Wired to the tubes, the best five TV shows ever

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…

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Wired to the tubes, the best five TV shows ever

  1. I agree with all, though I’d have to make the number 6 so as to include Battlestar Galactica.

  2. I’m loving “Mad Men” on AMC …

  3. You’re so white: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/85-the-wire/.

    I’d have to have an X-Files inclusion, and I’m with SB on Mad men.

  4. I ‘own’ my love of The Wire. As Tom Petty once said, ‘I won’t back down’…you may stand me up against the gates of satirical gratuitous patronizing kinda-funny criticism, but I won’t back down.

    X-Files (at least first 3 seasons) is in Top 10. Mad Men started out strong from the gate, with perhaps the best scene ever on TV (explaining to the folks from KODAK why they should call the slide wheel the ‘carousel’ ), but a show has to be on and prove itself for more than one season to make the cut.

  5. I was completely surprised at how good Buffy is. Though it certainly has it’s ditzy points, it’s surprisingly deep. And really funny. Joss Whedon & team seems to know exactly when new characters can be added and when some need to go, unlike most sitcom creators.

    I’ll should finish the show tomorrow. I’m super sad I’ll only have Angel to watch now.

  6. The Wire and Seinfeld I agree with.

    My other top three would have to include Houston Knights, BJ and The Bear, and Joanie Loves Chachi. 🙂

  7. I am with you on #2 & #4…no Taxi, no All In The Family? What gives?

  8. Ken

    Don’t forget Northern Exposure. Makes you want to call Maggie O’Connell and see if she can find you a little place in Cicely, Alaska.

    BBC’s My Family was great too. They recently stopped running it. Fortunately I collected 64 of the 83 episodes and converted them for iPod.

  9. I think it’s hard to recall that at its peak (seasons two to four) X-Files was one of the best shows of its era and all-time. But the bad taste of the last two years dropped it a bit for me.

  10. i am so very in love with ‘the office’ – both british and american versions. i mean true and deep love. i think it’s brilliant. in an unwirey kinda way.

  11. Between your list and the comments to your list, most of my favorites have been included.
    Seinfeld- check
    Northern Exposure-check
    The Office (UK and USA)- check
    X-Files (some, but not all, seasons)- check

    One new show I’ve been watching and enjoying is The Riches. Quality stuff.

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