Ed from OC

Best TV Series Ever

28 posts in this topic

Which single fictional TV series do you consider to be the best ever, and why? You can judge by purely technical standards (e.g., writing, acting, direction, special effects, production values, humor) or philosophical (i.e., the most consistent with Objectivism, either explicitly or implicitly) or both.

My nominees are:

Twilight Zone

Firefly

24

South Park

X-Files

Twin Peaks

Seinfeld

... and the winner is:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. See this thread for my review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few TV shows I would add to the Ed's list of nominees:

The West Wing (1999)

Mary Tyler Moore (1970)

Hill Street Blues (1981)

Moonlighting (1985)

The Rockford Files (1974)

Perry Mason (1957)

Boston Legal (2004)

The Avengers (1961)

Miami Vice (1984)

Remington Steel (1982)

Veronica Mars (2004)

Hawaii Five-O (1968)

The Sopranos (1999)

The Waltons (1972)

Alias (2001)

Mission: Impossible (1966)

Magnum, P.I. (1980)

Your Show of Shows (1950)

If I had to pick one single TV show that represented the highest overall the art had to offer, I would choose The West Wing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about Star Trek?

I'd have to vote for The West Wing too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For comedies, I'd have to go with:

Futurama

The Simpsons

Seinfeld

Frasier

For sci-fi:

X-Files

Firefly

I only saw a few Sopranos and West Wing's, but I enjoyed them.

Overall:

Futurama has to take the cake for me :( though Frasier is still one of the wittiest shows I've ever seen, and Seinfeld consistently produced the most hilarious and ingenious plots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

House

The Cosby Show

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right now I think Seinfeld is my most favorite. Moonlighting was pretty good!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about Star Trek?

I've enjoyed its several incarnations, but I don't they rose to a high-enough level.

I'd have to vote for The West Wing too.

A man of obvious discriminating taste. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Which single fictional TV series do you consider to be the best ever, and why? You can judge by purely technical standards (e.g., writing, acting, direction, special effects, production values, humor) or philosophical (i.e., the most consistent with Objectivism, either explicitly or implicitly) or both.

... and the winner is:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. See this thread for my review.

Well, Ed knows my vote goes to Buffy, with an unfair advantage over Firefly because of the studio's marketing failure and short-term thinking. I think Firefly could have gone even higher. But Buffy just pushes to places few shows ever go and does it consistently and, almost always, in a startling way.

Buffy showed me what TV could do better than film. I used to prefer movies to TV every time, because they were so much more intense. But you only have a relatively short time, measured in minutes, really, to meet and identify with the characters of a movie. Joss Whedon showed me how a series can develop, deepen, strengthen, and even completely turn around characters that I feel as close to as people I have known all my life. I loved shows like Mary Tyler Moore, Seinfeld, Hooperman, and some others that would carbon date me, but even well-rated dramas like ER hold you at arms length, never getting too close (possibly excepting shows such as Sopranos or Hill Street Blues, but there, the characters were seriously damaged, often rotten to the core, or just off-putting). Of the shows I've enjoyed, only Mash, in its last year or two reached the psychological depths Buffy did by the 2nd season. Buffy is a perfectly integrated mix of humor, pathos, action, long-range plot development. To me, it's all about Joss Whedon and his brilliant writing and directing. Even though many episodes were written by others in his tight-knit team, they have all said that he would guide and review every script and give it his touch and make sure that it worked on all levels. And, ultimately, the thing that makes Buffy so wonderful along is its great sense of life, the clarity of its understanding of the nature of good and evil and its uncompromising stance. Others have pointed out on the Ratings thread just how tough Buffy's decisions often are and how she never evades, never wavers, no matter the short-term cost, no matter how tired or injured or hopeless she might feel. All that in a show that can be so damned funny so much of the time.

I'm also a solid fan of House, but even though it is a heroic, uncompromising, wonderful show, it is much more episodic and the development of the characters, although there is some, is definitely secondary to the problem-of-the-week. Those who like that show should also check out Bones when it comes back on (in reruns on Tuesday Nights at ca. 10pm). It's another show the studio seems to be trying to kill, changing its showtime 2 or 3 times a season, playing it every other week, etc., but the strong acting and competent writing and fascinating forensic problems make it worthwhile.

I thought that, for a single season, the first 24 was one of the most brilliant and successful conceptions I have ever seen. I watched it on DVD and I had to hit pause and take walks every 20' or so, it was so intense. It has had its ups and downs since, but the last season was pretty excellent and I'm still a Jack Bauer groupie. I don't think there is a more uncompromising, relentless, resourceful hero on TV, now.

As bad as the culture gets, it's ironic that there is still so much to love on TV.

... (and then there's Book 7 of Harry Potter coming out next year!!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somehow I thought that was on Ed's original list. My mistake. House certainly belongs on the list, high up among the nominations.

lol, Yeah-- I reread your lists about 5 times before posting it, because I was so surprised by it's omission; I thought I must have been overlooking it. : )

I guess it's like the way you can skip a note in a musical scale, but your ear "hears" it anyway, because it expects the note to be there-- you read a list of Best TV Series Ever and your eye "sees" House, even if it's left out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to confess I've not seen much of most of the shows on Ed's list, with the exception of “The Twilight Zone” and “Seinfeld”. I've watched very little TV over the last few years. I've heard great things about both 24 and Firefly, so I'll have to get around to seeing them.

Here is my tentative list, in no particular order, since I've not gone through this exhaustively.

Banacek

Columbo

Dr Who

Mission Impossible

Perry Mason

Star Trek (first one and TNG)

Law and Order

Seinfeld

Twilight Zone -- good thought, Ed

Highlander

Fawlty Towers

Red Dwarf

MacGyver

I'm sure I'm missing several, but those spring to mind. Okay, well, reading Stephen's list helped me remember a couple. :(

My all time favorite has to be Star Trek. The reason is, because it projects a benevolent universe, where men are in control, very advanced and advancing by use of their rational minds. A world where justice is a high value, and, of course, I love gadgetry and technology and pretty women. It had all of that. The real weakness in the series, I thought, was that it rarely built up drama and tension to high levels. Story lines weren’t as intense as they could have been.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somehow I thought that was on Ed's original list. My mistake. House certainly belongs on the list, high up among the nominations.

That's funny. I thought it was on there, too. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As bad as the culture gets, it's ironic that there is still so much to love on TV.

Actually, I think TV is uniformly better today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, I think TV is uniformly better today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

It's probably the result of the advent of cable TV, which has increase the sheer volume of possible programs so that you have more to choose from. From what I've observed, most of the stuff on is garbage.

About House, it's a good choice too, but I've only seen a couple of episodes, so I didn't want to put it on my list. Btw, Hugh Laurie was also great in Jeeves & Wooster, albeit that was a completely different sort of roll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Actually, I think TV is uniformly better today than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

I haven't watched many TV series since I got involved with the internet almost 20 years ago, so my personal favorites tend to be oldies but goodies. In addition to several shows Stephen has already mentioned, I would add "Have Gun Will Travel" and the great live dramas of the Golden Age of Television of the 50's like Fireside Theater, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lux Video Theater, Kraft Television Theatre, Suspense, and Studio One written by Rod Serling, Paddy Chayevsky, and other first-rate professionals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't watched many TV series since I got involved with the internet almost 20 years ago, so my personal favorites tend to be oldies but goodies. In addition to several shows Stephen has already mentioned, I would add "Have Gun Will Travel" and the great live dramas of the Golden Age of Television of the 50's like Fireside Theater, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lux Video Theater, Kraft Television Theatre, Suspense, and Studio One written by Rod Serling, Paddy Chayevsky, and other first-rate professionals.

Thanks for mentioning "Have Gun, Will Travel", I second that. There was a refreshing straight-forwardness to the shows of this era.

As for modern comedy, I have found myself quite amused with "Everybody Loves Raymond." This show is very much about human psychology. The writers play on Raymond's struggle to get what he wants, and his failure to comprehend the female mind. A classic was his failure to grasp his wife's response to his buying her a book. (To Kill a Mocking Bird)

Seinfeld and Frasier also made comedy from personalities, where the humour is more from who said it, than what was said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

of the 50's like Fireside Theater, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Lux Video Theater, Kraft Television Theatre, Suspense, and Studio One written by Rod Serling, Paddy Chayevsky, and other first-rate professionals.

These were all great and much better than anything I have seen in the last 20 years or so. Most primetime television these days is pap to me. I enjoyed the first "24" series, but could not get into the rest. I know that there are some well written and produced shows, but I can't get past the naturalism or PC themes of most.

I remember these as being very entertaining and well made (some already mentioned).

Gunsmoke

Perry Mason

O. Henry

The Fugitive

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

The Twilight Zone

The Honeymooners

I Love Lucy

The Avengers

Andy Griffith

More recent:

The Sandbaggers

Tour of Duty

Ironside

Roots (the TV special, not the series)

I will never forget certain episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour and the Twilight Zone. Anyone remember the Hitchcock show where the guy was in a paralized in a car wreck, but could hear and see, and was picked up for dead by the ambulance drivers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Bob Newhart Show

Does anyone know where one can buy any of the old shows on DVD?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Bob Newhart Show

Does anyone know where one can buy any of the old shows on DVD?

They are being sold at my local Sam's Club right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(The Fugitive)

I was just about to post this one. :(

The sound tracks for many of the older shows helped to make them great. I recently found a CD of the original music from the Fugitive TV Series, by Pete Rugulo. Rugulo was arranger for such greats as Stan Kenton and Woody Herman.

Rugolo's TV work ranks up with the best of his era. Among the series he scored for were "The Thin Man," "Richard Diamond," "The Stranger," "The Fugitive," "Run for Your Life," "Lie Detector," "Felony Squad," and "Family." He won an Emmy for his scoring work on the rotating doctor-lawyer-adventurer series, "The Bold Ones." He also wrote scores for the films "Glory Alley," "The Strip," "Easy to Love," Jack the Ripper," "The Sweet Ride," and "Everything I Have is Yours."
(from Spacegroup.com)

See: http://www.spaceagepop.com/rugolo.htm

for more on Rugulo and other great Movie & TV composer/arranger/orchestrators.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Bob Newhart Show

Does anyone know where one can buy any of the old shows on DVD?

Deep Discount DVD is always a good place to try first. They do not have as large an inventory as many other sources, but what they do have is usually at nicely reduced prices. I see that right now they have the first four seasons of Bob Newheart, but not Mary Tyler Moore. But several seasons of this latter are available through amazon.com and I am sure most of the other major sources.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I generally don't watch TV comedies because I find the laugh track very annoying. Does anyone else have this problem?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My all-time favorite TV shows are as follows (and my reasons for liking them):

* Cheers (Great writing and acting; good story-lines that kept you watching each week)

* The Odd Couple (Loved how Randall and Klugman played off of each others contrasts—a perfect receipt for comedy: Laurel and Hardy, etc.)

* Moonlighting (Excellent writing that often played on words with much creativity; Bruce Willis played his obnoxious, fast-talking character perfectly)

* Colombo (A sharp-minded detective who appeared absent minded to the murderers who always thought they could outsmart him)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
* Colombo (A sharp-minded detective who appeared absent minded to the murderers who always thought they could outsmart him)

A local station in Southern California has a line-up of all the old shows, like The Rockford Files, Quincy M.E., Banacek, Kojak, etc. And for the past year they have been playing, and replaying, and replaying, all the old Columbo shows. The production values are not very good, but the story and the characters are so wonderful I never tire of seeing an episode yet again. Oh, one more thing ... :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites