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The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results!

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The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:28:16 PM  1 votes

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
And so with much trepidation and excitement the results are in. Your votes have been tallied, totalled and totted up, the numbers have been counted, checked over, recounted and verified by an independent adjuticator. Over the past three months we’ve had over one hundred votes and well over four hundred shows nominated. We’ve had everything from soap operas, sports shows and extensive documentaries to Pokemon, Baywatch and Richard Whiteley’s pride and joy. The battle to make the top 100 has been just as interesting as the battle of the behemoths at the top. At this point I must thank Your Funny Uncle who has been doing a sterling job counting alongside me and preventing me from fixing a surprise win for Cheers. In some circles we’ve been called the Starsky and Hutch and the Morcambe and Wise of Forum Polls such is the brilliance of our counting. But we’re far more good looking and funny.

I must also thank all the blurb contributors. They’ve done a great job making this such an interesting read rather than just a boring list of results. Not that it would be that boring, I’m sure all of you have been on the edge of your seats since those early days in July waiting to see who the forum would vote into the top spot. There’s still a few shows in need of blurbs and a few I’ve borrowed from the 2006 results, so if you’d like to write a blurb for one of these PM me.

Finally i'd like to thank you the voters for giving us such a great array of shows both in the top 100 and the contenders that didn't make it. Without the forum members there would be no poll at all.

So without further ado I present to you The Forum’s Top 100 TV Shows 2009…

(Please refrain from posting until all 100 are listed)

< Message edited by Rinc -- 11/10/2009 11:05:44 PM >


No spoilers please:

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Post #: 1
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:28:39 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
100. Edge of Darkness (NE)

Quite simply the greatest piece of TV. Ever.

Starring the sadly departed BAFTA winning Bob Peck (demonstrating here that he was one of our best actors, tracking the path from grief to losing his mind), the mini-series followed the investigations of a bereaved father, a police inspector, on the trail of his environmentalist daughter's killers. Via the sublime double act of Pendleton and Harcourt (Charles Kay and Ian McNeice) and eccentric CIA agent Darius Jedburgh (Joe Don Baker), he follows the twists and turns of an often slowly-paced but never less than compelling complex narrative, never bettered on TV.

The show was made at a time of some paranoia worldwide, particularly wrt the nuclear threat. Shows like Threads had recently made it onto TV. The show exemplified that pessimism.

Martin Campbell got his career from this – the style is hauntingly bleak and you are unlikely to finish watching without tears. There is some argument over whether Campbell or writer Troy Kennedy Martin was responsible for the key idea of having Craven 'haunted' by his daughter, played by Joanne Whalley (this and The Singing Detective the next year took her to Hollywood) – but the idea, perhaps not that good on paper, works wonderfully on screen as a demonstration of Craven's crumbling hold on reality.

The show contains many memorable sequences with perhaps the most so being the eccentric Jedburgh deciding to take his own measure of vengeance – as he stands at the front of the hall before the man ultimately responsible for Emma's death and brings his hands together. After wandering about with plutonium in a Harrods bag. Watch it – no more spoilers.

This show had it all – a superb cast, a masterful script – part thriller, part political analysis with a deeply moving take on grief and how it affects us (helped poignantly by a soundtrack featuring Clapton), a unique style thanks to superb direction from Campbell and an environmental message still relevant today.

99. Stargate SG-1 (54)

A show that was a spin off from a movie, lasting 10 seasons and spawning 2 spin off shows of its own? Unlikely but Stargate SG-1 pulled it off. The show while highly popular often gets bad press, and there are episodes where that negativity is justified (i'm looking at you 'Emancipation', yes 'Space Race' you're getting stared at too) but the show can pull out some amazing episodes, 'Windows Of Opportunity' 'Heroes', 'Lifeboat', 'Camelot' to name just a few.

The actors involved all do a fine job with what they're given too, all involved give a sterling performance and Richard Dean Anderson underplays the role perfectly.And looking at Chris Judge when he is out of character you can tell how great an actor he is to play Teal'c the way he does.
Credit has to be given too for the way the show was revitalised at the start of it's 9th season, new characters, new enimies was a risky move that I feel paid off beautifully. A show being cancelled after its 10th season shouldn't be a particularly sad thing, it's a dream run but it's a testament to the show that 10 seasons wasn't nearly enough

Credit must also be given for the effects used, while they can look hokey especially in the early episodes as the show progresses so do the visuals. Some of which are staggeringly good. Need proof, watch the last 15 minutes of Camelot ... nuff said.

98. Soccer Saturday (NE)
(1998- )

A Saturday afternoon football show with no football, only a bunch of inerudite ex-footballers looking at screens and telling us what is happening in the top 100 I hear you say! Not only that but the BBC does Final Score which is pretty much the same show, so why is this so deserving of a place? Well there is one main reason but I'll start with the other ones. This is essential viewing for football fans with a Saturday afternoon off with all the games, scores and all the happenings in football are brought to us by ex-professionals describing the games with passion, rage, ecstasy and incredulity. Is there anything more exciting for a fan to hear there's been a goal at their game? Not only that we also get previews and discussions on all the big games and issues and if we're lucky they get into arguments, even retired the passions of being a footballer don't leave them. Pundits such as Paul Merson and Phil Thompson are always good value for their bias and stupidity whilst reporters at the games go mad with excitement to tell us what is happening. Chris Kamara may well be a laughing stock for his overexcitement and his ability to say anything is 'Unbelievable Jeff!' but fans wouldn't swap him for the world. And so to Jeff. Jeff Stelling. Older viewers now know him from Countdown but this is a man who can make the dullest football score sound exciting. He presents with charm and wit, easily segueing from a titanic battle at the top of the Premier League to a nil nil draw in the conference and yet making every match as important as each other. He handles the egos and opinions with applomb and shows a knowledge of the game few pundits can match. There's not a football fan around who doesn't like this man. Not just the best football presenter on the box but the best presenter full stop.

=96. The World At War (NE)

When earlier this year I was looking for an in depth World War II documentary to watch I considered this, but the extreme length was putting me off - it's over 22 hours for god's sake! I even started a thread asking what documentary I should watch and was pointed towards this; subconsciously I suppose I wanted to be. It's a scary prospect; 26 episodes, the extremely long running time, it's from the 70s and probably dated. And yet within one episode I knew I was watching the most comprehensive and definitive World War II documentary there will ever be. Make no mistake this will never be topped, not only because of the fantastic structure and brilliant telling of the war, but also because of the fascinating archive footage and interviews from the people that were there. It is these interviews that really make the show, first hand accounts that vary from brilliantly informative and insightful to truly heartbreaking. Try watching the interview with the woman who had no choice but to tell a Jewish family to leave her house because it could endanger a plan to assassinate Hitler and later heard they had gone to a concentration camp and not have to stifle tears. Or try not to be mesmerised as Albert Speer and Lord Mountbatten recount the war.

If another World War II documentary, or war documentary come to think of it, ever tries to match the depth of information then they have an almost impossible task on their hands. For a war that engulfed so much of the globe and involved so many nations The World At War does an astonishing job in covering so many of these aspects. There is barely a stone that is left unturned and all the while the information offered is never overbearing. It also doesn't shrug its duty in telling it how it was. As a British production it could have easily left out the details of the mistakes and blunders Churchill, the government and the armed forces made. But instead the programme gave these calamities the time they deserved and doesn't serve as a patriotic or partisan device but instead a tremendous example of objective documentary making. The turning of the war and the examples of the times either side could have ended it are explained with sincerity, never delving into hyperbole or cheap tricks.

On the surface, with it's grim credits, score and seriously serious Laurence Olivier voiceover, it may seem too weighty, too self important, but that is far from the truth. Instead it emphasises the true significance of the war, the way it redefined the world and changed nations and people forever. Truly the greatest documentary series ever produced.

=96. Big Brother (NE)
(2000- )

Is there a more hated show that is so popular? Not that it's that popular anymore with next year being it's last on Channel 4. But in its 10 years this show has generated more fanaticism, controversy and newspaper coverage than any other show. Whilst some people became so addicted they watched all night footage of sleeping housemates others bemoaned its bad influence on television making and standards. There is no doubt it has had a disappointing influence on television, a hundred spin offs and copycats sprang up soon after airing, television makers realising reality television was a ratings hit but also very cheap to make. But it is the original reality show and one that has at times made brilliant television. Who can forget Nasty Nick being outed in series 1? Or 'fight night' in series 5? And of the housemates Jade, Victor, Marcus and many others have provided moments of brilliance. Like most reality shows it relies on there being several detestable characters, arguments, jealousy and grudges have made this show and media coverage has sometimes been excessive because of this. The inevitable controversies from having so many characters in a confined house; bullying, fighting, sex, have brought condemnation from many, but the voyeuristic nature of any reality show is at its utmost with BB and it's almost 24 hour coverage. It's hard not to be drawn in to the day to day life of these people, to see who is getting on with who, and who is upset with who. You root for people and want others to fall, but within moments of an argument your opinions can change. The show as a whole perhaps says something about our society, not only that we enjoy watching others in their most private and vulnerble moments, but that we like to see them humiliated. It's not the nicest of television and it's certainly not the cleverest, but it is exactly what television producers want. It's utterly addictive.

95. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (NE)

The day has already come when a certain generation remember Will Smith for his blockbuster movies rather than as a rapper and tv star. For them his other media interests were just a precursor, a learning curve for megastardom. They were a learning curve of course, but for a large proportion of people he will always be the Fresh Prince. Whilst his rap career during the eighties brought him success, from 1990 onwards his television career brought him widespread attention and popularity. Mainly comedy it had surprisingly dramatic elements, often it could be moralising but occasionally it could tug on the heartstrings as well as any drama. When it was funny it was very funny. Never afraid to mock itself or its star man, it was so self aware it could even have Will Smith winking at the camera and telling his Aunt Vivian she looked different when the actress playing her had changed. Will's big ears were a constant source of amusement but not as much as his escapades which highlighted his fish out of water scenario. Will got himself and his family into so much trouble it's a wonder they didn't throw him out. Permanently.

Of course Smith was ably abetted by a brilliant supporting cast. From the sweet Tatyana Ali as his younger impressionable cousin, Karyn Parsons as the self obssessed Hilary, to James Avery as the monstrous but deeply caring Uncle Phil and Joseph Marcell as the dismissive English butler. But the star support was the brilliant Alfonso Ribeiro. As Carlton he often stole the show, being an annoying, big headed but geeky counterpart to Will's cool, was quite enough, but his 'Carlton dance' now surely stands alongside the Charleston in great American dances. Carlton could never contain his love of Tom Jones and would launch into a dance of the most geekly proportions. Much to the hilarity of everybody watching. Enjoy.

94. This Life (NE)
(1996-1997 & 2008)

It's rare when one off specials of shows long finished work well and This Life is no exception. The 2008 special was a poor post-modern attempt to recapture the spirit of the two original nineties series. The characters had turned into cliches, arguments and breakdowns were resolved and created in too short a time, and basically nobody was that likeable. So for the moment let's completely forget This Life + 10 as it was so imaginatively called.

The two original series followed the lives and troubles of five trainee solicitors and barristers in a London houseshare. Egg and his girlfriend Milly, so dissatisfied he abandons his law a career and a high flyer with designs on her boss respectively. Miles and Anna who's firey relationship causes problems wherever they are, and Warren, the gay man with the inevitable problems of coming out. In the second series he was replaced by Ferdy, but for once in a television series nothing was lost with the replacement of a main character. Credit for this must go to the writers, all the characters were well drawn and totally believable, whilst the controversial subject matters – drugs, sex, homosexuality, AIDs etc – were dealt with realistically and avoided the paint by numbers approach to issues that most other television did. It is a series that belongs to the nineties, perhaps that's why the reunion didn't work, it tackled problems in society that people wanted to hear about but all the while the characters were people you knew and people you rooted for. The writers also knew when to leave well alone, and with the end of the second series they abandoned plans for a new series in the house with different characters, and at the same time the ambiguity of the five protagonists left the viewers to decide what happened (for 11 years anyway).

93. Phoenix Nights (78)

Ah, yes. The good old days of the early noughties, "when Peter Kay was funny”. I pine for those days, with nary a misjudged X Factor spoof or shameless cash-in DVDs in sight. And chief among the reasons we couldn't get enough of the Bolton funny man – Phoenix Nights. Simultaneously a piss-take of and affectionate love song to Clubland – a mythical place of Right Said Fred Tribute acts, competing club owners and bingo nights. Full credit goes not only to Kay, (his Brian Potter is a work of shrill, caustic genius), but also to fellow co-stars and co-writers Dave Spikey and Neil Fitzmaurice. Their glaring omission on the writing credits for the vastly inferior Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere is a telling indication of their input to Phoenix Nights. And it's in the writing that this Phoenix soars (sorry…). From the cast of assorted grotesques that frequent the Phoenix Club to the pin-sharp dialogue that never fails to raise a chuckle on repeated viewings, not forgetting the ability to squeeze some genuinely feel-good moments out and you have the recipe for the perfect sitcom, so hilarious, irreverent and heart warming that they should offer it on the NHS.

Now then, about that oft-promised 3rd series…

92. Cracker (NE)

Not too many people would disagree that when it comes to crime dramas, US TV stands head and shoulders over the UK. But one UK drama is as good as anything to come from America and that is Cracker - ironically, it's a remake that crashed and burned when the US attempted its own version.

I'd argue part of the reason the remake failed is because it's not just a criminal procedure drama. It's a drama about the tragedy of a failing society, and a uniquely British one at that. It's never a whodunnit, it's always a whydunnit, and the why's are never a convoluted plan for revenge from some sadistic nut (like, say, the killers in Messiah), but always as a tragic consequence from the fall out of a Tory Britain.

The best scripts - nearly always by Jimmy McGovern - are unashamedly leftie in politics, but so searingly brilliant that they grip, regardless of political allegiance. You forgot just how good Robbie Coltrane is as Fitz - it's hard to believe that this is Hagrid we're watching here, as a chain-smoking, gambling, boozing, adulterous, but quite, quite brilliant psychologist. But the whole cast is excellent - Barbara Flynn as his long-suffering wife, Judith; Christopher Eccleston as the fiery and ambitious chief DI Billborough; Ricky Tomlinson as Wise, his grouchy replacement; Geraldine Somerville as Penhaligon (Panhandle), the female officer fighting sexism and her growing attraction to Fitz; and last, but certainly not last, Jimmy Beck (Lorcan Cranitch) the increasingly unhinged police officer who is in need of as much help as any of Fitz's patients.

It's interesting that reading those descriptions, it sounds like a bag of cliches - but it never feels that way. That, again, is down to the outstanding scripts - most notable of all, of course, is To Be A Someone. Dealing with the horrendous fall out of the Hillsborough disaster, setting off a chain of events that would have a tragic ending for pretty much every character involved, demonstrating just how tense and scary McGovern's writing could be, one of the most memorable and shocking character deaths ever and Robert Carlyle's mesmerising performance as the unhinged Albie Kinsella. It's three hours of the best UK drama ever - terrifying and terribly, terribly sad all at the same time.

The last episode of the original run, set in Japan, and a one-off comeback a few years ago, sadly failed to reclaim the magic - mainly because the detailed arcs of characters like Billborough, Beck and Penhaligon had run their course. The rest of it however is as incindiary, controversial and brilliant as UK television gets.

91. The IT Crowd (NE)
(2006- )

Set pre-dominantly in the IT department of Renholm Industries but also occasionally arcing out to the main offices and surrounding city the IT crowd coming up to its 4th Season in 2010 has continued to maintain a cult-like audience and its easy to see why.
Go back to February 2006 where the 6 episode first season was shown on Channel 4 but in a way to make the viewer even more interested you had the opportunity to watch the next weeks episode on the Channel 4 website straight after that weeks episode had aired. The show originally focused around new IT manager Jen (Katherine Parkinson) trying to manage her lethargic staff of Roy (Chris O'Dowd), Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Richmond (Noel Fielding) whilst hiding the fact she knows nothing about computers, over the next 2 seasons the writers have continues to keep the storyline fresh and new whilst making sure there's plenty of comedy moments to laugh at and including enough 'pop-culture references' to keep it hip for the kids.
However the reason the show works is because although there are some outrageous storylines and moments in the show, it bases on experiences that most people have probably experienced from a technical helpline or office life in their lifetimes, be it being told to turn the computer off and on again, to the guy who always makes an excuse to perv over the more attractive girls in the office, or the boss who doesn't quite understand anything but still wants to jump on all the latest crazes, the viewer regularly got the slightly uneasy feeling that they'd been there before and laughing at the similarities they saw with their own world.
Now coming into its 4th Season and with a Christmas special being rumoured to be hitting our screens this December it'd be hard to think that this show is going to be going anywhere soon, and that'd be a good thing.

90. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (68)
(2004- )

Never has a show been more criminally overlooked in my view than Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.  With the exception of perhaps Babestation's top 50 Gingers Countdown.  The premise of a long forgotten show finally getting its airing on national TV seems plausible. The famous quote about This Is Spinal Tap: "Why make a documentary about a band nobody's ever heard of?” where people believed that Spinal Tap were a real band, works for this show too. As this was never aired and of course was never a real show anyway.  Yet you could be given for thinking so.  

The 80s is a pretty easy target for parody.  Take your pick from the music, fashion, politics and of course, television.  Darkplace seems very familiar yet it's unlike anything that ever made it to air.  Everything from the theme tune, with its overuse of synths and keyboards, to the awful dialogue, poor dubbing and wooden acting, and not to mention the shoddy special effects, is delivered pitch-perfectly.   

Garth himself is based on a horror writer in the schlock mould with a back catalogue of "chillers” such as best-selling classics Black Fang, Afterbirth and Slicer.  He stars as the show's maverick doctor and general authority on the occult and co-creator of the series with his publisher, Dean Learner. The interspersing of present day interviews are some of the highlights as the majority of the cast (2 out of the 3 still alive or not presumed dead) still truly believe that it's a ground-breaking show and the reasoning behind its non-commission being that it was "too radical” and "too subversive, too dangerous, too damn scary”.  Garth introduces the episodes with a reading from one of his books and the first episodes begins with this piece of literary genius from the aforementioned Slicer: "Something was pouring from his mouth. He examined his sleeve. Blood!? Blood. Crimson copper-smelling blood, his blood. Blood. Blood. Blood....And bits of sick.”  

Each episode deserves its own review but I'm afraid I don't have the time, space or wordsmith gene like Marenghi does to do them justice. I'm not Jesus Christ.  I've come to accept that now.   It never quite got the backing it deserved from Channel 4 but it found its audience on DVD and is an endlessly quotable cult-show-about-a-cult-show-that-never-existed  If you've never seen it then I urge you to sit "uncomfortably” be it on your sofa, armchair or beanbag…if that's how you choose to live your life, and watch what is quite possibly the most significant televisual event since Quantum Leap 


89. The A-Team (67)

There are two things from my childhood that stand out about The A-Team. There was a bench in our school playground that we pretended was The A-Team van. I was Hannibal, my friend James (the hard kid) was BA, Andrew was Face and Adam (because he was funny) was Murdoch. Any girls we could get to play would be the love interests and any other boys the villains. It was a fantastic game before things like Royal Rumble took over. The other memory I have is that I was banned from watching it. Banned from watching one of my favourite shows. Can you believe it! It was something to do with me going absolutely mental after every episode, I'd go so mad my parents couldn't control me. And it's not surprising really. Afterall the intro was enough to get anyone excited:

In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team.

Of course once you get past the brilliant intro you get action and ingenuity aplenty. The A-Team's ability to build anything when needed, such as a tank or a gun, from any old junk during a musical montage is legendary, the sort of stuff boys up and down the land dream of doing. They are able to escape any situation and out shoot any foe during the usual gunfight finale. It's something you don't notice when you're a kid but barely anyone gets hurt let alone killed during the fights, and yet The A-Team always wins the day and the villains are defeated.

The best thing about the show is The A-Team themselves. Not only are all four funny in their own way but they are all distinctive enough so that there is something for everyone. I always loved Hannibal because he was the leader and he came up with the plans. And whilst machine guns were the done thing during the gun battles, Hannibal could always be seen with just a handgun held in his gloved hands. BA became the best known of the team, the hard guy mechanic who is a softie at heart and afraid of flying. His mohawk hair and jewellery became as iconic as his attitude and his relationship with Howling Mad Murdoch brought many laughs. Finally Face brought us the charm and way with women that men aspire to. The writers did a fantastic job of creating four characters from the four facets of an action hero that boys aspire to; leadership, toughness, comedy and charm. And they together with their van, the action and ingenuity made one hell of a programme. To paraphrase Hannibal:

I love it when a brilliant show comes together.

88. State of Play (NE)

Following the death of a politician's aide and the resulting cover-up we follow the newspaper investigation lead by the politician's old friend. Following, inevitably, the money, we get a wider view of the activities of the newsroom led by the forceful and quite wonderful Bill Nighy.

Where up until State of Play the benchmark reference for political thrillers on TV was Edge of Darkness, those of shorter memories now refer to this taut thriller from Paul Abbott as the type of TV they should aspire to, and with good reason. And many have failed in its wake – The Last Enemy, The State Within, e.g. they can't match Abbot's brilliant writing or the central double act of 2 of our best actors – David Morrissey and John Simm. In fact the cast generally is a pretty impressive role call of British talent – Bill Nighy, James McAvoy and Kelly McDonald are more likely to be seen on the cinema screen. Philip Glenister is now a TV icon thanks to Life on Mars. Polly Walker and Marc Warren instantly recognisable.

Arguably the real star is Abbot's writing – one of the most gifted scribes in the business, many of those who took part had or would make impressions in his other shows. Shameless gave McAvoy the lift to Hollywood; Glenister became a fixture in Clocking Off. It is only a pity that he seems to have taken a step back from writing to encourage others – and Shameless clearly shows what he brings to the screen. Where his dialogue was biting and, most importantly, natural – it was what people said and they way they said it – the newer writers are stilted and structured. People give speeches, they don't talk. And Abbot's characters talk. Not only a gift, but rare.

Overlooked at Bafta for the lesser Charles II, the main controversy was the omission in Best Actor – clearly deciding they couldn't use everyone from a single series only Morrissey and Nighy got nominated, when Simm was clearly both the star and gave the best performance, central to the show. Something Nighy made clear when he, rightly, criticised Bafta from the stage after winning the award.

A taut and brilliantly performed political thriller that set new standards for the genre. Don't waste your money on the film – watch this instead.

87. Michael Palin Documentaries (NE)
(1989- )

Travel documentaries had always tended to be a niche genre with quite a linear history. David Attenborough's early documentaries such as Zoo Quest were some of the first televisual forays into bringing different countries to the British living room, and from 1959 Alan Whicker's Whicker's World programmes were also very popular, mixing footage of the presenter as harassed tourist with interviews with relevant characters of the areas he was visiting.

However in the 80s the BBC decided to try a new format of travel documentary. They wanted to recreate the classic Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days, and have the presenter try to circumnavigate the globe using only modes of transport available to the novel's protagonist, Phileas Fogg. Air travel was out - trains and boats in. Whilst Michael Palin now seems like the most obvious and natural choice, he was actually the BBC's 4th choice, following Alan Whicker (fair enough), journalist Miles Kingston, and Noel Edmonds (wtf???). But the comedian proved to be the programme's making, providing such an amiable travel companion that more often than not it is his company that keeps you interested rather than where he actually is. This is most notable in the famous Dhow episode, where the entire episode is spent on board an Indian dhow sailing across the Arabian sea - there is nothing to be seen but the tiny boat and endless sea, but it is the banter and growing friendship between Palin and the Indian crew, despite cultural and language differences, that is absolutely enthralling.

The success also lies in the programmes format - like Whicker before him he is shown as a harassed tourist which adds a touch of realism and spontaneity, all the time providing a humorous and insightful narrative. His charm and wit are ever present when talking to locals, and it is these factors that made ensured the success of his next travelogues.

It was difficult to see how a follow-up could work, seeing as the main concept of the Around the World was obviously that it was based on the travels set out in the book. But with Pole to Pole they based the trip down the 30 degree east line of longitude, taking him through parts of Europe and through Africa. Again the series was informative, interesting and eminently watchable, and also a bit more political given the situations of some of the countries he travelled through - just after leaving the Soviet Union he discovers that Gorbachev has been overthrown, which ultimately led to the collapse of the country.

Each series then followed a similar concept - Full Circle saw him travelling round the Pacific Rim, in Sahara he travelled round the Sahara desert, in my own personal favourite Himalaya he travelled through the erm, Himalayas (the titles got less and less imaginative!), and in his last major one he travelled through Eastern Europe. Being of an advanced age now it is likely that he won't do any more major series, which is sad in a way but it is hard not to envy someone who made a career out of travelling.

It is easy to see the legacy of the series. Travel documentaries are quite commonplace on BBC now, with some excellent ones including Simon Reeve's Equator and Tropic of Capricorn, and Bruce Parry's Amazon. Using the comedian as travel presenter has been recently used to some success with Paul Merton's India and China series, and Stephen Fry's series about America. And there are also travel channels on Sky dedicated to playing endless hours of travel documentaries with various annoying presenters. He has been credited with inspiring people to visit more exotic and far flung destinations. I can personally vouch for this because as a direct result of being a fan of the series whilst growing up, I am now something of a traveller and have visited many of the countries featured on the programmes. In this way this series has probably had more effect on me as a person than any other show on tv.

86. My Name Is Earl (56)
(2005- )

Spanning 4 seasons My Name is Earl is one of those weird anomalies...... an awesome show that gets cancelled for no apparent reason. Perhaps the biggest name in the shows that got cut in the last rounds of US Television Networks picking up shows for their Autumn (or Fall) Season, the show had what could be classed as a unique storyline – basically you had Earl (Jason Lee), a no-hoper who happens to win big on a scratch-card but ends up in hospital seconds later and after seeing Carson Daly on TV decides that the reason his life has gone down the pan is because of Karma and to get everything back on track he'll need to write a list of everything bad he's done and go see everyone he's wronged and do what he can to make it better. A simple premise that then leads to each week being a completely different storyline, each delivered with a wry sense of humour that has the viewer giggling away the whole way through the show.
Alongside Earl there was a supporting cast of his brother Randy (played by Ethan Suplee), his ex-wife Joy (played by Jaime Pressley, Joy's new husband Crab-Man (played by Eddie Steeples) and the maid at the Hotel that Earl lives at Cataline (played by Nadine Valazquez) and the cast itself are a big factor into why this show is viewed as such a good show, each character is someone you can easily connect with and care about what happens to them.
As the series continued on the writers included more storyline arcs to keep the viewer interested and also introduce more characters to the sidelines including a big change at the start of Season 3 where Earl found himself in jail where he still tries to do jobs on his list but obviously with a lot more restrictions than he did in previous shows, on top of this you had the mystery behind Crab-Man's past that wasn't revealed until the 19th episode of season 4 where it is revealed that he was a secret agent, all of these episodes again make for a good show.
However as stated earlier the show was shockingly not picked up for a fifth season which left the fans all the more frustrated by the 'To Be Continued...' ending of season 4, there's always hope that it'll get another season but at the minute no-one can say for sure.

85. Mad Men (NE)
(2007- )

Since it's debut in 2007, the cult appeal of AMC's Mad Men has been difficult to pin down. It's obsessively accurate depiction of 60s Manhattan showcases an America in it's final days of youthful innocence and casual, occasionally shocking racism, sexism and homophobia, yet while nostalgia is the key element to the show, showcased to stunning effect in the climax of the first season finale, it also enjoys incredibly sharp and perceptive writing, beautiful art direction and photography and uniformly brilliant performances from it's exceptionally talented cast. For anyone out of the loop, the show centres on Donald Draper, the creative director of New York ad agency Sterling Cooper, played by stunning effect by Jon Hamm. Draper appears on the surface the perfect embodiment of the American dream, a high flying career matched by a loving and supportive family. Yet beneath the surface lies a tortured soul, struggling to leave behind his past and constantly seeking meaningless sexual encounters. The supporting ensemble, from Elisabeth Moss's occasionally naïve yet surprisingly gifted Peggy Olson to Vincent Kartheiser's ambitious yet vulnerable Pete Campbell, equip themselves admirably, each one being assisted by a believable arc that grants the viewer a strong emotional connection, and allows for a deliberately paced yet absorbing plot that never feels forced or artificial. The second season offers a broader scope, focusing more on the deteriorating state of the character's home lives, and as such feels more complete as a piece of work. Along with every other discerning TV viewer, I await the arrival on our shores of season 3 with gleeful impatience. And what man, Salvatore Romano aside, wouldn't want to spend a working day ogling Christina Hendricks?

< Message edited by elab49 -- 20/10/2009 1:39:38 PM >


No spoilers please:

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:28:58 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
84. The Twilight Zone (NE)
(1959-1964 & 1985-1989)

'You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone'

Quite possibly the most famous introduction to any TV series (even though they changed it every season) The Twilight Zone also begins with quite possibly the most famous theme music of all time. The music has become world-famous, a few bars used time and time again in other shows to indicate something weird is happening. Scenes from certain episodes are recognisable to people who haven't even seen the original shows. Even the title of the show has entered the common language. The Twilight Zone is quite possibly the dictionary definition of an iconic television series.

But was it really as great as its reputation suggests? For the most part, yes. There are some negative aspects, as with other anthology shows throughout history, they're always a mixed bag. Another flaw is that Rod Serling was often too fond of the melodramatic and the sentimental. The Twilight Zone was at its best when it was at its darkest. Also, at one point they lengthened the episodes to an hour long and the material often felt stretched to breaking point.

So with those criticisms in mind, why is it a top 100 show? Because the amazing stuff completely overwhelms the poor episodes. Some of the greatest actors of the era worked on the show, as did some of the finest writers, and this really shines through in the quality of numerous episodes. Watch episodes like The Howling Man, The Eye Of The Beholder or Where Is Everybody? for some of the finest tele-fantasy ever created. Watch Time Enough At Last for a heartbreaking Burgess Meredith performance. Hell, watch them all.

83. Smallville (66)

Smallville focuses on Clark (Tom Welling) as a teenager, showing him as he slowly realizes who he is and who he will become, as well as developing some amazing abilities along the way. Smallville also shows the life of his soon-to-be nemesis, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) and his ongoing struggle with the darkness inside of him. So far, over the five seasons, there has been a gradual and inevitable deterioration between Clark and Lex, with many hints and visions being thrown at the viewer as to what their futures hold.

The rest of the characters are essentially supporting cast to this main storyline. Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk) is the love of Clark's life, and yet there are constant trust issues due to Clark's secret. Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) is fantastic as the upcoming reporter, who always saves the day. Other characters include the intriguing Lionel Luthor (John Glover), the lovely Martha and Jonathon Kent (Annette O' Toole and John Schneider), with the eventual appearance of Lois Lane (Erica Durance).

Although Smallville doesn't always follow Superman lore, it still remains fantastic viewing, all adding up to an exciting and interesting chapter in the Superman story.
AgentGoth (Borrowed from the 2006 results)

82. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (NE)

There is a moment at the end of the first episode of TTSS when we begin to realise the nature of the man we’re watching. Smiley has put up with an old duffer, intelligently lamented the state of his life with Peter and now been dragged to a secure location to hear the tale of Ricky Tarr. Banter back and forth tells us his history with Ricky – a glib scalphunter interviewed by Smiley over a decade back. But Ricky is clearly testing Smiley – his life is in the hands of these men. Is the spymaster he remembers from all that time ago past it?

The questioners take their places facing Ricky – Smiley in the center. The distracted but genial, almost paternal ‘former’ spy takes off his glasses and wipes them, puts them back on. And looks up. A different man is looking in the camera – ruthless, quite frightening. Some lighting but almost all Guinness – an astonishing transformation. And Ricky Tarr? Ricky visibly relaxes. “I think I’m safe now”. And then he tells his story.

Brilliantly and often claustrophobically shot it matched the series as a whole, the visuals creating the dark and twisted turns of the spyworld to match the story. George Smiley – spymaster, cuckold. Intelligent, loyal and ruthless – and influence on all other spy stories to come, as well as the Cowley’s and the Pearce’s. It gave Hywel Bennett, and many others, the best roles of their careers as Smiley chases the traitor in the circus. And at its center was Alec Guinness giving one of the best performances of his (or any other!) career as the definitive George Smiley

The greatest literary spy creation became one of the greatest TV shows ever made.

81. Grey’s Anatomy (NE)
(2005- )

Blurb needed

80. How I Met Your Mother (NE)
(2005- )

Blurb needed

79. Oz (92)

After serving time on St Elsewhere and Homicide: Life on the Street, Tom Fontana created the Oswald State Correctional Facility in New York State and brought its heart –Emerald City - to life.

Broadcast on HBO it took full advantage of the leeway on content – Em City was the hub of racial, sexual and just plain violence even though it was supposedly an experimental unit geared towards rehabilitation.

There are strong links between The Wire and Oz and many viewers of The Wire initially found it as the logical progression from the prison drama created by the people who had adapted Simon's previous work on the Homicide unit in Baltimore. The themes are often remarkably similar although the ability to show the extent of the malaise at the heart of America is more limited by setting. But the multiple characters and storylines – a step change even from the style of TV that fell out from the likes of Hill St Blues in the 80s in terms of complexity – can be clearly seen in both shows.

Oz showcased many of the best actors on US TV, some soon to move on to well regarded film careers, particularly 'Aryan Brotherhood leader ' JK Simmons. Edie Falco did time on the show as a corrections officer before heading over to acclaim on The Sopranos and our own Eamonn Walker played charismatic Muslim leader Said. The show was held together by the commentary of disabled prisoner Augustus Hill – Harold Perrineau Jrs best role apart from his brilliant Mercutio for Baz Luhrman. Breaching the 4th wall he was our guide into the heart of Em City.

The Oz writers didn't shy away from putting racial issues front and centre in a powerful and often extreme, look at the vagaries of the prison system and the possible myth of rehabilitation for all offenders.

78. The Day Today (63)

The Day Today. Because fact into doubt won't go.

The Day Today was by far the highlight of the Armando Iannucci-produced comedies of the 1990s (except, perhaps I'm Alan Partridge) and, IT Crowd excluded, (for not being that good), easily the most accessible thing Chris Morris has ever done. Presented by Morris as a kind of nightmare hybrid of Michael Burke and Jeremy Paxman, it was a note-perfect current affairs spoof. The show featured other memorable yet instantly recognisable characters such as useless reporter Peter O'Hanrohanrohan ("You've lost the news!"), business reporter Collaterlly Sisters, Environmation presenter Rosie May ("My milk is green; come drink me") and the soon ubiquitous Alan Partridge.

The cast became the faces of comedy and other things in the 1990s - Chris Morris continued his furrow in increasingly disturbing satire with Brass Eye and Jam, Doon Machinen appeared on Smack The Pony, Patrick Marber wrote sweary angry film Closer, and Steve Coogan got off with Courtney Love. But it is still The Day Today - and it's radio predecessor On The Hour - that many of them will be remembered for.

They repeated them a couple of years ago just before Newsnight. It was hard to tell them apart. In years to come, people will look at the Day Today with the same kind of prophetic reverance that we look at Brave New World or 1984. Except the jokes were better.
Mikey C (borrowed from the 2006 results)

77. Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe (NE)

Blurb being written by Boscosaxon!

76. The Prisoner (NE)

Patrick McGoohan plays an unnamed former secret agent for the British government. The show opens with him resigning his post for unknown reasons. He is then kidnapped and held prisoner in a small town known only as The Village. The Village is a bizarre, resort like place where the inhabitants are other spies and secret agents.

The unknown authorities who control The Village try to strip him of his identity by renaming him Number Six. They are determined to find out why he resigned. The series then follows the battle of wills between McGoohan and the ever revolving Number Twos who interrogate him as McGoohan struggles to keep his individuality and discover who actually controls The Village.

It's no exaggeration to say that The Prisoner was one of the most bizarre shows we've ever seen. The Prisoner mixes the spy genre, surrealism and sci-fi to create a unique and unsettling show. The Prisoner was very popular with the sixties counter-culture, the show's attitude, its distrust for authority, the way it valued individuality above all else and its battles against the faceless authority figure made it a perfect show for a rebellious generation.

A large part of the success of the show was thanks to its location, the North Wales village of Portmeirion. Portmeirion was constructed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis as a tribute to Mediterranean villages and the place has an oddly out-of-time quality to it that made it a perfect setting for The Prisoner's sinister Village.

The Prisoner is a show of questions but very little answers. The main thrust of the series is the conflict between Number Six and The Village, both demand answers from the other that they never get. The Village itself is a question, we're given various different locations for it, none of which seem to be true, putting a question mark over The Village itself that extends to its inhabitants. How many of them are captured like Number Six? How many are undercover agents trying to break Number Six? What exactly is Rover, the terrifying weather balloon/guardian of The Village? Who exactly is the mysterious Number One? The questions even go beyond the confines of the show. Is Number Six really John Drake is a question often debated among fans of the series.

The Prisoner is a series with an epic scale confined in one very small location. It asks essential questions about the nature of human identity, are we really who we think we are or we just a construct to be numbered and catalogued, is our humanity something that can be stripped away?

The ending of the show remains controversial even now. McGoohan took all of our preconceptions about what we thought we knew about the series and threw them back at us in an anarchic and bewildering orgy of symbolism. While the ultimate reveal of the show is well known to most people, that shouldn't put you off watching the series, the actual puzzle of The Village and the people who run it goes far deeper than the obvious and simple explanation would suggest. And even if you find the philosophical implication of the final episode to be utter nonsense, then you should still watch it just to have the pleasure of seeing one of television's greatest fantasy shows.

75. Criminal Minds (NE)
(2005- )

Remember the FBI department Clarice Starling helped out (and wanted to eventually join) in The Silence of the Lambs? Meet the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) - a team of profilers and liaisons who respond to police requests for help in solving serious crimes. By interviewing witnesses, suspects, visiting the crime scenes and learning everything they can about the victim(s) the BAU create and work a profile of the type of "unsub" (unknown subject) the authorities are looking for. Each member brings his or her own area of expertise to the table as they pinpoint predators' motivations and identify their emotional triggers in the attempt to stop them. The boss is Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner ably supported by Agents Jason Gideon, Derek Morgan, Elle Greenaway, Dr Spencer Reid and, later, Emily Prentiss and David Rossi (the profilers), Penelope Garcia a brilliant computer whiz and Jennifer "JJ"Jareau, the unit's press liaison.

This show is a procedural drama, and to the average viewer this type of series may seem to have a predictable pattern but I would suggest forgetting everything you think you know about "the cop show" formula, and sit down and watch this series. Well-written and acted, it can be thrilling, heart-rending and funny all in one episode. Now in its fifth season, Criminal Minds continues to provide excellent entertainment.

74. CSI: NY (NE)

Blurb being written by Your Funny Uncle!

73. Star Trek: The Next Generation (62)

Airing at a time when TV Sci-Fi was hardly in its heyday, ST:TNG took the tired looking future vision of the original series into a more believable 24th century. Gone were the over-the-top hand to hand combat scenes, bizarre musical segments and green alien love of Shatner and Co and in came more thought provoking stories, great special effects, and a captain with far more gravitas and authority than Kirk could ever muster. Indeed, it was the acting of Patrick Stewart as Cpt Picard that garnered much praise from critics who would have otherwise dismissed the show as silly sci-fi. Perhaps the other characters were not as rounded as Picard, with the exception of Worf and Data, but the show could always rely on inventive stories and set-pieces to make up for it. Particular fans favourites were those episodes that revolved around time-travel (Time’s Arrow and Yesterday’s Enterprise garnered critical success too) and the Borg, a race of beings devoid of anything that makes us human. Showing what it would be like to utterly conform and be without passion, the Borg are perhaps the greatest enemy ever created in science fiction and were heavily involved in possibly ST:TNG’s most memorable episode, The Best of Both Worlds, where Picard was assimilated into the collective – a process that would haunt the captain in much the same way as Khan did with Kirk. Perhaps The Next Generation is not looked at as fondly now as some shows because of the superior Deep Space Nine that followed but the show still has a legion of fans and remains far superior to the other ‘Trek’ shows that tried to follow its formula. Picard would have had Voyager back home in half the time and would have had more than five people watching Enterprise.

72. Batman: The Animated Series (98)

Blurb needed

71. Extras (48)

If Extras was the difficult second album for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, it's one that they had no problem delivering. It's certainly not as funny as The Office - rather than This Is Spinal Tap, this is much more like Curb Your Enthusiasm, with long, awkward moments of social discomfort and carefully layered and measured jokes that only truly pay off at the end. But having said that, it's a much more ambitious and complex creation. It works on a meta-level, with the sitcom-within-a-sitcom, When The Whistle Blows, both a pastiche and a satire on the safe and bland sitcoms that get churned on every channel. It also works as a message to be careful for what you wish for, as Andy Millman discovers that there is indeed a price for fame, and it may be a price too high.

Millman is much less interesting character than David Brent, and the real comic lifting is shared between Merchant's inept Darren Lamb, the agent who promises the world, but can't deliver a single scene of note, Maggie, Andy's sweet, but dim, best friend, and most brilliantly of all, Shaun Williamson, playing himself. That particular casting was a stroke of genius with Williamson displaying real comic gifts, as is the decision for Darren to never call him anything but "Barry".

It's interesting that the real-life cameos are the last thing to be noted here, as they're not as integral to the narrative, but nevertheless are responsible for some of Extras' most memorable moments. From the sublime - Ross Kemp revealing what SAS stands for and Les Dennis's meltdown in panto - to the ridiculous - Kate Winslet's sex talk and David Bowie's impromptou Andy-inspired "pug-faced" ballad.

It may not be as well-loved as The Office, but it's still one of the best UK sitcoms from the last decade.

70. The Big Bang Theory (NE)
(2007- )

If you thought that life would stop being such a bitch if you suddenly woke up one day with an IQ of 180, I suppose you have never seen The Big Bang Theory, which shows that life never makes any exceptions no matter how smart you are; it's still ready to slap you around 24/7. All you can hope is that you get to watch Star Trek or play Halo for such a long enough time that, perhaps, you might forget all that for a little while. If this show knows anything, it's that intelligence does you no favors. Maybe it would best to be just dumb.

Or would it? Does it really matter? The Big Bang Theory seems more occupied with portraying highly intelligent people in a sweet and idle manner than making any big bold statements about the subject. According to this show, life as a nerd can be pretty normal. It's just decorated with verbal phrases of a more complex nature and has less time spent in the company of glitz, glamour and whatever shallowness is keeping people glued to the screen these days. Even extraordinary intelligence, it seems, can be pretty ordinary stuff.

The series follow four nerds named Sheldon, Raj, Howard and Leonard, plus their normal friend Penny, who acts as the show's straight ma... uh, woman. The humor is a mix of clever inside jokes (would you really be surprised if I told you the line "It's a trap!" is quoted in an episode?) and tons of ridiculously complex quotes related to the main characters professions (Sheldon and Leonard are physicists, Raj is a Astrophysicist, and Howard is an engineer). Much of the humor also comes from the fact that the nerdy characters are filled to the brim with information about their own professions, yet when it comes to the normal world, they have no idea whatsoever.

At first glance, The Big Bang Theory may seem like a regular sit-com with just a dork gimmick, but give it some time and you'll notice exactly how clever it is. Sure, it doesn't break much new ground, but the writing is often so hilariously funny that breaking new ground would probably just get in the way of all the fun. It's not just the characters that are smart. The show's smart too. Hell, it's smarter than most of its audience. You'd think that'd be an insult, but this is one show one shouldn't mind being dumber than. I mean, most people would be.
Dantes Inferno

< Message edited by Rinc -- 15/10/2009 7:55:33 PM >


No spoilers please:

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:29:25 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
69. Star Trek: The Original Series (NE)

"Check the circuit!" - who can forget those famous first words, uttered by everyone's favourite happy go lucky Vulcan Mr. Spock? Along with Captain Christopher Pike, the cool and logical Number One at the helm, and Dr. Philip Boyce offering a listening ear from time to time, this intrepid crew of the Enterprise had five years of exciting adventures..

..If things had gone according to plan, this vision of Star Trek would have been what American audiences would have been watching on the 8th September 1966. Thankfully in one of the few instances of a TV executive being in the right, the pilot for Star Trek, called The Cage, was thrown out (although parts were reused in a season 1 two part episode) and a new cast was brought in.

Shatner, Kelley, Doohan, Nichols, Takei and Koeing, along with Nimoy are the names we remember when the words Star Trek are uttered. Yes some people, mainly those brought up in the 80s, would argue that Picard should go in there, but in the main it was these actors, and specifically the trinity of Kirk, Spock and Bones, that really made the show, and franchise, what it was.

This is not to say the show was perfect. For every City on the Edge of Forever (Time travel done right!) there are two Spock's Brains (Spock's brain is stolen! Yet he can still talk!) and creator Gene Roddenberry seemed to enjoy recycling certain plots (god like aliens being a favourite - thankfully he condensed this cliché into Q for the Next Generation) and it did on occasion become very very silly.

That said, the acting was always memorable. Shatner may have been laughed at for a while, but compared to Hunter as Pike he brought a fun energy to the role. While you may have been surprised by some of his acting choices, you never came away feeling Shatner didn't try and give it his all.

The influence of Trek has been felt through the decades and is at the moment more powerful than ever. Now into a second iteration of actors bringing these characters to life, Star Trek joins the ranks of those classic stories which can be retold time and time again. Holmes, Scrooge, Tarzan, James Bond.and now Captain Kirk.

But the franchise will always have its roots firmly in the Technicolor world that it was born into - something which the new film proved that audiences still wanted. Trek is back and if nothing else, the new film will encourage people hungry for more adventures to seek out the 79 episode, which truly went where no man has gone before.

68. The Fast Show (NE)

These days it's unfashionable to have a catchphrase. The backlash against Little Britain and Catherine Tate as well as Ricky Gervais having a pop at them in Extras have seen to that. But The Fast Show was a demonstration of how and when to use catchphrases to perfection. Of course it differs from those shows mentioned in that it had so many catchphrases so none were worn out. But it was also written brilliantly and balanced the 'scorchios' and 'suits yous' with fabulously nuanced performances and observational comedy. The best examples of these being the much loved Ted and Ralph and the heartbreaking Rowley Birkin QC, both sketches show a depth that other shows sadly lack. The strength in depth of the characters on display, far outstripping any other sketch show I have ever seen, is simply phenomenal, and whilst at the time this perhaps attributed to its popularity and being able to appeal to all audiences, it's now almost forgotten in the mainstream. Paul Whitehouse has harmed his reputation with a further collaboration with Harry Enfield and his Aviva adverts which is a real shame because The Fast Show is far superior to anything else Whitehouse has done. Whilst Enfield's shows of the early nineties might have captured the zeitgeist, The Fast Show was an example of writers and actors at the top of their game. Charlie Higson, Simon Day, Mark Williams, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Caroline Aherne each have great characters to their name and credit in particular must go to Higson for co-creating the show. Of course The Fast Show's success has maybe seen the downfall of sketch shows since. Many have tried to match The Fast Show's rapid delivery as well their innumerable characters, maybe hoping the show's hit and miss policy, you're rarely more than a few seconds away from the next character, would mean success for themselves. However, they either haven't delivered fully with the pace because they fall in love with their characters too much, or they lack the depth of writers at their peak, meaning their characters are all one dimensional and usually just poor. Have there been better parodies than Monkfish and Louis Balfour or better observational characters than Colin Hunt and Competitive Dad since? Or characters as wildly manic and yet believable as Johnny Nice Painter or Ron Manager? If The Fast Show was the last great sketch show then it's not a bad to leave the genre hanging. Chris Waddle must be proud.

67. David Attenborough's Life Series (NE)
(1979- )

This overarching title covers a series of 9 natural world documentaries made from 1979 to 2008 by David Attenborough and the BBC.

Life on Earth
The Living Planet
Trials of Life
Life in the Freezer
Private Life of Plants
Life of Birds
Life of Mammals
Life in the Undergrowth
Life in Cold Blood

I could spend this blurb going through the shows one by one and commenting on its individual brilliance, but there really isn't a need. With his dedication to the Reithian ideal, David Attenborough has been part of all of our television watching lives for decades. He's taught us about the living world and infected us with his own enthusiasm.
Travelling the world to the harshest and most remote terrains we wonder if his director/producer watches him wander up to amazingly venomous snakes and toothsome alligators, and, knowing he is filming a living legend, spends his time on vodka and pills praying none of them are dumb enough to pounce!

Most all of us have a favourite 'moment' – the gorillas; fishing for geckos; his personal desire to see the pygmy chameleon in the final series which had eluded him decades earlier. Many of my favourites were, to my surprise, from the last series – the slow lizards who pair for life and give birth to young half their size and the blatant interference to demonstrate to us that for a certain lizard their pile of rocks makes them attractive – as he nicked one poor wee bugger's collection and gave it to another one!

And recently, he chose 50 of his own. I'd recommend clicking the link (they are on the BBC site) as a tribute to the most astonishing body of work in television history.

66. Never Mind The Buzzcocks (50)
(1996- )

The celebrity panel show became a staple part of the TV schedule in the nineties and has carried on with increasing popularity. With popularity has come many imitations, usually poor and usually not lasting too long. So it seems strange that one of the longest running and most successful, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, has barely had a rival in the field of music. Why is it nobody dares to challenge its supremacy in music related celebrity questioning? Well there are two reasons why this show continues on without an imitation.

Firstly it is a fantastic music quiz, full of entertaining rounds, but more importantly ones you can play along with. Whilst some rounds come and go there are some that are synonymous with the show. The 'intros round' is always good fun, trying to guess the sometimes hilarious a capella intros of famous songs, as is the 'next lines' round. Perhaps the most entertaining has always been the 'identity parade' in which the celebs have to guess a band member or singer from a line up of five people. Logic often goes out the window and the round became doubly funny when a member of the line up who would never move but would instead stare into nothingness no matter what was said or done to him, Athelston Williams, began appearing as a recurring line up member, no matter who the line up was of. Most importantly during the show the celebs never take it seriously, points don't bother them, and if they do they soon realise they are alone.

The second reason for the show's success is its humour and refusal to bow to anyone. Any celeb is a target, even the guests, and scathing attacks on people are commonplace. With Simon Amstell taking over the presenting chair in 2006 it has almost been forgotten that this was something Mark Lamarr often drew on. He not only made Gail Porter cry during an episode but upset Motorhead's Lemmy causing him to walk out during retakes. Simon Amstell did take it to an extreme though with a guest every week being the butt of his jokes. Who can forget Preston walking out after constant jibes about his relationship with fellow Big Brother contestant Chantelle? It is perhaps the show's attitude to preening celebs, mollycoddled by their industry and usually protected by agents and publicists, that make it stand out from any other. Whilst other shows are scared of upsetting guests and celebs in case they stop appearing on them, Never Mind The Buzzcocks revels in it. It's sarcasm, bitterness and ability to take the piss out of anyone and everyone, including itself, is what makes it great.

65. Match of the Day (84)
(1964- )

If there's one thing that you can guarantee every single football fan in the country will agree on, it's that the top tier football belongs on the BBC and in particular, Match Of The Day.

When ITV bagged the rights for a few years and launched The Premiership, it never felt right. An early tea-time start generated so many complaints, it was forced back to the night time slot when Match Of The Day normally went out. But even then, it was celebration across the footballing community when the Beeb got back the rights.

It simply gets everything right that a good football highlights show has to get right. No adverts, an instantly recoginsable theme tune (feck off, U2), the best presenters from cheeky Des Lynam to smooth Gary Lineker. Hell, even the stand ins such as Ray Stubbs lord above ITV mainstays like Steve Ryder. And then you have commentators such as Motty - senile old buffer he may be, but he's seen more football than you or I ever will - the best analysts from the sharp Alan Hansen to the camply bitchy Mark Lawrenson.

It's an absolute staple of Saturday night TV and it's hell when it's not on!

64. 30 Rock (NE)
(2006- )

There comes a time every now and again when a comedy show enters your life, and it is never the same again... a show that brightens up your day every time you watch it, and makes you feel great even if you're not feeling wonderful... first there was Arrested Development, there's also Scrubs... and now there's 30 Rock!!

Bolstered by a uber-superb female comic in Tina Fey both writing and taking the lead, and unearthing the magical comic moments of 'Arec' Baldwin, now a legend! Doesn't stop there though, with a support cast full of gems like Jack McBrayer's Kenneth, Tracey Jordan, Jane Krakowski's Jenna and Frank, Pete and Toofer, the list goes on of great funny characters, before you even get to the guest spots which are numerous and I shan't spoil apart from Arrested Development's terrific Will Arnett stealing whole episodes as always as Jacks (Baldwin) rival Devon.

Like AD, it matches a superb comic cast of characters with impossibly surreal and stupid situations and just damn good writing, 30 Rock is always a joy and like with the best shows of this kind, it can be watched one after the other for hours without boredom, only a sheer need to watch more... and watch you should because 30 Rock is without a doubt the comedy bees knees right now!
DJ Rob C: Mark II!

63. Veronica Mars (22)

Show-Runner Rob Thomas brings Chandleresque noir to high school.

Neptune is a town of extremes with a clear gap between the rich (the 09ers) and the not so - including the Weevil-led PCHers. Veronica used to be a de facto member of the 09ers - her dad was sheriff, she was dating Duncan, the son of the richest man in town and his sister Lily was her best friend. But then things went wrong - Duncan dumped her, she was raped, Lily was murdered and her dad last his job after trying to pin the crime on Lily's dad.

So now Veronica is an outcast - but a sassy, intelligent one who works part time for her now PI dad (with a dog whose name provides one of the best lines in the pilot).

Season 1 addresses these questions - why the break-up, who raped Veronica and the biggie - who killed Lily Kane. Season 2 continued with the fall-out from these as well as adding a season long mystery of it's own - a shocking happening at the end of epi 1. Season 3 was inevitably affected by the question mark of cancellation and broke down into several parts - while not as good as the first 2 series it still offered up some great lines and guest stars like Ed Begley Jr.

The dialogue sparks - lightning repartee more reminiscent of a bygone age of cinema. It has already had the seal of approval from Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith - both of whom have also had cameos.

Other main characters include Veronica's dad Keith, best friend Wallace (whose job in the school office provides a valuable source of info), ex-boyfriend Duncan, his best friend Logan and Frank Capra's great grandson(!) plays biker Weevil. All have more depth than initially meets the eye. And the peripheral characters often have a touch of genius - dry-witted lawyer Cliff, not nearly as easily bested as he might first seem Vice-Principal Clemons, sleazy PI Vinnie Van Low and the even sleazier new Sheriff, Lamb.

The best thing about the show, however, might be the beautifully created relationship between father and daughter Pis - mum left home when their privileged world fell apart and brought the family even closer together.

62. Monty Python's Flying Circus (49)

It seems appropriate to celebrate Monty Python at this, the 40th anniversary of the TV series. One of those rarities – a TV show that span off into successful feature films – it is one of the few TV shows ever made anywhere that gained universal popularity with people the world over doing funny walks and retelling the tale of the Norwegian Blue, dead before its time.

Running for 4 series from 1969 the show departed from standard sketch show format with surreal sidesteps, aided by Gilliam's animation. The writing partnerships had worked together on other shows and some of those sketches turned up in Python – watch the likes of Do Not Adjust Your Set and At Last the 1948 Show and you'll see much that would become familiar in the more famous spin-off.

The main target was officialdom of various sorts and the establishment, lampooned in the Ministry of Silly Walks, pops at vicars and the Beeb. Those sketches have entered into comedy history – individually they took up about 10% of the best British comedy sketches ever countdown, and are endlessly referenced – who hasn't used or heard 'no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition' – I very nearly used it in a history essay. (See also Blackadder 4!).

All the stars (except the deceased Chapman whose memorial service was funnier than most new comedy shows with Cleese riffing on the dead parrot sketch) have gone on to make their mark, not least Cleese and Palin elsewhere in this list, Gilliam and Python films turning up regularly in the best of lists on here and Idle taking the latter to stages around the world, and Jones regressing to become an (almost) serious historian and an expert on Chaucer – read his books. Great stuff.

And if you don't want to waste your time reading the above I'd suggest you just watch this (if it is still there when the blurb goes up!)

And one of my personal favourites – Self defence with fruit!

61. Mock The Week (83)
(2005- )

Blurb needed

60. The Apprentice (UK) (79)
(2005- )

First off this isn't a serious business show. And at times it infuriates me. But it is without doubt the best reality show on the box. How could a programme full of preening, narcissistic, self-obsessed egomaniacs making fools of themselves not be fun? The basic premise; a dozen or so wannabees fight it out to work for 'Suralan' through weekly tasks, one getting fired each week until one emerges victorious, is a close enough to reality to gain the inevitable addictive following, but because it involves business it is able to attract people that would usually avoid the negativities surrounding reality. But the way the premise is realised also makes it one of the most riveting shows on telly. Even if the contestants were all nice we'd still have a fun knock out business show with simple tasks that make the most intelligent of people look like fools. But we instead get a mix of nice people who are fired early on for being too nice, terribly antagonistic people who think themselves god's gift to business, and the odd actual intelligent decent business person. Of course most of the firings are the decision of the producers, why else did people like Michael Sophocles and Syed get so far despite being an idiot and an arsehole respectively. You also have the odd megabitch like Katie Hopkins just to ruffle even more feathers. All this adds to an atmosphere of greed and backstabbing, most of the people willing to sell their own granny to win the show. Of course most couldn't sell their own granny so they wouldn't have a chance. But it is incredible fun, watching people trip up, especially those you don't like, and laughing at the preposterous ideas and task results make this essential viewing. Even if Suralan is the biggest egomaniac of them all.

59. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (86)
(2000- )

CSI originally differed itself from other cop shows by making forensic investigators the central characters. The show follows the a team in Vas Vegas, lead by the all knowing Gil Grissom (William Petersen). The storylines are consistently gripping, with the writers coming with endlessly inventive ways of killing people. It has never been afraid to shock either, with many episodes venturing into highly disturbing territory. Often episodes would use a murder as a means of exploring all sorts of bizarre human pastimes. The main focus though, was always on the investigation itself, using state-of-the art equipment to show just how forensics work, and always filmed in a very slick, stylish manner. It still leaves enough room for character development though, as each of the characters battle with their various flaws. Since it began nearly 6 years ago, the show's popularity has, justifiably, increased immensely, making it the number 1 US TV show.
Borrowed from the 2006 results

58. Chuck (NE)
(2007- )

Like with House or Scrubs, the one thing Chuck does beautifully is balance drama and comedy... maybe in this case, the tone is more comedy and action, but Chuck always finds time for a moment or two of good drama. That is what makes a good show, the ability to be funny but also taken seriously when it needs to be.

It's also bolstered by a terrific set of characters, from Chuck himself, one of the best leads in a show imo, through to Sarah, Awesome, Morgan, Jeffster (Jeff and Lester), and fantastically memorable support characters like Big Mike and of course, Casey, the natural successor to Jayne from Firefly.

Another big surprise is that this comes from McG, the creator of guilty pleasures Charlies Angels 1 and 2, aswell as the better but still not perfect Terminator Salvation... yep McG done good! I'd have had this down as by Richard Donner or even Bob Zemeckis as it feels like a proper 80's action comedy in parts, look out for references to Lethal Weapon in one episode.

It's a great show, and one that deserves to last for at least a few more great great seasons, as so far is where it's begun to get good...
DJ Rob C: Mark II!

Chuck is one of the most fun US shows of recent years. 2 seasons in it looks like it could be in ratings trouble – which is a tremendous pity as the chemistry between the central cast members is one of the most winning on TV.

Nerd herd PC repairman Chuck inadvertently gets an entire CIA/NSA pictorially based database downloaded into his brain by ex-friend possibly rogue CIA agent Bryce Larkin. To protect the information (and, by extension, him) 2 agents are assigned. The lovely blonde he promptly falls in love with – adding to the Aussie invasion of US TV Yvonne Stachowski is great as the CIA agent conflicted between her job and her feelings for Chuck (and Bryce) – she even gets to use her homegrown accent in one episode. The other member of the team is casting of genius – Adam Baldwin. Late of Firefly his role is pretty much as far from Jayne as you could get – hard-nosed job obsessed John Casey. He doesn't care for Chuck (ish), just the info in his head. And man he suffers for it. Forced to become a Buymart employee, humiliated in handcuffs by his ex, forced to blow up his own precious car and, worst of all, that kiss. From Chuck.

The crux of the show isn't so much the pacily written 'spy mystery of the week' stories but the wonderful comedy falling out from the relationships between the main characters. Chuck's solid relationship with his sister, and her 'awesome' fiancé, his best friend Morgan, completely oblivious of what's going on around him and dealing for most of the first series with his major crush on the sister. The frightening Buymart double-act Lester and Jeff (who will inevitably get a scary sitcom of their own one day!). All work extremely well together. The intelligence extends to the guest casting – Gary Cole and Scott Bakula pitch-perfect choices for the respective dads (as was straight ace Boxleitner as Awesome's).

Light fun is rare and often badly done – fingers crossed the reduced episode order this year doesn't signal the end of one of the best network shows to come out of the US in the past few years.

57. Planet Earth (NE)

Planet Earth is a landmark documentary series that examines different natural habitats making extensive use of new technology. The narration was provided by David Attenborough and also led to a 3-part follow-up specifically examining the impact of man on earth.

I think, in general, we tend to see Attenborough's natural history with the Beeb as one body of work, but there is a distinction between his core work – the Life series – and the likes of Planet Earth, not just because Attenborough is more involved on the commentary side rather than travelling round like the Life series, but, in this case, the technology involved was a pretty phenomenal step change. To emphasise this we got 15 minute add-ons to each of the shows focussing on one of the teams whose work was featured in that episode – the madmen filming the polar bears, the nutter who decided that piranha couldn't be that much of a problem. And the dedication of one man stuck up a freezing wintry mountain hoping to snatch film of the exceptionally elusive snow leopard.

But it wasn't just human ingenuity – this was the most expensive documentary series made by the BBC for the new HD world. The new cameras allowed longer reaches (so aerial work from a vast distance away still allowed us to believe we were among a moving herd while the camera could move out and give us an idea of the scale). The life of the camera lasted longer and worked with lower light levels so we got an amazingly complete version of lions hunting and killing an elephant at night. The crews pretty much tested the new and expensive equipment to destruction filming piranhas feeding and hanging them off the underside of helicopters.

From the oceans depths to above Mt Everest Planet Earth presented to us one of the most complete pictures of where life flourishes on earth and why. It gave us an idea of what threats man brings to these habitats with breathtaking visuals.

56. Cheers (52)

The world is full of sitcoms that tried and failed to get past the 'will-they-won't-they' relationships. Even some of the most respected sitcoms suffered from finally putting a couple together. Although Cheers has been eclipsed in recent memories by Frasier, the spin off is one of the best examples of trying and failing at the above, whereas Cheers did it to perfection. It's also easy to forget that at its peak Cheers was a phenomenal success. It had audiences and awards at the plenty and although this isn't always a barometer for quality, in Cheers' case it was justified. During its eleven year tenure it combined episode plots with longstanding storylines to brilliant effect and juggled the changing of characters in a way that no other popular sitcom has. With Nicholas 'Coach' Colasanto's sad death the show could have justifiably lost its way, but they found a ready replacement in Woody. Shelley Long's departure was dealt with aplomb and the writers took a different route with replacement. Whereas Woody was almost a younger version of Coach, Rebecca was a different animal from Diane and instead of just rehashing the 'will-they-won't-they' relationship of the first five seasons they brought about a change in long running storylines. Conflict with the Lillian corperation, Melville's and Gary's Old Towne Tavern as well as Rebecca's problems with other men shifted the focus of the show and yet the show never changed. The creators knew their characters inside out and they knew how to deal with multiple episodes over many seasons. Often in sitcoms characters become tired and either resort to shouting instead of being witty or change to become almost unrecognisable by the end of a show's run. In Cheers Sam, Norm, Carla, Cliff, Frasier and co, Cheers' characters stayed the same people, they felt like real people in that respect, but had arcs and events that helped them develop. Of course in the first place it was brave to have the protagonist as an alcoholic womaniser, but this never became melodramatic and his alcoholism was touched upon with sincerity, and lots of humour when needed.

So finally back to that 'will-they-won't-they.' It dominated the first season, funnily enough it was nearly cancelled due to low ratings at this point, but with the relationship in full swing in its second season and subsequent ones featuring the aftermath of it, Cheers went from strength to strength. It juggled the tensions of Sam and Diane to perfection, never once during their relationship did Cheers resort to sentimentality and yet I dare you to watch the Season 5 closer and not feel pangs of sadness. There was a genuine tension between them and although the relationship seemed improbably, even Sam and Diane acknowledged that.

Maybe it's a cliché to say this of sitcoms, but it really does feel as if the patrons of the Boston bar are your friends. I want to drink there and share a beer with Norm. I want to hear Cliff's ramblings and witness Coach's and Woody's confusion, and I want to see Sam and Diane or Sam and Rebecca argue all over the place. Being rudely served by Carla would be a privilege. Just singing the greatest television theme tune ever isn't enough!

55. Have I Got News For You (71)
(1990- )

19 years. Very nearly to decades. Everyone knows it's been going for a long time, but when you say it's been going for 19 years out loud, it makes you realise just how successful HIGNFY (so much easier to write) has been. Of course that is mainly down to it's topical nature, without the foolishness of politicians and people in the public eye this programme would have finished years ago. HIGNFY has laughed and ridiculed nearly everyone in parliament, and really hasn't even had to try a lot of the time. However, this makes it all seem easy. But if that were the case there would be a thousand other shows like this. Instead it is able to laugh at the world because of witty and intelligent writing, and its roll call of intelligent and amusing guests. It is still held in high regard by comedians and politicians alike, although the latter often makes the mistake of appearing thinking it will do their credibility the world of good when in fact they are often made to look silly. But what other programme can boast being hosted by William Hague and Bruce Forsyth? Ah yes of course, the host situation. Up until 2002 Angus Deayton, despite being a virtual half-man-half-autocue, presented the show by delivering his lines in the dead pan manner no other guest presenter has managed since. He was perfect in the role until controversy over drugs and hookers made him the news and his position became untenable. Whilst no presenter since has matched his style of delivery in ways the show has become stronger. There is more variety now, sometimes the presenters themselves, such as Boris Johnson and the aforementioned Forsyth, have stolen the show. But it is also the constant jibes, banter and wit of Paul Merton and Ian Hislop that have kept HIGNFY going and made it the most popular satirical show around.

< Message edited by Rinc -- 25/11/2009 5:05:36 PM >


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 4
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:29:44 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
54. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (NE)

In 1980s Britain many Brits were forced to travel abroad to find work. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet focused on seven builders who travelled to Germany looking for employment. There were three Geordie bricklayers, one Scouse plasterer, a brickie from Bristol, a Cockney chippie and a Brummie electrician. They all get work on the same building site but are forced to live together on site in a POW style hut. The series is powered by the dynamic between 'the magnificent seven' and the catalyst for the comedy and the drama often stems from the men's very different personalities.

Even watched now, 25 years on, Pet feels like the state of the nation show that it actually was. It used wit and charm to tackle the unemployment crisis when it would have been much easier to take the kitchen sink drama approach. While Clement and La Frenais deserve no end of acclaim for the scripts, the show just wouldn't have been the same with any other actors in the roles. In fact the show made stars of many of its cast, including Jimmy Nail, Kevin Whately and Tim Spall.

So who were the characters this magnificent cast played? The reluctant leader of the gang was Dennis (Tim Healy) A short-tempered but good-hearted Geordie who's leaving Britain to escape his divorce as much as to find work. Neville (Kevin Whateley) is in Germany solely to raise cash for him and his new wife. The worrier of the gang, he spends most of the series heartsick and homesick. Barry (Tim Spall) is a boring Brummie, shy and prone to pessimism, Barry is often teased by the others. Moxey (Chris Fairbank) was a Scouse arsonist who often finds himself back in trouble with the law. Wayne (Gary Holton) is a cockney (and cocky) ladies man. Bomber (Pat Roach) is muscle-bound and towers over pretty much everyone else in the series, but he's possibly the most gentle and good-hearted character in the show. That just leaves Oz (Jimmy Nail), a xenophobic, drunken Geordie bigmouth who resents the Germans even while he works tax-free in their country. It's no great shock that Oz quickly became the most popular character.

Come series 2 the lads were reunited in Britain to work on Barry's new house, before finding employment with Scottish gangster Ally Fraser (the always brilliant Bill Paterson) in Spain. The show recaptured the warmth and easy charm of the first series, even if it didn't have that same aura of importance. Sadly, Gary Holton died before filming was completed and the rest of the cast decided not to make a third series out of respect for his memory.

It took over 15 years before the cast decided to reunite, the memory of Wayne was kept alive by the introduction of his son, Wyman, into the cast, played by Noel Clarke. The show ran for another two series before tragedy struck again, this time it was Pat Roach who passed away. The cast reunited for one last special to tie up loose ends and pay tribute to Bomber.

Are the later series as good as the originals? No. It would be near impossible for any show to reach the glorious heights of the first two series of Pet. And some of the plotlines were more than a little far-fetched. That said, below par Pet is still better than most other shows on television and the episodes in no way stained the memory of one of the ten greatest series in television history.

53. Flight of the Conchords (NE)
(2007- )

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

52. Generation Kill (NE)

Most depictions of war in entertainment comes with an attached moral message. Most of the time, said entertainment takes an anti-war stance. Generation Kill is different. That doesn't mean it's pro-war. Oh no, this is a TV series that take a neutral stance to war. It's not interested in waving its finger in your face or any of that stuff. It simply wants to show marines during the first few weeks of the Iraq war. These are not guys who have been forced to fight. They have come from all over USA, but now they're lumped together. These are not guys who above all believe in patriotism. Oh no, they believe in Jennifer Lopes. They believe in porn. They put their faith in the holy art of cussing. Instead of drinking altar wine, they consume each other's crude remarks so they can spit back comebacks.

They are not nice people, and yet, they are still compelling characters. The series, which which was adapted by David Simon and Ed Burns (the creators of The Wire) from a book by Evan Wright, details the life of marines soldiers during the part of the Iraq invasion. Fans of The Wire should check it out, for several reasons, the first being that it shares its attention to details and ensure that everything is portrayed as realistically as possible. Like that show, it may seem hard to watch at first (there are awfully many characters, and many of them look alike), but once it gets under your skin, you'll want it to stay there. And it will.

Untypical for a war series, Generation Kill has very little combat. The marines slowly realize they are against a foe that is very easily defeated, and the means they use to win are usually airborne. Life are supposed to be saved, and so soldiers are usually sent in to clean up the mess after the action is over, but for the marines, this seems like a cop-out. They want to fight, but all they get is a lot of waiting and confusion (one of the series' running gags sees the equipments department fail to provide the soldiers with batteries for their car lights, day and day again). But Generation Kill is far from boring. Like the film Das Boot, it is an artistic interpretation of a war where the boredom is interesting to watch for the audience (at the same time, we always feel the marines' frustration). It is also highly educational, though not necessarily in the way you'd think that means. I mean, you think you know what war is? You have no idea.
Dantes Inferno

51. Quantum Leap (40)

(Spoilers – inevitable, you have to discuss the last epi).

A physicist travels back and forth along his own timeline taking over the lives of different people and trying to help them out with the aid of the holographic Al.

The show succeeded on the amazing versatility of stage actor Bakula, occasionally getting the chance to really show off, including leaping into a staging of Man of la Mancha, and the great performance of former child actor Dean Stockwell as cynical cigar chomping Al – the only person his own future Sam can interact with although not physically, as he is a hologram. Leaps often touched on history, try Peggy not Piggy Sue Mr Holly, inventing the Hemlich manoeuvre.

The most touching episodes, I think, are the family ones – trying to help out Al and especially with his own family, leaping at one point into his own younger self.
The biggest talking point of the show remains the final episode. The show was cancelled, and it was originally supposed to be a cliff-hanger. Leaping into an odd bar in an odd place, Sam considers the nature of what he has been doing with bartender Bruce McGill. Or possibly god. There had always been a question mark over the 'why' – although Sam could explain the physics of time travel within his own lifetime with his bundled up piece of string – why he leapt where he did, and why he had to right wrongs before moving on was always left open to question. McGill suggested that it was all down to Sam himself. Almost to confirm that, when given the option of going home he wants to leap, to help Al keep the love of his life. And we were left with a final, rather heartbreaking caption.
"Dr. Sam Beckett never returned home”.

50. The League of Gentlemen (51)

What's going on? What's all this shouting? We'll have no trouble here....

The League of Gentlemen are Mark Gatiss, Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. They wrote the show (and film spin off) together, and (except for camera shy Dyson) played all of the parts themselves. They started out life on stage, moving to radio and then finally television, winning awards and acclaim along the way. Over the entire series the three actors played around 100 characters between them. The show gained cult status over the years, and while it will never be as mainstream as the suspiciously similar Little Britain, it will bewilder and terrify for years to come. The series is set in the fictional Northern town/village Royston Vasey* and it's hard to believe the often weird and disturbing characters (such as Papa Lazarou, Tubbs and Edward and Pauline) are based on real people. The show is riddled with film and television references, obscure in-jokes and often alludes to real life serial killers but it's the horror references The League are most famous for. They are always careful to retain the horror and so the homages never fall into complete parody; they keep a great mix of comedy and horror - just look at any of Papa Lazarou's scenes (though his appearance in The Christmas Special is far too disturbing to be considered funny). The Christmas Special is probably the League's best work; a love letter to the old Amicus portmanteau horror films that also seems to be heavily influenced by Hammer House of Horror (The vampire segment in particular, but that could just be the 1970's wallpaper). They followed this up with the ambitious third series which still splits fans down the middle. It has some great moments (the sight of Ross taking Pauline roughly from behind has forever been burned onto my retinas) but it wasn't entirely successful, as evidenced by the hilarious DVD commentary. The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse; their big screen debut, was a nice idea but didn't entirely work and it received mixed reviews. The gents are all off working on different projects (though Reece and Steve teamed up recently for the excellent Psychoville) and although we've probably seen the last of Royston Vasey, I'm sure we haven't seen the last of The League of Gentlemen. You'll never leave....

*Roy Chubby Brown's real name, fact fans.
Lazy wolf eyes

49. Brass Eye (76)

Created by Chris Morris in 1997 as a follow up to The Day Today, this program set its sights on satirising media and their sensationalist coverage of news and current affairs. Featuring unwitting celebrity guests who were rarely in on the joke, the series managed to upset quite a few people, while attracting many that were becoming increasingly tired of how news events unfolded on the TV screens and newspapers, not to mention those that were fans of good comedy. Though the series was only 6 episodes long it gained a cult following, re-running on our screens in 2001. Along with being able to see classic moments again, like 'Cake', the made up drug and the Elephant that had its trunk stuck up its anus, we were treated to a new episode named Paedogeddon – a satirical swipe at the media's sensationalist and scaremongering coverage of Paedophilia. Of course, the news media themselves failed to see the irony and front pages ran with requests to 'ban this sick filth'. This was exactly the reaction Morris would have wanted and only further highlighted the knee-jerk reaction of the gutter press. Today the program lives on with groups of friends still discussing classic moments like Phil Collins' declaration that he was "talking nonce-sence”, Bernard Manning telling viewers that "One kiddy on Cake cried all the water out of his body”, and Dr Fox proclaiming the Paedophiles had genetically more in common with a crab than a human being. Brass Eye further illustrates the comedy genius that is Chris Morris and is a program as relevant today as it was when it first screened.

48. Black Books (36)

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

47. Rome (NE)

Blurb being written by Deviation!

46. ER (26)

Originally concieved as a film, it was decided by the powers that be that the idea was better suited to a tv show, and it went on to be one of the most successful in tv history, with 23 Emmy awards and 123 nominations

Fifteen seasons, so many more tears, dramas and laughs as we watch the lives, loves, and some deaths, of the staff of Cook County General hospital in Chicago.

Fast paced, genuine believable characters, real situations, from the mundane (flu, vomiting) to large disasters (plane, car and bus crashs, hell, a helicopter crashed in the ambulance bay) we're in amongst the action as the team fight to save the lives of strangers and friends/family alike.

Starting with a cast of fairly unknowns (Anthony Edwards, best remembered before ER as Goose in Top Gun was probably the best known at the time), some who went on to big pretty big stars (George Clooney anyone?), we were thrown in at the deep end as we are introduced to Mark Greene, Doug Ross and Peter Benton, to name a few, as they teach medical students, deal with the workload of the hospital, as well as try to live their lives outside of work.

Over the shows run we had shootings, drug addictions, love affairs, daring rescues and much more to keep us gripped and entertained throughout.

The show hit its peak in between seasons two and eight, by which point most of the original cast had left, but carried on with new staff members taking the workload and bringing the drama through the sliding doors of the ER.

45. Life On Mars (28)

"My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home…”

"I'm Gene Hunt. Your DCI. And it's 1973. Nearly dinner time. I'm 'aving hoops.”

Original, inventive, well-written with a multitude of cracking one liners, beautifully created characters (with an addition to the pantheon of TV gods) – who'd have thought it of recent UK drama? In a show that also turns the test card girl into something scarier than most J-Horror and perverts Trumpton along the way?

Matthew Graham and Tony Jordan made all the right decisions – 2 perfect seasons, not too long, no filler – all part of the arc with clues to the outcome, following Sam's trip down the yellow brick road. And a perfect finale. One blinding smile and a shocking and brave decision from the writers.

With a seemingly outlandish scenario they needed quality to keep it grounded. John Simm has proven himself as one of the best of his generation with roles in State of Play and as an almost definitive Raskelnikov in Crime and Punishment and his Sam Tyler is never less than compelling as the tech age cop kicked back to The Sweeney. Gene Hunt could easily have a caricature but the writing and Philip Glenister give him more depth than that. Still – he was "an overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline-alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding? " – which isn't a bad thing! And it's clear how much they enjoy writing for him. Full credit should also be given to Annie Cartwright (Liz White), Chris Skelton(Marshall Lancaster) and Ray Carling(Dean Andrews).

For the rest? I leave it to their own words. My favourite?

Hunt: How do you think I spend my time here, Tyler?
Tyler: Building a Death Star?


The central idea is brilliance itself. How do you replicate the grim, boozy, smokey cop shows of the 70s, complete with misogyny and an utter lack of political correctness, without spoofing it?

Why, simply throw in a bit of time-travelling sci-fi and have a 21st century copper travel back to the 70s in a cross between Quantum Leap and The Sweeney.

Life on Mars works on so many different levels, which is why its two series are so endlessly watchable. Firstly, it works on the level of a straight up police drama of the 70s dealing not just with murders and armed robberies, but deep-rooted corruption, racism in the force and the birth of football violence, to name but a few. It works as a wry satire of those 70s dramas (but without sneering at them) while calling to mind so many other facets of 70s culture, such as Camberwick Green (which stands as one of the best episode openings ever). And it works as a mystery - what has happened to Sam Tyler? Is he dreaming or is he really back in time?

Ultimately, that last one doesn't matter because the real joy is seeing 21st century boy John Simm butting heads with his 70s superior, Gene Hunt. Simm deserves all the praise he gets as Sam (as do the other characters of Annie, Chris and Ray), but the real reason we love Life on Mars is the monstrous Hunt. A swearing, violent, sexist, racist pig, who rarely lets the rules trouble him, he also sweats charisma and deep down, is the kind of copper we'd all want on our streets. Philip Glenister must have wanted to kiss his agent when he got the scripts for this, as every line that falls from his mouth is quotable ("He's as fake as a tranny's fanny!") and Glenister has an absolute ball with him.

Gene Hunt may have moved onto the 1980s (and possibly beyond...), but Life on Mars is where he's at his best.

44. Entourage (91)
(2004- )

Sex and the City offered a sharp, witty and fresh dramedy for all women in their thirties. It was show in which the majority of women could relate to one of the main four's dilemma. HBO's male counterpart, Entourage, see's the rise and fall (and rise again) of Vincent Chase in the Hollywood industry. His friends, Eric 'E' Murphy, Turtle and brother Johnny Chase follow him around, living off his fame. The group dynamic works just as well as, if not better than their female counterparts of the other popular HBO series as they bounce derogatory remarks back and fourth that is altogether smart and allows the audience to relax in their company. Vince – the star, shags girls, makes films and that's about it, he's a superficial character but it actually works because his nonchalance highlights how we should not take this show too seriously. Turtle's raison d'etre is hard to see at the beginning, he seems to be one half of a Drama/Turtle double act that is often hilarious (crossing swords anyone?) – a narrative emerges for him in later seasons and we finally see his character flesh out. Eric can come across as quite cold, but behind the abruptness is just a man looking for a relationship while trying to get out of the shadow of best friend Vince. Drama is a washed out actor trying desperately to be his former B list self in the pretence that he was an A list celebrity. Kevin Dillon's committal to the role helps Drama be one the best characters of the show; Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold too is a highlight of the show as Vince's agent. Entourage is not shy of guest stars either, with the likes of Jessica Alba and more recently, Matt Damon who add weight to the show's need to be current. Latter seasons have however, faltered in its aim to keep up with the times, the latest season saw Vince appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a show that stopped earlier this year, references to popular shows that have been axed have also emerged hindering the shows credibility but for the most part however, the guest stars add a cool glamour to the show.

43. QI (41)
(2003- )

For years TV execs have continually attempted to reinvent the celebrity panel quiz show with varying results, from excellent (Have I Got News For You) to hit and miss (8 Out Of Ten Cats, Mock The Week) to the downright dreadful (Alan Carr's Celebrity Ding Dong, anyone. No. Thought not…). But one stands a curly mop of hair over the rest.


A unique twist on the genre, with each series taking in 1 letter of the alphabet and points awarded not only for correct answers but ones that are Quite Interesting. Which is what QI stands for. Clever. Hosted by the ever-excellent Stephen Fry, this is not your standard quiz show. For a start off, if you actually now any of the answers, you're a clever bastard of the highest order. Second of all, the quality of guest is often never less than excellent. While you may get the odd Brandreth, it is more than capably outweighed by the combined comic muscle of regulars such as Sean Lock, Phil Jupitus, Jo Brand, Rich Hall, Bill Bailey, Rob Brydon and Jimmy Carr among others. And not to forget Alan Davies, panel mainstay and utterly loveable comic foil to Fry – his rare victories are often a series highlight. And to think, we're on G now. Only 19 more series to go!

42. The Office (US) (89)
(2005- )

The road to hell is littered with 3 things: Uwe Boll films, posters of Jordan and US remakes of UK TV shows. So it's of no surprise whatsoever that news of plans to remake The Office for Yank audiences was met with the sound of faces hitting palms in exasperation. What did come as a surprise, however, is that The Office: An American Workplace was actually good. In fact, 4 series in, it's actually really good.

The first series, (a 6 episode run - unusual for an American series) started off as something as a curio - a game of spot the televisual difference. However, what became apparent after the initial awkwardness during that period of adjustment to the new setting, the new names and the new actors (around a couple of episodes into series 2) that this was a show hitting it's stride and working its way out from under the shadow of it's more popular cousin. The 24-episode structure of the later series has allowed a further growth, not only of stories and themes, but also the supporting characters. In Gervais's version, the 14 episodes left precious little room beyond Brent, Tim, Dawn and Gareth, whereas the US version allowed us into more lives and consequently has given the stories more breadth.

Canny recasting has also helped. Steve Carell's Michael Scott is a recognisable equivalent to Brent, but Carell brings a certain man-child charm that despite his shows of petulance and arse-puckering stupidity makes him kind of lovable. Unlike Brent, however, we do get the rare chance to see that Michael can be really good at his job. John Krasinski, similarly, is a likable alternative to Tim (as Jim, see what they did there). Rainn Wilson, however, is an entirely different proposition as Dwight. Whereas Gareth came across as entirely pathetic and deluded, Dwight seems to teeter on the edge of absolute psychosis. You could easily believe it if he came in tooled up and blew Jim away. The only shortcoming in the recast is Todd Packer, the loud, frat boy alternative to the entirely slimier Chris Finch. He's basically every character David Koechner has ever played.

41. Prison Break (33)

Anyone that watched Prison Break will be well aware of its flaws: convenient coincidences and occurrences that made up for under-developed stories and characters were some its biggest. A big part of it seemed contrived, particularly the show's way of keeping the gang together and involved (why was Bellick in it for so long?) when any sensible group would have split up and stayed split up. We also have series three: while not devoid of good moments it was too similar to series one but lacked its suspension, characterisation and charm. However, despite all these flaws it remained fun – a characteristic the writers would re-embrace for series four. Yes, it never regained the quality of the first season but it was never going to. Season one was very much a high concept show, that saw a man wrongly imprisoned on death row for murder with the only chance of escape his genius brother. It was never meant to lead to a second season let alone three more. That the writers managed to get all that story from the initial concept is a feat in itself. The show was action packed and despite many contrivances remained smart throughout, mainly due to its almost super-human protagonist Michael Schofield – a flawed genius with a penchant for helping out those in need and being able to get out of any situation no matter how bleak. Most of the story revolved around Schofield, yet the characters of T-Bag and Agent Mahone (played superbly by William Fichtner) were the most engaging, their quest for redemption compelling. Indeed, it was the popularity of these characters that perhaps kept the writers finding more and more ways of keeping them in the story when it would have made more sense for them to have gone their separate ways. Still, the show ended on a high and many agree that the last season was a return to form that managed to recapture some of that magic and chemistry that made season one so good. From the initial planned one season it managed to last four, such was its popularity and probably ended at the right time with a satisfying conclusion, despite a million broken female hearts when Schofield went to the big prison in the sky.

40. Six Feet Under (32)

Along with The Sopranos and Sex and the City, this is the show that made HBO the place to go for intelligent, adult and brilliant programming. Six Feet Under revolves around the Fisher family and stars Peter Krause as Nate Fisher who, on returning for the funeral of his father, reluctantly becomes involved with helping to run the family's Funeral Home with his brother David (Michael C. Hall).
Six Feet Under is funny one moment and heartbreaking the next. It deals seriously with the issues of life and death but never loses its sense of humour and brilliantly displays how strange life can be, or how even the smallest moment can be important and powerful. It also boasts what is possibly the best final episode of a TV show ever, a touching, fitting tribute to the show's characters and meaning.
furrybastard (Borrowed from the 2006 results)

< Message edited by elab49 -- 18/10/2009 3:41:09 PM >


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 5
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:30:01 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
39. Angel (10)

After an interesting graduation ceremony Angel left Sunnydale CA for Los Angeles. A regular character in Buffy from episode 1, 300 year-old Angel had once been Angelus - one of the most creatively evil vampires on the planet. But, about 100 years before, his soul had been returned as a result of a gypsy curse. The discovery of the Shanshu prophecy, the possibility of becoming human after the apocalypse and being able to experience true happiness without losing his soul, became a very important plot point through the 5 years of Angel.

Angel set up a detective agency to help those in need - supported by, of all people, the vain Cordelia Chase. Half-demon Doyle of the visions didn't last long but the third wheel part was taken up by erstwhile and incompetent Watcher Wesley Wyndham-Price. Unusually for genre shows - but not for Whedon - these characters developed during the 5 year term - Cordelia to a champion in her own right who ascended to the Powers That Be and Wesley? Well, he had several of his own dark nights of the soul. Along they way they were joined by anti-vampire gang leader Charles Gunn, Fred Burkle (trapped in a demon dimension for 5 years, soon to become one herself) and the deliciously green empath Demon Lorne. Angel also had a son - Connor. Not a major fan favourite, but even he redeemed himself in the end.

Through the 5 years their main antagonist was pan-dimensional demonic law firm Wolfram and Hart. Their main aim was to ensure Angel chose the right side in their Apocalypse and the series ended with Team Angel in charge of their LA office trying to do right from within. Wonderfully in this final season Spike arrived from the defunct Buffy, a brilliant double-act with Angel that lifted the final season to some brilliant heights (aided by, amongst other episodes - the genius of Smile Time puppet Angel).

The show hit the ground running at the wonderful pre-credits start to the second season (going to the gym!) and never really looked back. Action packed with a sly line in one-liners, the series easily ran the range from moving drama to slapstick humour. The series finalé is incredibly moving, violent, bleak and heartbreaking.

38. Frasier (21)

The best spin-off show of all-time. Probably. ©

After a not entirely successful sojourn in Boston (ditsy fiancé, failed marriage) psychiatrist Frasier Crane headed home to Seattle. Why did this work and work for virtually all of the 10 seasons that followed and become, arguably, better than Cheers itself? The set-up. The writers quite brilliantly created a ‘family’ unit round Frasier. Neurotic brother (and rival psychologist) Niles with his never seen wife Maris. Ex-cop dad Martin who has never truly come to grips with the often prissy fruits of his loins. Physical therapist Daphne – kooky, British and the woman Niles falls head over heels in love with at first sight. And producer Ros – bright, man-hungry and another perfect foil to Frasier’s snobbishness. And Eddie – can’t forget Eddie.

The unit stayed together for the entire show with great recurring guests popping in and out (the irrepressible Bulldog, inexplicably married food critic Gil (who I bumped into in a London theatre, once!), mad agent Bebe and the occasional guest wondering in from Cheers, mainly ex-wife Lilith). It became famous for its roll-call of guest callers to Frasier’s show (flagged up at with a photo-call at the end of each season). Most importantly, it was pants-wettingly funny. Biting one-liners married to brilliant physical comedy. One of the best examples of classic stage farce played out in The Ski Lodge, rarely bettered on TV. Over the 10 years the characters grew more than most sitcoms – static characters lead to repeating the same situations over and over again. Frasier’s character grew and changed – Ros got a family, Niles got his independence. Even minor characters like Bulldog branched out.

For many the real joy was the long-running Niles/Daphne saga and for some, inexplicably, they accepted a truism that when a shows characters finally get together something is lost – and I think that’s sometime overstated. It certainly was here – modern writers are aware of that – they subvert it and distract. The 2 most successful recent examples – to my mind – are Frasier and The Office, US. Our final season saw Frasier’s most desperate attempts to snatch the happiness achieved by his father and brother and, finally, left us on a hopeful (if unresolved, note).

On a side-note I’ve always known how far this translated, as it was one of the few comedies that my mum and I shared a love for. And that really is quite some achievement.

37. Curb Your Enthusiasm (44)
(2000- )

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

36. Only Fools And Horses (60)

I’ll say it now, get it out of the way. Forget the last 3 specials. Yeah, they had their moments but even some of Del’s shoddy merchandise held together better. Plus, after that perfect “ending”, having the Trotters return to whence they came left a bitter taste in the mouth.

What preceded them, however, set a benchmark for British comedy. A benchmark which may have been tarnished or surpassed since through over-familiarity and repeats ad infinitum, but the fact remains that, on its day Only Fools could outpunch many a comedy series with its pitch perfect blend of hilarity and pathos. Frankly John Sullivan has never managed to recreate the series’ heyday with any of his other works (particularly the spectacular misfire of Green Green Grass). I could quite easily turn this into an essay on the innumerable highlights from beginning to end, so I will stop at recommending everyone who reads this goes back and watches just one episode again – Three Men, a Woman and a Baby. My personal favourite episode, the writing has been rarely funnier and David Jason’s final soliloquy to his newborn son is as moving and perfect as Only Fools has ever been. And that is some statement.

If only they’d left Del, Rodney and Albert on that road into sunset as millionaires.

35. Supernatural (73)
(2005- )

This show wasn't very good. Strange way to introduce an entry to the top 100 tv shows but it's true. Generic, constant movie of the week storylines that were watchable at best. Then something happened.... season 2.

The show came back on a new network with a new attitude, it was suddenly cool, suddenly genuinally funny, thought provoking, dark. There were signs of it's potential as the first run drew to a close but all of a sudden it was sure of itself, and I was sure of it's quality as the viewer. Some of the storylines were still not exactly original but they had a 'Supernatural' twist on them and the dialogue was razor sharp. Jensen Ackles and Jared Paladeki also became the characters and both continue to give stellar perfromances.

The mythology of the show had a direction too, if it was being made up as things went along then good on them, it still feels like it was all planned from the start. Also the writers aren't afraid to push the boundaries of what they can do, a murderous santa claus? An alcoholic suicidal teddy bear that blows out it's own stuffing with a gun? JUst some of the brilliantly bizarre scene's this show has produced. They've even sent the lead character to Hell!

As season 4 got underway the show continued to get darker, playing with religious stories about a war between Heaven and Hell and even having the audacity of making the angel's (well a lot of them) and bad as the deamons from Hell, a bold move that helps make the show more complex, much darker, and much much better.
And now as we enter the 5th (and ever more likely final season) the show continues to impress. A teen show that 'made scary sexy' (apparently) it may have been, now it's so much more.

34. Top Gear (30)
(1978- )

Blurb being written by Your Funny Uncle!

33. Heroes (35)
(2006- )

Blurb needed

32. Red Dwarf (29)

If you're thinking about trying Red Dwarf don't think too harshly of it if you had a look at the terrible misfire that was Back to Earth. Go back to the start.

Set on the massive mining ship Red Dwarf, an accident kills everyone on board while Olympic level slob Dave Lister is serving a punishment for bringing a cat on board. Released millions of years later when the radiation leak has dispersed, Holly, the ships computer, decides that the best companion for Lister is a hologram of his former 'superior' – pre-eminent anal-retentive jobsworth Arnold (Judas) Rimmer. The only other living thing on board is Cat – evolved, so to speak, descendant of the cat Lister was punished for having. Subservient mechanoid Kryten joined the crew season 2 and Lister's lost love Christine Kochanski turned up occasionally, played by 2 people, and rarely to good effect.

Like much of BBC comedy Grant and Naylor's show grew out of a radio series – the comedy was very much post-pub lads culture stuff with moments of absolute genius. The various characterisations of Arnold Rimmer in particular – dressed in a smock completely insane, the arrival of Ace Rimmer or the wonders of Rimmerworld, his increasingly insane revision techniques for his officer exam – make you wonder what on earth has happened to Chris Barrie (now occasionally seen as Lara Croft's butler). But Holly was right – he was the perfect person to choose to keep Dave sane.

Many of the best episodes involve the team in virtual reality set-ups - "Better Than Life" – where even Rimmer's mind proves how much it hates him, Back to Reality, which includes the first appearance of Duane Dibbley and the widely praised Gunmen of the Apocalypse. While the highpoints grew further apart as the series wore on (particularly Series 8 when the ship and been reconstructed with crew), Red Dwarf remained a great way to spend the evening and the source of some brilliant one-liners.

31. Deadwood (31)

Cocksuckers, whores and all manner of the great unwashed gather in the town without law to stake their claim on the fledgling and volatile nation that would one day become one of the world's big players. If HBO's other origin drama John Adams depicted an America born of freedom and democratic ideals, then Deadwood depicts one born of corruption, gun slinging, conspiracy, fucking and lots and lots of and swearing. At the centre lies old Lovejoy himself, Ian McShane as Al Swearengen, a man who's initial mask of scenery chewing villainy is stripped away to reveal an unlikely anti hero who you end up rooting for irrespective of the fact that the opening episodes see him as potential child killer. As those who claim finer morality are knocked well and truly from their high horses, Lovejoy soundboards his tortured soul to the confessional of the whore house, pontificating a twisted yet contextually fitting sense of honour and justice, all whilst getting his dick sucked or pissing out kidney stones like a major hard nut. There's more to the show of course, but much of what makes Deadwood great lies with that man. It's a pity therefore that fans never really got to see what became of him or the rest of the motley crew of Deadwood, as Season 3 ended with a town on the verge of gang war, never to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

30. Peep Show (46)
(2003- )

The Mitchell and Webb look on the BBC has the eponymous stars act out different sketches, some hit nicely, though most miss sadly. Their channel 4 show Peep Show however towers above not only The Mitchell and Webb look, but most other British comedies. It tells of the lives of Mark Corrigan (David Mitchell), a middleclass credit salesman living with old university friend Jeremy Osbourne (Robert Webb). At first glance it is hard to see how this show would work – it’s shown through the eyes of each character (bar one or two scenes) and Mark and Jeremy’s characters are so different from each other. As we delve closer into each character however we start to see how their differences actually bring them closer together, making their dynamic work well which incidentally provides the best comedy. The comedy is of a high quality – cringe humour is pushed to the brink here, many times you will be hiding behind your hands wondering why these characters have put themselves in such situations. One fine example in an early episode see’s Mark leave an answer phone message to the Sophie, the woman he loves from work and is a genuine example of true comedy genius. The show also offers some cracking one liners, not only from the main cast, but from the support cast also, especially Super Hans. What makes this show comedy gold though is the sheer audacity of some of the predicaments we find our lead characters in. In one episode, Mark wonders if he is in love with his manager Johnson, he then buys gay porn only for the Johnson to come to his flat and find it. If you have not yet seen this show, you are missing out on British comedy at heights rarely reached.

29. The Shield (39)

Out of all the American cop and law enforcement dramas, The Wire gets the critical plaudits, while 24 gets the popularity. The Shield lies somewhere inbetween the two and is possibly one of the most unfairly neglected American dramas of recent times.

On one hand it tips its hat to the social realism of The Wire (both began in the same year) with its tough and uncompromising depiction of an embattled and overstretched police force costantly fighting to interrupt the unceasing gang warfare of LA. It is a show that has a real flavour of the time and city it is set in, with salty language, brutal violence, lashings of sex, and superb casting to fill out the roles of various pimps, prostitutes, gang members, drug dealers and unfortunate civilians caught up in the rising crime.

On the other hand, it takes a more streamlined narrative approach than The Wire, perhaps more in common with 24, as we follow in particular, The Strike Team, headed by corrupt cop, Vic Mackey. Vic is the kind of policeman who wants peace on his streets - but only if it's to his advantage. The pilot begins with him shooting dead a fellow cop who has been placed undercover to expose Mackey - we further see him cheating on his wife, bedding his co-workers, stealing drug money to line his pockets and setting gangs against each other for his own benefit. He's possibly the greatest anti-hero since JR Ewing and it's impossible to take your eyes off Chiklis's terrific performance, with each season Vic getting closer and closer to Vic and his team being brought to justice.

The Shield is filled with great characters - Aceveda, Vic's careerist and slimy boss, determined to take him down; Claudette, an officer with finely tuned sense of right and wrong, struggling to make those values mean something; and her partner, Dutch, a brilliant homicide detective, but complete social geek, who becomes the butt of every joke from Vic. When you have actors in the calibre of Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker appear in just one or two seasons, that's the sign that you're watching something very special.

Of late, The Wire has been garnering every critical plaudit going - but one day, we'll all realise that The Shield deserves them too.

28. Seinfeld (27)

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

27. I’m Alan Partridge (99)

Following a successful stint on short lived topical news show, The Day Today, the moderate success of his radio show and the still-awaiting-a-second-series-despite-the-host-shooting-and-killing-a-guest-on-the-final-show-and-punching-out-his-boss-with-a-stuffed-partridge-on-the-Christmas-special Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge (or KMKYWAP), where was the erstwhile presenter to go? The Linton Travel Tavern, apparently…

In an inspired move away from the faux-news/chat shows that brought Steve Coogan’s Partridge to public attention, and into the realms of sitcom land, I’m Alan Partridge is one of the finest examples of British comedy, not just in the last 15 years, but ever. The two series capture Partridge recovering from cataclysmic events in his life (the fall-out from his last disastrous TV appearance, breakdown of his marriage and subsequent sanctuary in a hotel in series 1, a Toblerone-fuelled mental breakdown in series 2) in his own inimitable way – gleefully but unknowingly offensive, misguided and utterly delusional to his innate lack of talent, particularly evident with his hilariously inept shows on Radio Norwich. It is fantastically uncomfortable viewing, containing some of the most quotable pieces of dialogue, mostly down to a cavalcade of Partridgeisms and blunt putdowns at his PA Lynn’s expense (special mention to the fantastic Felicity Montagu, who is a more than admirable, downtrodden foil).

Like many great series, it has yet to outstay it's welcome with only 12 episodes made so far, but if they can write material this good again, Alan would be welcome back any time.

A small bit of trivia for you… the exterior shots for the Linton Travel Tavern were taken just down the road from my Uni in Watford, which you’ll find is not equidistant between Norwich and London.

Jurassic Park!

26. Twin Peaks (37)

Forget soaps – Twin Peaks was the very definition of water cooler television. The central mystery of who killed Laura Palmer gripped viewers. One of my fellow students had been in the US and had actually seen some of the episodes still to come and was constantly pestered by fans for details – ah, the innocence of the pre-download world! - personally I’ve often wondered if this was the real start of the need for spoilers on TV. It might not seem a great legacy, but it is testimony to the impact of Lynch’s astonishing foray into television.

Odd FBI agent Dale Cooper heads to the Washington state town of Twin Peaks to help Sheriff Harry S Truman investigate the murder of popular local girl Laura Palmer – the FBI get involved as a second girl – Ronette Pulaski – is found alive but across the state line.

The short first season was almost perfect TV – Lynch managed to effectively translate much of the oddness of his cinema work aided quite a bit by the brilliant soundtrack. It is at times like an entire series falling out of that first shot dissecting the perfection of suburbia in Blue Velvet as the camera pans down to show the undergrowth/underbelly and asks what’s really going on. The second season started off well still concentrating on the mystery of who killed Laura and Ray Wise’s performance as her disintegrating father is superb. It didn’t quite seem to know what to do with itself after that, however – contriving to keep Coop in town, Kenneth Welch was added to the mix as an evil mastermind – an excellent performance but the storyline didn’t work quite so well getting a tad metaphysical occasionally, but still well-played for the most part, although some characters kind of got lost in the mix.
Eccentrics were commonplace in Twin Peaks and the series contained quite a few moments that I still think among the most chilling on TV – in particular Laura’s mother recalling her visit to the bedroom and the camera panning round. Most of them involved Bob, to be honest. But Twin Peaks was almost unique TV and a bright spot in amongst the generic and the formulaic.

25. Doctor Who (25)
(1963- )

There are few, if any, TV shows that have created so many cultural icons. We no longer think of police telephone boxes as police telephone boxes, they're now space/time machines that are bigger on the inside. We all know what a Dalek and a Cyberman is, we all know where this show has supposedly sent generations of children scuttling in fear and the theme tune is as instantly recognisable as any piece of popular music you care to name in the last 100 years.

But does this actually make any of it good? Well, yes, it does. Doctor Who has been a staple of British televison for nearly 50 years for a very good reason - and it's not only its recent revival under RTD that we should be praising here. The reason for its longevity and critical success, is that it is a show that has had to fight against budgetary constraints for most of its run, and thus relied on the sheer craft, verve and imagination of its writers, directors and actors to convince you that, for 25 minutes at least, you weren't watching some TV actors shuffling around a confined studio set, you were watching an alien and his human companions battling some terrifying alien on a distant planet.

And, for the most part, it worked. Yes, we can find plenty of dodgy effects work and acting performances to sneer at in its history, but we can also find plenty of episodes that still hold up today, from William Hartnell's very first encounter with the Daleks, to Tom Baker running around the streets of Paris, to Sylvester McCoy battling underwater vampires from the future. And at the centre of it all you have the baffling, unpredictable, witty, generous, scary titular character, who can change his appearance in an instant to keep the show going - a genuine British icon to be ranked alongside Sherlock Holmes and James Bond (the casting of the next Doctor is the only role that garners as much excitement as the next bond).

There's a reason that RTD brought Doctor Who back in the way that he did - with heart and without cynicism, with special effects to be proud of and with a mixture of stories that can make you laugh, scared and cry, sometimes all at the same time. Because that's what Doctor Who has always done - been utterly, wonderfully unique and that's why it will last from David Tennant to Matt Smith and beyond. Because it really is that good.


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 6
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:30:31 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
24. Futurama (18)
(1999-2003 and 2008- )

Futurama has always been destined to have a bit of a rough ride. Being Matt Groening’s next project after the behemoth that is The Simpsons, it was always cursed to be compared to its older, jaundiced half-brother. And while its high points don’t often match the best of The Simpsons, when Futurama is on, baby it’s on!

Over the initial 4 series, Futurama sustained a run that was never less than amusing and eminently watchable. While the central teaming of Phillip Fry, and his robot roommate Bender Bending Rodriguez, alongside their cycloptic captain Leela are the heartbeat of the show, Fry particularly providing the later series with some of its most poignant moments (see The Luck of The Fryrish, which shows how Fry’s disappearance into the future affected his loved ones, as well as his nearly-romance with Leela throughout series 4), the show is bestrode by a comedy colossus – as with the Simpsons, you come for the charm of the central characters, but stay for the brilliance of the incidental characters. Chief among these is Zapp Brannigan - all Troy McClure delivery and very sexy learning disabilities, Brannigan’s episodes are a frequent highlight. His tenuous grasp of romance and his exchanges with his terminally exasperated lieutenant Kif are hilarious. And like so many of comedy’s great buffoons, his bluster and confidence never let his crippling ineptitude get in the way.

Although the recent resurrection has been met with a lukewarm response from those that watched the feature length versions, the new episodes fare better when viewed in Futurama’s natural habitat – a breezy half an hour’s blast (including ad break…) with a much better gag ratio than when viewed in one 90 minute sitting. Here’s hoping the incoming new episodes retain the original series’ heart, humour and all-round likeability. If not, then they can bite my shiny metal ass.

23. South Park (16)
(1997- )

The initial novelty of South Park may have lay in the curio of witnessing crudely animated children spout profanities, or the many different ways in which one could kill Kenny, but over the past 12 years the show has proved itself to be one of the most articulate and witty exposés of modern American culture, politics and foreign policy. Whether they're exposing right wing prejudices or lampooning liberal hypocrisy, Trey Parker and Matt Stone have always ensured that they are equal opportunity offenders, treating matters of sexuality, religion and race with genuine insight and intelligence, coupled with an at times hysterical juvenile humour. While other animated comedies seem to attempt controversy for controversy's sake (to various levels of failure and success), South Park merely allows the subject matters to expose themselves as either ridiculous or down right stupid, due to simple and candid observations. Not always subtle, but almost certainly honest in its approach it's as if the phrase 'out of the mouths of babes.' was coined specifically for this show.

22. Fawlty Towers (42)

Still the best thing done by any Python post-Python (I mean creatively themselves – so GBH is excluded).

Shortly after Python finished on TV, Cleese co-created a small comedy situated in a fictional hotel in Torquay. Only 12 episodes were filmed and, like Python itself, it is one of the few TV shows with a genuinely worldwide fanbase and, unfortunately for Cleese, it is the role more than any other that he has struggled to move on from.

Married to the brisk Sybil (the sublime and brilliantly cast Prunella Scales), Basil Fawlty teeters constantly on the edge of frustrated hysteria – obsequious to classes above him, a dismissive snob to everyone else and terrified of falling foul of his wife. The hotel would be so much better without guests. Aided by the harassed and efficient maid Polly (Co-creator Connie Booth) and not so much aided by useless Spanish waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs).

The show combined slapstick, brilliant one-liners, more traditional humour based round misunderstanding (normally as a result of Manuel's comedy English), translated to excruciatingly embarrassing situations that always went one step further than you thought you could bear and a tremendously well-written war of attrition between husband and wife that took the observational elements of painful relationships to rarely matched comedy heights.

Cleese on beating the car

The Germans

21. House M.D. (34)
(2004- )

Simply put, House MD is the best television show currently on our screens.
For those who haven't watched this masterpiece of televisual excellence, let me give you the very simple premise.
The show centres around a world famous 'genius' diagnostician called Dr. Gregory House (played perfectly by Huge Laurie).
However, House is a tainted genius because of his anti-bedside demeanour… and to be honest that's putting it mildly. His witty and cutting comments towards his patients and long suffering diagnostic team are stuff of legend. There are many layers to his character, and they start to slowly unfold as each season passes. We quickly find out that he lives his life in chronic pain (because of a previous leg injury), is addicted to pain killers, a fantastic musician, but haunted by past and present relationships! Most importantly though, his awful bedside manner can not only save the lives of his patients but can also cause harm to those people that are 'supposedly' close to him.
The character of House is based on Sherlock Holmes, and as such House has his trusty, long suffering sidekick Wilson (instead of Watson), who attempts to keep him in check, with sometimes hilarious and sometimes tragic consequences. The remaining supporting cast all perfect in their roles but the driving force is undoubtedly Huge Laurie, who manages to bring out a real sense of vulnerability and likeability to a character that really has no right to deserve either.

Genius television!

“Like I always say, there is no 'I' in TEAM... there's a 'ME' though, if you jumble it up.”

20. Dexter (81)
(2006- )


With Dexter we start at the start – the title sequence is one of the best conceived I've ever seen on TV and gives us plenty of forewarning on what's to come. It's like those pics you used to get in Ask the Family – a tiny bit of an everyday object and you have to guess what it is. It runs through Dexter's normal morning routine – same as every other worker in America. Wake-up. Wash and dress. Have breakfast. Head out. But zeroes in on the detail, a delicious creepiness to slicing eggs like slicing eyes, using knives, pulling ties. A perfect introduction to the abnormal perception of the everyday world that will follow.

Dexter is a serial killer. He's known since he was a kid. But unlike most serial killers, his foster dad decided to train him to protect him and to push him to use his dark desires for good – he's a serial killer who kills other serial killers. Ideally placed as a blood splatter specialist for the police, he can track and trace and enact justice when the courts can't or the police miss the real clues. He also tries to fit into the world around him – aware he doesn't feel in the same way others do, he has a strong relationship with his foster sister. And, initially, a safe one with an abused woman who is happy that he doesn't push her emotionally further than she wants to go – she thinks it is consideration, rather than a lack of perception on how things should go. But when that rather graphically changes, Dexter himself begins to change – trying to empathise with others or at least understanding how that works. That part does get a little Grey's Anatomy at times – start with a problem then lo and behold, find a killer who can solve it. But obviously better written and acted.

Each series follows an overall serial killer arc – series 1, a killer who bloodlessly takes bodies apart and has a strange affinity for Dexter. Series 2 it is Dexter himself who is the target. Series 3 is a little odder with Dexter partly responsible for creating the monster he has to deal with.

At times, extremely well-written its major draw is a superb and oddly nuanced (given the lack of emotional awareness of Dexter himself) central performance from Michael C Hall. Although sadly over, my personal favourite of his relationships was with Sergeant James Doakes – an angry, violent ex-army police officer. The only one who knows Dexter is off and, when he gets too close, Dexter plays him like a well-tuned violin and gets to have some of the most honest and open conversations of the series with him.

Coming soon for season 4 with one of my favourite actors joining in the fun, even with dips Dexter is a recommend watch.

19. Battlestar Galactica (19)

2003 brought us one of the few TV shows to intelligently consider the issues of the day. The increasing polarisation caused by ever more extreme takes on religion. The difficult choices faced by resource poor politicians. The nature of terrorism and the tactics of those who see themselves as oppressed. The concept of personal identity and what makes a man a man. Marxist concepts of the proletariat vs the needs of society.

All of this is rare enough inofitself – few shows have that kind of ambition and even fewer, as this one did, had the guts and writing ability to match what that ambition required.

The real surprise for many, however, was that the show was SciFi. Not only that but, quite astonishingly, it was a remake of one of the cheesiest post-Trek outings of the 1970s. Battlestar Galactica had been reborn with some serious reconstruction – the very definition of a ‘reimagined’ series.

BSG isn’t a dry intellectual exploration of questions of the day, however. A brilliantly conceived story of the survivors of genocide on the run in space, desperate for a new home – the action and pacing of space battles, jaw-dropping cliffhangers combined with writing of intelligence, wit and perfect balance were a weekly occurrence. Controversial changes proved inspired – particularly the sex-change given to problem pilot Starbuck (Kara Thrace). At no point did we ever feel that her sex somehow made her difficulties with authority, arrogance in the cockpit and sheer ballsiness remotely unbelievable. Reliable character actors Olmos and McDonnell brought gravitas to key roles as the leaders of the remnants of humanity. Touching on issues of military vs civilian authority, it came to a head with the appearance of Pegasus and a superb guest appearance from Michelle Forbes while involving us further in the idea of identity and consciousness as the Cylons themselves became almost indistinguishable from ‘us’ and argued their own right to exist. The resultant split within the Cylon community was fascinating and thought-provoking – and you also remembered who the core ‘terrorists’ were on New Caprica.

For me, brilliant though I thought the series was already and easily one of the best-written shows in many years, it really became something quite special at the start of season 3. Leaving a cliff-hanger at the end of season 2 that had me worried it might take an easier route, season 3’s early episodes on New Caprica – the split within the colonists, the issues of collaboration and the tactics of the resistance made for the type of TV superlatives seem inadequate to cover the new level the show raised itself to. Clear analogies to the world situation in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in one of the best characters – James Callas as Gaius Baltar transforming from an enjoyable figure often used for light relief to a tragic one who, while clearly blameworthy himself, irrespective of Adama Jr’s defence of him, did also cause us to examine how easy it is to blame others for everything when we do nothing.

It is rare for TV science fiction to take on the role of examining our society and our future in the same terms that the best literary SciFi does. To fit that structure over a formerly cheesy space opera takes great skill and the result is one of the greatest pieces of science-fiction to hit our TV screens.

18. Arrested Development (12)

Blurb needed

17. The X Files (14)

Giving us 9 seasons, 2 movies and 2 spin-off shows (The Lone Gunmen and Millennium), leading to the creation of the term 'X-Phile' (meaning fan of the show), the X-Files was one of the staples of sci-fi in the 90's to early 00's. The premise of the show was following agents Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) as they investigate the weirder cases that the FBI are expected to solve, throw in that you had Mulder believing his Sister had been abducted by aliens and a steady flow of conspiracy theories and people within the FBI trying to throw our duo off course and it ended up an engrossing show that had that hook that made you want to see what happened the next week.
As the show progressed through the seasons a more humorous approach was taken particularly through Mulder's character, given scenes such as telling Nazi's that they'll get theirs when they go to Russia in the episode when he went back in time (seriously). On top of this they also had what I thought was the real 'will they/won't they' storyline of a potential romance between Mulder and Scully (none of this Ross and Rachel tosh for us X-Philes). Though in the last couple of seasons the show did drop off a bit with the story that Mulder had been abducted by aliens and replaced in the show with Agent Doggett (played by Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick), and then returning back, to try and help the show with its ratings which were starting to fall, however this still doesn't take away from the brilliance of the show during its earlier seasons.

16. Blackadder (17)

For many people Blackadder started off badly. Not me. I love the first series, where Edmund Blackadder is the village idiot and Baldric does indeed have a cunning plan - several of them in fact as he tries to look after his idiot master. It has Brian Blessed merrily booming away as Edmund's father, and the gestation of the humour we would come to expect in the 3 series (although not the odd spin-offs) that followed.

Setting the series for the most part at key moments in English history (Series 3 being rather the exception), for many Blackadder hit the heights series 2 in Elizabethan England becoming one of the most quoteworthy on TV – vying for the attention of an Elizabeth (not one history would recognise) played beautifully by a Miranda Richardson, showing previously unsuspected serious comedy chops, Blackadder was 'aided' by a now imbecilic Baldrick and even less by addle-brained toff Percy. Series 3 saw Blackadder lower down the rung of society's ladder in Regency England, but as ambitious as ever. The last proper Blackadder work was in the trenches of WW1. It has appeared in other guises for charity etc, but it's never felt quite right, IMO.

The character of Edmund Blackadder has remained fairly consistent in the last few series – ambitious, cynical, and intelligent. Despiser of bureaucracy and sycophants.

It is series 4 that made Blackadder, IMO, outdo even the joys of season 2 and lifted far above being 'just' very good comedy. There was a real passion behind the cutting wit that series - his most deadly attacks were those against the High Command, the idiotic senior officers sending men to die. If you ever do an essay on the causes of WWI, I can suggest no better than this

Blackadder: You see, Baldrick, in order to prevent war in Europe, two superblocs developed: us, the French and the Russians on one side, and the Germans and Austro-Hungary on the other. The idea was to have two vast opposing armies, each acting as the other's deterrent. That way there could never be a war.

Baldrick: But this is a sort of a war, isn't it, sir?

Blackadder: Yes, that's right. You see, there was a tiny flaw in the plan.

George: What was that, sir?

Blackadder: It was bollocks.

And then we have the final scene. It was unsurprisingly voted one of the most memorable scenes ever seen on our TV screens. A pitch-perfect mix of pathos and humour that left not a dry eye in the house as Blackadder and men finally went over the top.

And isn't it odd that 2 ditzes from Blackadder went on to star as psychopathic MI6 men in Spooks?

15. Father Ted (23)

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

14. The Office (UK) (20)

With great success, invariably comes a hell of a lot of people wanting you to fall flat on your face. And arguably, Ricky Gervais has brought a lot of criticism on himself due to his perceived boasting and outspoken criticism of other sitcoms.

The thing is...he's got a good right to boast as the original version of The Office is absolutely glorious. 14 episodes of utter sitcom perfection. Some may say that the US version has bettered it - I can't comment as I've never seen any of it, but to be better than this would have to be something special indeed.

Let's not concern ourselves with whether The Office was the first sitcom to use the faux-documentary style (it clearly wasn't, and I don't think Gervais or Merchant have ever claimed that it was), because what's important is that The Office came along at exactly the right time. A whole genre of reality television had seemingly taken over every channel and The Office tapped right into the notion that now, anyone could be a star irregardless of talent (or lack of). And that was the masterstroke - David Brent wasn't just a bad boss, he was a bad boss that saw himself as a cross between a lifestyle guru, a rebel and yes, a chilled-out entertainer, who saw the television crew documenting the day-to-day life of his paper supply office as his pathway to superstardom. Cue many, many embarrasing, cringe worthy moments where David destroys a training day seminar ("I think there's been a rape up there!"), messes up the integration of the new Swindon lot ("Is it a black man's cock?") and gets himself fired on Comic Relief Day ("a day of laughter...") among many, many, highlights.

Brent is a comic icon to rank alongside Basil Fawlty, Hancock and Del Boy, but let's not forget office goon, little Hitler and TA member Gareth Keenan (of Gareth Keenan Investigates), sweet receptionist Dawn and lovestruck Tim. And that's another reason why Gervais's and Merchant's instinct to construct The Office over 14 episodes was so important - it allows genuine character arcs (Brent goes from irritant, to incompetent to eventual victim) and plot developments to build subtly, whilst not destroying the illusion of documentary. This leads to two of the finest moments in sitcom history in the Christmas specials - who doesn't cheer when Brent finally breaks free from bully-boy Finchy's shadow and tells him to fuck off? And if your heart doesn't melt when Dawn comes back for the unsuspecting Tim at the Christmas party, then I don't think I want you to know you.

As I say - sitcom perfection. And I didn't even mention the dance.

13. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (4)

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

12. Firefly (2)

Leaving Sunnydale and LA and the rest of long dead earth behind, humanity headed out into a new system far far away. With earth little more than a race memory, the old ‘heading west’ ethos pitched ornery settlers on the borders of the system, determined to go their own way, in conflict with a high-tech military/industrial authority who intended to assert their control over all corners of current human existence (think 19th century America and the progress of each part towards statehood). Although it wasn’t allowed to develop those themes further, the central idea of state control vs independence ran through every episode with tantalising glimpses of the military industrial complex at the hub of the new humanity (particularly intriguing was the economic role of the organisation behind resident prostitute/geisha Inara that seemed to be helping keep tabs on industrial development on more distant planets), and evidence of the combination of our current superpower and superpower in waiting, with Chinese language and culture underpinning much of the more recognisable western ideas, giving a very unique feel to the programme.

So Whedon created a western in space – we get horses and guns, train robberies and shoot-outs, and a catchy theme tune (far superior to the bad mistake that started off every epi of Enterprise). Several remnants from the losing side in the civil war band together in low-key criminality to run a cargo ship called the Serenity (named after a losing battle in the civil war). The series starts when the crew take on board some new passengers – the mysterious Book (whose real background is only hinted at and, IMO, one of the best scenes in Serenity is where it cons us into thinking we’ll get the normal backstory only to be effectively told to ‘sod-off’), and the Tams, on the run from the Alliance. Both regularly bring the crew closer to run-ins with the Alliance than they are comfortable with.

Firefly was funnier than pretty much all supposed comedy shows- the script traversed the one-liners of the brighter amongst the crew to the almost physical humour round the dim Jayne, with his own version of Rimmerworld gut achingly funny (and possibly also an influence for Rico the penguin, although Rico is more naturally loyal). My personal favourite remains, however, River ‘correcting’ Book’s bible. Witty repartee is almost a Whedon trademark, and here, again, it was married to thrilling action and genuinely creepy encounters with the inhuman (but not) Reavers. Efficient and brilliant character introductions (particularly Mal’s introduction of one man to the engine) sucked us in from the first episode.
Offbeat and brimming with imagination and humour, the Serenity should have flown across our screens for many years to come. We were fortunate to get a superb big-screen outing, which to an extent closed off some of the storylines – the source of the feral reavers (the show ignored the idea of alien contact) and a possible conclusion to the hunt for River Tam. But this will remain best known as the dumbest cancellation decision seen on network TV. Joss Whedon’s Firefly lasted only 15 perfect episodes before Fox donned their usual stupid hats.

11. Scrubs (3)
(2001- )

Scrubs is set in Sacred Heart Hospital and follows protagonist John ‘JD’ Dorian (Zach Braff) who in season one starts out as an intern - as the seasons progress, as does his medical career where he finally becomes an attending physician. It is not as serious as it sounds however; sure there are core elements that require reflection, most notably in the final five minutes of each episode where one learns most of their life lessons, but it is also a comedy. JD’s oddball humour is primarily shown through a number of daydream sequences similar to that of Family Guy’s departure clips. The supporting cast also contribute to the sometimes relentless comedy. Christopher Turk, JD’s best friend has an energy that is eternally funny, whether it is when he is annoying love Carla or his antics with JD, you’ll never get bored with this character. Eliot Reed and her neurosis can be a difficult character to like at first, but soon you will warm to her character. Perry Cox, starts off being one of the better characters in the show but soon descends into a constantly moaning person which becomes tired over the eight seasons. Similarly, the mysteriously names Janitor is a difficult character to like, he quickly becomes annoying as he persistently tortures JD – ‘it all started with a penny’ he sings in one episode – well fucking get over it! Bob Kelso, the chief of medicine in the hospital is the highlight of the show. What plays alongside the comedy is touching drama – the majority of episodes have JD’s voiceover (some episodes are done by other characters which is a refreshing change) and offers a chance for reflection and it cleverly offers a precise view on everyday life in a hospital setting. Certain episodes also end on a sombre note, this is a show that can be taken seriously and one that can you can have on the background – it finds the right mix and is altogether better for it. The writer’s strike inevitably affected the series, with the seventh and proposed final season cut short and an eighth season made. It has now been extended to a ninth season with Braff’s JD only making guest appearances.

< Message edited by Rinc -- 11/10/2009 9:44:54 PM >


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 7
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:31:03 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
10. Family Guy (11)
(1999- )

Lois Griffin: [reading paper] Oh, this is wonderful! Look at this, Peter! [gesturing toward story of the renaming of James Wood High]
Peter Griffin: [reading off headline] 200 die in train derailment? Oh, God, Lois, that is just morbidly obese.
Sick, twisted and politically incorrect, this animated series features the adventures of the Griffin family. Fat, child-like, head of household Peter Griffin (voiced by creator Seth MacFarlane) screws things up while doting wife Lois (Alex Borstein) tries to keep things on an even keel. Peter and Lois have three kids - put-upon daughter Meg (Mila Kunis), dumb teenager Chris (Seth Green) and the youngest, Stewie (MacFarlane again)- a genius baby bent on killing his mother and destroying the world. Their talking dog, Brian, keeps baby Stewie (MacFarlane again) in check while sipping martinis and sorting through his own life issues.
Family Guy shouldn't work at all. Even by the witless standards of modern television, it is breathtakingly derivative: does an animated series about the antics of a boorish, suburban yob with a saintly wife, a hopeless son, a clever daughter and a baby sound familiar at all? Even the house in Family Guy looks like it was built by the same architects who sketched the residence of The Simpsons.
However, Family Guy does work, transcending its obvious influences with reliably crisp writing and glorious sight gags contained in the surreal flashbacks which punctuate the episodes. Extremely funny and sometimes shocking (for those of a nervous disposition), Family Guy has been saved from cancellation twice, due to its popularity, and has now even garnered its own spin-off in the shape of The Cleveland Show.

9. Friends (13)

The sitcom that defined the nineties and made going out for coffee with friends seem cool. The story revolved around 6 friends living in New York City. The three male leads were Joey the aspiring actor and ladies man, Chandler the sarcastic one and Ross the science geek with three failed marriages. The three female leads were Rachel the fashionista, Phoebe the eccentric and Monica the ultra competitive. The writing for first few seasons was razor sharp with the cast delivering well timed one liners. The early seasons also contained the shows defining story arc of whether Ross and Rachel would get together which for a sitcom gripped viewers. In the later episodes the six friends became somewhat caricatures of their younger self’s, Joey became even stupider, Monica even more neurotic etc but the writing still showed glimpses of that early season verve. The show ran for 10 years earning the cast 1 million dollars per episode by the time it ended. Friends was a major hit for Channel 4 and the repeats are still hugely popular on digital channel e4.

8. Spaced (6)

Blurb being written by Rebenectomy!

7. 24 (5)
(2001- )

24 first aired in America a short time after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, amidst global fears of terrorism.

Fortunately, in 24's fictional world, the public and the audience can depend upon a central character, an archetypal hero who will save the day no matter the odds: Jack Bauer. It's a testament to the strength of the medium over the last decade that one of the definitive action heroes of the era has emerged from the small screen. Bauer's (played by Kiefer Sutherland with unflinching intensity) appeal is clear -- he's one of the most resilient, determined and downright ruthless characters on television, yet one of the few amongst this group who would also be classified as 'the good guy'. His methods give rise to the show's central questions: Do the ends justify the means? How far is too far?

It walks a fine line between fantasy and being grounded in reality; 24's world is populated by characters operating at the extremes of human behaviour, constantly cast in shades of grey; it's less interested in why the characters make their decisions but instead asks empathy of the audience for the situation.

With that in mind it's important to view 24 not as a deeply resonant drama but as an immediate, visceral action series, always pushing forwards. Its heartbeat, the real-time clock (essentially a countdown), gives it a propulsive momentum that few others can match, in addition it revitalised the use of cliffhangers on television, and it set a high bar for sheer audacity in killing off main characters and delivering unpredictable and explosive plot twists, in a short time becoming the progenitor for countless other serialised programmes attempting to replicate 24's success based on a narrow range of its playbook. Few of the copycats survived, but nevertheless 24 did demonstrate that mainstream audiences were willing to commit to watch each episode of a series in order to follow a narrative, and stories did not need to be resolved by the end of the episode.

By rights, something so closely tied to the era in which it was produced it should have burned out by now, or dated badly, but despite several repeating themes and storytelling devices (there's another mole!) it has stayed remarkably close to the high level of energy of those early episodes, which are as ballistic as ever.

And well, dammit, it's just so exciting.
Captain Black

6. The West Wing (8)

With its emphasise on the need for intelligence in the office of US President, the West Wing in turn highlights the need for intelligence in US broadcasting, hell, any broadcasting for that matter. With complex issues and sharp, articulate dialogue, a stellar regular cast and none too shabby guest stars, plot progression and character development that proves not everything needs, nor should be, summed up in convenient 40 minute packages, the show was the antithesis to the much of the stylized yet banal guff churned out before and unfortunately after its original air date back in 1999, in the same way that President Jed Bartlet was the antithesis to a certain Mr GWB. However, it also set prescient for future quality, by proving that you can do clever and entertain at the same time. And that is essentially where the real success of the West Wing lies; in its pure entertainment value. For aside from the cold hard elements of bureaucracy and policy, at the centre of the show lies a beating heart of genuine sentiment, warm humour and at times lashings of fromage. At once inspiring, informative, romantic and thrilling, many claim that it lost its way a little after the departure of creator Aaron Sorkin in 2003, but one need only look with hindsight to it's handling of a non Caucasian candidate in the final two seasons to realise the relevance it held right to the bitter sweet end.

5. The Sopranos (9)

The Sopranos follows a New Jersey mob boss (or 'waste management consultant,' as he often calls himself) as he juggles two families in his life. The DiMeo crime is failing to live up to the glorious days when his father ruled the roost whilst his home family generally give him stress, in particular his mother, who refuses to be sent to a care home. These factors, combined with his straining attempts to keep the two families separate from each other, lead Tony Soprano to seek therapy.

This premise may not seem deep enough to justify its six/seven season run. Fortunately, the show is a slow-burning character-driven drama, seen through the eyes of Tony (James Gandolfini), and thus enables the many characters to be expanded upon to give the viewer an authentic and apparently realistic a portrayal of contemporary Mafioso lifestyle. David Chase, who himself is an Italian-American

The Sopranos is certainly a rare breed of television drama. Despite its popularity increasing as the amount of seasons was built upon, it remained at a very high standard indeed. Stand-out episodes may have been common, yet not once did I feel as if the show was dipping in quality. David Chase and the other writers involved refused to give the audience the conclusions to storylines that the public wanted. Right up until the infamous ending, his vision was the one on screen.

Although the writing is exceptional, it is James Gandolfini who often gets the most plaudits during discussions, and rightly so. Throughout the 86 episodes, he did not slip out of character once. Despite his obvious chops for acting, he had failed to land a major and well-recognised role before this one. He gives the necessary elements to keep Tony a mysterious and unpredictable character throughout. It is also to his credit that he maintained his incredible performance during the last couple of seasons despite being unsettled due to disputes with HBO over delayed pay. It is a shame that Gandolfini will likely never shake off Tony Soprano, and I hope to see him get the leading roles that he deserves away from the typecasting.

Though Tony is the focus of the show, many supporting characters are given depth; to the point that I'd say only The Wire has given a greater number of fully developed individuals. His uncle Junior and his 'nephew' Christopher act as links between the two families for Tony - his uncle, who plotted to kill Tony in Season One, is also a link to Tony Sr.'s years which he is trying to rediscover. Christopher's blood-relation to Tony gives the impression that he will be next in line for the position of head of the family. It is credit to both the quality of writing and Imperioli's characterisation of Moltisanti that his character arc is so tragic. Criticisms have been thrown at the show for its repetition - the snitches, the foils to Tony after another has departed and so forth. This point of mafia families being similar and cyclical may be obvious but it is key to Chase's musings over the repetitive nature of Hollywood gangster films and society itself.

Something very rarely seen in a complex dramatic piece is high levels of humour. In fact, The Sopranos is one of the funniest shows of recent years. The one liners, particularly the mistakes in vocabulary made by the gangsters ("There's no stigmata these days," "I ain't getting on no plane," "...create a little dysentery among the ranks") provide numerous memorable moments. Paulie Walnuts and Silvio Dante give a large supply of this humour. One of the most intriguing features of The Sopranos is the relationship between Paulie and Christopher. As they both vie for 'promotions', tension ensures between the two due to Christopher having the advantage of being a blood-relative of the head of the family.

HBO have a knack of producing television that can easily rival anything that modern cinema has to offer - and, although it may not be as good as The Wire, I'd even go as far as to say that The Sopranos is better than anything that the gangster genre has offered. Although the comparisons are slightly unfair due to the difference in running-time and therefore the amount of opportunities to give additional layers, I feel that the writing, acting and general feel of the film is superior to the film that the characters who exist in Chase's world mention so very often - The Godfather.

4. Lost (7)
(2004- )

Blurb being written by Your Funny Uncle!

3. The Simpsons (1)
(1989- )

Blurb being written by thatlittlemonkey!

2. Band of Brothers (15)

What makes 'Band Of Brothers' so special? Saving Private Ryans success paved the way for a big budget, ten part mini-series television adaptation of the best selling book by Stephen E. Ambrose that wouldn't disappoint.
The plight of Easy Company is brought to life by a crew that includes Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the production only bettered by an unusually large but undoubtedly perfectly cast and talented group of actors. A whole company full of memorable performances, the standout being Damien Lewis' portrayal of the legendary but humble Richard Winters. Winters is a laconic teetotaler who soon proves his competence in action, leading a D-Day assault on a German artillery unit. Later, away from his men, Winters struggles with his own emotions during a weekend furlough to Paris. He rides Metro trains alone, haunted by his point-blank shooting of a young German soldier he encountered in Holland. Winters is the no-frills embodiment of American film heroism, and Lewis plays him superbly.

But, if there's a character right at the core of BoB it's war itself, more hellish than ever.

The viewer lives and figuratively dies with the men of Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, as they fight across Europe from D-Day to beyond VE-Day, after 10 hours you can't help but feel an emotional investment in all of them
From Curahee to the Kehlsteinhaus we are presented with an insightful, intimate and compelling portrait of the effect of the second world war through 'Easys' eyes. It's hard for me to single out certain episodes for special praise as they are all so good in their own way, but episode six, "Bastogne", focuses on an Easy Company medic, Eugene Roe (Shane Taylor), as he scrounges for morphine, scissors and bandages to keep up with the carnage. The men are surrounded by Germans, cold, fogged in and short on ammunition and winter gear. But the famous battle is recounted uniquely through Roe, who scrambles to save lives while all around him specialize in expending them. The episode is a splendid diversion into the belly of the beast, and BoB offers several like it as its spotlight shifts.

Episode seven "The Breaking Point" is the greatest singular episode of any TV Series I have ever watched. At this point in the series, the audience has come to know many of these characters well enough to be emotionally involved in their unhappy fates. The Breaking Point is almost unrelentingly violent and clearly demonstrates the toll that the fighting has taken, even on the strongest of the men.
Buck Compton, once a likeably cocky leader, has become a shell of himself since being injured. In one genuinely heartbreaking moment, Compton sees two of his best men maimed by the shelling, and breaks down. This episode contains some of the best dialogue and the most terrifying battle sequences in the series. Donnie Wahlberg does superb work as Easy Company's dedicated first sergeant, Carwood Lipton, who narrates the episode. Lipton steps to the foreground in this episode, and the audience gets to see how hard he works to keep up morale and keep his men focused. If there's on episode that sums up BoB, then this is it.

Band Of Brothers is the most powerful, emotive and moving piece of television I have ever seen. To me, and I know many others, it isn't just a TV show, and that is why it's so special.

"Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?"

"No, but I served in a company of heroes."
Your Funny Uncle

< Message edited by Rinc -- 15/10/2009 7:43:15 PM >


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 8
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:31:27 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
And Number One is...

1. The Wire (24)

You'd think that, with everyone watching The Wire having become addicted to it, there'd be some kind of WA (that'd be Wireoholics Anonymous), but that's ridiculous, 'cause anyone who has seen it know there's no point in being anonymous about it. It's the kind of show you'd really want to recommend to everybody you know, as if you've discovered the secret to eternal life or something. Truth is, it's such so great, it surpasses the secret to eternal life, 'cause you won't mind dying after having seen it. Yes, it really is that good.

At its heart, The Wire is a police show, but as the narrative progresses, it grows and grows to become something else entirely. Each season depicts a different part of the city of Baltimore (one of America's most violent), starting with the drug trade, and then (in sequence) it concentrates its scrutinized eye on the docks, the politics, the schools, and finally, the media. Characters come and go, although some remain for the full running time of the series. That I haven't mentioned any one of them is fully intentional. This is a show that you need to know as little about as possible before watching. At first, the writers' insistence on portraying everything as realistically as possible may jar a little (many of the characters use heavy slang, which has caused many a fan to praise the option of subtitles on DVDs), but soon you'll find yourself appreciating this in a way you may not have foreseen.

And here I reach the only negative thing about The Wire: once you've seen it all, you'll become a snob. You'll reject other crime shows because they take the easy, solve-the-case-in-one-episode route instead of showing the frustrations of real police work, which often includes a lot of dead ends and more politics than investigations. You'll reject other TV shows in general because they don't employ a long running narrative that emphasizes small details that at first seem insignificant, but later turn out to be quite important. You'll reject characters in other TV shows because they are either good or evil, instead of consisting of the morally gray zones that the characters from The Wire occupy. You'll reject most things, really, because you have already seen something that has not yet been bettered, and most likely won't be for a long time.
Dantes Inferno


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 9
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:32:28 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
The List In Full

1. The Wire
2. Band of Brothers
3. The Simpsons
4. Lost
5. The Sopranos
6. The West Wing
7. 24
8. Spaced
9. Friends
10. Family Guy
11. Scrubs
12. Firefly
13. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
14. The Office (UK)
15. Father Ted
16. Blackadder
17. The X Files
18. Arrested Development
19. Battlestar Galactica
20. Dexter
21. House
22. Fawlty Towers
23. South Park
24. Futurama
25. Doctor Who
26. Twin Peaks
27. I'm Alan Partridge
28. Seinfeld
29. The Shield
30. Peep Show
31. Deadwood
32. Red Dwarf
33. Heroes
34. Top Gear
35. Supernatural
36. Only Fools And Horses
37. Curb Your Enthusiasm
38. Frasier
39. Angel
40. Six Feet Under
41. Prison Break
42. The Office (US)
43. QI
44. Entourage
45. Life On Mars
46. ER
47. Rome
48. Black Books
49. Brass Eye
50. The League of Gentlemen
51. Quantum Leap
52. Generation Kill
53. Flight Of The Conchords
54. Auf Wiedersehen Pet
55. Have I Got News For You
56. Cheers
57. Planet Earth
58. Chuck
59. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
60. The Apprentice
61. Mock The Week
62. Monty Python's Flying Circus
63. Veronica Mars
64. 30 Rock
65. Match of the Day
66. Never Mind The Buzzcocks
67. David Attenborough’s Life Series
68. The Fast Show
69. Star Trek: The Original Series
70. The Big Bang Theory
71. Extras
72. Batman: The Animated Series
73. Star Trek: The Next Generation
74. CSI: NY
75. Criminal Minds
76. The Prisoner
77. Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
78. The Day Today
79. Oz
80. How I Met Your Mother
81. Grey's Anatomy
82. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
83. Smallville
84. The Twilight Zone
85. Mad Men
86. My Name Is Earl
87. Michael Palin documentaries
88. State Of Play
89. The A-Team
90. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
91. The IT Crowd
92. Cracker
93. Phoenix Nights
94. This Life
95. The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air
96. Big Brother
==iiThe World At War
98. Soccer Saturday
99. Stargate SG-1
100. Edge of Darkness

From the very beginning The Wire has been the frontrunner, and like a Paula Radcliffe marathon took the lead and never let up. It didn’t even need to stop for a wee on the way either. A complete turnaround from two years ago when it finished 24th. The real battle was for second and for a long time The Simpsons was way behind, but after starting slowly it built up support so much so if this poll had gone on for a little while longer it could have nabbed that important runners up position. Other drops come in the form of Scrubs, Firefly and Buffy which finished 3rd, 2nd and 4th respectively last time. However, they didn’t suffer nearly as much as shows like Babylon 5, Neighbours, Porridge and The Mighty Boosh who’s 2007 mid table positions meant nothing as they tumbled out of the top 100. Perhaps the worst performances came from Ally McBeal, 90th last time, down below 400th now, The OC which fell from 43rd to below 350th and Due South which finished a respectable 38th last time but gained only a measley 15 points this year.

On a more positive note the continued success of shows on our screens at the moment has been echoed in this list by Supernatural and The Office (US) which have risen 38 and 47 places respectively. But whilst these can be explained by continued viewing they don’t quite match the 72 place rise of I’m Alan Partridge, off our screens for seven years, although maybe the 26 place rise of Batman: The Animated Series has been fuelled by the popularity its big screen counterpart.

In the battle of the countries it was a straight out fight between the UK and USA. And whilst the US triumped with 57 entries it was only 10 ahead of the UK, and without including collaborations between the countries and with Canada and Ireland then the US led the mighty UK by 47 to 41. No other countries had an outright entry as Canada (6) and Ireland’s (1) were joint efforts with the Queen’s country and the Land of the Free.

By this point I guess you’re wondering which genre came out on top. Well it was only ever going to be between Drama and Comedy. And without going into subgenres it was a victory for comedy in the end with 39 to 35. The only other genre that came remotely close was Science Fiction with 13, whilst lagging behind was Animated (5), Nature/Travel (3), Sports (2), Factual Entertainment (2), Reality (2) and finally Documentaries (1).

So now I’ll let you discuss everything!


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 10
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 1:55:40 PM   

Posts: 54399
Joined: 1/10/2005
All that nagging and the Beeb finally showing it seems to have done the trick and put The Wire in the right relative place in the list - bravo!

Brilliant job Rinc - and major kduos for having a schedule, compiling a poll and giving us the results while still in living memory

Glad to see Edge of Darkness edge in if clearly far too low - I'm really surprised Friends is hanging on in the top 10, though - and that Family Guy made it at all.

And can I just say



Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!



Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 11
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:00:33 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt


ORIGINAL: elab49

Brilliant job Rinc - and major kduos for having a schedule, compiling a poll and giving us the results while still in living memory

I'm nothing if not organised.


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 12
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:07:00 PM   
Lazy wolf eyes

Posts: 4028
Joined: 9/9/2006
From: Royston Vasey
Wowsers, I'm Alan Partridge did really well! As Alan would say....back of the net!

I'm really chuffed State of Play made the cut, excellent piece of television.  There are quite a few shows on here I've never seen, so I'll have to check some out. I'm very keen on seeing Edge of Darkness.  

Nice work Rinc, and YFU!


If God had wanted us to walk everywhere he wouldn't have given us Little Chefs.

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 13
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:08:25 PM   

Posts: 1663
Joined: 20/10/2005
Shit, I forgot about World at War! Excellent series. Disappointed at the lack of Neighbours though!

Sterling work Rinc and YFU, well done and thank you.


I'd rather see Dave Lee Travis play Macbeth.

Hey, wha' happened???

(in reply to Lazy wolf eyes)
Post #: 14
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:10:22 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt


ORIGINAL: elab49


I'm guessing you thought they should have been higher?


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 15
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:11:08 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt


ORIGINAL: pedros

Shit, I forgot about World at War! Excellent series.

Just make sure you vote for it next year so we can get it higher.


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to pedros)
Post #: 16
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 2:30:11 PM   

Posts: 54399
Joined: 1/10/2005



ORIGINAL: elab49


I'm guessing you thought they should have been higher?

a) yes
b) happy with the relative postions


Lips Together and Blow - blogtasticness and Glasgow Film Festival GFF13!



Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 17
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 3:56:25 PM   
Dantes Inferno

Posts: 5886
Joined: 27/10/2007
From: Norway
I'm just sweeping by here, because I'm in a hurry, but I am thrilled to see The Wire at number one! And I got to write the blurb for it! Mind you, I made my reservation very early.

Will give this list a more thorough read-through later, but I have to run now.


President of The Wire fan club. PM me to join.

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 18
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 4:38:07 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
Just thought i'd post how the top 100 would look if it was based on how many votes each entry got (their official position in brackets). Interesting to see a few shows move up the list due to a lot of votes like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Heroes, QI etc. Whereas other clearly benefitted from being very well thought of by those that have seen them like The Wire, The West Wing, BSG etc.

1. The Simpsons (3)
2. The Wire (1)
3. Band of Brothers (2)
4. Lost (4)
5. The Sopranos (5)
6. Family Guy (10)
7. 24 (7)
8. Spaced (8)
9. Friends (9)
10. Scrubs (11)
11. The West Wing (6)
12. The Office (UK) (14)
13. Father Ted (15)
14. Blackadder (16)
15. Firefly (12)
16. X-Files (17)
17. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (13)
18. Dexter (20)
19. South Park (23)
20. Fawlty Towers (22)
21. Doctor Who (25)
22. Arrested Development (18)
23. Futurama (24)
24. Heroes (33)
25. Battlestar Galactica (19)
26. I'm Alan Partridge (27)
27. House (21)
28. Twin Peaks (26)
29. Red Dwarf (32)
30. Only Fools And Horses (36)
31. Deadwood (31)
32. QI (43)
33. The Shield (29)
34. Top Gear (34)
35. Seinfeld (28)
36. Peep Show (30)
37. Prison Break (41)
38. The Office (US) (42)
39. Have I Got News For You (55)
40. Frasier (38)
41. Life On Mars (45)
42. Rome (47)
43. Six Feet Under (40)
44. Brass Eye (49)
45. Supernatural (35)
46. Curb Your Enthusiasm (37)
47. Angel (39)
48. The League of Gentlemen (50)
49. Black Books (48)
50. Flight Of The Conchords (53)
51. Chuck (58)
52. Mock The Week (61)
53. Quantum Leap (51)
54. Planet Earth (57)
55. Never Mind The Buzzcocks (66)
56. Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe (77)
57. Entourage (44)
58. ER (46)
59. Cheers (56)
60. Generation Kill (52)
61. Auf Wiedersehen Pet (54)
62. CSI (59)
63. The Apprentice (60)
64. Monty Python's Flying Circus (62)
65. 30 Rock (64)
66. Match of the Day (65)
67. The Day Today (78)
68. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (90)
69. Veronica Mars (63)
70. Star Trek: The Original Series (69)
71. The Big Bang Theory (70)
72. Smallville (83)
73. My Name Is Earl (86)
74. The IT Crowd (91)
75. The Fast Show (68)
76. Cracker (92)
77. Extras (71)
78. Star Trek: The Next Generation (73)
79. The Twilight Zone (84)
80. State Of Play (88)
81. Soccer Saturday (98)
82. Attenborough Life Series (67)
83. Batman: The Animated Series (72)
84. Oz (79)
85. The A-Team (89)
86. Phoenix Nights (93)
87. Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (104)
88. The Inbetweeners (106)
89. Alias (130)
90. Criminal Minds (75)
91. How I Met Your Mother (80)
92. Michael Palin documentaries (87)
93. The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air (95)
94. Edge of Darkness (100)
95. Carnivale (105)
96. Harry Hill's TV Burp (107)
97. Our Friends In The North (111)
98. Columbo (114)
99. Porridge (119)
100. Louis Theroux (154)


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Dantes Inferno)
Post #: 19
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 4:40:47 PM   

Posts: 24962
Joined: 2/6/2006
From: Enemies of Film HQ
"While other animated comedies seem to attempt controversy for controversy's sake (to various levels of failure and success), South Park merely allows the subject matters to expose themselves as either ridiculous or down right stupid, due to simple and candid observations."

I doubt that, sorry Reb. They clearly have a point on some subject matters but the execution of the argument can be so badly executed they come out as pretentious(the Indiana Jones episode being the low point in anything in television) and juvenile. They can be the Squidward of television.

Lost at number 4! Madness! And far higher than The Prisoner? Greater Madness

Prison Break higher than Oz? Greater greater madness! Why didn't you vote these shows the way I wanted them!

Anyway, great to see BoB, Twin Peaks, BSG, QI Spaced, Futurama, Deadwood Flight of the Conchords, The Prisoner, Arrested Development and Firefly and many others. The more I get remined of Firefly and film the sadder I become. And now I must watch The Wire. And Generation Kill. And Brass Eye. And no. 54 has greatly interested me.

A great list, would have liked more vairiety than just English television though. You know, like Dekalog or Berlin Alexanderplatz.

And I will send you the Rome blurb Rinc, I promise. Great work btw. You did a great job with this.



There are certainly times where calling a person a cunt is not only reasonable, it is a gross understatement.


ORIGINAL: elab49
I really wish I could go down to see Privates

(in reply to Dantes Inferno)
Post #: 20
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 8:23:29 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
I haven't given my personal thoughts on the list yet. Obviously i'm delighted that The Wire and Band of Brothers were the top 2, actually i'm surprised. Although The Office (UK) is my favourite tv show, these two are the greatest i've ever seen and will probably overtake The Office with rewatches. Of the others i voted for i'd love Cheers, The World At War, The Fast Show and This Life to be higher but i'm also delighted they made the list. Also, and this might annoy people , but i'm glad Firefly didn't come second again. I watched it earlier this year and was a bit disapppinted, it's good but not worthy of second place.

There's a few shows i really want to watch, The West Wing and BSG being the main two. I need to give Spaced a rewatch because i saw it a few times during uni and didn't think it was too great.


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Deviation)
Post #: 21
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 9:18:07 PM   

Posts: 3726
Joined: 31/8/2006
Rinc, i've never watched Arrested Development, i don't know when i said i would do the blurb....

much love


"Snake? Snaaaake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!?"

R.I.P. Punchy

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 22
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 9:40:18 PM   
DJ Rob C: Mark II!

Posts: 34887
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Christmas town
Superb list! Look forward to reading through again soon 


When Gotham is ashes, you have my permission to die

Third Highest Post Count on the Forum, sad but proud!

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 23
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 9:43:39 PM   

Posts: 12844
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt


ORIGINAL: Sumintelligentguy

Rinc, i've never watched Arrested Development, i don't know when i said i would do the blurb....

much love

I don't know where i got that from then! Must have been someone else. Ok own up whoever you are!


No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Sumintelligentguy)
Post #: 24
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 9:57:37 PM   

Posts: 21021
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: My Hometown
I just watched BoB for the first time this week if I'd seen it earlier it would have been in my top five, excellent review for it too. Also liked the review of Supernatural very on the noose.

EDIT: I can do a blurb for Arrested Development if no one else wants it.

< Message edited by matthewforan -- 11/10/2009 9:59:30 PM >


"The Irish have always been victims of negative stereotyping. I mean people think we're all drunks and brawlers. And sometimes that gets you so mad all you wanna do is get drunk and punch somebody"

Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose

Punchdrunk RIP

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 25
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 10:34:49 PM   
Jackie Boy


Posts: 1134
Joined: 2/1/2006
I'm thrilled to bits with the results, as most of my selections have thankfully made the cut.

Of all the shows up there, The Sopranos is the one that thrills me the most. The fact that it's even more popular, some two years after they called it a wrap, just shows the enduring quality it has to offer. Likewise The Wire has been a bit of a slow burner, but once fully digested, it'll leave you hungry for more. Now if that isn't a sign of sheer quality, then i don't know what is.

Great job Rinc & to everybody else involved, it's been a hell of a lot of fun.

< Message edited by Jackie Boy -- 11/10/2009 10:44:55 PM >


"If you're not against me,don't cross this line! If yes,do."

(in reply to matthewforan)
Post #: 26
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 11:07:15 PM   

Posts: 23212
Joined: 26/2/2007
From: 41°N 93°W
The Prisoner is too low.

Other than that, interesting results. The Wire is a show I've yet to get into so I'll have to get onto that.


I tried to groan, Help! Help! But the tone that came out was that of polite conversation.

Empire Top 100 Albums Poll 2013: CLICK HERE

(in reply to Jackie Boy)
Post #: 27
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 11:16:01 PM   

Posts: 8
Joined: 10/10/2009
24 @ no.7??

you a noob yo?


I love PS3 and Little Big Planet

(in reply to Olaf)
Post #: 28
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 11:18:15 PM   

Posts: 8
Joined: 10/10/2009



'nuff said. Bauer = God.

< Message edited by N000000000000000000b -- 11/10/2009 11:21:33 PM >


I love PS3 and Little Big Planet

(in reply to N000000000000000000b)
Post #: 29
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2009 Results! - 11/10/2009 11:20:40 PM   
Jackie Boy


Posts: 1134
Joined: 2/1/2006


The Wire is a show I've yet to get into so I'll have to get onto that.

Do so. Season 1 is quite possibly the greatest piece of television that has ever been created.


"If you're not against me,don't cross this line! If yes,do."

(in reply to Olaf)
Post #: 30
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