Archive for October 23rd, 2009

Following my favourite movies of the decade I have been thinking of my favourite TV shows of the decade.  My only criteria for the list is that the show had to first air during the decade so things that started in the late 90’s like The Sopranos or Family Guy are not included.  Harsh but I had to draw the line somewhere.

1Firefly (2002): Original, inventive and believable sci-fi that owes more to the Western genre than other space set films/shows.  It would be easy to say that as it was cencelled after so few episodes that it didn’t have the chance to lose its way like so many other programs, this may be true but taking it on its own merits and looking at Serenity the spin of film I think it completely deserves its place at the top of the list. 


2Battlestar Galactica (2004 -2009): As a kid I used to love the old Battlestar Galactica then a few years ago I watched the film version (I think it was cobbled together from a couple of TV episodes) on TV on a Sunday afternoon.  It was really bad!  For this reason I didn’t bother watching the new show until last year when I saw a rerun of the pilot on TV. I immediately rented the series on DVD and was hooked watching four seasons in a couple of months.  The themes of life death, religion, politics that are explored in it are far deeper and better handled than in any other TV show I can think of.

 Battlestar Galactica

3Mad Men (2007 – ????): To a casual observer who tuned in half way through an episode Mad Men could come across as a soap-opera, some of the storytelling is similar to a soap but it goes far deeper than that.  The attention to detail is incredible the costumes, sets, the prop are all completely believable but this is only the surface the characters are what makes it brilliant.

 Mad Men

4Life on Mars (2006 – 2007): One of only two British shows on the list.  It works predominately for two reasons: The 1970’s nostalgia and the ambiguity of the time travel/dream whilst in a coma setting.  This lets it operate on two levels as both a great 70’s cop show and an exploration of the differences between then and now.  Like the other British show on the list it proved its quality and appeal by being shown around the world and receiving the American remake treatment.  It also spawned a sequel Ashes to Ashes in 2008.

 Life on Mars

5Heroes (2006 – ????): Dispensing with the costumes of a typical super hero show, heroes deals with realistic people (other than their extraordinary abilities) in recognisable situations.  The crisp sharp images and high quality effects make the show the closest thing TV can offer to cinema.  As is often the case the first season was the best and subsequent seasons have failed to live up to that high standard but it is still going strong and has plenty to offer. 


6Lost (2005 – 2010): At times the most baffling show since Twin Peaks and that is what is so good about it.  The completely ridicules and unbelievable becomes strangely believable and plausible as we see it from another point of view or a flashback tells a back-story. 


7House (2004 – ): If I am completely honest I don’t think House represents first rate groundbreaking TV, it is actually formulaic, repetitive and clichéd.  However it has one thing going for it that elevates it beyond so many other TV shows: a a really good character played to perfection by Hugh Laurie.


824 (2001 – 2010): This show has really lost its way in recent years that could have jeopardised its place on this list but it deserves its place for its originality.  Real-time has been used before in films but to stretch that out into a show that covers an entire 24 hour period was a brilliant idea.  The show also gave us an iconic character in Jack Bauer. 

 Jack Bauer

9The Office (2001- 2003): The other British program on the list.  Shot in a documentary style with a completely deadpan delivery that is often painful to watch.  Re-watching it again it is still as funny and relevant as it was when it first hit the screens eight years ago.

 The Office

10True Blood (2008 – ????): Vampires are really in vogue at the moment but they haven’t always been sucesfull on TV.  Since the end of Buffy and its spinoff Angel the shows Blood Ties and Moonlight have come and gone without much interest but True Blood is different.  Not afraid to target a more adult audience beneath the semi clad (or often naked) bodies the show has something to say.  With vampires recently coming “out off the casket” as they say in the show they work as a metaphor for both race and sexuality, this is emphasised by the southern setting and diverse cast.  And getting an Oscar winning movie star to play the lead doesn’t do any harm.

 True Blood

Special mentions:

Top Gear (2002 – ????): A special mention for a non fiction program.  Top Gear, Re-launched, Rebranded and rebooted in 2002 the program quickly became the best car show on TV that also gained viewers not interested in cars for its comedy value.  With 350 million viewers worldwide the show has become a phenomenon thanks to its bickering and opinionated presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

Two special mentions for shows that I haven’t seen yet.  From their reputation there is a good chance they would have made the list had I seen them.  The Wire (2002 2008) and Deadwood (2004 -2006). 

Three TV Mini-Series that I have enjoyed: Band of Brothers (2001), Generation Kill (2008) and Into the west (2005).


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