: »
    DarthDimi wrote: »
    I assume we're excluding comedy sitcoms? If so:

    24
    Breaking Bad
    Batman The Animated Series
    Batman 1966
    Twin Peaks
    The Newsroom
    Star Trek TOS
    Neon Genesis Evangelion
    Cowboy Bebop
    True Blood

    No, please feel free to include anything. My list is nearly half sitcoms.

    In that case I can add

    The simpsons
    Futurama
    Bojack Horseman
    Rick and Morty
    It's Akways Sunny In Philadelphia
    Blackadder
    Arrested Development
    The Big Bang Theory
    That 70s Show
    Fawlty Towers
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited December 2021 Posts: 1,246
    Black Adder is pretty great.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,798
    Birdleson wrote: »
    Black Adder I pretty great.

    I think it's far better than Mr Bean.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    No question.
  • edited January 1 Posts: 13,867
    1. THE ROCKFORD FILES
    2. ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN
    3. DRAGNET
    4. HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL
    5. THE SAINT
    6. LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
    7. COLUMBO
    8. MAVERICK
    9. ADAM-12
    10. DIFF'RENT STROKES
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    Dragnet made my first, larger draft.
  • edited January 1 Posts: 4,843
    Gosh, only 10 allowed!!!
    1. Minder
    2. Hill Street Blues
    3. Cracker
    4. Swap Shop
    5. Grange Hill
    6. Take Hart
    7. Porridge
    8. Upstairs, Downstairs
    9. Bearcats
    10. Tom and Jerry
    Notable exceptions
    The Water Margin, Dick Turpin, The Pink Panther Show, Tiswas, Fun Factory, The Avengers (Diana Rigg), The New Avengers, The MuppetShow, Top of the Pops, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rockford Files, Spike Milligans 'Q' series, , Dads Army, Dave Allen, The Benny Hill Show, Bullseye, The Boys from the Black stuff,.....
    Phew, I could go on and on!!
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 20,798
    An interesting observation is that very few of the entries so far have anything in common.
  • Posts: 629
    Mathis1 wrote: »
    Gosh, only 10 allowed!!!
    1. Minder
    2. Hill Street Blues
    3. Cracker
    4. Swap Shop
    5. Grange Hill
    6. Take Hart
    7. Porridge
    8. Upstairs, Downstairs
    9. Bearcats
    10. Tom and Jerry
    Notable exceptions
    The Water Margin, Dick Turpin, The Pink Panther Show, Tiswas, Fun Factory, The Avengers (Diana Rigg), The New Avengers, The MuppetShow, Top of the Pops, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rockford Files, Spike Milligans 'Q' series, , Dads Army, Dave Allen, The Benny Hill Show, Bullseye, The Boys from the Black stuff,.....
    Phew, I could go on and on!!

    Take Hart! Fantastic.
  • Posts: 629
    1. The X-Files (season 1 probably my favourite)
    2. Babylon 5 (season 3 is awesome)
    3. Rome
    4. Chernobyl
    5. The Thick of It (season 1)
    6. Vienna Blood
    7. Captain Scarlet (1960s original)
    8. Space 1999
    9. Columbo
    10. Das Boot
  • Posts: 4,843
    Mathis1 wrote: »
    Gosh, only 10 allowed!!!
    1. Minder
    2. Hill Street Blues
    3. Cracker
    4. Swap Shop
    5. Grange Hill
    6. Take Hart
    7. Porridge
    8. Upstairs, Downstairs
    9. Bearcats
    10. Tom and Jerry
    Notable exceptions
    The Water Margin, Dick Turpin, The Pink Panther Show, Tiswas, Fun Factory, The Avengers (Diana Rigg), The New Avengers, The MuppetShow, Top of the Pops, Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rockford Files, Spike Milligans 'Q' series, , Dads Army, Dave Allen, The Benny Hill Show, Bullseye, The Boys from the Black stuff,.....
    Phew, I could go on and on!!

    Take Hart! Fantastic.

    Essential viewing in my house, as am an artist myself! Loved Tony Harts easy going style, preferred the earlier shows where he didnt have an assistant! Read his daughter, Carolyns, biography about him a few years ago, lovely book!
    And lets not forget, the series introduced us to 'Morph'!
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe JenaMaloneforBond.comModerator
    Posts: 12,587
    In no order:

    Doctor Who (1987-89)*
    Callan (1967-72)
    The Sweeney (1975-78)
    Yes, Minister (1980-82, 1984) / Yes, Prime Minister (1986-88)**
    The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin (1976-79)
    A Town Called Eureka (2006-12)
    Frasier (1993-04)
    The Two Ronnies (1971-87)
    The Equalizer (1985-89)
    The X-Files (1993-02, 2016-18)




    * I tried to avoid padding out the list with multiple eras, and just go for my most favourite. Though if I were pressed, I would include other favourites: 1966-69, 2010-13, 1970-74 and 1963-66.

    ** I might have cheated a little with this one, but I can't pick which is better.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    @MajorDSmythe , my favorite episode of THE EQUALIZER was the one (maybe it was a two-parter) which guest-starred Telly Savalas as a corrupt priest. I only saw it in its' original airing, but it left quite an impression.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,249

    A Town Called Eureka (2006-12)
    Wow, I am not the only one who loves that show?
    Cool.
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe JenaMaloneforBond.comModerator
    Posts: 12,587
    Birdleson wrote: »
    @MajorDSmythe , my favorite episode of THE EQUALIZER was the one (maybe it was a two-parter) which guest-starred Telly Savalas as a corrupt priest. I only saw it in its' original airing, but it left quite an impression.

    The two part opener of the 3rd series, one/two of the standout episodes, definitely.
    chrisisall wrote: »
    A Town Called Eureka (2006-12)
    Wow, I am not the only one who loves that show?
    Cool.

    Absolutely. I wish it could have run a little longer, but given the choices they were given by the SyFy Channel, ultimately, I think they might the right choice.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    edited January 1 Posts: 36,647
    Making a Top 10 is too hard for me, but I do have my definitive Top 3, in order.

    1. Deadwood
    2. The Sopranos
    3. Lost
  • edited January 1 Posts: 17,239
    In no particular order...
    Star Trek ToS
    Star Trek DS9
    Star Trek TNG
    Batman 66
    24
    Doctor Who
    Batman TAS
    Smallville
    Stargate SG-1
    Columbo
    (Though I tend to see these as movies)

    I have likely forgotten a show.

    Game of Thrones was great for most of its run as an honourable mention.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 1,246
    @Creasy47 Sopranos would make my extended list. Another example of a show (LOST) that was pushed by its success to spread out over a season or two more than necessary. At least it felt that way to me.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited January 1 Posts: 1,246
    @Fire_and_Ice_Returns Smallville could go through a three or four episode stretch where I thought it was the best thing on television (like those Luthor-centric storylines), and then total crap for half a season. A hard one to place for me. Do you have a favorite era or season or storyline?
  • Posts: 303
    In no particular order.
    Only Fools and Horses. Fawlty Towers. Columbo. Space 1999. Cracker. Das Boot ( full TV version ). Starsky and Hutch. Banshee. 24. Star trek TOS

  • edited January 1 Posts: 16,000
    Making a top 10 list is near impossible for me. I actually had to ask myself what I consider a top TV show, and landed on these criteria:

    It must be a show I immediately loved, it must be a show that has consistency in quality, and most of all: it should be one I find very entertaining. In no particular order:


    Columbo (the original run)
    Easily my favourite TV detective. The quality of every episode, the plots and the writing is superb!

    Endeavour
    The only show on this list which is still in production. I sure didn't expect the prequel series to Inspector Morse to become a personal favourite, but this is a TV series I absolutely love. Shaun Evans is great as a young Endeavour Morse.

    Inspector Morse
    It's admittedly been a long time since I last watched Inspector Morse, but I loved it when I first watched it. Don't think I've actually watched all of the episodes, come to think of it…

    Mad Men
    Oh, how I love this show. I watched it for the first time some time after the second season finished, and was so hooked straight away that I binge-watched the two seasons in less than a week. It's the only show I've ever binge-watched.

    Mad Men also had an impact on my life: If I hadn't discovered this show, I don't know if I had ever gone down the career path to become a graphic designer.

    Department S
    Just a lovely ITC Entertainment show – but one I enjoy more than others. Jason King is one of my favourite ever TV show characters.

    Fawlty Towers
    The Brits make the best sitcoms in my view, and this classic stands out as one of the best.

    Seinfeld
    I'm not the biggest fan om American sitcoms, but Seinfeld is an exception. Few shows have made me laugh like Seinfeld has.

    Twin Peaks
    Like Inspector Morse, I haven't watched Twin Peaks in years, but I was glued to the screen watching this. I hope to watch it again in 2022!

    Californication
    Probably a guilty pleasure, but why not! Definitely not a show for everyone, but behind all the hedonistic Hollywood lifestyle you're exposed to, there's the story of a man juggling his career as a writer, his relationship with his former girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, and his role as a father. David Duchovny is brilliant in this.

    Blackadder
    Another British classic. Rowan Atkinson is one of comedy's all time greats, and he was at his best playing Blackadder.
  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    edited January 2 Posts: 3,642
    1. Blackadder
    2. Star Trek TNG
    3. Seinfeld
    4. The King of Queens
    5. Fawlty Towers
    6. Minder
    7. Banshee
    8. The Office (UK & U.S
    9. Red Dwarf
    10. Hancocks half hour

    Runners up
    70's Dr Who
    The Six Million Dollar Man
    Rising Damp
    Blakes 7
    Batman TAS
    The Sweeney
    Star Trek TOS
    The Incredible Hulk
    Only Fools and Horses
    Hawai five 0
    Homicide Life On The Street
    Happy Days
    Swap Shop
    Porridge
    Open All Hours
    Firefly
    The Two Ronnie's
    Cheers
    Frasier
    Roseanne
    The Fall Guy
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython Omaha, NE
    Posts: 6,253
    I dunno what my top ten all time would be, but I'll leave comments on shows that were brought up here. At least, these are the shows I watched with great dedication:

    SMALLVILLE

    This wouldn't be in my top 10 now, but there was a time when it would have been. I was absolutely RELIGIOUSLY into this show in the former half of its run. I already grew up with the Reeve films and the Bruce Timm animated show as a kid, but in my teens this reinvigorated my love for Superman and made me dive deep into reading comics and even books about the history of the character.

    I could write a ten page essay on my thoughts on this show, but I'll distill it. I actually prefer the earlier seasons when it focused more on Clark during his high school years, not only learning how to use his powers but also life lessons and the responsibilities he has to learn with them. His relationship with his parents, especially Pa Kent. Lex Luthor's story was also great, especially with the very excellent Michael Rosenbaum who to this day remains my favorite live action actor to play that character. IMO, the show should have ended with Clark going to college, or graduating high school. By Season 6 I became pretty disinterested in the show. Stuff like Clark meeting up DC characters he'd later meet as Superman was not what I wanted. I think what really hurt it was the way Pa Kent was written out of the show. That just left a bad taste in my mouth. It got to a point where I would forget to watch new episodes, so once I realized it, I simply gave up trying to catch up and move on.


    STAR TREK

    I'll lump TOS, TNG, and DS9 together. I was always a Trek fan growing up, but when I actually finally dived deep into these show when they were all available for me to watch on TV reruns, it was a real treat. I don't think Trek on television has ever reached that peak. I'll even list what I consider the "peak" seasons for those shows:

    TOS: 1 & 2
    TNG: 3-6
    DS9: 4-6


    TWIN PEAKS

    First season is consistently great. The first nine episodes of the second season are equally great. Once Laura Palmer's murder is solved, it's astonishing to see how the quality dropped like a brick. The middle batch of the second season is practically unwatchable. I think it starts to pick up towards the end with the introduction of Heather Graham's character, but it's no surprise it got cancelled. At least the finale was amazing.

    I do like FIRE WALK WITH ME and the Limited Event series dubbed "The Return", but those initial episodes of the original incarnation have never been topped.


    LOST

    I remember renting the first two discs of the first season from Blockbuster (where's my walker?), so that I could catch up just as the second season was playing out. After I finished those two discs, I returned them and then immediately bought the DVD season set. That's how GOOD it was.

    I enjoyed the show for the first five seasons. Aside from some real stinkers in the second and third seasons, I still greatly enjoyed it. The final season is where it really disappointed. It didn't have anything to do with what mystery was answered or not. I just felt underwhelmed with how the characters were handled, and the sudden focus on them finding themselves in the crossfire between gods.


    MAD MEN

    It's been a long time since I've seen this, but I was into it on first run. I'll probably have to revisit it sometime to see how it holds up. If an American could ever convincingly play Fleming's Bond, I think Jon Hamm was the guy to do it.


    BETTER CALL SAUL

    I actually prefer this over BREAKING BAD. Where that show was about a man who was always terrible to the core, this one was kind of the opposite. It's riveting because you can see Jimmy McGill has so much to offer for good, but life hits him so hard over and over that it's tragic when you see him becoming more like the hack lawyer he becomes in the show this spun-off from. The final season is at this point the one I have the most anticipation for, with what television/streaming currently offers.
  • DarthDimi wrote: »
    An interesting observation is that very few of the entries so far have anything in common.

    A great observation. The world of television really is vast.

    My own:

    Archer
    Batman: The Animated Series
    Chuck
    Cowboy Bebop
    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    The Office
    The Sarah Connor Chronicles
    Smallville
    Stranger Things
    The Twilight Zone

    (In assembling this list, I reserve the right to turn a blind eye to one or two seasons of some of the longer running shows here.)

    Special nod to the Emma Peel seasons of The Avengers.

    Game of Thrones was great for most of its run as an honourable mention.

    Game of Thrones dropped off hard at the end and had its share of wobbly moments throughout but was indeed a real achievement of television and had some truly stunning moments. That speech of Peter Dinklage's (I believe toward the end of Season 4) was just about one of the best things I've ever seen on television.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,249
    Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
    I was this *Holds fingers .01mm apart* close to putting that on my list....
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