What is your favorite TV show of all time and why should people watch it?


#1

For me it’s the mid 2000s Battlestar Galactica reboot.

Brilliant writing and examination of real social issues against a well realized sci-fi backdrop. Generally great acting throughout and some extremely impactful moments in all seasons.

Certainly there are ups and downs, especially around the writer’s strike era (Hi fat Lee arc), but overall the show quality, is exceptionally high and also… Adama is Bae.

So say we all.

Honorable mentions to my runners up, Buffy, TNG, and The Wire.


#2

It’s Breaking Bad for me. For me it has the greatest performance on television history in Bryan Cranston, he never has a single moment that seems like hes acting. He’s just infinitely watchable.
A really important factor for me is that Breaking Bad anever has a down season. The Wire may have the best first season ever, but it only has two great seasons. Breaking Bad has at best one wonky episode (the Fly.) It’s just consistently killing it. Every side story is rewarding and engaging. Every character has a beautiful arc. Breaking Bad even has a baller Spin off in Better Call Saul.


#3

buffy!!!


#4

Okay, I’m gonna maybe get a little hazed for this, but Lost. Some people say the idea that it’s “all about the characters” is a ploy by the creators to detract from the fact that some of the mythology is unexplained, but I disagree. The characters in Lost are amazing and I was glad I got to know each of them. The mythology was just icing on the cake. Great acting added to one of the best soundtracks in TV history makes Lost a must-watch.

Buffy/Angel is a close second, though both of those shows’ lows are way worse than Lost’s.


#5

Buffy and/or Deep Space Nine. Both have their ups and downs and some episodes/seasons have aged (much) better than others- but any time I think of my favourite TV episodes they are invariably from those two shows. Stuff like The Body, Hush, and Once More With Feeling in the case of Buffy; The Visitor, Far Beyond the Stars, and In the Pale Moonlight for DS9.

I even love the episode where they play baseball with the snobby Vulcans. COME AT ME.


#6

My favorite live-action shows:
For comedy I’ll go with Parks & Rec, it just has a lot more heart than other popular shows on TV because everyone tries to do the “lovable assholes you relate to” thing but half the time it’s like…No. No these people are just assholes and they’re mean sometimes and I don’t like laughing at people. Parks & Rec was the first show I watched where like YEAH they made digs at each other but they were much better at giving off that “we’re all friends here, it’s cool” vibe. The found-family thing worked in that show. I cared about those guys. And most comedies CAN’T have main characters succeed because it’s funny when they fail, but that just makes you not root for them because you KNOW they’re not gonna do it. Parks & Rec kept me on the edge of my SEAT to see if Leslie’s plans or goals would work out. I laughed/cried/and put up with everyone saying I sound like Aziz Ansari. Don’t regret any time spent watching Parks & Rec. I want to watch more Brooklyn 99 because it seems like a similar show.

For serious storytelling I’ll go with Star Trek Deep Space Nine (I don’t like most adult dramas, so you’re not gonna get many media opinions out of me unless it’s a genre piece haha). Star Trek is by no means my perfect ideal scifi setting, but it comes the closest that I’ve found so far. And Deep Space Nine comes the closest out of all the other shows. My specific comparison I like to do is, like, how TNG handled most alien culture-clashes with now DS9 handled them. TNG was always a very EARTH-centered ship. Everyone was “tolerant” but still at the end of the day kinda side-eyed aliens acting “weird.” By the time we get to DS9, Bashir and Dax are in the cafeteria eating plates of gross Klingon worm-food without even mentioning it, because Hey other culture’s food can still be good even if you never heard of it before. It was the first Star Trek to question the legitimacy of ANYTHING the Federation was really up to. It was the first Star Trek to like REALLY get into war politics. It was just such a damn good show to me. It also had an episode dealing with a same-sex relationship, though gender didn’t come into play plot-wise, but that’s even BETTER to me in certain perspectives, because the cultural taboo the two characters were committing was something ELSE and no one gave a fuck they were two women.

My fav animated series:
For Western cartoons it’s Steven Universe. Garbage diehard fandom aside, it’s one of the best-written children’s shows on TV, tackling really real emotional issues in fun ways that don’t feel forced, because the plot VERY much puts the characters in all KINDS of situations. It gets more plot-heavy as the show goes on, but it never forgets to do standalone character focus episodes. In-fact, even the plot related episodes usually turn out to be that. Steven Universe isn’t a show about the events that happen in it. It’s a show about how these flawed character have their ideals and realities called into question, broken, and rebuilt through those events. Also it’s beautiful to look at, to listen to, it’s funny, it’s tragic, it’s inspiring, it’s sobering, and I’m PRETTY sure half of the crew working on it used to be in the Homestuck fandom so SHOUT OUT TO ALL MY HOMESTUCKS IN THE CREWNIVERSE!!

For anime I WOULD say it’s One Piece, but the manga is such a better read than the anime is a watch, so I LOVE that story and those characters with all my heart, but if you want to binge One Piece, just read the manga and watch the noncanon movies and look up your fav fights/parts on YouTube or something, haha. The longer the show goes on the less I appreciate the filler and the lack of budget on most episodes…

My real pick is Mob Psycho 100. I have never seen a better animated show on a television budget, like period, in either hemisphere. I don’t know where they got the time to put so much work into every pose and frame. The HANDS??? THE HANDS!!! They’re PERFECT. And all the animation effects when things get crazy psychic, and just…it’s amazing to watch. The story’s great too, Mob is my son, please watch this scrawny boy try his best to be good. PLEASE.


#7

Let me tell you about ZeD. ZeD was a Canadian arts show on the CBC. It would air at 5 minutes after midnight Monday to Friday and had no ads. As a result it had basically no limits or restrictions. It would show films that were banned in other parts of the world, like Bus 44 or 15. There would be a new content advisory twice per episode. Something like, “Hey motherfucker, there’s gonna be some mature shit coming up, so be advised.”

There was one year that I had seen every Oscar nominated short and animated short but not any of the best picture nominations. That was because of ZeD. There would be artist profiles. It’s where I discovered bands and musicians like The Dears, Joel Plaskett, The Constantines, Corb Lund, and The New Pornographers. It’s where I discovered slam poets like Shane Koyczan and Mighty Mike McGee. There would be paintings and other visual art during the interstitials between segments.

You never knew what you were gonna get on any given night. That was part of the appeal. The show didn’t last very long though. It had a short pilot season, a great second and third seasons, then a reformatted fourth season that was a step back. It went off the air in 2006.

Here’s some clips





#8

The secret best part about Buffy is then you get to watch Angel.


#9

As somebody less concerned with linear plot, but more concerned with world building and atmosphere, the current king for me is Man in the High Castle.

It’s portrayal of Dick’s alternate history is spot on and feels wonderfully spooky to live in. Plus Obergruppenführer Smith might be my favorite character/actor combination in any TV.


#10

I enjoy a lot of the miniseries that film directors are doing such as The Young Pope and Big Little Lies. As well as the hbo medley that is The Night Of. My favorite short series might be True Dectective however (yes even season 2). For me there is no one more talented than Cary Fukunaga and his influences on that series are incredible.

My favorite true television series might have to be Mad Men. Breaking Bad, The Wire, Sopranos yeah those are all near and dear to my heart but Mad Men just took everything to the next level imo. I watched it all before the final season aired and rewatched it my first semester of college. I found the show just as enjoyable the second time around and i intend to watch it again soon.


#11

Hard to limit it to one, so I won’t, ha!

I have a tumultuous relationship with TV because I think a lot if is overrated and the current trend for a series formula that doesn’t alter much is getting very ponderous: a good intro, followed by filler, then a first act highpoint with a climactic sequence that’s backed to music or edited cleverly or is a single shot followed by lots of filler and then a warm to good finale. Legion and Westworld seemed to really suffer from this and it’s just getting really rote now and it does my head in.

Anyway, positivist! I will add that I have a lot of sympathy for TV programs that were clearly fucked by the networks that owned them, as I am far more interested in a creator grasping for success in a flawed system than I am in a show that gets all its toys out of the box with little friction.

The greatest show of all time is clearly The X-Files and it’s hard to dispute that I think. I mean go on, try it, I will counter you like Neo at the start of The Matrix Reloaded. Mulder and Scully are perfect as a double act and the plot is just bonkers and ambitious and I adore it. It’s easily one of the funniest programs on TV that isn’t a comedy. I think it has one of the best quality runs of TV from Season 2 to 6, with some of the best SciFi and Supernatural genre work done there. Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad fame cut his teeth in this show, and his episodes are some of the best TV i’ve seen, but lets give them a hand for Clyde Brookman’s Final Repose which is up their with the best TV has to offer. How about Triangle by Chris Carter as well, where Scully explores a WW2 ship stuck between the past and the present with some of the slickest editing ever? And the overarching story with its impossible Evangelion like logic and the greatest badguy on all of Telivision with the Cigarette Smoking Man? Ugh. If only it didn’t have that damn ending, but when you have 4 seasons of brilliance, why let that put you off? Its just essential TV.

Then there’s Battlestar Galactica which I re-watched recently with my girlfriend who is way into TV. This show is genius. It knows what makes good TV and it knows that ain’t formulaic plot lines and characters that work as a narrative puzzle, but really strong characters that feel believable. Adama, Starbuck, Tigh, Six, Sharon, Helo, Tyrel, Roslin- they’re all amazing characters, and that’s before you even get to number one delusion sex pest Gaius Baltar, who is in the running for best TV boy ever. It’s a mix of old fashioned swashbuckling against all odds and high drama and intrigue thanks to the fact that anyone can be a Cylon. The way it navigates its various moral and ethical quandaries is excellent and endlessly compelling, and the end of season 2/beginning of season 3 is some of the most hardcore, give no fucks TV of recent memory - I honestly think it makes Game of Thrones look trite and pandering with its violence because in BSG it feels so very real, and so very linked to the political state of America in the early 2000s. Honestly just a rip-roaring meteor of a show that had its wings clipped by the network. Even so, I still love the ending which is only really bad in the last 20 minutes, and that’s after its made you punch the air, squeal with delight and have a big cry over one of the best on screen relationships ever.

It also feels remiss to not then talk about The Sopranos which is more likely than the X-Files to be the greatest piece of quality TV ever. I wrote about its incredible ending on my blog once, which you can read here and I think Tony Soprano as a character towers above Walter White. It’s one of the greatest TV shows ever for making you feel compassion for this total monster of a man, and it’s also effortlessly cool, complex and smarter than its audience at every conceivable turn. Someone else will no doubt right a better take on it here though.

A left field turn here into animation, as I believe The Legend of Korra is exceptional television that is slept on because its animated. It has one sub-par season with its second narrative arc, but its 100% true gold outside of that. Mature in a way that HBO wishes it could grasp, smart, funny, endearing, and with some of the best and most rational and empathetic villains you’ll find in a “kids show”. It should be dissected and taught in high school without a shadow of a doubt. Anyone that watches this show will become a better person.

As for comedy, I know the greats will get mentioned so I’ll petition for The Thick of It and I’m Alan Partridge*. The former is the smartest and scariest comedy ever (with its heels nipped at by Yes Minister I’d say) an absolute headfuck of political ineptness and spin doctor savagery that I expect many US viewers have seen via the film In the Loop, or Ianucci’s US take on the show, VEEP. Every time people laugh at and extol the cussing of Moviebob and Yahtzee I secretly hope they’ve never seen Malcolm Tucker, so they aren’t confusing the true king of swearing with these useless amateurs. Alan Partridge himself may be the perfect embodiment of the British consciousness, an exasperatingly small minded little man with delusions of grandeur and the ability to put his foot in his mouth endlessly. Steve Coogan and Armando Ianucci have consistently written his character of the space of 20 years and he’s so believable I am not really sure that he hasn’t been magicked into existence by force of will alone. Quick pitstop to give the nod do Nathan Barley, Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place and Brass Eye too for the peak of Brit comedy.

Finally, given the popularity of American Gods right now, lets not ever forget Bryan Fuller’s drug trip, murder husband fever dream that is Hannibal. The bloodiest, artiest, and most ostentatiously lavish show to ever air. A TV show that understands that one half of the word television is vision, and how important visuals are to the creation of a show. The dialogue often falls into inane lampooning and deep referencing of the books but every single frame of this damn show is a work of art designed to shit you up. It’s a delirious delight and it gave Mads Mikkelsen the nudge into the collective eye that he needed because he is human being that is more work of art that flesh and blood. If I could make love to a TV show, it would be this one.

Whew, and breathe! I got a bit carried away and I didn’t even mention Twin Peaks!


#12

Twin Peaks is probably my #1. The blend of surrealism, comedy, horror, and drama is just so much my shit. The second season gets pretty…interesting…for a bit but it comes around to what is one of the best season finales ever. Cautiously excited for the new season.

The Wire is a show I have a lot of fondness for. It has been a long time since I’ve seen it but I still do remember what I liked about it. It’s one of the very best shows out there at just painting complete portraits of characters and the struggles of trying to navigate different spaces and groups within a city. It definitely has some problems but there’s just so much going for it that I can’t not love it.

Spaced is my favorite pure comedy. It’s the rawest thing Edgar Wright has made, it’s him working with like no budget and zero influence or popularity.


#13

Twin Peaks is ace, I adore it, but let me say this as politely as I can… FUCK JAMES.


#14

oh for sure, fuck that guy forever.


#15

My favourite show is Chinese historical epic Nirvana In Fire - it has drama, subtle machinations, ridiculous fight sequences where everyone can fly, beautiful cinematography and costumes ( we’re in a semi-historical imperial court much of the time so everything is silk and everyone is perfectly dressed ), characters that you genuinely care about and a whole lot of humour. It kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the series on the first watch. Second time around you see all the details that tell you what will happen later and then you wonder why you’re choking up. So flipping great.


#16

I love a lot of the shows mentioned in this thread so far, like Battlestar Galactica nouveau, Lost, and DS9, but for me the show that even surpasses those is Babylon 5. Despite being made in the early 90s, the show had a definite, five-season arc planned from the very beginning. Characters and factions have loads of foreshadowing and plot twists that stretch over the course of the entire show. The characters are some of the most memorable in Sci-fi TV history for me, with complexity and nuance that are often surprising. The way each element of the plot works together, it pulls off a storyline that it really has no right to have succeeded with in its audacity. If you enjoy well-written space opera and compelling characters, Bablyon 5 fits that perfectly.

That is not to say it’s without problems, though. It’s honestly super hard to recommend to people, partially because the special effects have aged… pretty poorly. Also, the first season varies between rough and terrible, but sets up a lot of plotlines that come back later in a really effective way.


#17

I will join in the chorus of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It is literally the ultimate television show premise. It allows it you to cover pretty much the entire gamut of human experience, tell just about any story, and have it all still feel like a cohesive whole.

The secret is that it is basically a television first comic book. Buffy is essentially just Spiderman teenager gets great power along with great responsibility and deal with the work, school, and life balance. The plot structure is the same descreet season arcs/runs that build a running continuity. Continuity rewards people for sticking a with it as well helps to elevate later material. It has ability to basically continue indefinitely and end comfortably at any season. I feel that truly takes complete advantage of television as a medium. It even works just as well under the old broadcast and new binge models.

It also makes spin off and sequels very easy. See Angel. My opinion of which is man it has some of the lowest lows of both shows but that last season is hot fire, the best season of television ever.


#18

Season 4 (minus the last 5 episodes) is very, very bad. But worth it for the last season alone imo. I found most of Angel to be very enjoyable.


#19

That is the truth. Getting to watch season 5 of Angel to its fullest enjoy by watching all 7 seasons of Buffy and 4 seasons of Angel is totally worth it. That there is a lot of great television in there is just a bonus really.


#20

For pure campy fun, and the fond memories i had while watching it, looking forward to it every Saturday. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys