Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 20 Television Shows, Part Two (Top Ten TV Series): My favorites of all time

I'm counting down my favorite television series of all time.

10. Tales from the Crypt: One of the first major HBO programs is also one of my favorite shows ever. An anthology series that follows The Crypt-Keeper, a cackling, pun-loving corpse who inhabits an ancient crypt below an old mansion. The Crypt-Keeper tells the viewers a story each episode, usually these episodes feature big-name guest stars (such as Whoopi Goldberg, Demi Moore, Treat Williams, Jeffrey Tambor, and Tim Curry) and popular directors (Robert Zemeckis, Walter Hill, and Richard Donner to name a few, all of which were also producers of the program). The episodes are packed with gore, sex, and over-the-top comic book violence. The terrible jokes told by the Crypt-Keeper serve to ease the viewers before and after the horrific stories are told, just like in the 50's comics the series is inspired by. A fun and darkly humorous show,it's a great show to watch around Halloween, it's the television equivalent of a fun popcorn horror film.

9. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and South Park (tie): I couldn't decide which series to include, but I enjoy them both a lot, so I included them both. The first series from FX chronicles the many misadventures of "The Gang" a small group of dysfunctional and narcissistic friends who can be described as unlikeable, arrogant, idiotic, and mean, but you love watching them hatch stupid schemes and continuously get themselves and others into trouble through their general incompetence and selfishness. The second series needs no introduction: Trey Parker and Matt Stone's genius animated comedy series is now concluding it's 17th season. And there's more where that came from. Their crude, offensive, dark, and satirical series is not only gross and unapologetic, it's also genius satire and lampoons everything about today's culture, from movies, to celebrities, to world politics, to video games, to the way people act in their day-to-day lives, this series is much smarter than it seems, and it takes a certain kind of comedic genius to pull that off.

8. The Walking Dead and American Horror Story (tie): Another tie, this time of horror-related series. I believe I covered these already in my top 10 horror series, so I'll try to not go over them too much again. The first, from AMC, is based on Robert Kirkman's cult comic book series, and follows a group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse in Georgia. Not only is the series unpredictable (it changes many events and characters from the comics), but it is also gory, action-packed, and gut-wrenching in it's brutal depiction of survival at any cost. The second series, from FX, is an anthology series, where each season follows a new cast of characters and a new storyline, usually reusing some of the same actors from previous seasons. Despite only having 2 and a half seasons as of this point, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's dark and twisted vision explores not only supernatural horrors such as witchcraft, ghosts, demons, and zombies, but also real-life horrors such as mental illness, serial killers, and shattered marriages. Both are entertaining and crazy, and are great for fans of horror or fans of great television.

7. Sherlock: In this unique BBC series, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman portray modern day versions of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, who must solve mysteries in London, all while trying to unravel the mystery of who is "Moriarty", and what does he want with them? This series is not only a fantastic watch because you try to solve the mysteries along with the characters, but it's unique because each season only has 3 episodes, but each episode is also an hour and a half long, so each episode is like a short movie. The acting and writing are extremely good, and I'm convinced Freeman and Cumberbatch are one of the best TV duos out there today, and are together one of the best portrayals of Holmes and Watson in the visual medium.

6. Nip/Tuck: Ryan Murphy's medical drama has everything: despicable villains (including a terrifying serial rapist/killer), crazy patients, troubled and conflicted characters, dark drama, some humor, and some surprisingly medically accurate depictions of plastic surgery. Despite the last three seasons slowly decreasing in quality, the entire series is really entertaining, and it really toys with your emotions: one episode you may hate a character the next sympathize with them, the next episode you're back to hating them. The first three seasons are definitely the best, and the series has some great moments. The sad thing: none of the main cast really went anywhere after this, and that's a shame, because they're all good actors.

5. Dexter: In this Showtime series, mild-mannered Dexter Morgan works within the Miami "Metro" Police Department. Dex is a blood-splatter analyst for the forensic unit, but what many of his colleagues don't know is that Mr. Morgan also moonlights as a serial killer who hunts other criminals. This darkly comic and gruesome show may have made some major faults between seasons 5 and 8, but the first four are excellent examples of great television, and won't fail to entertain and enthrall you.

4. Star Trek: This classic Gene Roddenberry series is not only an example of how great a show can be on a shoestring budget, but is also one of the most beloved and influential television shows of all time. I love it because of the fantastic characters and surprisingly good acting, the interesting alien designs, and the well-written storylines. The show's special effects are definitely dated, and some of the acting seems a bit cheesy now, but overall, this series is still thoroughly enjoyable even today.

3. Game of Thrones: Betrayal, war, politics, and secrecy are the name of the game in D.B. Weiss and David Benioff's acclaimed and highly addictive HBO series, based off the bestselling fantasy series by George R.R. Martin. This series not only has a fantastic all-star cast, excellent special effects, ingenius writing, and an epic musical score, but is also one of the best shows on television. While the plot can get confusing at times, as there are so many characters and storylines to keep track of, it is one of the most intriguing tales of deception and betrayal ever put to the small screen. If politics and rich history isn't your cup of tea, there's enough bloody battles, brutal fights, graphic nudity, and cool and mysterious creatures to keep your interest. It's also one of the most ballsy show on cable, as, just like the novels it's based on, it has the guts to kill not only popular characters, but countless innocents (including children and infants) in gruesome and/or disturbing ways. Amedieval fantasy story of epic proportions, Game of Thrones is one of the best HBO shows of all time, and, not only that, one of the best series ever put on television. It's the television equivalent of Tolkien's Middle-Earth.

2. The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's classic anthology series is not only one of the most influential series of all time, but is one of the greatest series of all time, in any genre. In fact, the series tackles everything from straightforward horror, to science fiction, fantasy, drama, and some comedy, too. Another series where each episode had an all-star cast, the program is one of the eeriest shows ever put to the small screen, and was way ahead of it's time. Serling also was one of the first writers in Hollywood to really tackle issues of racism and anti-war activism in a realistic and compassionate way, something he had to fight tooth-and-nail with the producers and sponsors to do.A scary, sometimes touching, show, The Twilight Zone is a timeless classic of television, as well as a classic of sci-fi and horror fiction.

I had to draw the line at some point, here are my honorable mentions:

The Wire, Battlestar Galactica (both versions), Batman Beyond, Luther, Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Invader Zim, Dragonball Z, One Piece, Cowboy Bebop, The Sopranos, Hemlock Grove, Modern Family, Arrested Development, Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Eastbound and Down, The Big Bang Theory, The Outer Limits, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Shield, Rescue Me, How I Met Your Mother, Hawaii Five-O (both versions), House of Cards, Air Wolf, The A-Team, The Green Hornet, Batman (1966), X-Men, Orange is the New Black, Lilyhammer, All in the Family, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Knight Rider, Lost in Space, Northern Exposure, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Futurama, American Dad, In Living Color, Carnivale, The Following, CSI, Law & Order, Friends, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Freaks and Geeks, Top Gear, Fawlty Towers, Archer, Suits, Burn Notice, The Daily Show, Psych, Monk, Murder She Wrote, The Colbert Report, Chappelle's Show, Black-Adder, Kids in the Hall, Whitest Kids U Know, Spaced, Mystery Science Theater 3000, Community, Chuck, The IT Crowd, Twin Peaks, Rome, Oz, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Downton Abbey, I Love Lucy, The X-Files, Supernatural, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Bridge, Low Winter Sun, Spartacus, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Dark Shadows.

Here it is... the #1 pick

1. Breaking Bad: Is it really a surprise? Although I had to power through the first season and a half, and though for a little while "When is this gonna pick up? How can people like this boring piece of shit?" But then, as soon as I hit the finale of season two, it really picked up and has become my all-time favorite television program. This addictively good and extremely well-written and tense crime drama follows the rise and fall and transformation of Walter White from kindly and awkward high school chemistry teacher and family man into the cold-hearted and ruthless drug kingpin we know and love. It shows how the choices he makes affect his life and the lives of those around him, and it's not only a thrilling story, but ultimately a very tragic one, as his life and the lives of those he cares about gradually fall to pieces around them due to his actions. The tension between characters builds and builds towards the grand finale in the fifth and final season, and the final three episodes are some of the most suspenseful and intense ever put to television. Vince Gilligan's creation isn't just brilliant, it's a modern masterpiece of crime fiction. The greatest crime drama on television since The Wire.

What do you the readers, think of the list, and what series do you love the most?

(Images: Wikipedia)
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