Sunday, September 09, 2007

Top 20 TV Shows: Updated for 2007

In the midst of a golden age of television, it's time to update the list of my top 20 TV shows, made a year ago. There's been some changes, here's the new list:

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Up 1)
2. Twin Peaks
3. Six Feet Under
4. The Sopranos
5. Cowboy Bebop
6. John From Cincinnati (New)
7. The Office (UK)
8. Angel
9. The X-Files
10. Freaks and Geeks
11. Arrested Development
12. Gilmore Girls
13. Battlestar Galactica
14. Babylon 5 (Up 2)
15. Friday Night Lights (New)
16. Seinfeld
17. Samurai Champloo
18. Deadwood (New)
19. 24
20. The Prisoner

Now, let me tell you why things have changed.

Bufy over Twin Peaks

I rewatched the whole of Twin Peaks after the second season DVD box set came out. It's still a brilliant show, with moments that are better than anything else to ever air on television. However, there were also some weak moments, and my overall impression of the series didn't match the feelings I had for Buffy. Buffy was the perfect blend of challenging intellectual content and just plain addictive storytelling. The best TV shows are like an addiction, you just need more, and never did I need more more than when I was watching Buffy seasons five and six. So, it ascends to position of best TV show of all time.

John From Cincinnati

Is it too soon to call it the sixth greatest show of all time? Perhaps, but right now, that's the way I feel. The show challenged me to think in new ways like no other show ever did before, and it also had wonderful character arcs. Great moments from the show, like John and Shaun's return from heaven in the last episode, were among the best TV moments of all time. I loved each episode so much, and watching it unfold was a joy.

Other New Shows

Friday Night Lights easily earned a spot, with a debut season that ranks among the best all time. It could easily go up another couple spots if the second seasons matches the first's quality. Already, I was debating putting it over B5, however, for now, B5 gets the edge. One of the tricky things about a list like this is choosing the criteria. Should I base the ranking on the show at its best, or an average of its whole run. Right now, I decided to go with my feeling about the show, which can be hurt by late season screwups. An average episode of Friday Night Lights is much better than an average B5, however, B5 has the scope of a five season story that FNL can't match just yet. The other new show is Deadwood, which is great, but not quite up there with the all time best shows.

So, that's the update for this year. Next year, I'll return and see what new shows are worthy of the list, and whether there's some shift among the old ones.


Christina said...

Hi Patrick, thanks for sharing your list, you're right these shows can be addictive I mean you just can't get enough sometimes.

You had a lot of the old favorites included, a lot of people were mad with the Soprano's ending.

Patrick said...

It's kind of a shame that fervor over the ending obscured the achievements of The Sopranos as a whole. I loved the ending, but even if you hated those final moments, virtually everything was resolved beforehand, so it's not like we were left hanging.

Anonymous said...

Since you obviously have good taste in addictive, intelligent TV, I offer you this humble advice: you need to get The Wire in your life. Give it six episodes (it's a slow burner) and you will find it hard to think of anything else.

Patrick said...

I'm still wrapping Deadwood, but after that, The Wire season one is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be watched. I've heard nothing but good things, so I'm really excited. I'm hoping to catch up on the first four seasons before five begins next year.

Anonymous said...

I would also encourage you to give "Star Trek Deep Space 9" a try. Just like Babylon 5 it had somewhat of a lousy first season, so go ahead, skip it and start from season 3, or even 5. It’s a wonderful, intelligent show!

Patrick said...

I've heard DS9 is pretty good, though I'm hesitant to watch another show with so many rough patches before the good stuff. I just don't feel like I can skip over seasons, it's that completist mentality. But, I may get there eventually. I've still got to get through Farscape and Doctor Who before picking up another series.

Lisbeth Darcy said...

Lost? FTW?

Patrick said...

I watched the first season of Lost and got gradually disinterested. My problem with the show was I felt like it was all about posing these endless questions, and not about telling stories or developing characters. I watched some of season two, but the flashbacks really bothered me, I felt like half of the episode was wasted time. I always hear that it's "so good" now, but I've been burned too many times to go back.

Mercer Finn said...

Whoa. What about The West Wing? Seriously the greatest television show ever made.

Along with the Wire and Buffy that is...

Patrick said...

I did enjoy The West Wing, but not as much as these other shows. That said, the season two finale, "Two Cathedrals" would be up there on a best all time episode list.