Thanks to Jagadiah’s Buffy-a-rama, I felt the need to place Buffy in the pantheon of great TV shows. The best shows, in order:
1. The Wire – HBO’s opus about Baltimore owes as much to Charles Dickens as to the brilliant observations of David Simon and the incredible stable of writers. If Dickens was a 21st century writer living in Baltimore, the Wire is pretty much what he would create. Yeah, it’s an indictment of the war against drugs, public education in the inner cities, bureaucracy in the police force curtailing real po-lice work and political corruption, but wrapped up in the most entertaining and well-designed series in TV history. Hard to get into if you don’t see it from the beginning, it’s a show that demands careful viewing from the beginning.
2. Seinfeld – Literally NOTHING can be said about this show about ‘nothing’ that hasn’t been said before. It’s comedy GOLD and produced more idiomatic phrases to the culture than any show in history: high talker, close talker, low talker, soup nazi, sponge-worthy, anti-dentite, shrinkage..etc. etc. etc. One of the complaints about the show after the first few episodes is that there was no story-line. From that point on, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld managed to cram more story-lines per episode than probably any show in history. Watch the episode about the Kramer’s cigar store ‘indian’/TV guides/Russian cable installers, and a baby shower. Amazing.
3. Homicide: Life on the Street – Baltimore’s dark pre-cursor to ‘The Wire’. Real po-lice work written and driven by people who knew the territory. Made NYPD Blue (another good show) look frothy and light.
4. Sopranos – The first 3 years are just about as good as it gets. The show was never really about the ‘mafia’. Organized crime was the hook to pull you into the cloistered world of the families involved. Relationships between a husband and his wife, the husband and his shrink, and the husband and his ‘lieutenants’ managed to be endlessly fascinating.
5. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer – The thing I like most about this show is that even though the town featured in the show was positioned over the ‘mouth of hell’, the show played it ‘straight’, as if the gaping jaws of hades were just another facet of town life, like the square or the main drag. The main cast was pitch-perfect and the ongoing Spike and Buffy romance was the crazy diamond shining on, and on.
You may have other opinions about the best shows ever, but I’m pretty sure I’m right…