Post Your All-Time Top 10 Television Shows

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  • 1. 24 (2001-2010)
    2. Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980)
    3. Knight Rider (1982-1986)
    4. The A-Team (1983-1987)
    5. Walker Texas Ranger (1993-2001)
    6. Bonanza (1959-1973)
    7. Mission: Impossible (1966-1973)
    8. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968)
    9. The Wonder Years (1988-1993)
    10. Columbo (1971-1978)

    Honorable mentions:
    - The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977)
    - The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
    - All in the Family (1971-1979)
    - Three’s Company (1977-1984)
    - Magnum, PI (1980-1988)
    - Scarecrow & Mrs. King (1983-1987)
    - Airwolf (1984-1986)
    - MacGyver (1985-1992)
    - Matlock (1986-1995)
    - Family Matters (1989-1998)
    - Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) - the only version of Batman (TV or film) that I ever liked. Don’t care about any of the others.
  • Slazenger7Slazenger7 Gothenburg, Sweden
    edited January 2022 Posts: 1,334
    Some of my favorites, in no particular order.

    Mad Men
    Breaking Bad
    Sopranos
    Twin Peaks
    The West Wing
    Star Trek: The Next Generation
    The X-Files
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer
    Californication (1st season)
    South Park
    Seinfeld
    Friends
    Spin City
    Sex & The City
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 7,526
    Off the top of my head:

    Breaking Bad
    Mad Men
    The Crown
    The Office (US)
    GLOW
    Succession
    The Morning Show
  • MajorDSmytheMajorDSmythe "I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it."Moderator
    Posts: 13,894
    marc wrote: »
    marc wrote: »
    Interesting that 'Yes, Minister'/'Yes, Prime Minister' have only been mentioned once so far. The funniest and most interesting TV show I've ever seen, I think.

    Thanks to the writing, so much of the original show and the follow up, is still relevant today.

    Absolutely. It's actually breathtaking, the way it shows political corruption.

    "Ministers should never know more than they need to know. ... Like secret agents, they could be captured and tortured."
    "You mean by terrorists?"
    "By the BBC, Bernard."

    Classic Sir Humphrey. It says a lot about how the show was written, that not only the three leads got wonderful lines, but the supporting characters too, especially Sir Frank and Sir Desmond Glazebrook. Both impeccably played too.


    Though I have already given my 10, I would like to give an honourable mention to Goodnight Sweetheart (1993-99). The one-off special from 2016 hit the spot nicely, unfortunately the PaedBC chose not to continue with it.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    Off the top of my head:

    Breaking Bad
    Mad Men
    The Crown
    The Office (US)
    GLOW
    Succession
    The Morning Show

    I really enjoyed GLOW, sad they not only canned the idea of a final season but pulled the plug on a final Netflix film to wrap things up. Netflix works wonders in trashing the few good originals it puts out there these days.
  • marcmarc Universal Exports
    Posts: 2,609
    marc wrote: »
    marc wrote: »
    Interesting that 'Yes, Minister'/'Yes, Prime Minister' have only been mentioned once so far. The funniest and most interesting TV show I've ever seen, I think.

    Thanks to the writing, so much of the original show and the follow up, is still relevant today.

    Absolutely. It's actually breathtaking, the way it shows political corruption.

    "Ministers should never know more than they need to know. ... Like secret agents, they could be captured and tortured."
    "You mean by terrorists?"
    "By the BBC, Bernard."

    Classic Sir Humphrey. It says a lot about how the show was written, that not only the three leads got wonderful lines, but the supporting characters too, especially Sir Frank and Sir Desmond Glazebrook. Both impeccably played too.

    Indeed. And Sir Arnold, Annie, Jim's driver, ...

    Sir Frank: "Let's be clear about this, Humphrey. The entire system hinges on you as Cabinet Secretary controlling the PM and on me as Permanent Secretary at the Treasury controlling the Chancellor. Right?"
    Sir Humphrey: "Right."
    Sir Frank: "And on both of us keeping an agreeable tension between them, mistrust, hostility."
  • edited May 2022 Posts: 2,400
    Here's where I currently land.

    10: CURB YOUR ENTHUISIASM
    9: STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
    8: FLEABAG
    7: SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE (the Bergman original)
    6: SUCCESSION
    5: THE SOPRANOS
    4: CHERNOBYL
    3: BETTER CALL SAUL
    2: THE WIRE
    1: MAD MEN

    If we were to take out the two limited series, the next two shows in my list would be BREAKING BAD and FAWLTY TOWERS.
  • R1s1ngs0nR1s1ngs0n France
    Posts: 2,011
    Not an easy task, compiling a top 10 list when there have been so many great and unforgettable shows.
    The following ten are what I consider to be the crowning achievements in both tv drama and comedy, with The Sopranos being the ultimate tv masterpiece.

    Better Call Saul
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Deadwood
    Fawlty Towers
    Mad Men
    Mindhunter
    Seinfeld
    The Office UK
    The Sopranos
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    R1s1ngs0n wrote: »
    Not an easy task, compiling a top 10 list when there have been so many great and unforgettable shows.
    The following ten are what I consider to be the crowning achievements in both tv drama and comedy, with The Sopranos being the ultimate tv masterpiece.

    Better Call Saul
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Deadwood
    Fawlty Towers
    Mad Men
    Mindhunter
    Seinfeld
    The Office UK
    The Sopranos
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    Anybody with Deadwood on their list is excellent in my book.
  • Posts: 2,400
    On the Better Call Saul tack...they're 5/13 of the way to the all-time great season of dramatic television IMO. It's quite sincerely been flawless so far this year.
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,684
    My girlfriend lost interest in it somehow, so I'm way behind on Better Call Saul. It's better than Breaking Bad though. Fewer tangents and better plotting in advance. And Michael McKean is a profoundly underrated actor.

    My top 10, in a random order

    Seinfeld
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    NewsRadio
    The Simpsons (up to a certain point)
    Fargo
    The Avengers
    Late Night/Late Show with David Letterman (probably not the kind of thing we're looking for here, but it's too brilliant)
    Police Squad!
    Breaking Bad
    Better Call Saul
  • R1s1ngs0nR1s1ngs0n France
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,011
    Creasy47 wrote: »
    R1s1ngs0n wrote: »
    Not an easy task, compiling a top 10 list when there have been so many great and unforgettable shows.
    The following ten are what I consider to be the crowning achievements in both tv drama and comedy, with The Sopranos being the ultimate tv masterpiece.

    Better Call Saul
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Deadwood
    Fawlty Towers
    Mad Men
    Mindhunter
    Seinfeld
    The Office UK
    The Sopranos
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    Anybody with Deadwood on their list is excellent in my book.
    Along with Sopranos and Mad Men, Deadwood was a no-brainer for my top 10.
    I can’t say if a couple more seasons would have been as consistently brilliant as the three Milch gave us, but there certainly hasn’t been any another show in my opinion that was more deserving of another season.
  • R1s1ngs0nR1s1ngs0n France
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,011
    If we were to make a list of the greatest ever first seasons, then Fargo would definitely be on mine. It’s absolutely perfect.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    R1s1ngs0n wrote: »
    Creasy47 wrote: »
    R1s1ngs0n wrote: »
    Not an easy task, compiling a top 10 list when there have been so many great and unforgettable shows.
    The following ten are what I consider to be the crowning achievements in both tv drama and comedy, with The Sopranos being the ultimate tv masterpiece.

    Better Call Saul
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Deadwood
    Fawlty Towers
    Mad Men
    Mindhunter
    Seinfeld
    The Office UK
    The Sopranos
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    Anybody with Deadwood on their list is excellent in my book.
    Along with Sopranos and Mad Men, Deadwood was a no-brainer for my top 10.
    I can’t say if a couple of more seasons would have been as consistently brilliant as the three Milch gave us, but there certainly hasn’t been any another show in my opinion that was more deserving of another season.

    The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm would make my Top 10 too.

    I'll forever be upset we didn't at least get a season four. It would've been great seeing how the town was operating under Hearst's control without Hearst actually being in camp, on top of the theater troupe apparently getting into some robberies and that inevitable fire that burned down most of the town. I do love the film, my bias is way too heavy with that universe so it was impossible for me not to love it, but I would've much rather had a limited series or something instead (and not had the characters weathered by such a large passage of time).
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    This got me thinking for quite a while, and I came up with some favorites partially motivated by shows I hadn't seen talked up as much that I thought were deserving. In no particular order...


    1.) Batman: The Animated Series- There is no way I could leave this off the list, even though many in my age bracket and beyond will include it. What can you say? It was a phenomenon, in every way. The noir aesthetic the animation evoked, the darker tone that made it feel like it was a kids' show not meant for kids, the writing and cast were next level and to this day absolutely nothing comes close to it in terms of nailing everything that makes Batman a fascinating character. His trauma, his struggle to balance his personal life and vigilante life, his complex relationships with all his villains and Bat family; Batman TAS had it all, and did it as good as it's ever been done. Without this show, it's entirely possible I don't become a Batman fan, or at least don't become as strong a one, so it was and continues to be a fundamental part of who I am. I don't even want to imagine a reality where Kevin Conroy isn't the end-all, be-all version of the Caped Crusader.


    2.) Breaking Bad- Another show that will be on a lot of lists, but I would be negligent not to include it because of my own relationship with it. Of all the shows on this list it's probably the one that least moves me to passionate applause, but I have to respect it for being one of the rarest shows when it comes to such strong consistency in quality. I watched the entire show over an Easter weekend on break from college one year after hearing talk of it for ages, and went into it skeptical of all the hype but still open minded. Over the course of four or five days of literally only watching this show and barely eating or sleeping, which I never do even with the shows I love most, the writing, characters and building story absolutely hooked me and I couldn't tear away until it was over. I gasped, I screamed, I cried...Breaking Bad made me do it all. I also respect any show run by writers who know what story they want to tell, and know when they want to end it. There's no filler to this show, no slumps, no bull. Every second on screen is relevant, crucial, meaningful, and that is why it's some of the best storytelling I've ever come across.


    3.) True Detective- Perhaps it's weird for me to include this on my list, since I'm only referring to the first season when I give my praise-as season 2 was far weaker and I've not been able to see the third season yet-but there is no way I could leave True Detective in the dust. The first season of this show may be my favorite season of television I've ever seen, and if it isn't it's easily in the top five. I recommend it to anyone that loves strong writing, fascinating and human characters, and gripping plotting. It is a triumph of television storytelling, with troubled and multi-layered characters caught inside a twisting narrative that plays out as cinematically as a movie, shot so ominously and hauntingly under the direction of the great Cary Fukunaga himself. It also casts Louisiana as the backdrop for its macabre mystery, which is refreshing and intriguing compared to so many crime shows being plotted around more urban areas.

    Matthew McConaughey is the biggest draw in my opinion, as he plays against type as a nihilistic and world weary detective who life becomes irreversibly changed by the case he's set upon. He gives one of my favorite performances from any actor in anything in this show, and anyone that wants to be taken for a ride shouldn't regret checking it out.


    4.) BBC Sherlock- I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan for most of my growing life, as soon as I was able to get into the original stories, and I was very skeptical when my friend told me a new adaptation on the character was being done...but set in the modern day. I couldn't conceive of a good Sherlock Holmes story set in contemporary time, as I didn't want to see the Victorian mood and spectacle left behind. Boy, was I wrong. As soon as I watched the first ten minutes of the first episode, I knew I was hooked on the show. I fell in love with Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes, far rougher around the edges than you see the famed detective, and was just as enamored with Martin Freeman's Watson. The dynamic between Holmes and Watson makes or breaks any adaptation, no matter how good the other elements on offer are, and this show may have the best pairing of them all that I've seen to date. It's not just how evident the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Freeman is, it's that the show purposefully started each man as flawed and incomplete characters at the start of their journeys and used their partnership as both crime fighters and fierce friends to develop each in truly endearing ways. We see Watson come more into his own over time, no longer a man without purpose, and Holmes becomes...well, human.

    Touching, gripping, enthralling, and often even humorous, Sherlock found clever and fun ways to update the age old detective and doctor for our modern times, and in doing so an undeniably faithful adaption was crafted.


    5.) Sherlock Holmes: The Granada Series- If I mentioned the BBC version, I have to mention the 80s and 90s adaptation of the famed Sherlock Holmes stories starring the incomparable Jeremy Brett. If the Bond series holds Sean Connery as the definitive interpretation of the character, I would have to wager that Jeremy Brett is the Connery of all the Holmes actors. Many would say Basil Rathbone fills this spot, but I have never been able to connect to his work as the character in the way I did with Brett. The accomplished actor was a titan on the screen, giving off every essence of the vibrant contradiction that Holmes is: elegant, yet eccentric, charming, yet solitary, affable, yet irate, bohemian, yet human. He truly lost himself in the portrayal, and he steals every scene as a true master of his craft.

    The show is a spectacle and production design achievement, depicting a Victorian London like in the stories of old, and Granada managed to produce some of the most masterfully faithful adaptations of Doyle's stories that we've ever seen throughout the show's life. It's a thrill to go back and watch any episode at random just to experience the inimitable magic of Jeremy Brett's Holmes and the amazing Victorian set dressing he plays against. You truly feel like you've fallen between the pages of the stories, and are there in that time with the deerstalkered detective himself on the scent of another mystery.


    6.) Luther- Idris Elba commands the screen in one of my favorite crime series ever. He takes the lead as John Luther, a detective working cases in London that see him on the trail of some of the most depraved and dangerous criminals you could imagine. I watched the show right when it had first come out through BBC America here in the states, and since then I've had a love affair with the show that hasn't let up. Every time a new series has arrived, I've made the time to appreciate and savor it, like a five star meal, and it's always a wild ride to go back through the show and follow Luther's journey and all the curve balls the world throws at him. I've seldom seen a character so haunted and so truly cursed, like he's the human manifestation of a black hole. He really gets put through the ringer, and Elba's masterful performance endears you to a flawed man who carefully toes moral and lawful boundaries to do what he deems right.


    7.) Monk- Far lighter fare than Luther but no less wonderful, Tony Shalhoub delights as Adrian Monk, a detective trying to solve complex cases all while encumbered by an obsessive-compulsive disorder that is as much of an antagonist to him as any of his criminal enemies. Part of what makes Monk so special is that it livens up the time tried (and oft tired) framework of a police procedural and injects joyous life to it through its rich characterization of its lead character. Not only does Monk have to solve his cases like any other detective throughout pop culture, he also has to overcome his unending list of phobias that constantly impede him from reaching towards the truth at the heart of each mystery. A lot of refreshing frivolity and comedy is derived from seeing Monk's entire body revolt in the face of a sneezing suspect, polluted sewer water, messy laundry, a dirty doorknob and...just about everything else. Shalhoub plays it all so endearingly, making Monk into one of the most effortlessly lovable and likable characters I've come across. It's always great fun to go back and watch any episode at random, just to appreciate how the writers cleverly wove a mystery around Monk and his companions while also introducing amusing ways to pit the detective's own phobias against him at every turn.


    8.) Longmire- I'm a big fan of westerns, but it's sadly very rare to find a lot of modern examples of great western shows. Unlike the old days where westerns were as ubiquitous as the air we breathe, the genre struggles to find its footing in more modern times. Perhaps it's the very nature of the genre, featuring a pronounced presence of nature over cityscapes, old fashioned men and women over technologically savvy characters, and themes of simplicity and the nature of life and land that connect to a time dating far in the past that are mightily removed from this day and age. Longmire is one such show, depicting an older sheriff by the name of Walt Longmire who struggles to return to his job of law enforcement following the mysterious death of his wife. Robert Taylor fills out the lead role, and makes Walt an endearing and likable man from the get go. Inflexible, rugged and tied to the old days and old ways, his lawman hero struggles to fit into a world that has long forgotten men like him. His principles, oath and stoicism are outdated, and we see the beautiful simplicity of his viewpoints become challenged by modern time's more complex and twisted features.

    The show has all that makes a program of its kind worth watching with strong characters, writing, beautiful location shooting and gripping criminal cases, but where it impresses me the most is in its depiction of Native American heritage and culture, and the relation of that culture to that of the white man's. Walt's best friend is a Native by the name of Henry, and it is through their dynamic that the age old cowboy and Indian stereotypes are both confirmed and flipped on their head. The show uses the geography of its home state of Wyoming to play up the long and dark history between whites and natives through its cast of characters made up of actors from both sides of that divide, and the end result is engrossing. The show gives you insight into the intimate struggles of the native population both past and present by introducing subplots that explore these darker aspects of life, but doesn't use them at every opportunity to guilt the white characters into despair for what their forefathers did to the natives. The show simply depicts both cultures at their best and worst, and often shows just how similar they are, despite their differences in the unforgotten past, showing that a compromise between the "cowboys and indians" is possible.


    9.) Yellowstone- Once Longmire ended, a void was filled in the western genre on the small screen. Thankfully, Yellowstone quickly saddled up to take its place, and I have been a fan of it from its inception. From the mind of Taylor Sheridan, one of my favorite screenwriters of the moment, comes a familiar western story of a family trying to hold onto their land at any cost, but with a modern twist. The great Kevin Costner was lured to the TV screen to play John Dutton, the patriarch of a ranching family whose clan have long held a stake in property that is constantly being besieged upon by enemies on all sides. Filling out the cast behind Costner's Dutton are a rich and flawed band of amazing characters, from his sons and daughter who join his fight to keep ahold of what their family has spent generations fighting for, to all manner of villains who want to overturn the ranch for political, personal, historical or environmental gains.

    The writing on the show is some of the most top notch I've encountered, where each character jumps off the screen as so raw and human, and the plotting constantly puts the Dutton family in situations that are enthralling to experience. The real craft is how the show never dares to pick a side: we see all the bad the Duttons do, as much as the good, and how you feel about their deeds and misdeeds is entirely up to you. There are moments where the villains facing the ranch are undeniable and easy to revile, but other times you question if the Duttons should truly command the land at all. The grey morality of the story, and how it updates the time honored iconography of the western genre to a more uncertain, blood thirsty modern time, has been an absolute treat to watch all these years. For anyone that likes westerns, especially those with some teeth to them in the vein of Unforgiven, I'd wager you'll find much to appreciate with Yellowstone.


    10.) The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- I'm not a big fan of comedies, and am always more likely to seek out more grounded, darker fare, but The Fresh Prince was a big part of my childhood and I think it's fair to say that I've maybe watched all the episodes untold times over at this point. It was always on the TV when I was growing up, and I ate it up despite having no knowledge of what it meant to be black, rich, or rich and black. The characters were so well performed, the comedy endlessly joyous, and I was always impressed with the vast trials the writers put all the characters through. But for all the fun the show had, there were also episodes that dared to have more of an edge to them that will forever be seared in my mind, because it showed me all the comedy programming could aspire to be.

    These moments showed that Fresh Prince could do comedy as good as any other, but also had more to offer. One episode in particular, that never fails to make me sob when I watch it, has Will's biological deadbeat dad barrel back into his life, making the young man think he will finally get to reconnect with his father. But sure enough, Will's father flakes on him once again, leaving him emotionally raw and abandoned, wondering why his own flesh and blood wants nothing to do with him. It then becomes the job of his Uncle Phil to take Will into his arms and be the father he never truly had, letting the kid know that he is loved and has value in their family. As long as I live I'll never forget a TV moment like that, and that's why it makes the list.
  • CharmianBondCharmianBond Pett Bottom, Kent
    Posts: 534
    I love Luther but I don't think it'd be in my top 10 but I'm glad to see BBC Sherlock getting some love, I think the hbomberguy and Tumblr discourse did more harm than good with influencing people's view on it but I think it's a great modern take on the detective, even if it did fumble the landing.
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 4,312
    My Top 10:

    1) Friends
    2) Star Trek: The Next Generation
    3) The Avengers
    4) Game of Thrones
    5) The Persuaders
    6) Mad Men
    7) Breaking Bad
    8) BBC Sherlock
    9) The Rockford Files
    10) Star Trek: TOS

    Honorary mentions:
    • Magnum P.I.
    • 24
    • Homeland
    • Bonanza
    • The Virginian (a.k.a. The Men from Shiloh)
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    zebrafish wrote: »
    My Top 10:

    1) Friends
    2) Star Trek: The Next Generation
    3) The Avengers
    4) Game of Thrones
    5) The Persuaders
    6) Mad Men
    7) Breaking Bad
    8) BBC Sherlock
    9) The Rockford Files
    10) Star Trek: TOS

    Honorary mentions:
    • Magnum P.I.
    • 24
    • Homeland
    • Bonanza
    • The Virginian (a.k.a. The Men from Shiloh)

    Game of Thrones could've made my Top 5, easily, if not for that final season. I'll never get over how that retroactively ruined the entire series for me. I can't ever enjoy those first few seasons again knowing how it all wraps up.
  • zebrafishzebrafish <°)))< in Octopussy's garden in the shade
    Posts: 4,312
    I judge GoT by how I enjoyed each episode, the plot surprises and overall novelty of it all. Agreed, the last 2 seasons were below par, but wow, for several years it was THE thing to see and talk about with almost everyone at work.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    zebrafish wrote: »
    I judge GoT by how I enjoyed each episode, the plot surprises and overall novelty of it all. Agreed, the last 2 seasons were below par, but wow, for several years it was THE thing to see and talk about with almost everyone at work.

    It really was, but it's still so incredible to me how quickly and violently the fan adoration and obsession died out, particularly with that final season. It instantly dropped off the map collectively and suddenly nobody wanted to enjoy it any longer. D&D seemed to lose some of their bigger projects in the process, too, like whatever Star Wars-related stuff they were set to work on.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,161
    I find that with most of the big trendy shows. I guess that begin with SOPRANOS in the mid ‘90s. These epic soap operas. When I I’m into them, I’m really into them. But in retrospect, they feel like cheap candy. The exception being LOST, that’s the only one of those “modern” shows to make my list. It wasn’t consistently great, but I still think that first season or two was some of the best television I’ve ever seen. Even some of the shows on my top 10 list that are among my very favorites within that realm had very weak seasons.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    Posts: 40,443
    Birdleson wrote: »
    I find that with most of the big trendy shows. I guess that begin with SOPRANOS in the mid ‘90s. These epic soap operas. When I I’m into them, I’m really into them. But in retrospect, they feel like cheap candy. The exception being LOST, that’s the only one of those “modern” shows to make my list. It wasn’t consistently great, but I still think that first season or two was some of the best television I’ve ever seen. Even some of the shows on my top 10 list that are among my very favorites within that realm had very weak seasons.

    Still blows me away that you loved Lost. I wasn't sure if that's the type of show you'd be into or you'd turn off in 10 or 15 minutes. I remembered it being "good" when it was airing at the time but I rewatched it in the last year or so and it really floored me. It'd make my Top 10 now, for sure.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    Posts: 2,161
    Like I said at the beginning of this thread, I refuse to watch it for about two years, but then when I started I was completely hooked.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    What I find to be a double-edged sword with some of these big "hype" shows that become such cultural touchstones is that they so very commonly get destroyed by their own fans. GoT in particular is a good example for me, as I refused to ever get into it strictly because of the fanbase and the internet machine in general. A show becomes so popular that if you aren't on board the moment that train leaves the station, your enjoyment of it instantly suffers greatly. It's the same with any Star Wars property now, which is also why I never bother getting into those (also just don't like anything to do with the brand in general, but that's besides the point). When a new GoT episode came out, if you didn't drop every responsibility and passion in your life to watch it the very second it aired with the rest of the world, you stood a greater chance of having it ruined for you the more that time went on. If you were crazy enough to let an entire season go by with the intention of binging it later in one week, you would never be successful in having none of the surprises spoiled for you. GoT effectively became a show impossible to binge, that is, if you wanted to watch it knowing nothing ahead of time.

    For some folks, having things spoiled here and there is no big deal, as they're still along for the ride, but for me, this sort of thing is definitely detrimental to my overall enjoyment of a story. I don't think you can objectively argue that a certain "colored" matrimonial event in early GoT history would be as powerful as it was if you knew all about it going into it, just as I did at the time. The genuine shock and surprise of big moments, characters deaths and all the rest lose their power if you know it's all coming, and because the hype and culture around GoT was so very untenable, it was impossible to enjoy any of that purely. If you knew a character was getting bumped off later on, you didn't mindfully attach yourself to them, because why would you? And funnily enough, the thing people seemed to love about GoT (at least early on, not so much later) where "any character could die at any time," actually made me care even less about any of them because I didn't see the point in getting engrossed in a character that maybe wouldn't be around for long.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,161
    I generally agree, but with GOT I had been initially so uninterested and uninvolved that when I finally did catch up, leading up to Season 8, it was all pretty shocking. Sadly, that is right when the show begin to descend into crap.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,161
    Those big ones that I thoroughly enjoyed; Breaking Bad, Saul, etc, just don't age well for me. Too much is dependent on shock and surprise, and waiting for small and, eventually, hopefully, mind-blowing resolutions and answers. The bulk of my initial list is timeless and individual episodes , with the exception of LOST (which a few months into this thread I'm already considering replacing) can be viewed and enjoyed in almost any order, even those with a semi-coherent timeline.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    I've been thinking, and if I had to include any of the more "classic" TV shows in my list, I'd definitely throw Danger Man/Secret Agent up there, as well as Wanted: Dead Or Alive and The Rifleman.


    I think anyone that posts here that hasn't checked out Danger Man/Secret Agent should, as it's the best spy show from the old days I've seen that holds up better than about 95% of the shows from that time, and it's also very reminiscent of the early Connery Bond films for how much the lead character must investigate and avoid sabotage from every corner while in the field. The show was called Secret Agent in the US market, but I hate that title as it's so very generic. Danger Man, its original name, is not only so much more evocative, but it also just has a great vintage punch to it.

    Patrick McGoohan plays John Drake in the show, and much like a James Bond, he's sent all around the world to clean up messes, track down dangerous persons, and generally unravel complicated or crude plots. The show does a great job of fitting right into the Bond craze that was there in the day for spy content, all while being its own thing. Despite the fact that Fleming himself was apparently brought in to creatively collaborate on it as the show was being developed (and subsequently left before the show became what it was), the character of Drake is very removed from Bond. He still dresses well, commands a room, has an air of sophistication to him, but he's also the utmost professional, doesn't mix his business with pleasure and only uses violence as a last resort. The star of the show, the great Patrick McGoohan, is partially responsible for steering the Drake character away from the wily, bold seducer that Bond was, and instead shaped his spy into a more respectable man that used his brains more than anything else on the job. Drake didn't rest until the job was done, he didn't try to bed any of his female cohorts, and the jobs often put him in situations where you can feel the impact the work has on him. He doesn't like the violence, doesn't want to kill, and in moments you can sense the loneliness he experiences on the job and the friction he can feel between himself and those he takes orders from.

    The show really has it all, from gripping and intense international plots, gorgeous black and white photography and wonderful performances, especially by McGoohan himself. McGoohan doesn't get the attention he rightly deserves for being one of the most magnetic presences I've encountered on the big or small screen, and I wish more people knew of him. The way he moved, the way he talked, it was all so well calculated, and he made it look so easy. In his own way, he made Drake just as cool as Bond, and made you want to be just like him: able to walk into the room under disguise and fool everyone, to think quick on your feet and use spare resources to get yourself out of a jam, and do it all while being incredibly well dressed.

    For anyone that wants to check the show out (listed as Secret Agent), all of its episodes are available on ShoutFactory, along with all of the other show that McGoohan left Danger Man to develop, The Prisoner, which I have yet to check out but here nothing but great things about:

    https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/secret-agent

    https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/the-prisoner

    Many thanks to folks like @ClarkDevlin and @DarthDimi who let me know of McGoohan's amazing spy work, and for driving me to check it out. I've not regretted it.



    And of course, being such a big western fan I had to make some mention of Wanted: Dead Or Alive and The Rifleman. These two shows really stood out to me from all the old shows I got into because they were so much more...mature, I guess, than a lot of what I saw out there. A lot of the old westerns in particular don't age well, or just don't have that much power to them, and I never liked the more "clean" westerns from that day that didn't depict any harsh realities of the day, or ones that were very simple in their plotting and characters. The big appeal of Wanted: Dead Or Alive and The Rifleman are that the stories in them can often be very bleak, or at least very dramatic and effecting due to the stakes or complicated morality of the circumstances involved, which gives them more of a modern feeling. The lead characters aren't heroes in capes, but fallible men with their own motivations, which sometimes lead to them facing big trouble.

    Wanted: Dead Or Alive is worth a watch just to see the amazing Steve McQueen before he exploded on the big screen, but the biggest draw is that he plays a very atypical western protagonist of that day. He's no upstanding, squeaky clean James Arness of Gunsmoke, instead playing a bounty hunter by the name of Josh Randall who is out to make money off the rough jobs he picks up or that get thrown his way in the series. While he has his own morality, and is guided by his own principles to often do what's right, Randall isn't above turning the tables, lying through his teeth and shooting his way out of a situation to get out alive. The show puts him in situations where there are no easy solutions, and sometimes he must do things he wouldn't otherwise like to. The tone of the show, and the nature of his character, is a lot more gray than you'd see in a lot of other programs, and that's part of why I find it so refreshing. Randall isn't a perfect, ideal hero, he's a raw, human cowboy doing what he can in a dangerous, untamed world and he doesn't always do the "right" thing because sometimes there is no such thing as that in life. It's also great fun to spot some of the guest stars the show was able to attract, long before they reached their legendary statuses, like: Michael Landon, Mary Tyler Moore, James Coburn, Warren Oates and last but not least, Lee Van Cleef.

    The Rifleman is very similar to Wanted: Dead Or Alive in the sense that its stories often put the main characters in very dire and dark predicaments that didn't shy away from showcasing the brutality of the day and the struggle it was to survive. Chuck Connors takes the lead of the show as rancher Lucas McCain, who is certainly more morally upstanding than McQueen's far grayer Randall, but the situations he's placed in reliably test his own personal principles and sense of morality. What is perhaps the most refreshing about the show is that it depicts McCain as a widowed single father, just trying to do his best and make a life for his growing son Mark. The best of the show can often be found in how the writers navigated presenting such a unique lifestyle for a man on a TV show when so many other programs of the day built their entire premise on a husband and wife raising their big families together. In The Rifleman all McCain has is his son, and all the responsibility of raising the boy has to fall on his lone shoulders. This adds a very melancholic tone to the show, but also provides it with a lot of poignant power, because you can feel the great love that the pair have for each other in such an uncertain and dangerous time where they are all each other have.

    Outside of all this, the show is worth checking out because it was heavily developed by the great Sam Peckinpah, who would go on to direct some of the hardest hitting films of his day, including the powerful western The Wild Bunch. Much like how it's fascinating to see McQueen in his pre-film days on Dead or Alive, it's cool to see so much of the filmmaking style, tone and thematic lessons in The Rifleman that Peckinpah would inject into his later film work. Having written and directed some of the early episodes of the show, he really wanted the program to emphasize the true harshness of what it was like to live in that time and to survive in the way McCain and company had to survive, while injecting the show with important life lessons that he didn't dress up. The story that would become the first episode of the show, "The Sharpshooter," was originally a script Peckinpah wrote and tried to sell to Gunsmoke, but the content was deemed unsuitable for that show (no surprise there). Peckinpah's time with The Rifelman was short-lived, however, and he left after its first year to develop a show called The Westerner starring Brian Keith. I've not been able to watch that one yet, but I hear very good things. If anyone has seen it, do you recommend it?

    For those interested, both Wanted: Dead Or Alive and The Rifleman can be watched in full on Pluto TV for free (you just have to deal with ads now and again):

    https://pluto.tv/en/on-demand/series/wanted-dead-or-alive-ptv1/details/season/1?utm_medium=textsearch&utm_source=google

    https://pluto.tv/en/on-demand/series/the-rifleman-3/details/season/1?utm_medium=textsearch&utm_source=google
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,161
    Where I feel GUNSMOKE wins out among all classic westerns, both on radio and in television, is in the writing, particularly the episodes penned by John Meston and Kathleen Hite, but the scripts we're consistently taut, provocative, emotionally draining and mature for its 20 year run. And of course the acting was first rate, both by the principal cast and by the many guest stars (there were well over 600 episodes made for television alone).
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    Posts: 28,694
    @Birdleson, I definitely need to get more into Gunsmoke, as that's one that just didn't register with me. Maybe I just haven't seen the best episodes to gauge it, but the show just felt a bit too clean and simplistic (tone and story wise) compared to the two I discussed above. I certainly respect the show for the massive and unmatched cultural impact it had, but just feel it lacks the teeth of other westerns I like more. But that's also just my preference: give me a more rugged and harsh Clint Eastwood western than one of John Wayne's more simplistic and sunnier flicks any day.

    It does still blow me away just how many episodes Arness was in (I think it went into the 600s!). That kind of thing is so crazy and special to me, because it can never happen again given how different our TV climate is. A show is lucky to have 60 to a 100 episodes, these days, and that number gets smaller and smaller as time goes on.
  • BirdlesonBirdleson Moderator
    edited May 2022 Posts: 2,161
    I never watched it growing up, though I was alive for the last two thirds of it's run. It looked generic to me. But about seven years ago I got into the radio show and it floored me. Mature violence, slaughtering of tribes, rape, interracial relationships, out of relationship pregnancies, horrible vengeance; stuff that was nowhere else to be found on '50s radio. And it was so well written. Still, I assumed that the television show was nothing akin to its parent radio program. Finally, a little over a year ago, I began to watch the television show beginning with Season 1 (those early seasons contained 39 episodes each) and I am almost through. It. is everything the radio show was and more. It move from half hour episodes to hour long, form black and white to color, yet found a way to adopt and change and still remain great within each format. And the core characters remain true to who they are, yet definitely grow. Clean? Anything but. It was by far the most brutal show of its time.
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