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Re: Top 25 Favorite TV Shows

Postby Buscemi » July 29th, 2011, 1:57 am

Day 24: The Twilight Zone (1959-1964, CBS)

In the early days of television, anthologies were in abundance. Rod Serling, the creator of this show, made his name and money on this format. Today he is best known as the creator of this series, a thirty-minute (and for one season, sixty) show that went into the a dimension of sound, sight and mind (opened with the key of imagination) with stories of the strange and macabre. Many of the stories were known for its great writing (many of them written by Serling himself) and twist endings. Some of the stories even had meaningful messages. Though Serling went through a lot of studio interference while making the show (even leaving after the third season to create what eventually became Night Gallery at NBC), he still managed to create a masterpiece of a show that is still remembered today.

Day 25: The Young Ones (1982-1983, BBC/MTV)

A satire of Thatcher-era England that launched the careers of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson and their bizarre brand of comedy. Though the idea of a comedy series about a bunch of punks with the occasional musical performance may not seem like much, the show worked brilliantly well thanks to the writing and the idea to make it a send-up of 1950's family sitcoms. The characters fit the archetypes perfectly and the anarchy themes create a strange balance that works well. Also a good show to spot actors before they got famous.

Everything on this post is strictly the opinion and only the opinion of Buscemi.

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Re: Top 25 Favorite TV Shows

Postby undeadmonkey » July 29th, 2011, 4:19 pm

doing full recaps in case anyone missed anything.

Show #25-#11


The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1988 - 1991, ABC)

watch from the 2:00 to the 2:30 minute mark, unless you want to watch it all

to be honest, it's bit embarrassing starting off with a pick like this, after all "im a dude and a mostly grown dude at that" ;). (but it's not like i held back during the music or movie countdown and i'm not about to start now) This is my one and only true nostalgic pick, there are a one or two more shows from my childhood on my list, but those i still watch every once in a while. I haven't seen this show in at least 15 years. I was born in 1988 and as far back as i can remember i remember watching Pooh and the 100 acre gang getting into trouble. Of course, i sometimes watched tv with my parents and whatever they watched, but this was the my show that I watched. and i definitely have fond memories of it.

The Munsters (1964–1966, CBS)

An average 1950s family sitcom of an average american family, except that they were all monsters. It's a genius little spoof twist. While the Addams Family aired at the same time and was more popular at the time, i prefer the munsters over them. They were homely and down to earth. The production design was fantastic from the big victorian house to all the gothic little details. I used to love watching this on nick@nite, along with the other classic shows. great stuff

Looney Tunes (1930 - 1969, Syndicated)

I know this is slightly cheating, as they started off as theatrical shorts, but Looney Tunes has been such a force on tv, i think it should be counted as such too. This is my last animated show on my countdown so i obviously think it's the greatest, how can it not be ,with a host of classic characters, from bugs bunny to foghorn leghorn and speedy gonzales to peppe lepew. It's hilarious and you can always come back for more.

Heroes (2006-2010, NBC)

I absolutely loved season one of Heroes, the other three seasons were never able to recreate the magic of the first season, but that doesn't lessen my enthusiasm for the beginning. and as tiresome as superhero origin stories are getting, they were amazingly good here. we have the scientist who is figuring out about these powers, the brothers with their rivalry and a cheerleader who is somehow a key to saving the world, Hiro who just wants to be a hero, Nicki who has more to her than it seems, a little girl who can see 'the bad man' and what a truly terrifying bad man Syler is. All with a mystery and an undertone of there's something bigger out there. Ensemble shows are difficult to do, but somehow they were able get a manageable balance of the huge cast.

Two of a Kind (1998-1999, ABC)

I don't exactly have any kind of defense for why i like this show, i grew up watching the olsen twins with their detective show, but i enjoyed this much more. the dad and nanny had good chemistry, from what i remember, i havent seen it in a few years. but from what i remember, i looked forward to it every week, sad that it only lasted one year.

Family Matters (1989-1998, ABC)

I used to watch this show all the time when i was young, i didn't really know that much of what was going on, but i thought steve erkel was hilarious. As i grew older i also began to like the winslow family and their family dynamic. this is another show that i haven't seen in a while, but i would like to revisit it some day.

Wonderfalls (2004, Fox)

This is my second series on the list that was created by Bryan Fuller. to keep it simple, here is the show's official synopsis "The show centers on Jaye Tyler, a recent Brown University graduate with a philosophy degree, who holds a dead-end job as a sales clerk at a Niagara Falls gift shop. Jaye is the reluctant participant in conversations with various animal figurines — a wax lion, brass monkey, stuffed bear, and mounted fish, among others — which direct her via oblique instructions to help people in need". Beyond that though, the show is crazy, unpredictable and just plain fun. every episode kind of tries on a different genre, from mystery thrillers to romantic dramas. It was so different than anything on at the time, or even now. It's a shame it didn't last beyond the first season.

Tru Calling (2003-2005, Fox)

premise: The show stars Eliza Dushku as Tru Davies, a woman who intended to go to medical school after graduating from college, but ends up taking a job at the city morgue. It is while working at the morgue that dead bodies start asking her for help and Tru re-lives the day, trying to keep a death from happening.

Another short lived Fox program with an interesting and strange premise. I've been a huge fan of Eliza Dushku and this series finally let her stretch her acting chops and also give us much more screen time of her. Zach Galafinakas (don't ask me how to spell it right) also costarred, i enjoyed him here as well.

Full House (1987-1995, ABC)

Premise: Full House is an American television sitcom. Set in San Francisco, the show chronicles widowed father Danny Tanner, who, after the death of his wife, enlists his best friend Joey Gladstone and his brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis to help raise his three daughters, D.J. Tanner, Stephanie Tanner, and Michelle.

one of the last classic family sitcoms and i used to watch it all the time. Bob Saget and John Stamos had great comedic talents, the girls were pretty funny too and they all had great chemistry with each other. There's not much else you could say, you either love it or you dont.

Gilligan's Island (1964-1967, CBS)

premise: the comic adventures of seven castaways as they attempted to survive and ultimately escape from the island where they were shipwrecked. Their escape plans constantly fail because Gilligan goofs up or visitors to the island leave without sending help.

one of the last classics of the golden age of television. If anyone hasn't heard of gilligan's, you must yourself live on some remote island. Other than a few other tv shows, this should be one of the most easily recognizable shows ever, with it's classic theme song and hilarious episodes. if ya haven't seen it, check it out.

Boy Meets World (1993-2000, ABC)

premise: an American comedy-drama series that chronicles the events and everyday life lessons of Cory Matthews, a kid from suburban Philadelphia who grows up from a young boy to a married man.

i kind of see this show as a modern spinoff from another show that is coming up soon on my list. I didn't catch this show until it was on reruns on disney, but by that time i was about the same age as the main cast, and i watched it as often as i could. i could just relate with the junior high stuff and the friends and girlfriends stuff. It was easy to enjoy for me.

The Flintstones (1960-1966, ABC)

premise: The Flintstones was about a working-class Stone-Age man's life with his family and his next-door neighbor and best friend.

my favorite animated show. Not only is it hilarious, but it was often critical of society in little weird ways. Maybe critical is the wrong word, but it definitely showed the absurdity of society in some situations. The chemistry of the characters was also great. Flintstones also had a big cultural impact. Who hasn't had flintstones vitamins when they were little, i read they were created during the first season and were secondary sponsors on the first 2 season.

i also just found out that seth mcfarlane is doing a reboot of the show on fox, which i don't really know how to feel about it yet.

Growing Pains (1985-1992, ABC)

premise: sitcom about an affluent family, residing in Huntington, New York, with a working mother and a stay-at-home psychiatrist father raising three children together.

loved this show as a child. another show that i haven't seen in a long time, but have fond memories of it and would watch them again if they would just all be released on dvd.

The Mentalist (2008-Present, CBS)

premise: The Mentalist follows Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, an independent consultant for a fictionalised version of the California Bureau of Investigation.

Patrick Jane formerly had a lucrative career as a con man, successfully posing as a psychic medium and enjoying near-celebrity status. He appeared on television to claim that his paranormal abilities helped the police profile a serial killer named Red John. Red John, angered by the perceived slight, murdered Jane's wife and young daughter in revenge. Jane subsequently abandoned his job as a psychic and teamed up with the CBI, using his skills to help them solve various crimes. His main focus is on the cases involving Red John or Red John copycats. He admits to faking the supernatural aspects of his skills, often asserting that "there's no such thing as psychics", yet he has finely honed skills in cold reading, hypnotism, and pickpocketing, as well as powerful observational skill and a deep insight into the human psyche and behavior.

Although not an officer of the law of any sort, he uses skills to help a team of CBI agents solve various crimes, with the hope of one day bringing Red John, the murderer of his wife and daughter to justice.

This is the youngest show on my list. I know it might be a bit premature, but as of this moment, i love this show. Yes, it is another cop procedural, but i think it is different from anything on tv right now. i don't watch any other cop procedurals because i don't like them, hopefully that's enough to show that there is something different about it. The best comparison would be a mix between Psych and Sherlock Holmes. The writing is clever and always well executed, if you pay attention you can figure out who the killer is. 95% percent of the episodes are standalone episodes. the only overarching story lines are Patrick Jane's search to find his wife and daughter's murderer and a few love story arcs.

The main cast is great and has very good chemistry. Amanda Reghitti is a personal favorite actress of mine. there is also a very good cast of supporting characters. The episodes never get overbearing, there are enough light moments so that you can just enjoy an hour of tv entertainment and forget about your long day of work and worries. Here are a few short scenes to kind of get the tone of the series.

Veronica Mars (2004-2007, UPN)

premise: After her best friend is murdered and her father is removed as county sheriff, Veronica Mars dedicates her life to cracking the toughest mysteries in the affluent town of Neptune.

a show about a smart teenage girl, who used to be a whose who in her town, but now has to resort to taking odd private investigation jobs to get by, All while trying to find out who killed her best friend. The writing was amazing in this show, the acting was great. I was hooked by the first episode and watched it religiously. to be honest, i loved the show so much and it ended so perfectly the first season, that to this day i have not seen season 2 or 3. So yea, i admit the next seasons might diminish my love for it a bit, if i ever get around to watching them. So far though, i only own the first season and have watched it through quite a few times.

if anyone is interested you can watch the first two seasons here at the moment
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Re: Top 25 Favorite TV Shows

Postby undeadmonkey » July 29th, 2011, 4:24 pm

Show #25-#11


Countdown (1982-present, Channel 4 UK)

The only game show to make my Top 25, this is also one of the easiest to play at home. The premise is simple but infinitely playable. It’s split into 2 types of game. First, contestants are given 8 letters and must construct the longest word they can find. Second, they are given 6 numbers, and are given a high number they must reach by either adding/multiplying/etc the 6 numbers in some way. Simple but brilliant. The show also maintained a jovial tone by guest judges who would check the words using dictionaries, and in between words offer anecdotes often related to words. I liked how the judging side was visible and transparent. Also, the tradition of having beautiful but dim female sidekicks was subverted by the inclusion of Carol Vorderman, who was the judge of the complex math puzzles.

The longevity of the show has already been proven, as it’s still going after 28 years, and indeed was the first show on UK TV’s “alternative” commercial channel, C4. Its original presenter, Richard Whiteley, was the first face of the channel but sadly passed away in 2005, and the show never remained the same.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003, WB/UPN)

I could start with all the cultural reasons why this show was great, but first and foremost I watched this show because of my raging crush on Buffy. Fortunately, Sarah Michelle Geller’s subsequent career killed that impossible dream. But the show was a surprisingly daring one. Rather than ending up as the same old tired, episodic excuse for the occasional fight and teen romance, Buffy capitalized on Gen X with its witty and sarcastic dialogue, with self-conscious characters taking on the undead, yet while still paying attention to the pangs of adolescence.

At times it was fun, but I appreciate Joss Whedon’s ability to toy with the format and take risks. For example one episode had Buffy’ mother die, and it was devoid of any soundtrack or action, focusing entirely on character and performance. Another was a parody of musicals. Or who could forget the self-consciously ironic addition of Buffy’s sister, who was never once mentioned in previous series, only to reveal that the sister was actually a mystical object and the characters were under a spell and thus satirizing the obligatory of adding new character to make the show feel “fresh”. And of course, the show had some great characters, including the initially antagonistic punk British vampire Spike who eventually became Buffy’s lover and reluctant hero.

South Park (1997 – present, Comedy Central)

Shown on terrestrial TV over here for the first 3 years, I was underwhelmed by a series that focused more on toilet humour than any long-lasting or intelligent humour. I stopped watching when it stopped being shown on Irish TV. Several years later (including after seeing the solid SP movie), I revisited South Park when it became free to watch online. The show had changed so much, matured so much. Of course it was still puerile, but Stone and Parker honed their talents and used the incredibly quick production time to essentially write and broadcast new episodes within a week of devising. This meant that the show could feel ultra-topical, more so than any scripted comedy outside of current affairs or chat shows.

The Fast Show (1994-1997, BBC1)

A sketch show that actually focussed on repetition as opposed to trying to conceal it. The BBC show used some of the best up-and-coming comedy character actors of the 90’s (none of which managed to have much of a career afterwards). These guys could take the one phrase of each of their characters, and endlessly find comic ways of delivering them.

The link above features Swiss Tony, who struggles to compare everything in life to “making love to a beautiful woman”. There was also the unspoken love between landowner Ralph and his Irish caretaker Ted, the gibberish of Chanel 9, the family who were all drunks but tried to hide their condition from each other in a sort of bizarre ballet, Competitive Dad who ruthlessly destroyed their young children at any game or sport, incoherent sports pundit Ron Manager, and so on. The show even subverted itself entirely by making each episode dramatic or tragic, intentionally refusing to be funny.

Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job (2007-2010, Adult Swim)

I don’t have cable so I don’t have the trippy Adult Swim, and I figure I’m missing out after seeing this. I first watched it last year at a music festival, and was initially confused but fell into the spell of Tim and Eric’s insanity.

The sketches range from perverse to horrific to hilarious. Tim and Eric have a brilliant, sloppy, and driven vision to their aesthetic, and push the boundaries of what’s funny and what’s acceptable on TV. I fully believe that this is the closest to Monty Python’s Flying Circus I have ever seen, challenging the audience’s perceptions and expectations through self-aware subversion and a healthy dash of video surrealism. The clip above featuring Paul Rudd does a good job at displaying the madness, but there’s a lot more to it.

The duo have went on to make great ads for Old Spice, and Eric Warenheim has become one of my favourite music video directors of the last few years. There’s a Tim and Eric movie in production, but I’m dubious of TV-to-movie transitions.

Alternative Nation (mid 90’s - 1997, MTV UK)

I believe there was a US version of this show, but I discovered the UK version with the incredibly dry Toby Amies. Not sure when it began, but I watched it for about 2 years and it contained some of the strangest acts and videos I had ever seen. Some were barely music, and some were acts that I grew to love (from Nick Cave to Captain Beefheart to Tricky to dEUS and so on).

Sadly, the show came to an end when Amies was brought to MTV US, abandoning any truly alternative presenters in the UK. The show remained on air for a while just playing videos, but it was never the same. I actually uploaded a dodgy VHS recording of his final episode onto Youtube, so anyone interested can watch it all following the link above.

I’m Alan Partridge / Knowing Me, Knowing You (1994, 1997, 2002, BBC 2)

Character creation was nothing new to comedy, but Steve Coogan had a knack for creating some of the most distinct and troubled characters comedy has ever seen. Alan Partridge, the self-absorbed and bafflingly arrogant talk-show host wannabe, has had a long life. Even before he got his own show he was on radio, and appeared on BBC news spoof The Day Today.

But I was first introduced to Partridge on the talk-show spoof Know Me Knowing You, where Partridge introduced his catchphrase “aha”. Despite his confidence, he was a fool and a mess, and more than likely pissed off his interviewees in the most brilliant of ways. A few years later came I’m Alan Partridge, a sort of fly-in-the-wall style comedy following Partridge after his failure on TV, and focusing on his attempts to rise again, starting with impressing his listeners on Radio Norwich. Coogan did a great job at finding almost infinite ways at showing the ridiculous narcissism of his creation.

Quantum Leap (1989 – 1993, NBC)

What could have been just another gimmicky sci-fi show became something so much more. Quantum Leap followed a scientist, Dr Sam Beckett, who experiments with a “quantum leap accelerator” and finds himself trapped in the bodies of people from the past, righting wrongs in their life and hoping he’ll eventually leap home. He’s guided by Al, a friend from the present, who can communicate as a hologram.

So basically we get an opportunity to create any type of drama in any era, streamlining it with a simple but obvious moral goal that must be achieved. But as the series progressed the writing staff got more creative and took more risks. Often season openers and closers were astounding moments of TV, like when Sam leaps into a mental patient receiving shock treatment, or when he leaps into someone close to Al’s first wife (who married on when she thought Al was dead, and Al never got over her - see the clip above), or when he leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald.

But the reason it’s so high is because of the final episode. It’s almost like something the playwright Sam Beckett would create, as Sam finds himself in a mining town with everyone he has leaped into previously. There Sam sees himself for the first time, aged from years of leaping, and having to make the choice of continuing on or erasing his past. It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking moment of TV.

Anyone who enjoyed Source Code (which featured the voice of Scott Bakula, Dr. Beckett himself) should seriously consider checking this out.

Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974, BBC)

Ah the classic. In some ways, this surreal sketch show is over-rated. Over the four seasons there are a lot of jokes that didn’t work, and a lot of episodes that rambled on. But when the Python’s were good, they were so good that 40 years later they go unrivalled.

What I value about Monty Python, beyond the funny sketches, of course, was their boredom of convention. They managed to subvert traditional humour though self-conscious self-parody, often employing surrealism to break down the structures audiences were used to. How the British audience of the time could handle it I’ll never know.

Breaking Bad (2008 – present, AMC)

Perhaps a bit pre-emptive, because it’s still on-going and may plummet in quality. But so far Breaking Bad is one of the best new TV shows around. It’s centred on Hank, a chemistry teacher who discovers he has cancer, and tries to earn money for his family by cooking and selling crystal meth. He enlists local dropout Jessie to aid him, with obvious mixed results.

The show benefits from excellent plotting, as Hank buries himself deeper and deeper within the world of drug dealers, backing himself into increasingly difficult corners, especially when he’s keeping his secret life from his wife, children, and DEA brother-in-law. The clashes between Hank’s careful, scientific approach and Jessie’s aggressive, thoughtless behaviour provide endless drama. And there’s plenty of dark humour to ensure it’s not too depressing.

Without doubt the real highlight is the performance from Bryan Cranston, who is exceptional as Hank. The man is clearly far beyond the Homer Simpson clone that he started to become in Malcolm in the Middle.

Black Books (2000-2004, Channel 4)

Graham Linehan is like many of Ireland’s greatest writers: he had to leave the country to ever be considered. He created Father Ted (an Irish sitcom funded entirely by the UK), and through that went on to co-create Big Train and write/direct The IT Crowd. One of his best ideas was the sitcom Black Books, featuring my favourite Irish comedian Dylan Moran.

The premise is that a drunken misanthropic book-shop owner teams up with a ridiculously benign assistant, which obviously leads to clashes and moments of hilarity. The tone is a tad silly, employing moments of surrealism. But it’s also quite brilliant, utilising the strengths of the leads brilliantly.

Not sure if it applies to those in the US, but over here you can watch full episodes on Youtube.

Fawlty Towers (1975 &1979, BBC 2)

Don’t mention the war. It’s still used today. John Cleese made the arguably right decision to move from the Python crew to work on what could be labelled the quintessential sitcom. It still stands up today, as Basil tries his best to keep up appearances but usually ends up as his own downfall.

They say there’s only two types of comedy: Jewish and English. Jewish comedy is man Vs God, the random universe that punishes us. English comedy is comedy of the classes, which perfectly describes Fawlty Towers. Basil is so obsessed with appearing better than he is that things turn into a mess. You also have to respect a show for ending before it became a parody of itself.

Das Boot (varies, but I’ll say 1984, WDR/SDR/BBC2)

This is a controversial one, because I believe it was a film first, but the vast amount of footage filmed enabled the makers to create a serialised version that hit TV in the 80’s, as 6 50-minute episodes. I like Wolfgang Peterson’s movie, and indeed it was the movie I was familiar with first. But when the series was repeated on TV I saw how much extended scenes opened up the life of the crew.

It’s funny to see a film from the German viewpoint, enabling us to understand that these men weren’t part of some fascist philosophy, that they were just men working damn hard to put food on their families’ tables. It also brilliantly realised, making the submarine feel like the sweaty, claustrophobic nightmare that it must have been. It is for me vastly superior to the movie and brilliant drama.

I should add that there are other TV dramas that were also reduced to make movies (like Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage and Fanny and Alexander), and they just missed my list.

Brass Eye (1997 and 2001, Channel 4)

The Day Today was an excellent spoof news show, but co-creator Chris Morris upped the ante with this Channel 4 show. Again, it’s a news spoof that parodies itself on every level, form the graphics to the way of presentation, and especially its subject matter. The hysteria of newspapers and especially TV networks like Fox and Sky News were obliterated by the straight-faced gags.

The 2001 special on paedophiles was absolute genius, getting known British celebrities to say the stupidest things about the topic, as they thought it was some valuable information. Needless to say, it received a ridiculous amount of complaints, not to mention tabloid backlash which only proved the point of the show. Trust me, watch this clip, it’s amazing

The Office (UK) (2001-2003, BBC 2)

Awkward spoof reality-TV wasn’t particularly original by the new millennium, but Ricky Gervais came up with a brilliant premise, and of course a brilliant character. David Brent worked because he was a great comic character but he felt real. You could see elements of Brent in the offices you worked in. And the humour was so awkward because of this. But Gervais also constructed great characters in Gareth, Tim, and Dawn, especially the latter two where you could form an emotional bond with.

The US version was okay for a while, but it became very unrealistic very quickly, and settled as a regular sitcom with a format that no longer suited it. It doesn’t come close to the original.

I said it about Fawlty Towers, but the same stands for this as well. Ricky Gervais was bright and honourable enough not to let The Office descend into mundane dreck, so he ended it after 2 seasons and a Christmas Special. It was better to end on a high. And sure, Extras wasn’t as good, and his movies have all been poor, but at least he can always say he got it right with this.
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Re: Top 25 Favorite TV Shows

Postby ROBDude » August 30th, 2011, 4:58 pm

12. Boardwalk Empire

11. American Idol

10. Seinfield

9. 30 Rock

8. The Simpsons

7. King of the Hill

6. Family Guy

5. Community

4. Total Drama Island

3. Bored to Death

2. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

1. The Amazing World of Gumball

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Re: Top 25 Favorite TV Shows

Postby Aaliyah » September 15th, 2012, 5:25 am

American Idol
Family Guys
Bad Teacher



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