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The Real Greatest TV Shows of All Time

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I’ve seen the Simpsons. No idea what the rest are!

They are all historical heavyweights of American television.

The Ed Sullivan Show was the seminal variety show - the precursor to the modern "late night tv talk show". It ran from 1948 to 1971.

The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy were among the founders of the "sitcom" genre, back in the 1950s.

Saturday Night Live was (and still is) the leader of sketch comedy shows, having run from 1971 to the present, and is known for having been a starting place for a great many leading comedians.

60 Minutes is a "news magazine" show that's been running for 53 seasons now.
 

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Zaukrie

New Publisher
Tough, but with giving it zero thought, here are some shows I've loved and (more recent ones I always recommend to people):

MASH
Game of Thrones
Battlestar
Next Generation
Ted Lasso (ya, it's not done, but it is so very good)
The Americans (might be the highest "floor" show ever, with consistently great episodes)
Broadchurch
X Files
Expanse
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Rome
Firefly
Sherlock

There are more, but if someone asked what they should watch, those would all be on the list

(Stranger Things season 1 also, but after that? Not as great)
 

Ryujin

Hero
They are all historical heavyweights of American television.

The Ed Sullivan Show was the seminal variety show - the precursor to the modern "late night tv talk show". It ran from 1948 to 1971.

The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy were among the founders of the "sitcom" genre, back in the 1950s.

Saturday Night Live was (and still is) the leader of sketch comedy shows, having run from 1971 to the present, and is known for having been a starting place for a great many leading comedians.

60 Minutes is a "news magazine" show that's been running for 53 seasons now.
Saturday Night Live is good and bad, in cycles, but I don't think that anyone can deny its impact on modern entertainment in North America. Other networks tried to recreate the lightning in a bottle, but failed miserably. Fox had two runs at it; "The Edge", in the early '90s, and "Mad TV", which managed a 10 year run but was never as popular and SNL. Oddly enough, though she didn't stick in my mind from previous roles ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Leprechaun", etc.), I did consciously notice Jennifer Aniston for the first time on "The Edge."
 

Hatmatter

Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
Do I need to have watched Breaking Bad to watch it?
Hi Blue,

Like most spin-offs, one can derive more from it if one is familiar with the original because of the nods to Breaking Bad and because of directions you know that characters are headed, but it stands on its own as well. Perhaps it would even be interesting to watch as a prequel of sorts before watching Breaking Bad.
 

Blackadder and Fawlty Towers are just so funny and so sharp. And if you count Blackadder season 4 as the end of the series, well, that's about as pithy and moving an end to a comedy show as you could get.

Game of Thrones is absolutely up there. If you had told kid Ralif that there was going to be a sprawling epic fantasy series on TV with dragons, undead, and magic swords AND it was going to be one of the most popular television shows of its time, he wouldn't have believed it.
 

Ryujin

Hero
Blackadder and Fawlty Towers are just so funny and so sharp. And if you count Blackadder season 4 as the end of the series, well, that's about as pithy and moving an end to a comedy show as you could get.

Game of Thrones is absolutely up there. If you had told kid Ralif that there was going to be a sprawling epic fantasy series on TV with dragons, undead, and magic swords AND it was going to be one of the most popular television shows of its time, he wouldn't have believed it.
What if you told Young Ralif that it would have full frontal nudity? :ROFLMAO:
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Season 1 of the Haunting of Hillhouse is fantastic, and some of the best acting I have seen on tv. I'm less of a fan of Blymanor, it didn't really click with me.
It's a very different style of horror, and like the show calls out at the end, it really is more of a love story than anything, but still a deeply tragic one.

Ironically, I found the acting very hit-or-miss in Hill House and much more consistent in Bly Manor. I never thought I'd live to see the day that Timothy Hutton phones it in, but here we are. The younger version of the dad (fun fact: he was Elliot for E.T.!) nailed it though.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer has stood the test of time. There are just so many great episodes. My favourite episodes are: Conversations with Dead People, The Wish, Hush, The Zeppo, Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered, Help, Dopplegangland, Passion, Revelations, Innocense, Halloween, Lovers Walk, Crush, The Body, Killed by Death, Earshot, Something Blue, Restless, Fool for Love, The Gift, Forever, Normal Again, Him, Bad Girls, and Once More with Feeling.

If that seem like a lot of episodes to list as favourites... yeah...
I'm surprised not to see Tabula Rasa on there, actually. Otherwise, solid list.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Game of Thrones fell off the wagon well before the final season, which was definitely the show at its worst, but it was a steady decline in quality after the 4th season (the excellent first 10 minutes of the Season 6 finale notwithstanding). I think it proved that D&D are pretty great at adaptation but terrible at storytelling on their own.
 


Hatmatter

Laws of Mordenkainen, Elminster, & Fistandantilus
Game of Thrones fell off the wagon well before the final season, which was definitely the show at its worst, but it was a steady decline in quality after the 4th season (the excellent first 10 minutes of the Season 6 finale notwithstanding). I think it proved that D&D are pretty great at adaptation but terrible at storytelling on their own.
My favorite seasons are later on..probably season 7.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Game of Thrones fell off the wagon well before the final season, which was definitely the show at its worst, but it was a steady decline in quality after the 4th season (the excellent first 10 minutes of the Season 6 finale notwithstanding). I think it proved that D&D are pretty great at adaptation but terrible at storytelling on their own.
IMO it proved no such thing. It proved that great writing is better than ok writing......
 

I'm surprised not to see Tabula Rasa on there, actually. Otherwise, solid list.

Tabula Rasa is a fun episode, but it is very similar in concept to several other episodes of Buffy in which the characters are put in different roles, such as Halloween. It is a bit of a repetition.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
Tabula Rasa is a fun episode, but it is very similar in concept to several other episodes of Buffy in which the characters are put in different roles, such as Halloween. It is a bit of a repetition.
<shrug> To each their own. I actually thought Tabula Rasa was much more compelling than Halloween, not even the best Ethan-Rayne-creates-Chaos episode (that would be Band Candy).

Hush still stands as one of the best episode of TV, ever.
 

Probably he would've blushed and hid his head under a napkin (like I did the time I suggested the family watch The Man Who Fell To Earth one Thanksgiving, because Bowie's cool, right?).

What if you told Young Ralif that it would have full frontal nudity? :ROFLMAO:

Something about the starkness of season 4's ending, that final shot, the poignant music fading into silence and the wind, hit stronger for me.

Well, they all die at the end of every series.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I didn't care all that much for Game of Thrones...I thought it was overrated. My friends kept talking it up constantly, and I really tried, but it just never measured up to the hype they were giving. I thought The Adventures of Broody Special-Man (or "The Witcher") was a better fantasy show in my opinion. But it's not "complete," so it's not allowed.

The best show I've watched lately was Steven Universe. It has some of the best world-building I've seen in a fantasy show, and some of the strongest character development. But it's a cartoon, and that's also not allowed.

So within the strict criteria established in earlier threads, M*A*S*H is the best that I've ever seen. The television show takes place in an era of American history that few people are very proud of, and even fewer will ever learn about in school. McCarthyism, the ethics of war, the moral dilemma of duty vs. humanity, etc. The characters are absurd and clownish, but the real joke is the whole premise: is anything more ridiculous than having a hospital in a war zone? "First, they shoot them to pieces. Then they ask us to put them back together again. Why? So they can shoot them to pieces again!"
-Hawkeye, probably
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
I didn't care all that much for Game of Thrones...I thought it was overrated. My friends kept talking it up constantly, and I really tried, but it just never measured up to the hype they were giving. I thought The Adventures of Broody Special-Man (or "The Witcher") was a better fantasy show in my opinion. But it's not "complete," so it's not allowed.

The best show I've watched lately was Steven Universe. It has some of the best world-building I've seen in a fantasy show, and some of the strongest character development. But it's a cartoon, and that's also not allowed.

So within the strict criteria established in earlier threads, M*A*S*H is the best that I've ever seen. The television show takes place in an era of American history that few people are very proud of, and even fewer will ever learn about in school. McCarthyism, the ethics of war, the moral dilemma of duty vs. humanity, etc. The characters are absurd and clownish, but the real joke is the whole premise: is anything more ridiculous than having a hospital in a war zone? "First, they shoot them to pieces. Then they ask us to put them back together again. Why? So they can shoot them to pieces again!"
-Hawkeye, probably
I mean, I think those are the rules for the previous thread (and even then only for the OP); this is the thread where anything goes.

And +1 on Steven Universe.
 

Steven Universe is so good. Wholesome, creative, and well-written. I'm so behind on episodes, I really need to get back to it (See also Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts).

The best show I've watched lately was Steven Universe. It has some of the best world-building I've seen in a fantasy show, and some of the strongest character development. But it's a cartoon, and that's also not allowed.
 


Game of Thrones is half of an all-time great show (Seasons 1-4) and half of an abomination of TV (5-8).

The West Wing has aged extremely poorly. I don't believe I could watch it nowadays and keep a straight face. It's just so hopelessly naive about American politics.

The Simpsons ... if you limit it to the first 8 seasons, it's the best sitcom of all time. Seasons 9 and 10 feature a stark decline, and Seasons 11+ are just worthless.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So, I'm not a fan of ranking my personal favorite shows.

Greatest of all time, in terms of TV history and impact, most of what's getting mentioned here is still going to be small potatoes compared to the historic greats - the Ed Sullivan Show, 60 Minutes, The Honeymooners, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, I Love Lucy.

Maybe Star Trek fits in there on cultural impact.

MASH using that criteria.

Sopranos
Breaking Bad
The Wire

The boring top 3.

Rome was great only 2 seasons. Black adder is awesome but there's lots of other British shows to compete with. It's very good.

I'm going to throw in the Simpsons. Watching it now 18 seasons in and it's still doing alright. Not as good as early stuff but still.

Parks and Rec. Yeah I'll go with this. Best American comedy of all time Community and The Office had some negatives.

Star Trek jyst to inconsistent for me. DS9 is the only good one that's consistent the rest are very hit or miss.

GoT wasn't just the last season niticuble decline from season 5 onwards, the first 4 seasons though would make it.

Justified. Good from start to finish and it stuck the landing. That's going on. Stargate Atlantis probably my favorite sci Fi fairly consistent start to finish. I'll add that.

Last place is hard. Orange is the New Black final season was weak but was great overall. I'm going with next favorite sci Fi show not sure if that's SG1, Farscape or B5.



Z's Top 10 (personal list no particular order)

The Wire
Breaking Bad
The Sopranos.
The Simpsons.
Parks and Rec
A British comedy (pick your favorite Blackadder, Red Dwarf etc)
Justified
Star Gate Atlantis
Next Favorite Sci Fi show

If we did best comedies and could include British stuff I think 7/10 would be British.
 

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