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The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 - And the winner is...

 
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The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 - And the winner is... - 15/9/2010 9:42:15 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
Hello and welcome once again to the Top 100 TV as voted for by you.

We've had over 300 shows voted for, including classics from yesterday, modern phenomenons and some absolute tripe. Some shows have benefitted from recent series, some have suffered from being off our screens and some have defied both of those to rise through the ranks.

A big thank you to Your Funny Uncle and benmharper who have helped with the tedious task of counting. A big thank you also to all the blurb contributors (mainly from last year) and just remember there are still some shows needing blurbs, including some big hitters. If you want to contribute then send me a PM.

Most of all thank you to all those who voted. Without those votes we wouldn't have this list, or well we would it's just it would just be my favourite shows.

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 . Firefly
9 . Father Ted
10 . Buffy The Vampire Slayer
11 . Battlestar Galactica
12 . Blackadder
13 . Doctor Who
14 . Friends
15 . The X-Files
16 . The Office (UK)
17 . South Park
18 . Spaced
19 . Futurama
20 . I'm Alan Partridge
21 . Peep Show
22 . Dexter
23 . Family Guy
24 . Fawlty Towers
25 . Arrested Development
26 . Scrubs
27 . ER
28 . Supernatural
29 . Life On Mars
30 . Seinfeld
31 . Frasier
32 . Deadwood
33 . Angel
34 . Twin Peaks
35 . Rome
36 . Red Dwarf
37 . Only Fools And Horses
38 . True Blood
39 . How I Met Your Mother
40 . Top Gear
41 . The Office (US)
42 . House
43 . The Big Bang Theory
44 . Curb Your Enthusiasm
45 . Generation Kill
46 . Ashes To Ashes
47 . The League of Gentlemen
48 . Phoenix Nights
49 . Planet Earth
50 . Mad Men
51 . Our Friends In The North
52 . The Thick Of It
53 . The Shield
54 . Quantum Leap
55 . Attenborough Life Series
56 . Star Trek: The Original Series
57 . Brass Eye
58 . Six Feet Under
=59 . Bottom
=59 . Monty Python's Flying Circus
61 . Garth Marenghi's Darkplace
62 . Mock the Week
63 . Heroes
64 . 30 Rock
65 . Porridge
66 . Black Books
67 . Cracker
=68 . Cheers
=68 . The Prisoner
70 . Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe
71 . Friday Night Lights
72 . Edge of Darkness
73 . The Inbetweeners
74 . Freaks And Geeks
75 . Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy/Smiley's
76 . Veronica Mars
77 . Chuck
78 . Entourage
79 . The IT Crowd
80 . I, Claudius
81 . Extras
82 . State Of Play
83 . Flight Of The Conchords
84 . Auf Wiedersehen Pet
85 . Have I Got News For You
86 . Match of the Day
87 . The Muppet Show
88 . Prison Break
89 . The Day Today
90 . Babylon 5
91 . Louis Theroux
92 . The World At War
93 . This Life
94 . Hill Street Blues
95 . Hustle
96 . The Phil Silvers Show
97 . Sherlock
98 . Shooting Stars
=99 . Being Human
=99 . Spooks



< Message edited by Rinc -- 30/9/2010 4:51:38 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:42:52 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
=99. Spooks (NE)
(2002- )



Is this an appropriate time to remind Sherlock Holmes greatest villian to finish off his list?

An odd entry, maybe. By and large I’m ignoring elements of the first two seasons where 2 of the three leads were drippy, charisma-free and lacking in more or less any acting talent. But the storylines were still interesting – the shock tactics of episode 2, taking a possible lead and introducing them to a fat fryer (and it’s casual turnover of actors on the Grid in the seasons following). The decision to use the pro-choice fanatic storyline for the first episode – there is a boldness to many of the topics covered in the show and a level of prescience that has become increasingly noted. The opening to season 5 with the basis for the attempted coup. The pattern of relations with the US then Russia in the following seasons and the impressively timed inclusion of the economic meltdown. Planned, written and filmed months before these things happened.

Till mid season 4 the real joy was in the characters who weren’t really the leads – the backroom staff in Ruth, Malcolm and Colin, and group head Harry. Brilliantly written characters, and if MI5 employs someone as bonkers as Ruth they can’t be all bad. The best head of Grid (cloned from Harry’s DNA) is clearly Ros – I was quite worried when I heard Richard Armstrong was joining up as the logical conclusion was he’d be taking over from Adam – but they pulled a blinder and brought back the obvious candidate to lead the section. Ros was introduced as part of the season 5 coup attempt. Her general pissiness (and all woman who are still calling their father ‘daddy’ come their 20s clearly do have a lot to sort out), her attempts to get back at everyone which contributed to the loss of one of my favourite characters and her own, apparent, death didn’t keep her out of the picture – ball-busting, intelligent and one of the best written and played female characters on TV.

And the small touches continue to impress. I maintain that Hugh Laurie owes his current status to them – they’ve taken 2 of the Blackadder troup and turned them into sociopathic MI6 men – the other being Tim McInnery. One thing you learn – don’t annoy Laurie at the opera. And there wasn’t a tremendous step from that character to House.

It is, of course, fast-paced and slick. But it has a spark that other Kudos shows that have tried to replicate the success – tommyrot like Hustle eg – simply can’t manage. And I think that may be because of the quirk and humanity in the characters at the centre – the Malcolms and the Ruths.
elab49



=99. Being Human (NE)
(2009- )



A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost sharing a flat in Bristol is perhaps not the most likely of pitches to succeed with TV executives, but the eventual result struck a nerve with its audience when publicly piloted, creating an instant fanbase that turned Being Human into one of BBC3’s most successful shows, gaining strong ratings and BAFTA nominations alike.

In many ways, Being Human is the British parallel to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but focussing on damaged twenty-somethings rather than angst-ridden teenagers. Mitchell (Aiden Turner) George (Russell Tovey) and Annie (Lenora Crichlow), struggle to function in modern life with their supernatural conditions which serve as metaphors for real world problems (vampirism is portrayed as addiction, lycanthropy as badly suppressed violent rage, and spiritual manifestation as depression). Like all modern genre shows, there’s an arc running throughout the series as external villains plot against our leads, with various mysteries around their respective pasts to be resolved, but this is generally handled very well in each short series, leading to an affecting emotional climax for each character’s plotline.

It’s arguable that the early episodes suffer from not fully settling on how the ground rules that underpin the story world work, but personally speaking Toby Whithouse’s verve for snappy dialogue and strong plotting carry the show through its growing pains. Certainly, the second series deepens and broadens the character relationships in the manner of all good sequels, and despite the odd misstep here and there that mars it from the standard set by the first series, on the whole it’s very good stuff. Avoiding spoilers, the penultimate episode of Series 2 is one of the best written, acted and directed slices of television I’ve seen in many a year. Amongst the three leads, acting plaudits go to Mssrs Turner and Tovey, though I’d posit that the underrated Crichlow brings a certain sweetness and effective comic timing to what in the wrong hands could be a very annoying character. The best performance of the first series however must go to Jason Watkins as Mitchell’s vampire mentor Herrick, whose slightly offbeat casting makes for a fascinating and compelling nemesis.

A measure of Being Human’s success is that a US remake is arriving on our shores soon, but I’d recommend you to catch up on this witty, clever and funny slice of British telefantasy first.
Dirty Hartigan



98. Shooting Stars (NE)
(1993- )



I am biased. I am an unashamed and unapologetic fan of Vic and Bob since their Channel 4 series and have endless time for their escapades. This said, to describe Shooting Stars inevitably requires frequent and honest use of the term anarchic. It’s a tired cliché when it comes to Messers Moir* & Mortimer but more justified for them than for many other acts to whom it’s applied.
It is Shooting Stars who we have to thank for George & Marjorie Dawes, for Ulrika Jonnson’s otherwise inexplicable popularity and for B3ta’s propensity for the SPANG meme. However I forgive them this.
There is a format for the show... just. There are two teams, captained by (team A) Mark Lamarr, Will Self and Jack Dee and (team B) Ulrika Jonnson; four guest panellists (though team B will often have a semi regular, previously Jonny Vegas and Angelos Epithemiou), a scorekeeper (formerly George or Marjorie Dawes, most recently Angelos Epithemiou), all led by Vic & Bob as the question masters. However questions should be taken in the loosest possible sense: a question could be ‘name a popular fruit’ and if ‘apple’ is given as an answer, the correct answer could well be Graham Norton or vice versa: if Norton is given, apple would be correct. For a contestant to score points seems to be on the whim of the score keeper, if that.
Though this all sounds like a big complaint, the best way to appreciate it is to watch it yourself. Look out for repeats, specifically from the original series where Jarvis Cocker is twatted with a watermelon and from the most recent series, with Jack Dee getting smacked in the face with bacon. Sublime.
*Call yourself a fan if you didn’t need to Google ‘Moir’.
Sahara Desert



97. Sherlock (NE)
(2010- )



A new Sherlock Holmes adaptation, be it for television or cinema, always leaves me with mixed feelings. There's so many iconic takes on the character already, from Basil Rathbone to Clive Merrison, Jeremy Brett, Vasili Livanov, Frank Langella, there doesn't seem to be room for a new take on the role. The idea of updating the character to a modern setting seemed filled with flaws as well, was there really room for a consulting detective in the world of modern policing? Luckily creators Moffat and Gatiss used the world to their advantage, letting the updated situations and technology (most notably texting and Nicotine patches) feel a natural part of the story rather than something that the narrative constantly had to struggle against. They realised that the characters and the friendship between Holmes and Watson was always the most essential part of the original stories (something that a great many adaptations miss by turning Watson into a buffoon)

One of the show's greatest strengths is the casing of Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, much like The Doctor, Holmes is a character that requires a slightly otherworldly quality from the actor. Cumberbatch looks like a Holmes in the way that the likes of previous BBC Sherlock's (Richard Roxburgh and Rupert Everett) didn't. It also helps that he's a damn fine actor. Martin Freeman also proves his versatility as Watson, giving the character a sense of introspection and making the relationship between the two men believable. Importantly, Freeman's everyman quality helps to ground the series. He makes Holmes look ever more brilliant while also dragging him into the real world.

The first series was quick to introduce the classic Holmes nemesis of Moriarty, and it's the one place where the show falls down. Intended as an unpredictable psycho, he comes across more as a camp children's television presenter and the fault has to lie as much with the show-runners as the actor. But given that Moriarty is usually a shadowy figure in the Holmes universe, it shouldn't prove too much of a setback to future series. The rest of the supporting cast (including Gatiss himself as Mycroft) do fine work, with Una Stubbs a particular stand-out.

Despite there being only three episodes to date, Sherlock has already established itself as an important work. Giving us a Holmes who observes the traditions of past incarnations, while also being perfect for the new millennium, a Watson with great humanity and three thrilling adventures shot through with intelligence, wit and good old fashioned adventure.
Rawlinson!



96. The Phil Silvers Show (NE)
(1955-1959)



Better known to many as Sgt Bilko, is this 50 year old show really the greatest American sitcom of all time? In my opinion it is. Phil Silvers starred as U.S. army master sergeant Ernie Bilko. Bilko did his service during peacetime at Fort Baxter, a small, quiet little camp. Bilko spent his days cheating, conning, lying, gambling and basically doing anything he could to get his hands on money. Bilko usually enlisted the men in his command to help with his schemes, but he was just as happy to fleece them if he needed to. All of this was done under the nose of ineffectual Colonel Hall.

So what made the show so great? First of all there's the character of Bilko, played to perfection by Silvers. I can't say if Bilko was the first unsympathetic lead in an American sitcom, but he's quite possibly the most influential. Shades of Bilko can be found in American comedy characters down the ages from Louie De Palma to George Constanza, right the way up to George Bluth.

In addition to having one of the strongest lead characters in sit-com history, Bilko was unusual for featuring a large support cast. From Colonel Hall right the way down to slobby private Duane Doberman, every member of the extended ensemble was given a chance to shine. In fact, it was this large cast that led to the show's demise. The show was just to expensive to keep on air.

Then of course you have the wonderful writing. Elements of the show might naturally have dated, but setting the action in an army camp during wartime means that the characters are quite isolated from modern life and have achieved a timeless feel. Also, the comedic setups are so superb that any budding script writer could benefit from a crash course in Bilko.

So ignore the dire mid 90s remake, get some episodes by any means you can, and settle down to enjoy America's greatest contribution to television comedy.
Rawlinson



95. Hustle (NE)
(2004- )



Blurb needed



94. Hill Street Blues (NE)
(1981-1987)



Blurb being written by elab49!



93. This Life (94)
(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).
Rinc



92. The World At War (96)
(1973)



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.
Rinc



91. Louis Theroux Documentaries (NE)
(1998- )



Blurb needed


< Message edited by Rinc -- 1/11/2010 6:12:31 PM >


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No spoilers please:

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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 2
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:43:54 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
90. Babylon 5 (NE)
(1993-1998)



'A novel for television' was the original pitch for Babylon 5. Execs - in a time where virtually all television outside the realm of soap opera consisted of single stories wrapped up within the hour - weren't interested. 'It's Casablanca - in space!' (as rumour has it) finally won them over.

Starting in the year 2258, with a year passing for each season, Babylon 5 is quite simply: a space station 'two million five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal - all alone in the night'. Initially a form of interstellar United Nations developed with the intention of preventing further interplanetary war, and although under Earth control, it focuses on five major races (Human, Minbari, Centauri, Narn and Vorlon) headed by their Ambassadors, who are the key characters throughout the series along with the humans who work on the station.

Despite of its labyrinthine plotting, series creator J. Michael Stracynski (JMS) was able to write around even the most troublesome real world development. Originally the show was to focus on Station Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (Michael O'Hare), but he was replaced (reports vary as to why) by Captain John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) in the first episode of season 2, delivering (for my money) a more charismatic performance that anchored the show and may just have kept it on the air.

I've gone this far and barely mentioned the cast and characters, all of whom evolve considerably (and believably) throughout the series and most of whom have developing relationships with each other. Given space I could happily summarise each of them, but I would like to highlight two characters in particular who really stand out; Londo Mollari (Peter Jurasik) Ambassador of a once great, now faltering Empire desperate to regain the glories of the past. G'Kar (played by the late, great Andreas Katsulas) evolved from manipulative, reptillian schemer to wisdomed, spiritual mystic including acts of heroic self sacrifice and even greater displays of forgiveness. Some of G'Kar's speeches are among the highlights of the series.

Further kudos must go to composer Christopher Franke's fantastic score, and the digital FX department whose CG creations (while technically a little dated, the designs behind them are superbly imaginitive) really opened up a world of possibilities that hadn't been seen on TV before, particulary the starships constructed from curved organic surfaces and the huge space battles. At the time, Star Trek simply couldn't do an episode like 'Shadow Dancing'.

Influential? Questionable. Pioneering? Absolutely.

Casablanca in space?  Really, it's about your relationship with your parents and finding your own path in life. Remember: 'At the end, go to the beginning.' And watch it all over again.
Captain Black


89. The Day Today (78)
(1994)



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)



88. Prison Break (41)
(2005-2009)



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.
igotnewlegs



87. The Muppet Show (NE)
(1976-1981)



Debuting in 1976 and running for 5 seasons, The Muppet Show was Jim Henson’s attempt to create a show suitable for adults and children alike. Henson and his creations were a vital part of the successful Sesame Street, but the Muppet Show proved that loveable furry Muppets were not for children alone.

Set in an old Vaudeville theatre, the show sees Kermit as host and brains of The Muppet Show, a variety act featuring songs, plays, comedy sketches and guest stars. Chaos frequently reigns supreme, onset action and backstage antics often intermingle into a freewheeling slapstick scenario and it’s all played out to brilliant, comedic perfection

The guest stars covered all ranges of entertainment, many of them huge names. Rudolf Nureyev’s appearance is widely credited as being an incentive for other big stars to appear, and by the end of the run folk as varied as Johnny Cash, Elton John, Roger Moore, Bob Hope, Peter Sellers, Liberace, Alice Cooper, Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and Diana Ross has all graced the stage. There’s a train of thought that suggests that an episode of The Muppet Show is only as good as the guest star and that simply isn’t true. Although many had their career highlights on the show, and appeared in many genius segments, a few stars just looked out of place. Elton John sings, but who cares about him when you have crocodiles going “la la la”? Bob Hope looks puzzled by what’s going on, and the appearance of Swiss pantomime group Mummenschanz was plain weird. But even when the famous names let the side down, there was always Muppet mayham not far away.

By the second year of The Muppet Show, the puppet characters were properly defined, the guest stars all seemed more comfortable and the anarchy both on and off the stage was perfected, and this afforded the team a greater opportunity to play around with the format. Steve Martin’s episode saw the Muppet Show cancelled, and the gang instead were auditioning for new material. The theatre being fumigated led to one episode being held at a local train station. The penultimate episode of season 3 saw Lynn Redgrave guest star and the whole show was dedicated to a Robin Hood play. Kermit plays Robin Hood, Fozzie is Little John and Gonzo the Sheriff. Much to Miss Piggy’s chagrin, Redgrave is chosen for the role of Maid Marian.

It’s these characters, that have now become such a part of popular culture, that make the Muppet Show so special. Eager to please Fozzie Bear, crazy Gonzo, the oddball lunacy of the Swedish Chef, Dr Bunsen and Beaker, the wonderful balcony-dwelling hecklers Statler and Waldorf, and of course the frequently one-sided romance between Kermit and Miss Piggy. Each character had their own unique style and personality, and each was essential to the show. Add to these the lesser known performers like the Country Trio, the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband, Dr Julius Strangepork and The Snerfs, then throw in some brilliant recurring sketches like Pigs In Space, Veterinarian’s Hospital and Bear on Patrol you have the perfect comedy show, one that bettered everything that came before and that nothing has matched since. 120 episodes in the company of such greatness just isn’t enough, but we all should all be thankful of Jim Henson’s vision.
Gimli The Dwarf



86. Match of the Day (65)
(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!
matty_b



85. Have I Got News For You (55)
(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.
Rinc



84. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (54)
(1983-2004)



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.
rawlinson



83. Flight of the Conchords (53)
(2007-2009)



One of the finest comedies of the last ten years, the show focuses on the adventures of Bret & Jemaine, the two members of Flight of the Conchords, New Zealand's fourth most popular fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, as they attempt to start a new life in New York. Standing in the way of their rise to musical superstardom is Murray, their good-hearted but incompetent manager, who thinks that playing lifts and libraries are good gigs. Despite Murray's dubious help, the guys manage to scratch out a minimum of a living while still managing to find the time to meet women, join street gangs and compose increasingly bizarre new numbers. At least they have loyal fans. Well, fan, an obsessive (but cute) stalker named Mel who gives off the vibe that she could do something very nasty if she gets rejected once too often.

Musical comedy often gets a bad reputation, usually with good reason, but there are always exceptions and there has been a lot of great musical comedy made over the years from Tom Lehrer to Stephen Lynch, and Conchords are at the very top of the game. One of the reasons the show works so well is that the songs aren't just funny, they're actually good. Both men are talented musicians, capable of turning their attention to any genre of music and creating spot-on parodies of various styles and musicians from rap to Russian sea-shanties with ease.

While both Bret and Jemaine turn in excellent performances, the show is frequently stolen by Kristen Schaal as stalker Mel and Rhys Darby as Murray. Murray especially is a magnificent creation, officious but endearing, infuriating in his incompetence but strangely appealing all the same. Through Murray's job in the New Zealand embassy, the show also manages to poke fun at the public perception of NZ, from a bitter rivalry between New Zealand and Australia to an increasingly desperate series of posters about the virtues of the country and even the opening of a Little New Zealand in New York, New Zealand as a country is depicted as just as ineffectual as Murray and the Conchords.

Conchords had the good sense to bow out after just two series. While that might leave us with a limited number of episodes to enjoy the adventures of Brett, Jemaine and Murray, at least it means they didn't fall into the same trap as many American comedy shows, coming back season after season when the characters have outlived their natural lifespan and leaving us with something familiar but neutered. Instead the show went out on a high, giving us a natural end point for the characters and topping off two perfect series of comedy.
Rawlinson!



82. State of Play (88)
(2003)



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.
elab49



81. Extras (71)
(2005-2007)



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.
matty_b

< Message edited by Rinc -- 27/9/2010 11:29:44 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:44:29 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
80. I, Claudius (NE)
(1976)



Forget Gladiator, Caligula, Spartacus and Rome, this is the ultimate Roman epic. Russell Crowe? Kirk Douglas? Bleh. Give me Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Sian Phillips and Brian Blessed. So what makes I, Claudius so special? The sheer scope, for one. The BBC's ambition with this show was spectacular. I, Claudius takes in the history of Rome as narrated by the elderly Claudius (Jacobi in a career making role) through the depraved antics of the ruling family. It may look quite cheap to modern eyes, but it has a lot more heart and truth than HBO's recent series.

The acting in this series was of a level that's rarely been equalled since. Derek Jacobi's performance as a bumbling, stuttering young man, mistaken by many for a slow-minded fool, deservingly won him a Bafta. Sian Phillips creates on of television's most memorable villains in Livia, the murderous matriarch of the family. John Hurt turns in one of his most vivid performances and fully captures the dementia of Caligula. The cast is rounded out by top-notch performances from Brian Blessed, Patrick Stewart (Looking oddly like a young Richard Gere)

Darkly comic, shockingly violent, superbly written and acted. I, Claudius is one of the finest dramas the BBC have ever produced.
Rawlinson



79. The IT Crowd (91)
(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.
ChickMagnet



78. Entourage (44)
(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.
Sumintelligentguy



77. Chuck (58)
(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.
elab49



76. Veronica Mars (63)
(2004-2007)



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.
elab49



75. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley’s People (82)
(1979)



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.
elab49



74. Freaks and Geeks (NE)
(1999-2000)



I'm beginning to worry that the current 'Comedy Hero' status of Seth Rogen may lead to a backlash against this wonderful show. Rogen's career, and his association with Judd Apatow, started on this beautifully observed high school comedy/drama.

The star was a young Linda Cardellini (A fine actress who's never had the chance to reach her potential) as Lindsay Weir. An intelligent girl who goes through her rebellious phase and starts hanging out with the school stoners, the 'freaks' of the title. The 'geeks' were Lindsay's younger brother Sam and his friends.

In many ways the show was the typical coming-of-age show that's been done time and time again. But Freaks And Geeks is leagues above the likes of Dawson's Creek (also known as 'wasn't Katie Holmes beautiful before she started launching Cruise Missiles') or Party Of Five. The strength of the show is in the believability of the characters. The teens in most of these shows always seemed a bit too mature, you can sense the hand of an adult writer, Freaks And Geeks always avoided that trap. Also, in contrast to some of the complaints made against Apatow's films, the female characters here are the most interesting in the show.
Rawlinson



73. The Inbetweeners (NE)
(2008- )



Blurb needed



72. Edge of Darkness (100)
(1985)



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.
elab49



71. Friday Night Lights (NE)
(2005- )



Peter Berg really knew that he was onto a good thing when the filming of the big screen adaptation of H.G Bissinger’s novel. Straight after filming was done he decided that he wanted more, much more and he delivers in spades.

You might be mistaken for yet another show based around an American high school that but don’t go thinking this is another One Tree Hill in fact nothing could be further from the truth. This is a smart, funny and wildly passionate show. Its characters are so fletched out that you expect to bump into them on the bus while going to work, the almost documentary style way of shooting is also not only brave but adds to the show no end.

Sadly its run in the UK only lasted a year, it wasn’t helped by the fact it was shifted onto ITV4 at 11:30 at night but the US have stuck by it. It’s been hailed at one of the best dramas in TV history, winning a number of awards during the last 5 years sadly though its audience numbers don’t reflect the quality.

An incredible well-acted show brings excellent characters to life, the best I’d say since the West Wing, Kyle Chandler, Zach Gilford and Taylor Kitsch especially.

Sadly as I type this FNL has finished filming its fifth and final season, I have little doubt that it will go out with its head held high. The best show on television since the West Wing deserves no less. A fantastic show that I will go back to again and again.
matthewforan

< Message edited by Rinc -- 18/9/2010 12:13:57 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results 70-61! - 15/9/2010 9:44:49 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
70. Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe/Newswipe/Gameswipe (77)
(2006- )




Blurb needed!



=68. The Prisoner (76)
(1967-1968)



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.
rawlinson



=68. Cheers (56)
(1982-1993)



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!
Rinc



67. Cracker (92)
(1993-1996)



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.
matty_b



66. Black Books (48)
(2000-2004)



Sitcom set in a small, independent bookshop in London, Black Books, with quite a few links to the even more culty Spaced, with most of the stars taking guest roles in this one, too.

Owner and nihilist Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) is forced to hire unrepentant and hopeless bearded optimist Manny (Bill Bailey) both by his best friend Fran (Tamsin Greig) and his own utter hopelessness with accounts (which leads to amazing levels of transference activity up to and including baffling some Jehovah's Witnesses by actually inviting them in for a chat).

Black Books employs a strain of black humour that seems to have been joined up with an often surreal form of farce helping to give it that repeat watchability most sitcoms strain at. And I think it also helps that even though Bernard Black is one of the screen's most glorious drunks (and foremost hater of his own customers), the three main protagonists have a childish air that carries them through. I don't mean immature, but the three tend to qualities of openness and lack of impulse control and common sense that you could really see them as toddlers – just watch Bernard's childish glee as he rings and rings and rings Manny's phone after he's told it causes him pain.

Bernard in particular has no redeeming qualities and one show ends playing out that joke when a child claims to love a particular book he can't afford. And Fran is far from the female foil – as cynical and selfish as Bernard at times, she often pulls them out of trouble when she snaps into power mode – as schoolmarm to a thug, her retaliation to her friends or her amazing abilities at poker. But, equally, there is an extreme shoe fetish that needs to be dealt with before holidays. Well, you say holidays.

Manny enters their world after inadvertently absorbing the Little Book of Calm. He's Felix Ungar to Moran's far more extreme Oscar Madison, developing a deep symbiotic relationship that is troubled at times when he discovers a woman or a passing beard fetishist.

Moran's Black bears some similarities to his stage persona, although less extreme. Every time you think he can't get worse, he so very clearly does. But it is far from one note – the longing spying on Manny when he escapes to the corporate shop next door, the mad scientist that breaks out when making wine or deciding to be a chef or the Freudian slip when he castigates Manny about seeing 'other woman'! And you completely believe that in that extreme he can have friends – the ones he made before falling deeper down the hole but, especially, Fran – little moments like their eye contact when Manny greets his parents, make it all just work.

Reshown regularly (on one of the satellite channels as well), it only lasted 3 series but is a must for everyone wishing that fewer modern sitcoms were of the Dibley mode. Great stuff
elab49



65. Porridge (NE)
(1974-1977)



Blurb being written by elab49!



64. 30 Rock (64)
(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. Heroes (33)
(2006-2010)



Blurb needed



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



This is a topical news comedy but different from HIGNY in that it primarily (and, I think, solely) has comedians as its panellists, both regular and guest. With Dara O’Briain hosting, all seven are given virtually free reign to make comments on the week’s news events. The highlight of these are Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard and Andy Parsons, the three regulars. (Had I been writing a year ago, I would definitely include Frankie Boyle who would cut very close to the bone, suffered a media shit storm as a result and stepped down of his own volition.)
The show gives all the panellists a chance to air some of their current stand-up routines (so if you are a fan of Live At The Apollo and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow et al you may see some crossover) but more often than not the material is fresh and more importantly, funny. I mean, crying with laughter, side-splittingly hysterically funny. Catch repeats on Dave weekly, and watch out for “Nemo! Where the FUCK have you been?!” Best. Line. EVER.
Sahara Desert



61. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (90)
(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
Skiba

< Message edited by Rinc -- 1/11/2010 6:11:15 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:45:05 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
=59. Monty Python's Flying Circus (62)
(1969-1974)



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!)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00n7sf3/Monty_Python_Almost_The_Truth_The_BBC_Lawyers_Cut/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo&feature=fvst
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZlBUglE6Hc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE

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

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=monty+python&search_type=&aq=f
elab49



=59. Bottom (NE)
(1991-1995)



Bottom is about the lives of two middle aged best friends; Richard Richard (Rik Mayall), a sex hungry, unhygienic chap who regularly prances around their flat in his shirt and underpants, and Eddie Hitler (Ade Edmondson), a whisky swigging, bottom burping fellow who's always out to earn a quid or two. Without a brain between them, they rarely agreeing on anything and enjoy kicking each other in the knackers as well as causing as much injury to each other as humanly possible, with bad language to boot. An incredibly funny series where we see the guys get into all sorts of adventures and bother!
batcountry84



58. Six Feet Under (40)
(2001-2005)



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)



57. Brass Eye (49)
(1997-2001)



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.
igotnewlegs



56. Star Trek: The Original Series (69)
(1966-1969)



"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.
Rgirvan44



55. David Attenborough's Life Series (67)
(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.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/collections/p0048522#p004h6hn
elab49



54. Quantum Leap (51)
(1989-1993)



(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”.
elab49



53. The Shield (29)
(2002-2008)



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.
matty_b



52. The Thick of It (NE)
(2005- )



Blurb needed!



51. Our Friends In The North (NE)
(1996)



This epic drama started life as a play by Peter Flannery in the early 80s, it took nearly 15 years of negotiations before it was brought to television, during which time Flannery rewrote it and created one of t.v. drama's masterpieces.

Our Friends In The North tells the story of four Geordie friends, Nicky (Christopher Eccleston), Geordie (Daniel Craig), Mary (Gina McKee) and Tosker (Mark Strong). The show follows them over a period of thirty years, from the mid 60s to the mid 90s, showing the effect that their decisions, and the ongoing social and political changes in Britain, have on them.

The casting was all-important, the wrong actor in a role and this entire series could have come crashing down. Despite the current fame levels of the four leads, they were all relative unknowns when the show began. I think the only person I was really familiar with on its first showing was Eccleston, and he was such a chameleon like presence that he didn't bring any baggage to his role. It was an interesting decision to cast four unfamiliar actors as the leads, the lack of baggage also meant there was a lack of viewer expectation on the characters. We had no idea where their individual journeys would take them. Both McKee and Eccleston were Bafta nominated, with McKee deservedly winning. The casting in smaller roles was perfect too, most deserving of mention are probably Malcolm McDowell in his strongest role since the 70s as porn baron Bennie, Peter Vaughn continuing his career as one of the U.K's most underrated character actors, and David Bradley as politician Eddie Wells.

So what's the show actually about? It's a social commentary that manages to make its points about politics in Britain without ever becoming overly didactic. We witness the major changes in Britain, from high-rise developments to the miner's strike, through the impact they have on the lives of these four characters. As wonderful as all the cast are, the heart of the series is Craig's soulful performance as Geordie, the character with the roughest life.

It was a complex series that challenged the viewer to watch carefully, much would happen off-screen. Each new episode would jump ahead a few years in time, so the characters, and the society around them, would have undergone numerous changes. Our Friends... never spoon-fed the viewer, we were left to figure out those changes from brief lines of dialogue. It's always refreshing to find a writer that's willing to treat his/her audience with that level of respect.

Our Friends In The North really was a monumental achievement. So why is it so low down the list? It's not really. I think all of these shows, especially the ones in this top 50 are incredible and I dearly love them all. I don't love the number 31 series that much more than the number 49 and positioning is often much to do with my own whims when creating the list. This was a remarkable series that deserved every single word of acclaim.
Rawlinson


< Message edited by Rinc -- 20/9/2010 6:00:36 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:45:29 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
50. Mad Men (85)
(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?
MB2



49. Planet Earth (57)
(2006)



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.
elab49



48. Phoenix Nights (93)
(2001-2002)



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…
thatlittlemonkey



47. The League of Gentlemen (50)
(1999-2002)



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



46. Ashes to Ashes (NE)
(2008-2010)



As a huge Life on Mars fan, it's fair to say that the first series of Ashes to Ashes left me incredibly disappointed. It was as if the writers started believing their reviews a little too much. They seemed to be playing up to those who thought Gene Hunt was an inspirational figure. Instead of the beer-swilling, lazy, bigoted anti-hero of LoM, he'd become a parody of himself, riding to the rescue in a speedboat and tossing out cliched one-liners. Keeley Hawes as Alex Drake wasn't any substitute for John Simm's Sam Tyler either, an undeniably beautiful woman, she wasn't much of an actress, playing every scene as either smug or screeching and unlike with LoM, the writers hadn't figured out that her parent issues should have been an undercurrent, a recurring thread that comes into play in the finale rather than taking up half of the running time of each episode. I spent the first half of the first series hating the show, hating Drake and hating the creators for destroying such great characters. But I kept watching in the hope of improvement, it came about halfway through the first series. A slow change begun, the episodes actually became about the stories being told and the characters rather than about shoehorning in 80s references. Gene, Ray and Chris started to find their old chemistry again and Shaz and Alex both started to feel part of the team. It wasn't on the same level of magnificence as LoM, but it had promise.

The show really found its feet in the second series, we no longer had to endure Alex shrieking about her mother or her daughter in every episode, the plotline took a genuinely interesting twist with the introduction of a shadowy new character and the dark story of police corruption that took up much of the series felt like it could have come from Life on Mars. The introduction of Roger Allam as Supermac, Gene's superior, aided the show greatly and Allam gives a powerhouse performance, possibly the best supporting turn in either Mars or Ashes. What seems to have changed between series one and two was that the creators realised that what the fans loved about Life on Mars wasn't endless pop culture nods, but strong characters and the relationships between them. By series three the creators were promising a solution to the riddle of Gene Hunt, something that was delivered on in a manner that managed to keep fans guessing until the show's dying moments. But it wasn't all about the final reveal, it was about the journey and series three took us on a very dark trip indeed.

It now feels odd to see Ashes described as something separate from Life on Mars, it became not so much a spin-off as a continuation. In the end Ashes became not only about the story of Gene Hunt and Alex Drake, but about Chris, Ray, Shaz, Sam, Annie, everyone who entered this world, and it made us care about the characters and their fates. Along the way it gave us some of the most iconic figures in modern television, as well as some of the greatest performances and most entertaining shows.
Rawlinson!



45. Generation Kill (52)
(2008)



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



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



Blurb needed!



43. The Big Bang Theory (70)
(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



42. House M.D. (21)
(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.”
Sinatra



41. The Office (US) (42)
(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.
thatlittlemonkey

< Message edited by Rinc -- 21/9/2010 9:39:22 PM >


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(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 7
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:45:44 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
40. Top Gear (34)
(1978- )



Before I started watching Top Gear religiously (I am one of those, along with former Star in a Reasonably Priced Car Will Young, who watches the endless repeats on Dave), in my books cars came in colours with a wheel in each corner and one in front of the driver’s seat.
The programme in its current iteration has turned this air headed woman into one who tweets regularly that I could do as good a job as Messers Hammond, Clarkson and May for half the price, who will bite off the hand of the first person to let me play with a Bugatti Veyron, who was insanely jealous of a friend who recently rallied to Mongolia via the Transfagarasan route, who now claims I can fix anything with the judicious application of a hammer and a bag of chips and knows the Gospel of ‘if it’s stuck and shouldn’t be, use WD40 and if it’s moving and shouldn’t be use gaffer tape.
Cars now interest me. It’s thanks to Top Gear that I can maintain a half-decent conversation about them with my father and my car-minded male friends. It’s thanks to Top Gear that for a little over a month a couple of times a year, I am overjoyed and deliriously happy with the state of television programming in this country.
If you can ignore Jeremy Clarkson’s right-wing rhetoric, Richard Hammond’s forays into prime-time presenting (though he is good at it) and James May’s boys’ own nonsense (Man Lab notwithstanding), on any given episode you will find a funny and engaging programme despite a lot of the cars’ prohibitive price tags. And more than occasionally you will find moments of pure comedy genius: Jeremy thrashing round Basingstoke’s Festival Place shopping centre, Jeremy falling into or off a Christmas tree and cardboard loo respectively and Jeremy drowning Ross Kemp.
Sahara Desert



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



Legendary…

How I Met Your Mother is told from the perspective of Ted Moseby (Josh Radnor), as he is telling his kids, in as much detail as possible, the events leading up to how he met their mother.

Narrated by Bob Saget as Ted in 2030, the show chronicles the life and loves of Ted, a 20 something New Yorker, as he searches for his perfect life partner.

He shares an apartment with his best friend, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), a man-child at law school who wants to save the planet and is engaged to his college sweetheart, Lilly Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), a kindergarten teacher with aspirations of being an artist. He is also best friends with the misogynistic, depraved, sadistic and legendarily awesome, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) and the Canadian, Robin Scherbatsky, a reporter for New York cable news channel, Metro News 1, which no one watches.

Whilst sharing similarities with arguably the most popular American sitcom ever, by which I mean Friends, this is a worthy successor, although is a little more oddball at times.

Loosely based on the lives of the creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, the stories being told, not just by future Ted, but also the other characters, aren’t always accurate, and sometimes border on the fantastical (Marshall’s little league basket ball team losing because their opponents had a Teen Wolf being one of the more out there ones!).

And not only that, it also appeals to the nerd in me. How can you not like someone with a Storm Trooper on display in their living room? Even if he is the most chauvinistic, disgusting and yet awesomely awesome person you ever saw! There are lots of movie references too, and along general childishness, makes for one of the greatest comedies of the last few years.

Although season 5 got off to bit of a shaky start, it soon found its feet again, and as long as it retains its quality, I hope it’s around for a few more years.

Season 6 has started this week in the US, so hopefully, we won’t be too far behind.

I look forward to the day we finally meet their mother, but until then, there’s too much fun to be had!
juanvasquez



38. True Blood (NE)
(2008- )



Blurb needed!



37. Only Fools And Horses (36)
(1981-2003)



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.
thatlittlemonkey



36. Red Dwarf (32)
(1988-1999)



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.
elab49



35. Rome (47)
(2005-2007)




Blurb needed!



34. Twin Peaks (26)
(1990-1991)



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.
elab49



33. Angel (39)
(1999-2004)



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.
elab49



32. Deadwood (31)
(2004-2006)



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.
Rebenectomy



31. Frasier (38)
(1993-2004)



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.
elab49

< Message edited by Rinc -- 1/11/2010 6:13:16 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:45:59 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
30. Seinfeld (28)
(1990-1998)



I used to be so protective of Seinfeld. In the mid-90s the BBC and their idiotic scheduling screwed up any chance of it becoming incredibly popular in the UK (much like they have with Arrested Development this decade) and I was forced to listen to school then college friends telling me why Friends was a much better show. All of this forced me into a state of mind where I started claiming that Seinfeld was the greatest, darkest and funniest sitcom ever created. Of course it isn't. There are better comedies out there, but Seinfeld is still one of the best, not quite the greatest American comedy show of all time, but it's way up there.

For those who've never seen the show it stars stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld as... stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld. That's nothing that unusual for American sitcoms, many stand-up stars play themselves, or versions of themselves in sit-coms, but I don't think any wrote themselves as unflatteringly as Seinfeld did. Show Jerry is vain, neurotic, petty, and mean-spirited. His circle of friends are just as bad. Neighbour Kramer is a free-loading kook, Elaine could have been the token normal character but she's just as unpleasant as the rest of the characters. The jewel in the crown however is George an overweight, balding, hateful, neurotic, dumb, mean, dishonest, insecure, workshy little ball of self-loathing, played without a hint of vanity by the wonderful Jason Alexander. Seinfeld is a rare American sitcom in that none of the lead characters are written to be sympathetic. They're our identification figures, so of course we end up on their side, even though the writing is constantly telling us what horrible people they are. Not many American sitcoms could have a character gleefully celebrating the death of his fiancee and still be one of the highest rated shows on television.

Described within the series itself as 'a show about nothing', Seinfeld gets its laughs from placing the characters in mundane but absurd situations, getting entire episodes from misunderstandings over the ownership of a pen, a barking dog, a forgotten parking spot or a loaf of bread. Is Seinfeld without its flaws? Of course not. Like all other shows it had weak episodes, but for a show that lasted as long as it did, the hit-rate is astonishing, also, the fact that it never fell into easy sentiment is incredible. One of the few American shows that got the popularity within its own country that it deserved. A remarkable comedy.
Rawlinson



29. Life On Mars (45)
(2006-2007)



"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?

elab49

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.
matty_b



28. Supernatural (35)
(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.
Joedini



27. ER (46)
(1994-2009)



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.
benmharper



26. Scrubs (11)
(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.
Sumintelligentguy



25. Arrested Development (18)
(2003-2006)



"Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It's Arrested Development."

Arrested Development is proof perfect that America doesn’t just produce the best drama and science fiction - it also produces comedy of unparalleled calibre. In my opinion it isn’t just the best American sitcom of all time, it is also the finest comedy show ever made - anywhere. The fact that it ran for only 3 seasons is perhaps a blessing - there was never the time for the writers to drop the stratospherically high standard.

The premise of the show is a simple ‘riches to rags’ one. Centred primarily around Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) and his son George Michael Bluth (Michael Cera) as they return to help their family after the arrest of Bluth patriarch George Sr (played by the always-wonderful Jeffrey Tambor), the show follows the privileged Bluth’s as they struggle to maintain their materialistic and hedonistic lifestyles in the face of all manner of trials and tribulations (most of which are created through the self-centred actions of the family members themselves). What follows is a perfect mix of the absurd, subtle, farcical and even, occasionally, sweet and warm-hearted. Using the tried and tested foundation of the dysfunctional family, it takes the formula to comedic levels on a par with those of The Simpsons during it’s mid-nineties golden age. It’s shot in a mocumentary style that some may find takes time to get used to but helps keep some of the more outlandish stories believable, and it’s anchored throughout by Ron Howard’s wonderfully dry, knowing narration.

Michael’s constant battles to prevent his avaricious and self-centred family from destroying themselves is the principal theme, but the richness of the characters and their interactions take the show far beyond. There is Michael’s older brother Gob (played by Will Arnett), a dim-witted and bombastic failed magician who constantly undermines Michael in a futile quest for affirmation and respect from his father. There is his narcissistic and lazy sister, Lindsay Funke (Portia de Rossi), and her analyst/therapist (or as he terms it, “analrapist”) husband Tobias (outstandingly portrayed by David Cross). Tobias’ habit of unwittingly uttering homosexual double-entendres (“I’m afraid I just blue myself”) is one of the recurring jokes throughout the show. Lindsay and Tobias’ daughter Maeby (Alia Shawkat) provides a romantic aspiration for George Michael, who struggles with the morality and frustration of harbouring feelings for his cousin. Michael’s overly mothered youngest sibling Buster (Tony Hale) is socially inept and childlike. Manipulating them all with Machiavellian glee is the mother, Lucille (Jessica Walter), who drinks like a fish and refuses to make eye contact with waiters. On paper, these characters seem an unlikely lot for a comedy show. The genius of Arrested Development lies in making such dysfunctional and flawed people not only extremely funny, but also likeable. It is impossible not to warm to the Bluths, which is achieved not just through the quality of the performances but also the exceptional writing. Arrested Development is incredibly dense, and demands repeated viewings to fully appreciate. Jokes both visual and spoken are almost constantly thrown at the viewer, though the show never becomes chaotic.

The sheer dynamism of the performances and quality of writing defy an explanation in this blurb to do them justice, so all I can do is urge anyone who is yet to experience it to give it a go. Poor viewing figures may have led to a premature demise for Arrested Development, but genius can never be ignored which is possibly why rumours of a movie have followed ever since the show finished. Universal critical acclaim and award success for any TV show is rare; for an off-beat comedy show it is rarer still. Anyway, I’ll leave it to David Cross, in his infamous rant to Fox executives who turned up on set, to sum up what most AD fans feel:
“I’ve got an idea for what you can do, why don’t you fucking fire your complete marketing team, alright? Get a new one in that knows how to market a show that’s won five motherfucking Emmys, Golden Globes, SAG awards, WGA awards, Producers Guild awards, Critics Top 10 List…you know, if you can fucking, if you can’t fucking market that kind of show and get better ratings then maybe the problem doesn’t lie here, maybe it lies with marketing. Goodnight.”. Oh Tobias - you blow hard!
superdan



24. Fawlty Towers (22)
(1975-1979)



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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl3mfaWCnWw

The Germans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgAi7DYHA94
elab49



23. Family Guy (10)
(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.
nomimalone



22. Dexter (20)
(2006- )



(Spoilers)

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.
elab49



21. Peep Show (30)
(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.
Sumintelligentguy

< Message edited by Rinc -- 25/9/2010 10:31:57 AM >


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(in reply to Rinc)
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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:46:15 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
20. I’m Alan Partridge (27)
(1997-2002)



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!
thatlittlemonkey



19. Futurama (24)
(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.
thatlittlemonkey



18. Spaced (8)
(1999-2001)



Blurb needed



17. South Park (23)
(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.
Rebenectomy



16. The Office (UK) (14)
(2001-2003)



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.
matty_b



15. The X Files (17)
(1993-2002)



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.
ChickMagnet



14. Friends (9)
(1994-2004)



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.
Boscosaxon



13. 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.
matty_b



12. Blackadder (16)
(1983-1989)



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?
elab49



11. Battlestar Galactica (19)
(2004-2009)



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.
elab49

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:46:39 PM   
Rinc


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10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (13)
(1997-2003)



I was interested in this premise ever since the much-derided (and rightly so) film was released with Kirsty Swanson in the titular role. I never had the chance to see that when released but always wanted to see it even after seeing my first few episodes of the series (Season 2, episodes The Pack and Go Fish, to be precise) to see how it fitted in.
The premise is simple, really: “Into every generation a Slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers. She is the Slayer.” However the show is so much more complex, blending in the usual teenage crises, trials and tribulations while trying to maintain a secret identity from the authorities, her mother, and classmates, with the help of two close friends and her Watcher.
Over a seven series (and seven year timeline) arc, we get to see the gradual evolution of these four main characters, plus sundry others too and virtually everyone is shown to have a side which upsets the viewer’s assumptions of them: not all vampires are evil, not all humans are good – nothing is what it seems, but it maintains a sense of perspective and never jumps the shark.
Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffyverse’ ends up being a rounded, comprehensible, upsetting, comedic, dramatic and clever invention. It gave us five series of Angel to boot, and many of his regular actors appear in his other shows Firefly and Dollhouse.
Series highlights are The Wish, Doppelgandland, Hush and The Gift.
Sahara Desert



9. Father Ted (15)
(1995-1998)



Three priests on a remote island sounds like the lead in to one of the world's worst jokes, instead it's the premise for one of television's funniest comedies. Created by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, two unknowns who would go on to have a hand in some of the best tv comedies of the last decade, Father Ted mixes the traditional sitcom set-up with more surrealist humour.

The show revolved around three inept Catholic priests trapped together on Craggy Island, a godforsaken place somewhere off the coast of Ireland. Dermot Morgan played Father Ted Crilly, the most normal of the priests, but still a greedy, devious liar. Like all of the priests, you get the feeling that Ted doesn't really want to be a priest, even though he does display outrage when someone says something against the Catholic faith.

Ardal O' Hanlon played Father Dougal McGuire, the most innocent of the three priests. Dougal doesn't seem to believe in God, in one episode memorably claiming that he doesn't believe in organised religion and in another he convinces a bishop to quit the church. Dougal has trouble telling the difference between dreams and reality and his failure to understand nearly every situation leads Ted into trouble time after time.

The last of the trio is Father Jack Hackett, played by Frank Kelly. Jack is a near comatose figure who only wakes up to drink, hit someone or leer over women. His only speech appears to 'Feck, drink, arse, girls' and a selection of non sequiturs. Jack also appears to be happy to answer to the name Flipper The Priest.

Joining them in their hellish life is Mrs Doyle, the tea obsessed, overworked housekeeper. Mrs Doyle appears to have had a husband at one stage, but she gets uneasy when he's mentioned. She displays little interest in anything in life beyond tea and cake. Pauline McLynn takes what easily could have been an overlooked role and turns it into a memorable, if grotesque, creation.

Dermot Morgan's tragic death, just as series 3 was airing, meant that many feel the show ended before its time. But everyone involved have stated that the third series was going to be the last, they wanted to go out on a high.

Father Ted obeys one of the golden rules of good sitcoms, the characters are trapped together. A sense of isolation always seems to produce a strong comic dynamic. It doesn't matter if the characters are isolated from the rest of society because of their personalities or because of location, there's a theme running through lots of great comedy about people being trapped together. You can't get much more trapped than have three priests, with nothing in common, who have been forced out of the mainstream church life due to indiscretions.

Father Ted really was perfect television comedy. In three series there wasn't one bad episode. It managed to create iconic roles for all four of the leads and also for Jim Norton's performance as the terrifying Bishop Len Brennan. It was funny, surreal, intelligent, and even in one or two episodes it managed to be quite moving. Father Ted had a firm place in my top ten until I watched a certain American series... actually, can I make this a joint number ten? Please?
Rawlinson



8. Firefly (12)
(2002-2003)



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.
elab49



7. 24 (7)
(2001-2010)



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 (6)
(1999-2006)



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.
Rebenectomy



5. The Sopranos (5)
(1999-2007)



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.
Fritzlfan



4. Lost (4)
(2004-2010)





Blurb needed

< Message edited by Rinc -- 1/11/2010 6:10:26 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:46:54 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
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3. The Simpsons (3)
(1989- )



No doubt many will feel that this show is far too low on my list. Is it a case of it being marked down for weaker earlier and later seasons? To some extent, I guess. But it's more to do with the fact that we're at the point in the list where I absolutely adore every show. There's very little separating positions at this point. Anyway, The Simpsons. The stories revolve around The Simpson family, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie... Does anyone really need me to tell them what The Simpsons is about? No? Ok, good.

Anyone remember when Homer wasn't the focus of the show? I was about 10/11 when The Simpsons started showing here and everything was about Bart. He was the selling point for the UK audience, or at least he was from my perspective. I certainly remember a lot more Bart merchandise than Homer. And watching the early episodes now, one of the reasons many of them don't hold up as well is that Homer isn't Homer yet. None of the characters are themselves yet. There are certainly moments of greatness in the first season, and at the time it felt like the greatest show in the world, but the leap in quality when we get to season three is astonishing.

The show is iconic in so many ways. The music, the characters (even some of the more minor supporting ones), the catchphrases, even some of the products within the show (especially Duff Beer) have entered our common consciousness. So what is it we love about The Simpsons so much? There's been much debate, but I think it's nothing more complicated than it really is that funny and that likeable a show. Some shows are better than others, some ideas fall flat, some guest stars shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the show, sometimes it's a little in love with itself. But for the most part, the reason why the show has been popular and acclaimed for 18 years is it's just that damn good. The greatest animated television series of all time, and just one show away from being the greatest American comedy series of all time.
Rawlison

< Message edited by Rinc -- 28/9/2010 9:18:37 PM >


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:47:12 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
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2. Band of Brothers (2)
(2001)



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

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 9:47:22 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
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And the winner is...

1. The Wire (1)
(2002-2008)



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


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 11:01:54 PM   
DJ Satan


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If Hustle made it in and Leverage doesn't there is something very wrong with the world.

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 11:04:00 PM   
Rgirvan44


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Surprising amount of British stuff getting in. 

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 11:06:14 PM   
vad3r


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I haven't seen any of the shows so far. I think I watched a Louix Theroux documentary a long time ago though.

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 15/9/2010 11:31:39 PM   
DJ Satan


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It's always interesting to see the low placed results. You have to wonder who has voted for some of these as one of the 20 best shows of all time. Sherlock? Really?

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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 9:50:29 AM   
Happy Shrapnel


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Got to say, Wow, I'm really going to enjoy reading this thread, so glad I voted.

Well done Rinc and everyone that helped in counting and writing the blurbs.

Top, top stuff.


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RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 10:33:03 AM   
elab49


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DJ Satan

It's always interesting to see the low placed results. You have to wonder who has voted for some of these as one of the 20 best shows of all time. Sherlock? Really?


And yet you're suggesting Leverage - a run of the mill procedural with a couple of fairly terrible actors - should be higher

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to DJ Satan)
Post #: 20
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 10:40:36 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77554
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
I wonder if Hill Street would be higher if somebody pulled their finger out and released it on DVD

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So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 21
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 10:43:08 AM   
elab49


Posts: 54577
Joined: 1/10/2005
I've not finished drafting the blurb - my bad, Rinc  - but I'll add the link to 4oD to it. It's a bit annoying at the moment since the middle of the night runs are just showing the sign language ones.

So that'd be yours and my vote then Gimli?

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

quote:

ORIGINAL: Deviation] LIKE AMERICA'S SWEETHEARTS TOO. IT MADE ME LAUGH A LOT AND THOUGHT IT WAS WITTY. ALSO I FEEL SLOWLY DYING INSIDE. I KEEP AGREEING WITH ELAB.


Annual Poll 2013 - All Lists Welcome

(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 22
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 10:55:28 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77554
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
Probably!

Rinc, how many votes did a show need to make the list?



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So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to elab49)
Post #: 23
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 12:08:07 PM   
Magenta


Posts: 9670
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: The fuzzy end of the lollipop
I'm looking forward to seeing all the results as well,am also interested in some of the absolut tripe,just curious

Great to see that Bilko made it into the list,and there's a couple there I havn't even heard of but look good.

Great work Rinc..

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(in reply to Gimli The Dwarf)
Post #: 24
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 16/9/2010 10:46:26 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
90-81 now up!

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No spoilers please:

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Post #: 25
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 17/9/2010 7:06:10 AM   
Gimli The Dwarf


Posts: 77554
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Central Park Zoo
The Muppets are too low! But great that they made it (I haven't forgotten about the blurb!)

_____________________________

So, sir, we let him have it right up! And I have to report, sir, he did not like it, sir.

Fellow scientists, poindexters, geeks.

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!

Much more better!

(in reply to Rinc)
Post #: 26
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 17/9/2010 8:51:34 AM   
Happy Shrapnel


Posts: 17420
Joined: 19/1/2006
From: Wishing for the Clothes of Heaven
I agree with Gimli....The Muppets are way, way, way too low !!! 

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Post #: 27
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 18/9/2010 10:05:28 AM   
Wild about Wilder


Posts: 1652
Joined: 9/4/2010
From: Hertfordshire
Man am glad to see Bilko got in as was thinking of that the other day & couldn't beleave I forgot to put the great Phil Silver's show in. But seriously "FUCKING HUSTLE!" it's not as if it was that great when Jaimie Murry & Marc Warren were there but since COME ON!

(in reply to Happy Shrapnel)
Post #: 28
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 19/9/2010 11:32:23 AM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
New results up everyone just in case you didn't notice!

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Post #: 29
RE: The Forum's Top 100 TV Shows 2010 Results! - 19/9/2010 3:28:37 PM   
Rinc


Posts: 12819
Joined: 2/10/2005
From: A park bench, with a newspaper quilt
More results now!

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No spoilers please:

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Post #: 30
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