Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Top TV Shows of all time...

Time recently released their list of the 100 best TV shows of all time. You can check out their list here, and it is quite varied and extensive. The problem is that they don't rank them. If you are going to make a Top 100 list, what's the point in just lumping them all together. I can see it for maybe a Top 10, but the quality difference between the hundredth best show and best show of all time would seem to be enough to warrant some rankage.

Anyhow, as response to their listing... er... clumping these shows, I will now rank my favorite 41 TV Shows of all time, with an asterisk next to the ones that Time also liked and a little bit of commentary on my Top 10.

* on Time's list as well
  1. Dick Van Dyke Show* - If you don't have DVD on DVD you need it now. This show was amazing and way ahead of it's time. The Walnut episode goes in the pantheon of best TV episodes ever. I never thought black and white could be so modern and funny until I witnessed the genius of Mr. Van Dyke's show firsthand.
  1. LOST* - Strikes the perfect balance of mystery and sci-fi with relationships and human drama. These are some of the most well drawn characters in the history of TV. All you have to do is say the names Hurley, Charlie, Locke, Kate, Echo, or Sawyer and a fan of the show will immediately have emotional reactions to each. It's a testament to great writing and one of the most intriguing plots of all time.
  1. The X-Files* - Could possibly be number 1 if not for the train wreck of seasons 6+. A lesson learned for LOST, when you are done, go home. If The X-Files had wrapped up in Season 5 (like Chris Carter wanted to) we would still be going to X-Files movies ever other year, and this show would have gone down in history as an all time great.
  1. Survivor* - Only 6 shows in the history of TV have been ranked in the Top Ten viewers for their entire run. This is one of them. Started the reality craze as one of the most exquisitely crafted hours on TV. Mark Burnett should give lessons on establishing story and mood. One of my favorite parts of each week still involves Probst and a giant candle snuffer.
  1. Alfred Hitchcock Presents* - Ok, so I'm a Hitchcock nut. But this show was off the charts brilliant. If you get a chance pick up the set of shows directed by the master himself you will see some of the best TV ever.
  1. The Cosby Show* - Best family sitcom of all time. It's hard to explain to someone who wasn't around then just how much of an event Thursday's were when The Huxtables were on. It's what TV should be.
  1. Firefly - Yes, this show was that good. Possibly the most mishandled show of all time, with a little more trust in the creator and better marketing this show could be in it's 7th glorious season by now. Sigh.
  1. The Amazing Race - The classiest of all Reality TV, this show takes the inherent drama of a race and combines it with amazing locations and interesting people and relationships. People often forget that this is the only Reality show where it's not every man for himself and this team aspect gives it an extra level of beauty.
  1. The Simpsons* - Probably should be higher for a show that has managed to stay on the air for 18 stinkin' seasons. But the last few have seemed a bit run of the mill, still when this show was in its prime (seasons 3-8) it managed to be both poignant and absurdest. Quite a feat and quite a show.
  1. Quantum Leap - One of the best TV concepts ever, allowing the hero to be anybody in any situation can keep a show fresh forever. The execution wasn't always spot on, but this show is ton o fun to watch.
The rest:
  1. 24*
  2. MacGyver
  3. Futurama
  4. Family Ties
  5. Alias
  6. Freaks and Geeks*
  7. Arrested Development*
  8. Star Trek*
  9. Malcolm in the Middle
  10. I Love Lucy*
  11. The Monkees*
  12. Smallville
  13. The Twilight Zone*
  14. Seinfeld*
  15. The Mole
  16. Friends*
  17. The Brady Bunch
  18. CSI
  19. Get Smart
  20. Everybody Loves Raymond
  21. Home Improvement
  22. American Idol*
  23. Gilligan's Island
  24. Star Trek:TNG
  25. Leave it to Beaver*
  26. Extreme Home Makeover
  27. Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  28. House
  29. King of the Hill*
  30. CHIPs
  31. The Practice
All in all 19 of my 41 made his Top 100, meaning 22 (or more than half) of my favorite shows of all time don't even rank in his Top 100. It appears as if my tastes run a bit more mainstream than his. How can you deny classics like Gilligan, The Bradys and The Fresh Prince? The most glaring omission on his part has to be CSI, which (like Survivor) spawned an entirely new genre (the crime procedural) and still finds both mainstream and critical praise today.

Any shows we both missed?


  1. First off, is the a criteria for these? Does something have to be on the air for a certain amount of time before it can be on the list? Do mini series count? Are these only American shows? Secondly, must we assume that the person making a list of best tv shows of all time has watched every single tv show... ever? Because we are talking about a lot of tv here. I know for a fact you haven't seen every show ever. Here are some that I think deserve some credit.

    Battlestar galactica
    The office (British)
    Doctor who (British)
    Hey dude
    The muppet show

    I could probably go on and on.

    I will say your list does have a ton of ones I would pick. get smart may be my pick for number one. It should be in the top 100 but missed it by that much.

  2. I also meant to have:

    Band of Brothers

  3. He seemed to use a pretty wide criteria for his selections. My criteria is simply to list my favorite shows of the ones I have seen.

    Battlestar and British Office both made his list, and The Muppet Show is a pretty good choice. I also debated putting Heroes on there but will give it one more season to qualify.

    As far as Get Smart, Would you believe I had it ranked in my Top 10 originally? Would you Believe Top 20?

  4. OK, so where's "So You Think You Can Dance"? "The Incredible Hulk", "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Knight Rider"?

    McBurnie comment

  5. Quite an extensive list. You've done a good job with this blog I will frequent it often. Dare I add Airwolf? I also agree that Band of Brothers should be in contention. This is really a list that is too big and too broad to cover. Of course if you were to break it down into categories, not as many people would be interested. "Top TV Shows of all time..." is an intriguing title that people will at least stop and argue with if nothing else. I think you did a pretty good job, but as drew said, we could probably sit and poke holes in your ratings all day.

    It was rad hanging out with you the other day. Thanks for having us up there. Those calzones were legit. I hope to talk with you again and I will be frequenting this blog.

    Thanks again.

    Steven of Grey Holiday

  6. Thanks Steve and stop by for a calzone anyday.