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RLLMUK's Top 100 TV Shows - Please Vote!


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01. Star Trek: The Next Generation

02. Edge of Darkness (BBC)

03. The World at War

04. The Simpsons

05. Generation Kill

06. The X-Files

07. Frasier

08. Cheers

09. The Day of the Triffids (BBC)

10. I'm Alan Partridge

11. The Office (UK)

12. 24

13. Humans

14. Threads

15. The Tube

16. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

17. The Twilight Zone

18. Sliders

19. The Outer Limits

20. Life on Earth

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Well, thus far I've not been able to come up with 20 series - I'm not willing to fill it out with merely 'good' series, so for now 17 great titles will have to suffice (I've added quick comments for the handful I've not seen mentioned already):

1. Twin Peaks

2. Serial Experiments Lain

3. Pride and Prejudice

The BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is my highest ranking British production, and that's high praise - it's just a beautifully acted adaptation of a wonderfully incisive book, and should be enjoyed by everyone. The dialogue is full of wit and life, and the life brought to those lines by the cast is just of the highest calibre. Filled with beautiful scenery and costumes, and happily following that British willingness to be populated by actors who actually look like real people, rather than models, it's a delight: funny, dramatic and romantic in equal measure, with its biting satire surprisingly still relevant a few centuries on. The best adaptation of one of Britain's greatest authors' finest works.

4. The Wire

5. Kino's Journey

Directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura (of Serial Experiments Lain fame), this is an adaptation of a series of light novels. Where Serial Experiments Lain is a surreal, confusing waking nightmare, Kino's Journey manages a more fairytale dreamscape, with each episode showing a new country or city with its own culture, values or situation - like the best series of Star Trek you never saw, only spread across an unusual planet rather than an eclectic cosmos, and eschewing the monster of the week for the slightly more mundane, but just as serious perils of being a stranger in a strange land. Just one word of warning - while I tend to prefer subtitles to dubbing, I can generally accept both - but in this series the dubbing is genuinely very poor, to the point of distraction. Stick with the subs.

6. The Prisoner

7. Blackadder

8. Father Ted

9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy

Not as good as the original radio series, nor the book adaptations, even so this series sits high in my list - witty and uniquely British, the effects have aged but this remains a wonderfully fresh comedy.

10. Yes, Minister

The Thick of It is good. This is brilliant.

11. Star Trek: The Next Generation

12. Red Dwarf

13. Paranoia Agent

14. The West Wing

15. Ouran High School Host Club

Hush, you. This one's a complete guilty pleasure - a self-aware, but very traditional inverse-harem comedy. But I love it, escalating melodrama and all. Delightfully fun.

16. Shōgun

The 1980 adaptation of James Clavell's novel remains gripping and (sometimes melo)dramatic, a joy to watch. Culture shock, violence, romance and issues of questionable personal hygiene - this series has it all. The brilliant decision to not subtitle the Japanese adds a huge amount to the sense of being a stranger in a strange land, while tropes abound (Samurai! Ninjas! Seppuku!), and Toshiro Mifune manages to steal the whole show despite only appearing in a small number of scenes. Highly recommended.

It also features the best, least-convincing Portuguese sailor you'll ever meet, courtesy of a gloriously hammy John Rhys-Davies.

17. Wonderfalls

One to stick in the "why the hell was this cancelled after less than one series?" column, Wonderfalls at least had its entire first season completed - and subsequently released onto DVD - despite its quick disappearance from screens. The planned following seasons sounded intriguingly dark, but this opening series was a pleasingly warped comedy about a woman harangued by well-meaning inanimate objects into helping people. Yes.

Also responsible for first kindling my love of Lee Pace, who occupies a supporting role throughout the series.

18. Ulysses 31

In its day, the best cartoon I'd ever seen. Partially responsible for my love of the classics (and subsequent choice of degrees), it remains a fantastic sci-fi mini-epic.

19. Avatar - The Last Airbender

Far too late to have the impact of Ulysses 31, if this had been around when I'd been a nipper I imagine it would have been the defining cartoon of my childhood, as it's simply brilliant. But it wasn't, so it isn't, so in 19th place it goes. Which also reminds me that I should really get around to trying the second season of Korra, having bounced off the first.

Edit: Reminded of the existence of The Prisoner by Cosmic Guru, as apparently I'm a moron. Though, even so I'm not entirely sure why this list was felt to be so egregious that Peter negged it :(

Edit 2: Just remembered that Avatar exists. Added that in.

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Here we go:

01. Twin peaks

02. Breaking bad

03. I'm Alan Partridge

04. West wing

05. The Sopranos

06. Frasier

07. Life on Earth

08. Steptoe and Son (slapstick, black humour, gags and tears. Brilliant writing and acting)

09. The Office UK

10. Band of brothers

11. The day today

12. The singing detective

13. Brass eye

14. The league of Gentlemen

15. True Detective (season 1)

16. The Cops (1998 docs style drama set in an anonymous town outside Manchester). Anyone remember it?

17. Game of thrones

18. Spaced

19. Blackadder

20. Blake's Seven (no idea if it's any good now but it's the earliest show I remember being obsessed with)

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When I first started thinking about this, I thought my list would be packed out with HBO series. The more I thought, the less there were.

[1] The World At War

An astounding, breathtaking documentary series, chronicling the darkest days of the 20th century. Pitched at the perfect tone - conveying the drama of the situation without being sensational. Full of eye-witness accounts and amazing footage. Even the theme tune was brilliant. A must watch.

[2] Top Gear

I know this is a very divisive, marmite series, but I've always loved it. It was, on the surface, a motoring program, but it was so much more than that. It was just pure entertainment. Almost everything was done for laughs, but with the added bonus of loads of petrol head porn. The interaction between the presenters was always great and they were clearly having loads of fun cocking about each week. The Top Gear Track's presence in a few major driving game franchises shows the worldwide impact it had

[3] The Wire

I'm not sure anything I can say can do this series justice. Amazing drama, with amazing characters, amazing acting, amazingly clever stories... just amazing.

[4] The Sopranos

The original, and best, "soap opera with sex ave violence" for my money. Laughs, cries, shocks, boobs, drugs... Marone!

[5] Open All Hours

This, to me, is the perfect British sitcom. A tiny cast of two brilliant characters, with regular appearances of a third, plus semi regulars floating in and out, and a two room set. Daft situations, without too many "Compo in a bath tub" moments, with hilarious scripts that are saucy without being crude. The chemistry between Granville and Arkwright is spot on. It's like a post Sunday lunch televisual cuddle. And still funny, despite being 40 years old.

[6] Friday Night Lights

It's hard to quantify why I liked this series so much, I just did. It's also the only time I remember actually genuinely caring about characters in a tv series. It left a little hole in my life when it ended. Texas forever. Clear eyes, full heart...

[7] The Young Ones

At a time when all comedy on TV was The Good Life sitcoms and "my wife is so fat..." comedians, this was both a revelation and a revolution. It was like nothing I had seen before: anarchic, disgusting, violent, sweary, silly and, above all, really funny and entertaining.

[8] QI

I love a good quizcom, I love useless facts, I love QI.

[9] Game of Thrones

Tits and dragons. Intrigue, violence and tits. Amazing drama and characters, and tits. A sweeping, intricate story that pulls you in, and tits. Tits and anyone can die. Did I mention the tits?

[10] Bottom

For me, this is essentially "The Old Ones". Stupid, violent, crude, massively funny. The reason I was deeply saddened when Rick Mayal passed, it was such a part of my life.

[11] A Question Of Sport

I've always watched A Question Of Sport. Always. The format hasn't really changed in the nearly 50 years it's run and yet it still works.

[12] Band Of Brothers

One of the best mini-series ever, surely? Gripping drama full of great characters, exciting action, moments of comedy, brilliant acting, right scripts... And it's all based on what really happened.

[13] Oz

How does he keep that hat on his head?

[14] Red Dwarf

I will admit that I stopped watching this once the season decay set in, but the series I did watch were consistently funny. Silly, but funny.

I think I've got the order wrong in places, but that'll do for now.

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This is going to be difficult. I watch a lot of TV, especially US stuff, and I initially had a shortlist of 50 shows. I've tried to pick stuff that I rush or rushed to watch as soon as the episode is/was available, or stuff I found personally enjoyable over stuff I rate for arts sake.


1) Mad Men - I loved these characters. Even when Don started repeating himself from season 5 to 7, it was still infinitely watchable, immactuately scripted and shot, and extremely funny and moving.


2) Breaking Bad - I was onboard this from the very first episode, watching it week by week and year by year. I was one of those telling everyone to watch it. Walter White is one of TV's greatest anti-heros.


3) Lost - It did get pretty terrible in season 3 and the final season was a massive let down, but S1-2 is some of the most gripping, thrilling and downright weird TV shows I've ever seen. It also encouraged debate like no other and it's the show I've talked about more than any others in my list. I was so addicted after S1 ended I rewatched them and wrote episode guides for each episode which are still up online somewhere.


4) Planet Earth - I had several Attenborough's shows on my list, but I believe this was the one that really stands out, due to the amazing cinematography and it being the first one to be available in HD. Stunning work.


5) The Wire - Gripping crime/city drama that Simon's has tried to emulate since with Treme and Show Me a Hero, whilst enjoyable, have never quite hit this high. Thug life has never looked so atttactive.


6) The Sopranos - This was the first show in recent years where I thought "TV is finally better than film". Each show was a short film in itself. The quality of the acting and the overall arching themes and narrative haven't really been bettered, other than in Breaking Bad arguably.


7) Parks and Recreation - Despite a shaky first season where it was still in the shadow of The Office, PnR's rock solid cast of fantastic improvisers and comedians and characters and good-heartedness make's it stand out from all over sitcoms. Despite a couple of dips in later series, series 2-4 make it my favourite comedy show of all time.


8) Curb Your Enthusiasm - And on the flipside of PnR we get a show so mean and cringe-inducing it's hard to watch at times, but Larry is willing to go to places no other comedy would, and whilst painful it's never not making me snort whilst looking through my fingers.


9) Game of Thrones - Whilst the acting can be a bit Hollyoaks at times, and whilst the sexposition can get tiresome, the production values and world creation is enough alone to get a place in my top 10.


10) Twin Peaks - The first TV show I ever got properly hooked on. It was the first 'water cooler' TV I remember - everyone at my high school was watching it, all the girls were reading Laura Palmer's diary, and it led to a life long love of Lynch for me. Phenomanally creepy and iconic score by Badalementi too.


11) The X-Files - Straight after my Twin Peaks obession came my X-Files obession, and Gillian Anderson obsession. Another show I was on board with from the first episode, due to me already being mad on UFOs, Aliens and conspiracies in my teens. Series 1-3 has some of the best sci-fi stories I've ever seen on telly, but it pretty much dropped off a cliff as it's popularity saw it drag out it's mythos far too much.


12) Six Feet Under - Cracking cinematography again, and great memorable characters, woven by their interactions and relationships.


13) Nathan for You - Definitely my favourite currently airing comedy. Again fairly cringe-inducing at times, but when he get's it right it has me howling with laughter.


14) Banshee - A really fucking fun show. Never takes itself seriously, has some of the best fights and whackiest plots on telly. #manpunch


15) Firefly - I only watched this last year, despite seeing Serenity at the cinema. It really holds up and it's a crying shame Wheddon hasn't used his now considerable powers to do something else with the universe.


16) Brass Eye - Chris Morris. The right wing media hate him. He's very funny and nails each show and subject and exposes hypocrisy whilst still being extremely funny. A difficult thing done extremely well.


17) The Jinx - Watched this a few weeks ago. Not only a great TV series, one of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen, and talk about gonzo journalism! It's best gone into knowing fuck all about it.


18) True Detective S1 - Has a show ever had such a quality drop between seasons? The first one had that grimey deep south weirdness, the supernatural, the occult, two actors at the top of their game, and then season 2 had Vince Vaughn trying to emote.


19) Peep Show - Probably laughed more at this show than any other comedy, but it's very uniquely british and I don't think it would translate well overseas. Looking forward to the final series soon.


20) Olive Kitteridge - It didn't win all the Emmy's last week for nothing. World class acting, a unique tale, and again, stunning cinematorgraphy.


So much good stuff left out of my list. All but 1-3 are fairly interchangeable depending on my current mood tbh.

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1. The Wire

I've watched this beginning to end 5 times, plus individual episodes and seasons many times more on top of that. I think that is all I need to say.

2. Twin Peaks

Confession I have never watched all of the episodes between the initial denouement and the finale and yet those initial 15(?) episodes are astonishing enough to forever cement it in my list. Do I want the new series to happen? Not really.

3. The X Files seasons 1-5

Secret to the X files was that Monster of the Week episodes were actually where it shone. After season 5, it felt like they'd started repeated themselves, but the occasional clunker notwithstanding, this was episodic television at its best.

4. Star Trek TNG

This was always on when I got home from school. I adore it even the crap episodes.

5. The Simpsons seasons 3-10ish

I started watching this when I was like 9 or something. I remember when we didn't know who shot Mr Burns. I can do whole scripts verbatim. I probably still unconsciously pepper my conversations with lines from it. Favourite episode: Lemon of Troy

6. Brass Eye

I remember when this was on and it was a huge deal. And then everything it satirised pretty much happened.

7. Generation Kill

A fine adaptation of the book - Ziggy from the Wire kind of steals the show (again)

8. True Detective season 1

One of those rare shows where everyone goes "watch this it's genius" and it actually is

9. Arrested Development

There is not a dud character in this and it is way too clever

10. Angel

This is one for the real heads because you have to slog through a bunch of not so good Buffy episodes to get the pay offs in the story, but fuck me this show honestly has some of the best character arcs ever.

11. Babylon 5 seasons 1-4

Dismissed by many because of one throwaway line in Spaced and competition with DS9, but this was the first (and only?) ambitious space opera which setup huge story arcs and then actually delivered a coherent and satisfying conclusion.

12. Prime Suspect

I don't have a lot of time for British crime dramas, but Helen Mirren is just too good and the gritty themes still feel all too relevant.

13. The Thick of It

Malcolm Tucker basically.

14. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I could have picked a bunch of classic BBC shows, but Alec Guiness is at his understated best here and it just captures the world of the book so well. The anti-James Bond.

15. Father Ted

Sort of show you forget about but if you catch episode you can't not watch it.

16. Parks and Recreation

I find a lot of modern British and U.S. comedy far too cynical too enjoy - this is a healthy antidote.

17. The Power of Nightmares

Or any Adam Curtis doc really. The footage he digs up is always fascinating and even when he goes off the deep end with his connections, there is something compelling about his aternative interpretations of the 20th/21st century.

18. Deadwood

For me the first show that made me sit up and think something interesting was starting to take place in television again.

19. Spaced

I almost didn't want to put this on because I really can't stand a lot of stuff that Simon Pegg has done subsequently, but I can't deny this was a hugely important show to me as a teenager.

20. Buffy seasons 1-3

When she went to Uni it lost the magic save for the odd episode when Whedon was trying to win that elusive Emmy, but those first 3 seasons were fantastic. A masterclass in how to write a show which seamlessly blends monsters of the week, 2-3 episode arcs, and a season long myth arc.

Honorable mentions: Mighty Boosh series 1-2, I'm Alan Partridge, most other Adam Curtis docs, Planet Earth, Seinfeld, 30 Rock, Futurama, Black Books, Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, IT Crowd, Sharpe, Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle

Damn this was hard. Just edited it about a half dozen times.

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01. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

02. The Shield

03. Breaking Bad

04. Planet Earth

05. I'm Alan Partridge

06. The Wire

07. Bottom

08. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

09. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

10. Archer

11. Game of Thrones

12. South Park

13. The Day Today

14. Angel

15. Forbrydelsen

16. Oz

17. Parks & Recreation

18. Peep Show

19. The Thick of It

20. Black Mirror

I will try and add commentary later. Bed time.

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For people who couldn't think of 20 shows they loved, maybe out of general forgetfulness.. these lists helped me to remember a lot..

http://www.imdb.com/search/title?num_votes=5000,&sort=user_rating,desc&start=351&title_type=tv_series

http://www.imdb.com/search/title?start=251&title_type=tv_series

1. Fringe

The most intelligent sci-fi show on television, ever, hands down. I wish it gained more traction among audiences but it lasted for 5 brilliant seasons, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is into science fiction.

Occasionally it fell into that freak of the week trend, but it had to fill up 20+ episode seasons, so it's understandable. And even when it did that, the show wasn't boring one bit because there was always some twist to it changing the way the show was and evolving it into something better.

Also, the show has some very funny moments at times, the occasional looney scientist having an acid trip, and insane plot twists I couldn't have guessed in a million years.

2. Dexter

Probably will remain one of my favorite shows of all time, even if I was a tad disappointed by the ending. The season with John Lithgow was probably my favorite one besides the first season.

3. Doctor Who

Here in America it's really gaining speed and we've greatly enjoyed going on adventures with the Doctor these last few years. Not many Americans knew about the original series connecting to the current one, but I used to watch reruns of the old version with my parents when I was a kid and loved it dearly. So naturally it's return in 2005 made me nervous but excited, and I'm not disappointed with it one bit.

4. Six Feet Under

May have been a bit too young when I first watched this show, but I was amazed by it. I recently went back and watched the entire series again, and it's still wonderful. The ending of the series left me feeling satisfied with the show as a whole, which is rare for a television series to accomplish. This show has my favorite tv show ending of all time.

5. The Walking Dead

Before this show even came to be the juggernaut that it is, I was begging friends to watch it when it came out, constantly sending friends the preview trailers for it. I don't know why I wanted to see it so badly (Andrew Lincoln), as I wasn't a big fan of anything zombie related that I could think of. If they eventually kill Carl, the show will be absolute perfection.

6. Breaking Bad

I'm a big fan of meth.

7. Mad Men

Who knew watching people working at an ad agency in the 60's would be so interesting?

8. Grimm

Not particularly well known, but I enjoy the show greatly as it reminds me of shows like Angel or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It seems to be one of NBC's most steady and consistent shows as well as opposed to their usual cancellation-fest. Basically it's about a guy named Nick who discovers his family history has a long line of people called "Grimms" who can see certain people as who they really are, monsters.

9. Game of Thrones

Never been into the whole medieval fantasy type thing, but this show grabbed me and I've watched it ever since.

Just.. don't kill my peoples anymore man.. don't kill em.

10. Dead Like Me

Basically it's about dead people who live in bodies of the living, doing mundane day jobs whilst also helping people who just died move into the afterlife. Amazing show that didn't get the recognition it deserved and ended way too soon, leaving no proper ending. But it did get a tv movie to tie up loose ends, which was nice.

11. QI

Not many shows in America are like this one.. none I can think of actually. I've watched every season and even though some of the references go over my head, it's still great fun to watch and learn. I've learned a lot about blue whales..

12. Shameless (US)

Probably won't even make it to the top 100, but this show is absolutely insane in the most fucked up ways. Never did watch the original UK version, but perhaps after this show ends. I'm kind of surprised at what they get away with considering its American television.

13. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Maybe not everyone's ideal candidate for top 100 tv shows but I enjoy the show quite a lot and it's one of my favorite in recent memory. The tie in with the marvel universe is nominal to me, but any show where Samuel L. Jackson occasionally pops his head in is pretty awesome. Fitz and Simmons are the real prize of this show though.

14. Always Sunny

I started watching this show around season 2 and caught up after that season ended. I go back and watch it and it's an entirely different show than it is now.. not in a bad way, but it's like the characters have become stereotypes of their original selves, which I just find intriguing, yet still manages to be funny.

15. Through the Wormhole

Not sure if you guys have this show in the UK but its basically Morgan Freeman talking about science for 42 minutes. It's wonderful.

16. Firefly

Nathan Fillion being Nathan Fillion.. in space.

17. This Life

It's weird that I watch so much UK television being an American, but it's just different in the best way possible. Plus this introduced me to Andrew Lincoln which was originally what peaked my interest in the Walking Dead series. I remember this show far greater than that show Teachers he did, so this gets the list..

18. The 4400

Brilliant show about a bunch of people (4,400 of them) that disappeared over various years ended up coming back all at once one night in a ball of light in the middle of nowhere. Slowly the people started showing signs that they had special abilities, some far more dangerous than others. Was one of my favorite shows, but ended shortly after the whole writers' strike in the US in 2007 I think. Otherwise it probably would've stayed on the air for years after that. There is also a chance of it returning to television as the fans, writers, and original cast are on all board with it happening. If only firefly felt the same way..

19. Angel

Watched it as a kid all the time, not understanding half of what was going on, just remember how cool it was and being secretly attracted to David Boreanaz. Rewatched as an adult and loved it even more. Also.. Still cool. But David is far more attractive nowadays.

20. Weeds

The escalation of danger the characters got put in from season to season made this show a constant watch for me. Never figured out why the main character was such a huge slut though. Like big time. And she really enjoyed her iced coffee. I guess they call those people "basic" nowadays.

Honorable Mention:

Eureka - Started out a wonderful tv series but eventually went down the path of rinse and repeat, where some science experiment would fail and the sheriff would save the day. Got a bit boring and cheesy after that. But the first couple of seasons, brilliant.

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FFS forgot about Dexter, not seen the last season of that but loved the rest of it.

In two minds about putting Lost on the list or not. At the time it was my weekly viewing highlight, full of intrigue and mystery. Something that i'd spend ages talking about with a mate and had some cracking episodes and moments. But the way it ended disappointed me so much that it kind of tarnished the series as a whole. It'll probably make my revised list but not sure where.

Close to putting DareDevil in my list but it's so recent and only one season in that i'm unsure if it deserves a place yet as much as I enjoyed it.

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Lost was the last show where I binged it and binged it, but that last season was just so bad...

I just can't forgive a show that setups so many intriguing mysteries and then fails to deliver on them in such a spectacular fashion (see also the Battlestar Galactica remake). Shows like this now I will not watch until they are completely finished and everyone agrees they weren't a waste of time.

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1 The Master

2. One Summer

3. Miami Vice

4. Quantum Leap

5. The Sopranos

6. The Word

7. King Of The Hill

8. Rising Damp

9. Tour Of Duty

10. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

11. Tiswas

12. Married...With Children

13. Trailer Park Boys

14. Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

15. The Crystal Maze

16. Beavis & Butthead

17. The Banana Splits

18. South Park

19. The Day Today

20. Eerie Indiana

Might give my rose-tinted's a wipe and swap with some of these...

My Name Is Earl

Doctor Who (Tom Baker)

Groovy Ghoulies

Adam & Joe Show

Monkey

The Professionals

Crime Story

The Mighty Boosh

Going Out

The Lakes

Widows

Big Train

Moonlighting

The Tube

Shooting Stars

Six Million Dollar Man

Gamesmaster

The Comic Strip Presents

Big Breakfast (Vaughan/Van Outen Vaughan/Tarbuck)

Band Of Brothers

V

aaargh!

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1 The Master

2. One Summer

3. Miami Vice

4. Quantum Leap

5. The Sopranos

6. The Word

7. King Of The Hill

8. Rising Damp

9. Band Of Brothers

10. The Young Indiana Jones

11. Tiswas

12. Married...With Children

13. Trailer Park Boys

14. Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

15. The Crystal Maze

16. Doctor Who (Tom Baker)

17. The Banana Splits

18. South Park

19. The Day Today

20. Eerie Indiana

Might swap with some of these...

Beavis & Butthead

Groovy Ghoulies

Monkey

The Professionals

Crime Story

Widows

The Big Train

Moonlighting

The Tube

Shooting Stars

Six Million Dollar Man

Gamesmaster

The Comic Strip Presents

Big Breakfast (Vaughan/Van Outen Vaughan/Tarbuck)

Tour Of Duty

V

aaargh!

I remember Eerie Indiana, I never knew that aired over in the UK.. but I guess you get a lot of American shows.

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Incredible list, Fusty. Re-thinking mine as we speak.

I must admit, it's surprising how much utter shit comes up when googling. Huge amounts of time spent in the mid-eighties / early-nineties watching utter crap, and it's just a fraction of the time I spent playing my Megadrive, for example.

Where did it all go? :mellow:

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I think I've got the order wrong in places, but that'll do for now.

Going to have to self quote and add a couple more:

[15] Raw Power / Noisy Mothers

In a time when no-one had Sky, and most of us had never even heard of mtv, if you wanted to see rock and metal videos and interviews, Raw Power (later rebranded as Noisy Mothers) was the only option. It introduced me to bands I still love now, it had Pantera as the theme tune, it themed it's episodes, so you'd get a week of cock-rock, a week of thrash, a week of industrial and so on. Essential viewing for a metalhead. And just about everyone I knew had a couple of E240's full of episodes.

[16] ER

It was just another soap set in a hospital. It was full of cliche'd characters and overused storylines. But it was brilliant - great writing, fantastic actors, well shot, just the right levels of laughter, tears and drama, good pacing... Just a great TV series. It suffered from serious season decay towards the end, but it was amazing for so many years.

My missus still wells up at the mention of the letter (postcard?) from Dr Greene.

And it shared a universe with:

[17] Third Watch

This was, for all intents and purposes, just "ER with cops and firemen". It had the same cliche'd characters, the same overused plots... But, again, it's a great watch. Laughter, tears, action... It's got it all.

[18] TFI Friday

When the 90s BritPop / indie / lad thing exploded, TFI Friday was like the window on that world. It distilled the scene into and easily-digested hour long show. Loads of great guests, stupid laughs, live music from the best bands around. What more could you want?

[19]The A-Team

A highlight of my childhood. Guns, fights, tanks made from wheelbarrows, I love it when a plan comes together.

[20] Tom & Jerry

I've always loved slapstick and this used to make me howl with laughter. The back and forth is what sneaks it ahead of Roadrunner, you never knew who would come out on top of the next ridiculous situation.

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Hmm... I fear my taste, or perhaps "vocabulary" of television is pretty poor and that I'm about to show myself up. There's so much I haven't seen (or started to but didn't think much of and quit). Give it a go though.

1. The Sopranos

This was an easy and yet difficult choice, as I love 2 on my list just as much. Ultimately though, I think this just pips it. I actually have no idea what to say about the Sopranos - the whole thing is just fantastic from beginning to end. And for all the outbursts of violence and action that does occur, I actually think it's a very subtle drama (with some excellent black comedy on the side). Everything just slowly builds, everyone's rise and fall bubbles along, and each episode just fades out with something innocuous like a view of Tony on his settee watching the history channel. You didn't need a cliffhanger - you were going to be back for this. As for the very ending, I loved it but I'm still not settled on what I think it means. Last time I watched it though I did cry throughout the whole scene though, so certainly the most favoured theory had taken some hold of me.

2. The West Wing

Oh God I love the West Wing. The cast and characters were brilliant, but of course it was the writing that propelled this along. How do you make a negotiation about the best way to conduct the US Census, or any other seemingly dry topic, a central part of your episode, and still interesting? How? I don't know, but thankfully Aaron Sorkin and co. did. I think your enjoyment of the show is possibly increased if you like politics and perhaps more again if you lean to the left. That said, I know plenty of people who don't care for politics really - my girlfriend hates politics and won't even register to vote - and yet they all love this. The West Wing also has what I think is my favourite episode of tv ever, which is the season 2 finale "Two Cathedrals". Anyone who's seen the West Wing probably knew I was going to say that. God it's beautiful, and I get goosebumps thinking about it even now.

Being harsh it perhaps couldn't take my top spot when season 5 is perhaps not the strongest (albeit I always still enjoy it) but more importantly given [season 7 spoiler]

what happens to Toby in season 7 - I kind of agreed with the President's response - it's both a surprise and somehow not shocking at all. I'm still not sure Toby would have ever betrayed the President like that, and I know Richard Schiff was very unhappy about it. Most importantly, it pretty much meant that we lost a whole season of Toby as he was hardly in it after that, and that's bad mmm'kay.

For anyone who hasn't seen the West Wing, obviously don't click the spoiler but don't let what you think might be in there put you off - season 7 was actually fantastic and a proper return to form after Aaron Sorkin left the show.

3. Band of Brothers

Just fantastic from start to finish. The interviews before and after each episode with the real men whose lives are being re-enacted on screen was a brilliant inclusion I thought, as was the decision not to name them until the very end. I cry absolutely every time.

4. The Simpsons

Do I need to add the caveat about which seasons I'm including in this? If so, I specifically only mean seasons 1-8 (7 if I was being harsh, but "You Only Move Twice" is in season 8 and I can't exclude that). That we all need to add such a caveat did make me wonder whether I should really have the Simpsons this high up in my list. Certainly no other show would be given so much lee-way that I would say "Yeah, the last 15 seasons have been poor, but it's still one of the best shows of all time." It's tricky, but the brilliance of those early seasons really do deserve their place up here. I don't know how many times I've seen those seasons, be it on Sky 1, BBC2 or Channel 4 or on DVD, but it must be 10 times each at the least over the course of my life. And they're still funny, still endlessly quotable and reference-able. Scenes, dialogue, entire stretches of episodes are tattooed into my brain and I think the same is true for a lot of people of a certain age. I have an "Eye on Springfield" t-shirt and I still sing the theme song whenever I put it on (and then repeatedly throughout the day - dit-dit-dit-dur-dit..... dit-dit-dit-dur-dit ) I went to the dentist for the first time in ages earlier this year and signed up for a dental plan, and on the way home my brain was just an endless loop of "Dental plan (Lisa needs braces)". And everyone reading this, I'm sure, knows exactly which voices to do those lines in. I'm not saying something that's incredibly popular must be good, as that's not always true. But I do think, in this case, the brilliance of the writing on the show is truly evidenced by how re-watchable each episode is and how so much of them enters a sort of social consciousness.

5. Seinfeld

It's a massive shame, and strange, that this show never really made it over here. I remember seeing it once or twice late at night on BBC2 as a 12 or 13 year old and really liking it, but that's about it. When other incredibly popular American shows like Friends, Frasier, Cheers, ER etc made it over and were just as successful here, how Seinfeld didn't is a mystery. I think it ended up on Paramount Comedy for a bit, but still not as wide an audience as Channel 4 on a Friday night. Whatever though,with the DVDs being released I was finally able to watch this in full years after their original airing, and thankfully they all still hold up. The clothes and haircuts and sets etc certainly date it, but the writing still shines through. The cynicism, the expression of thoughts on social situations you didn't think anyone else had, the "no learning no hugging" philosophy which flows underneath it all. The way each character gets their own storyline for the show yet they all somehow, beautifully, amazingly and convincingly cross paths at the end is just a master class in writing as far as I'm concerned. And the show's evolution somehow works brilliantly too, from the reality based episodes at the beginning, through to slightly crazier but still plausible fare (the Puffy Shirt, for example) all the way to completely outlandish scenarios in the later seasons (the Merv Griffin Show, the Kicks). It's almost a completely different show and yet it somehow makes it work and arguably makes it better.

I'm going to stop there for the moment - I hadn't actually planned on writing so much. I'll come back later and edit in or post the rest of my list.

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Being funny is better than being anything else. My list that I probably won't revisit is

1. Mystery Science Theater 3000

2. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

3. I'm Alan Partridge

4. Arrested Development

5. Rick & Morty

6. The Life and Times of Tim

7. Archer

8. Freaks And Geeks

9. Peep Show

10. The Venture Bros.

11. Aqua Teen Hunger Force

12. Parks And Recreation

13. South Park

14. Breaking Bad

15. The Simpsons

16. Trailer Park boys

17. Brass Eye

18. Community

19. Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job

20. Superjail

Edit : I did change it lol

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I have a lot more to see, judging by other lists, but this will do:

  1. The Sopranos
  2. The Wire
  3. The Simpsons
  4. Breaking Bad
  5. Justified
  6. Game of Thrones
  7. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
  8. Cowboy Bebop
  9. South Park
  10. I, Claudius
  11. Mad Men
  12. Borgen
  13. I’m Alan Partridge
  14. St. Elsewhere
  15. Miami Vice
  16. Lost
  17. Northern Exposure
  18. Rick and Morty
  19. The Kids in the Hall
  20. True Detective (S1 ONLY!)
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Mine is almost all comedy and nature, with a little sci fi. At a guess this would be a good start:

1. Monty Python's Flying Circus

I love surreal humour and daftness, and nothing for me beats Monty Python. Yes, it's patchy across its four seasons, but when it's good it's so very good. Obviously there are the big names sketches that everyone knows - lumberjack, dead parrot, nudge nudge etc, but there's an awful lot of other stuff that never fails to make me laugh - it's just so gloriously silly. Super-innovative too. So much so that any surreal comedy that came after was often called Pythonesque. Are there any other programs with an entry in the dictionary? (Or a programming language named after them for that matter.) Search youtube for "Monty Python Travel Agent" for a sublime Eric Idle rant, or perhaps "Mouse Organ" for a determined Terry Jones being very cruel to animals.

2. Fawlty Towers

3. Black Books

4. Planet Earth

5. The Blue Planet

6. Springwatch

7. Autumnwatch

8. Only Connect

It's a willfully obscure quiz show requiring knowledge ranging from the first games that Mario, Wario etc.appeared in, to the Greek words that form the basis of the names of chemical elements. This means that whilst you may find yourself utterly clueless some of the time, it also gives you the chance to be an absolute star, and spot that the connection is songs that share the name of both the artist and the album after hearing 3 seconds of the song Iron Maiden, by Iron Maiden, from the album Iron Maiden. It also features Victoria Coren Mitchell which almost merits inclusion in my list on its own.

9. Malcolm In The Middle

10. Father Ted

11. The IT Crowd

12: Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle

13: I'm Alan Partridge

14: The Day Today

15. Brass Eye

16. Max Headroom (the cyberpunk thing, not the music video show)

A late eighties sci-fi show set in a dystopian future controlled by all-powerful television companies. The show follows a journalist called Edison Carter investigating stories such as people being abducted for organ-harvesting, lethal TV adverts, and deadly future sports. He is aided by a virtual representation of himself (Max) and a controller called Theora Jones (the lovely Amanda Pays). It was dystopian sci-fi, had lots of hacking, and featured gladiatorial combat on motorised skateboards - it ticked a lot of boxes for me at the time. The first few episodes at least are on Youtube (the rest probably are - I just haven't checked to make sure).

17: Absolutely

I was thinking of going for the Fast Show, but I think this resonates a little more due to it being weird and daft at me at the right time in my life. It's a sketch show featuring the likes of Jack Docherty and Morwenna Banks, and features an array of recurring characters, most of them a tad on the grotesque side. 25 years on and I still can't hear the word "video" spoken without thinking "it's a vid-ay-oh", and it's probably partly responsible for my love of the word "Quim". It's all available for free on the Channel 4 website (although using that is a pretty awful experience, sadly). Unfortunately that means most of it has been removed from Youtube though. Searching for "Calum Gilhooley Flight" will get you one of my favourites, whereas "Frank Hovis Taxi" will get you a gloriously funny bit of toilet humour (not usually my thing, but when it's done this well I can't help myself laughing).

18: Big Train

19: Babylon 5

20: Farscape

Other mentions: Green Wing, World of Pub, Smack The Pony, Married With Children, Sledgehammer, The Mary Whitehouse Experience, The Fall and rise of Reginald Perrin, Yes (Prime) Minister, Drop the Dead Donkey, Not The Nine O'clock News, probably many others...

My memory is dreadful, so I'm probably missing loads. And I guess things like Cheers and Frasier should be in there too, but they went on so long I got bored of them, and that counts against them.

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