Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Favorite TV Dramas (Ever)

Gotta take those Oscar breaks to keep on breathing. Herewith my 10 favorite tv drama series ever... (give or take something I forgot. and obviously based on childhood favorites mixed with current passions --and obviously i don't much care for hospital or cop shows like the rest of the world)


Discuss. Or share your favorites. First person to say Law & Order must recite a 10 minute expository monologue and then hang their head in shame.

51 comments:

Caleb Roth said...

Twin Peaks. Then E.R.

Pedro said...

I loved Fame when I was young(er). Also Dynasty and the original Battlestar Gallactica. Of the "modern" dramas, I love Rome.

OhMyTrill said...

Glad to see Twin Peaks on your list...its easily my favorite TV show...and Six Feet under...you seem to tend toward the more movie-like TV shows...surprise...

Middento said...

Well, since I'm not allowed to mention the dreaded phrase, I will say that one of my top 10 includes the letters "SVU" (because, quite frankly, both Mariska Hargitay AND Chris Meloni get my heart pumping...).

Other than that, my choices would be similar:

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
2. Profit
3. Party of Five
4. Gilmore Girls
5. Aforementioned show
6. Farscape
7. Fame
8. Oz
9. Firefly
10. ER (the early years, I no longer watch it)

Of course, my television-watching gets hampered by my lack of cable (hence, I have only seen two or three episodes of 6FU and have never seen The Wire, which I hear is worth it) and I happened to be out of the country during the season of Freaks & Geeks and have not done my duty as an American to watch it yet.

I am one of the nineteen people who watched Profit, however, and will be purchasing that collection very soon so I can finally see how the season would have ended.

Kevin Laforest said...

Gilmore Girls all the way... Otherwise I mostly watch the funny stuff.

Michael C said...

Great to see Freaks and Geeks in there. That would be my favorite along with Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Sopranos. If Lost can finish strong it might also make the list.

Anthony said...

In no particular order:

1 - Six Feet Under
2 - My So-Called Life
3 - 90210 (pre-Brenda leaving)
4 - Melrose Place (first 3 years only)
5 - The O.C.
6 - The X-Files
7 - The Sopranos
8 - Law & Order (yes, I said it!)

Only 8 I can think of offhand. I'm sure I would've liked "Hill Street Blues," "Once & Again," and "Buffy" if I ever watched them. To finish off the list, here's 2 shows that were only on for the blink of an eye but I enjoyed immensely:

9 - Skin
10 - South Central

Anonymous said...

Is Law & Order: SVU considered heresy as well, Nat? 'Cause I think it's one of the very few cop/procedural dramas that are worth watching (Does it follow an established formula? Yes; does it detract from the show being intriguing and thought-provoking television? No). It also goes without saying that Chris Meloni is pretty much the sexiest human being working on the small screen.

Other major faves include Once and Again, Gilmore Girls (Although I'm not completely sure it qualifies as a drama, but it sure is high quality TV), Six Feet Under and the early years of both ER and The Practice (Sorry Nat; I have a similar aversion to cop/doctor/lawyer shows, but there are a few I do like)

NATHANIEL R said...

caleb -twin peaks 4ever. i can do ER pre Clooney leaving.

pedro -haven't seen rome. can't afford HBO these days.

omt -right?

jmr -hey, meloni and hargitay areboth freakishly hot but i still hate the show.

kevin -i thought gilmore girls was a comedy. my friend carrie will hate me for leaving it off both lists.
but i do like it.

michael c -try as i might i could never get into sopranos. I've seen some episodes that have blown me away...but as a series. I just only ever cared about two characters so i couldn't give it years of my time.

anthony -oh, pre-brenda leaving on 90210 i'm totally there. but i'm counting whole series. ;)

Nick M. said...

What brilliant timing. I just finished watching the complete series of Freaks and Geeks. It's painfully honest and poignant without being maudlin. Oh, and it also offers some of the best television characters in recent memory.

Glenn said...

I need Freaks & Geeks and Six Feet Under like air...

Lost is pretty great, but just how in the devil are they going to end it?

Loved the original UK version of Queer as Folk... And Farscape, well, that's one of my guilty pleasures (shoot, I'd even watch Ben Browder do infomercials).

Does anyone here watch anime? Or is that too much of a niche product?

adam k. said...

I don't recognize very many of these other than Buffy, Once & Again, and My So-Called Life, but those are the ones I was expecting to see anyway.

I like Gilmore Girls too, but I find it a bit too cutesy and one-note to be truly great. But then, all TV is sort of that way.

Carl said...

Surprising to see a Whedonite not put "Firefly" among the top ten. Inadvertent oversight or too much comedy? My top ten would be so top-heavy with science fiction it wouldn't be fair to the many excellent half-hour sitcom-dramas such as "M.A.S.H." that made up much of the viewing in my formative years. Especially in the second half of its run, "M.A.S.H." was at least as much drama as comedy. I am also handicapped by my household being bereft of HBO and other for-fee cable.

Oh, what the heck...

1. Star Trek (original)
2. Babylon 5
3. The West Wing
4. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
5. The Outer Limits (original)
6. Firefly
7. Hill Street Blues
8. Jonny Quest (if animation is allowed)
9. L.A. Law
10. The Invaders

Rule of Thumb: If I paid money to get it under my roof to view whenever it suits me, commercial-free, I must have liked it a lot.

Anonymous said...

You really need to start watching Lost, it's like Twin Peaks, but more than halfway into the 2nd season it hasn't completely fallen apart. It's a sci-fi/fantasy/comedy/romance/adventure/ pop culture freak show, in the best possible way. Plus, one of its upcoming episodes is going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky, so that should be interesting if nothing else.

NATHANIEL R said...

carl -firefly was just outside the list. i love it. but it's so few episodes...

Andy Scott said...

Is Buffy really that good? I remember watching a few episodes way back when but it was never something I watched religiously.

And what is #7?

David Shultz said...

Wait..what are 6, 7, and 9?

Kamikaze Camel said...

Mine would be some unholy mix.

1. Twin Peaks (I need the second series on DVD NOW. I've seen it but I want to watch it on DVD, and not VHS like originally)
2. Buffy (duh)
3. Law & Order (let's just merge them all together. I have no shame over this - it can usually make for great tv)
4. The Practice (it's first 5 seasons or so were tv gold - the revelation of the nun!!!! holy freakin' jesus!!!!!!)
5. Roswell (huh, whatever. I totally love this show something shocking. the second season finale gets me every single time)

and i dunno... other stuff. comedies are so much easier to pick from. Seinfeld, Friends, Golden Girls, Curb, Arrested, Gilmore, Futurama, Simpsons, Popular, Fast Forward, We Can Be Heroes...

cheurch said...

I have such a soft spot for Moonlighting....

c.p. iñor said...

BUFFY RULES!!!!!

MY FAVORITE TV SHOW EVER (Not just drama)

chofer said...

Why don't pick DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES? Is it not a drama? Or is it a drama wrapped in black comedy with a little touch of soap opera? I agree with most of your picks nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Six Feet Under and The Sopranos from the US. With a nod to early and late West Wing (seasons 1, 2 and 6). Cracker and Prime Suspect from the UK.

Rob

Lorenzo said...

1 ER
2 Six feet under
3 Dawson's creek

Lorenzo said...

1 ER (its first 6/7 seasons are just the definitive tv series to me)
2 The practice (in Italy we only saw seasons 1-4, grrrr!)
3 Six feet under (of course!)
4 Dawson's creek (teen guilty pleasure)
5 Murder, she wrote or Hunter or 90210, childhood favorities who teached me the basic dynamics of tv series...

OhMyTrill said...

What about Queer as Folk...not a fan?

NATHANIEL R said...

andy -yes buffy is really that good. it wasn't even a competition for the top spot.

david -6; battlestar galactica. 7; thirtysomething 9; dynasty (in the 80s I basically lived for that. the only 'soap' i've ever been thoroughly obsessed with. I realize it's total kitsch now but I just couldn't live without at the time)

chofer - i go by the emmy designation so Housewives, Gilmore, McBeal, etc... are comedies.

ohmytrill -not a fan of QaF. I don't recognize the characters from one episode to another. Basically the same problem I have with the other gay soap, the L Word. It's as if the writers don't recognize the one area in which tv is greater than film; but you can't have long fascinating character arcs that paint whole lives if your characters personalities and motivations don't cohere from one episode to the next but just follow whatever might work for that weeks plot.

c.p. Buffy is my fav all time too. even once you fuse comedy back into the 'all time' list.

Dr. S said...

I'm with you on #8. I didn't see Freaks and Geeks until last summer, but then I watched the whole season in the space of a week.

Anonymous said...

Season 1 and 2 of Alias. Kept me watching for 2 more seasons even though they were crapalicious.

I also stop surfing when I come across Perry Mason on AMC or something like that. It's interesting to see the whodunit origins of modern franchise detective dramas.

Pedro said...

Adding to my list, I was also a huge fan of Space: 1999 or Cosmos: 1999 with Martin Landau (I am from a Spanish speaking language country, so the titles of the dramas differ somewhat from their original English titles)

NATHANIEL R said...

i love space 1999 as well. it was outside the list with firefly. i like sci-fi sometimes but not always. (for instance heretically i've never cared for anything connected to the star trek universe)

Pedro said...

And in manga or anime, I remember fondly Mazinger Z.

damion said...

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Twin Peaks
Firefly
Fame
OZ
Murder One
Six Feet Under
Queer as Folk (UK)
The West Wing
Nip/ Tuck

It is still too early to tell... but...

RU: Gray's Anatomy

Carl said...

I am also a little surprised to see some other omissions from the discussion so far, such as:

"Angel" - lesser Whedon, but with many vocal adherents

"24" - like video 'crack'...I just can't stop

"Thunderbirds" - admit it, folks, it is someone's youthful guilty pleasure besides myself

"Veronica Mars" - maybe the smartest of the teen angst dramas ever

Remember, 'favorite' does not mean 'best'. Trot out those guilty pleasures and wallow in them for a bit.

Trashbag Kid said...

Buffy. Firefly.

TV Dramas bore me.

Trashbag Kid said...

Oh wait. Freaks and Geeks and Buffy are tied for me.

Anthony said...

Whoops, forgot "Lost."

Arkaan said...

1. The Sopranos: The richest, deepest show of our time.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. The X-Files
4. The Wire
5. Once and Again
6. Homicide: Life on the Street
7. Lost (will likely move up in the future)
8. MI-5 (aka Spooks)
9. Oz
10. Murder One (would be higher if it weren't for the second season meddling)

Rome is likely gonna launch onto the list if the second season is as good as the first. Ultraviolet is dark British drama at it's finest, but a six episode run is too short for me to include it. Alias became bad very quickly. Deadwood needs another season as good as the second. Battlestar Galactica is really too inconsistent (if still addictive) for me. And yes, Law and Order has produced some of the best episodes of television I have ever seen.

There are a number of show I never got into, though. I'm sure I'd love Thirtysomething, China Beach and Twin Peaks. Take Nathaniel's complaint about The Sopranos and apply that for Six Feet Under, perhaps HBO's worst drama. I've never seen so much brilliance squandered so harshly (and I generally liked the show. Except the 3rd, 4th and 5th seasons).

NATHANIEL R said...

well i'm not saying that sopranos squandered its brilliance. it probably is as brilliant as everyone says. But i just can't watch it regularly because to keep me interested I gotta have Carmela or the girl what's her name "adriana?" the girl who tony killed a season ago. when it's about the men or the psychiatrist or the kids. zzzzzzzz

at least for me. It's obviously a great show. It's just not *for me* if that makes sense.

chofer said...

I'm the only one who remembers LOGAN'S RUN? The most campy of all sci-fies ever? (well, perhaps V also qualifies) I luv it as a child, and the main protagonist was hot, huh huh.

Anonymous said...

comedy...arrested development

Jeremy Barker said...

This was harder than I thought as I watch far more sitcoms.

Alias
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Homicide: Life on the Streets
Lost
Magnum P.I.
Oz
Star Trek: TNG
The Sopranos
Veronica Mars
X-Files

And coming on strong this year:
Invasion
Prison Break

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh god, how did I forget Six Feet Under?!?! Crazy.

And time will tell about Veronica Mars and Grey's Anatomy. I never watched Lost. I couldn't see how it could go for longer than 2-3 seasons without getting extremely irritating so I didn't bother.

I should put The OC on my list too cause me and two best friends always get together on Tuesday nights to watch it together. It holds sentimental value. Plus, it's so hilariously brilliant (*cough*)

Middento said...

I admit that I'm a little surprised in this grouping of clear media freaks that I'm the only one who has mentioned Profit. You all must see this twisted piece of television that Fox naturally cancelled quickly.

Anonymous said...

My all-time favorite shows are....


1.) China Beach
2.) Homefront
3.) My So-Called Life
4.) Once and Again
5.) Cagney & Lacey
6.) Sopranos
7.) Quantum Leap
8.) Hill Street Blues
9.) St Elsewhere
10.) LA Law

Some other hour long shows I enjoy...but I don't think they can be characterize as dramas are Gilomore Girls, Ally Mcbeal and Moonlighting.

MB

Cliff said...

In no particular order:

Profit
My So-Called Life
Dynasty
Dallas
Falcoln Crest
Wiseguy
Oz
China Beach

After Profit and a few other shows, I refused to start watching dramas until they were in their 2nd years, as the ones that I liked almost always got cancelled...

Marcelo said...

Once and Again
Wonder Years
The X-Files

Ally McBeal (I would like hear Nathaniel on that since Mr. Pfeiffer was responsible for the show)
Mad About You

No fans of Charlie's Angels and Wonder Woman?

John M said...

After composing my list, I just realized how embarassed I am. But anyway, here it goes:

1. Buffy
2. Veronica Mars
3. Alias
4. Everwood
5. Joan of Arcadia (shut up, it was really good in its first season)
6. Battlestar Galactica
7. Once & Again
8. Grey's Anatomy
9. Angel
10. Felicity

After reading the other lists, I must admit to never having watched a full episode of Freaks and Geeks. Was it really that good?

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Anonymous said...

I love LOST,but i must to waaaaaiiiiit until next year.Also Prison Break,Heroes,Rome,Grey`s Anatomy.You could read about this tv drama shows here:
http://tvdramas.info/

Anonymous said...

Hi all.
My list:

Prison
Twin Peaks
The X-Files
Lost
Buffy
L.A. Law
Roswell
Simpsons :P
Murder One
Six Feet Under

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Anonymous said...

Buffy and Netflix changed my opinion of TV. It was the first time I ever watched one show consecutively and entirely and my eyes opened. For all of those out there who may have caught an episode or so, now and then, please don't count that as having seen it. Its a show the becomes rich through deep character development fulfilled through complex writing, from episode to episode and from season to season. To me, it is perfect entertainment: the best action, comedy, drama, romance, thriller *ever*. Since then I have become obsessive about choosing well written tv that I dedicate myself to.

My favorite shows include:

Buffy
Deadwood
Freaks and Geeks
Firefly
Friday Night Lights