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The Greatest TV Shows of All Time (Kinda): The Top 10

Farscape was made in Australia, so per thread rules it cannot be a good show, or something. :p
While Farscape was made in Australia it is very "American-y" in that it was made for American Audiences through the Sci-Fi channel. That's why the main character is an American and all the Aliens are Aussies and Kiwis. (Playfully stated)
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Just because of the sheer volume involved, ranking TV is really, really hard. Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, who are two well-known TV critics, put out a book about 5 years ago (TV: The Book) where they had a good discussion about the merits of comedy versus drama, older shows versus new shows, etc. For the record, their top ten (which included comedies, but also focused on North American TV) was:

1) The Simpsons
2) The Sopranos
3) The Wire
4) Cheers
5) Breaking Bad
6) Mad Men
7) Seinfeld
8) I Love Lucy
9) Deadwood
10) All in the Family
 

payn

Hero
Just because of the sheer volume involved, ranking TV is really, really hard. Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, who are two well-known TV critics, put out a book about 5 years ago (TV: The Book) where they had a good discussion about the merits of comedy versus drama, older shows versus new shows, etc. For the record, their top ten (which included comedies, but also focused on North American TV) was:

1) The Simpsons
2) The Sopranos
3) The Wire
4) Cheers
5) Breaking Bad
6) Mad Men
7) Seinfeld
8) I Love Lucy
9) Deadwood
10) All in the Family
I dont typically like sit-coms, but Cheers was all sorts of greatness. All in the Family was amazing, I cant imagine anything like it ever hitting the small screen again.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Now that comedies are being bandied around contrary to the rules, I'll throw in documentaries and science shows...

Nature (591 episodes)
NOVA (884 episodes)

if I double break the rules and go for shorter than two seasons...

The Civil War (11.5 hours over 9 episodes)

and if I triple break it and add on made in the UK...

The Life of Birds (8.3 hours over 10 episodes).
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Now that comedies are being bandied around contrary to the rules, I'll throw in documentaries and science shows...
To be fair, Snarf didn't post any rules. He simply posted the criteria he used for making his list. I wouldn't use the same criteria if I was making a top 10 list. Not that I think his are wrong, because there's no right or wrong here.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
To be fair, Snarf didn't post any rules. He simply posted the criteria he used for making his list. I wouldn't use the same criteria if I was making a top 10 list. Not that I think his are wrong, because there's no right or wrong here.

I mean, judging by your list, I like whatever criteria you were using better anyway :)
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
... so per thread rules it cannot be a good show, or something

Just pointing this out. I find that having rules in place makes things easier ... for me. That's why I listed the criteria I was using.

This doesn't mean that non-American shows cannot be good shows. This doesn't mean that comedies cannot be good shows. This doesn't mean that older shows cannot be good shows. Nor does this mean that shows I have not watched cannot be a good shows.

Instead, as I went to some length in describing when I went through the criteria, there is a difficulty in comparing some of these things, and the purpose was not simply to list shows I like.

But sure, if people prefer to list "shows I think are cool for no particular reason," then have at it.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Ignoring rules, here’s 10 of the most important TV to air:

M.A.S.H.
Monty Python’s Flying Circus
Twilight Zone
Star Trek (original)
Miami Vice
The Simpsons
All In The Family
Roots
Connections
Cosmos

10 Hon. Mentions:

SNL
Dallas
Baywatch
King Biscuit Flower Hour
The Tonight Show
Masterpiece Theater Presents
Austin City Limits
Good Times
The Sopranos
I Love Lucy
Doctor Who

I will note, that I’m not a big fan of some of the shows on these lists. But I recognize each had a major impact on TV and/or culture.



Edit: dropped Dexter in favor of I Love Lucy.
 

Totally agree with this. The way it could weave comedy and pathos and commentary together still remains hard to match. The Perks of Being a Wallflower got it right when it said it was one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

Speaking of comedies, Blackadder definitely deserves a mention.

M*A*S*H

Also, lack of comedies because it is too hard is sad.

Mad Men was so darn good. In a lot of ways, it set the bar for the high production value TV shows that would follow in its wake.

As an aside, I still think it criminal that they didn't cast Jon Hamm as John Carter like they were considering.

7. Mad Men. Mad Men is to television what Chekhov is to plays.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Just because of the sheer volume involved, ranking TV is really, really hard. Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, who are two well-known TV critics, put out a book about 5 years ago (TV: The Book) where they had a good discussion about the merits of comedy versus drama, older shows versus new shows, etc. For the record, their top ten (which included comedies, but also focused on North American TV) was:

1) The Simpsons
2) The Sopranos
3) The Wire
4) Cheers
5) Breaking Bad
6) Mad Men
7) Seinfeld
8) I Love Lucy
9) Deadwood
10) All in the Family

Somewhat unsurprisingly, this list is identical to mine, except that it includes comedies (oh, and it has Deadwood in the top 10 instead of an honorable mention).

EDIT-
And I looked it up- after accounting for the comedies issue, my list ended up looking like this:
The Leftovers- not included because it wasn't complete at the time they wrote the book (2017) (they used that criterion too!).
Rectify- not included because it wasn't complete at the time they wrote the book (end of 2016).
The Americans- not included because it wasn't complete at the time they wrote the book.
Sopranos- #2
The Wire- #3
Halt and Catch Fire- not included because it wasn't complete at the time they wrote the book (2017).
Mad Men- #6
Breaking Bad- #5
Buffy/Angel- #25
The Shield- #13

So if you remove the comedies (1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22), then all of my picks that were eligible were some of their top ranked ones.

Here are the revised top 15 dramas by their criterion (drama only):

1) The Sopranos
3) The Wire
3) Breaking Bad
4) Mad Men
5) Deadwood
6) M*A*S*H*
7) Hill Street Blues
8) The Shield
9) The Twilight Zone
10) X-Files
11) Twin Peaks
12) Lost
13) Buffy
14) Oz
15) Friday Night Lights
 
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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Somewhat unsurprisingly, this list is identical to mine, except that it includes comedies (oh, and it has Deadwood in the top 10 instead of an honorable mention).
Rectify, The Americans, and the Leftovers weren't finished when the book was published, but I imagine all 3 would be at or near top 10 in a 2021 list. They also have The Shield at 13 and Buffy at 25.
 

Grendel_Khan

Explorer
I'm not too keen on some of these restrictions (excluding British shows seems a bit wild...feels like this could have just as easily been a top 10 of English-language shows) but I'm very much in agreement with your list, with the exception of Buffy and the Shield. Still though, you're my kind of pretentious American bastard!
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Rectify, The Americans, and the Leftovers weren't finished when the book was published, but I imagine all 3 would be at or near top 10 in a 2021 list. They also have The Shield at 13 and Buffy at 25.

I just finished the edit when you posted- check it out. :)
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'm not too keen on some of these restrictions (excluding British shows seems a bit wild...feels like this could have just as easily been a top 10 of English-language shows) but I'm very much in agreement with your list, with the exception of Buffy and the Shield. Still though, you're my kind of pretentious American bastard!

Try not to be too hard on American television; it is the only relaxation of the intellectually unemployed.
 

Grendel_Khan

Explorer
Just because of the sheer volume involved, ranking TV is really, really hard. Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz, who are two well-known TV critics, put out a book about 5 years ago (TV: The Book) where they had a good discussion about the merits of comedy versus drama, older shows versus new shows, etc. For the record, their top ten (which included comedies, but also focused on North American TV) was:

1) The Simpsons
2) The Sopranos
3) The Wire
4) Cheers
5) Breaking Bad
6) Mad Men
7) Seinfeld
8) I Love Lucy
9) Deadwood
10) All in the Family
Seitz is my favorite TV critic, by far (and a fantastic movie critic too...he's the reason I got myself into the theater to see Annihilation, my favorite movie in years). And Sepinwall is great too!
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I just finished the edit when you posted- check it out. :)
And really, it's kind of amazing how many Pantheon-level shows have finished up just in the past 5 years. I'm not as sold on Halt and Catch Fire, but Leftovers, Rectify, and the Americans are all right up there.
 

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