What follows is a list of my ten favorite television shows. Some shows that I feel represent the best that television has to offer, and some shows that simply represent my guilty pleasures. And I fortunately have a knack for picking brilliant but cancelled shows, so several of these did not get the full release that they should have.
So in no particular order...
- The Twilight Zone - I'll start with what I feel is one of the best examples of television ever aired. Serling used the Twilight Zone as a morality play for the masses. To take science fiction and address the biggest social issues of the time. The show is a masterclass in short fiction and storytelling with some of the greatest writers ever assembled.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer - One of the first shows I followed with dedication. Every episode, as it aired. Again, a use of genre to address much larger topics. And several episodes that break so many conventions. Hush, The Body, and Once More With Feeling. It gets a little weird toward the end with the switch to UPN, but a great show with a lasting impact.
- Pushing Daisies - I love what Bryan Fuller does on television. His vision for set design and color and how that all contributes to the mood is incredible. And it was all incorporated so well into Pushing Daisies. Such a unique concept, a forensic fairytale about a piemaker who can touch the dead and wake them for a minute. Charming and whimsical, gone far too soon.
- Freaks and Geeks - Speaking of gone too soon, a one season show that really launched so many careers. For all the shows that have mined the 1980s for nostalgia, this one got it so right. For anyone who was not in a popular clique at the time, this really resonated.
- The Good Place - One of two current shows on the list and one of the smartest shows that I've seen in a long time. While not the best on theology, the exploration of morality and philosophy is excellent and the premise and show is genuinely funny. Great characters and truly charming.
- Agent Carter - While Daredevil is arguably a better Marvel show, this remains my favorite of the Marvel offerings. A great setting for both seasons in 1940s New York and Los Angeles, and a great British Avengers set up with Jarvis and Agent Carter. Hayley Atwell is a great lead, and again, its a shame the show did not last longer.
- Coupling - Before I knew the series name, I searched for this show. When I first went to London and Scotland, I remember watching the episode The Girl with Two Breasts with Dad the night before we returned home and laughing harder than ever before for a television show. The title is a reference to a misstep in translation and the episode was split into two versions, one showing the events from the English cast and then one showing the same events from the Israeli girl who was the object of Jeff's affection. For the longest, I could never find the name of the show, but thankfully stumbled across it again on BBC America. After watching every episode of the series and seeing such other great episodes as The Man With Two Legs, I still say, this is the funniest show I have ever seen. A bit bluer in discussion than American television, but otherwise similar to an American sitcom.
- Sherlock - Brilliantly cast, excellently adapted to modern times, great writing by Moffat, Gattis, and Thompson. Each episode is really a new movie. And the fourth season really better be the last, because it ended in such a perfect way.
- Stranger Things - the first show that we had to binge the whole season once we started. Excellent cast and another great nostalgia trip. It captured the feel of those great "kids on a mission movies" from the 1980s. While there are bits that feel stretched in the second season, it's still a nail-biter and we are still anxiously waiting for season three next year.
- The Golden Girls - I don't care. It still holds up and if I'm feeling down, there is nothing else I'd rather watch. I want to picture Sicily in 19-whatever, be regaled with stories of Saint Olaf, and do thank you for being a friend. I'll claim this one for a lifetime.
That's my list. A weird and eclectic mix. I'd love to hear some of your favorites.