Week End Update: My Top 10 TV Shows

sherlockThis week the family and I have really been enjoying the new season, or series as they call it in the U.K., of Sherlock; the modern take on the famed sleuth starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  The new episodes are SO good that it got me musing about other television shows that stir me deeply with their combination of storytelling, dialogue, character development, humor, or just plain fun.

Now there are a lot of shows I have really enjoyed that didn’t make the list such as Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, or 24.  Great shows… however the series I have picked below have influenced or affected me at a much more profound level.

So in order here is my Top Ten Television Series

friends10.  Friends–  My wife and I were “binge watching” Friends before DVDs made “binge watching” possible.  In Hong Kong our local video store in the ’90s would get video tapes with 4 episodes at a time.  Tammy and I would make a picnic of food on the floor for a night of laughs.  As much as I have enjoyed and re-watched this show over the years, it barely made the list.  What swung it for me was it makes my wife laugh and there are few things I enjoy more than watching my wife laugh and seeing her happy. (BTW, the job of making my wife laugh now seems to have been taken up by Modern Family)

 

9.  Smallville-  When I was recovering from my cancer operation in 2007 a good friend sent me the first 4 seasons of Smallville. I literally sucked them up.  As a Superman fan I’m surprised I didn’t get into it sooner but was hooked from then on.  The writers really honored the “Reeve / Donner” films and the character development between Lex & Clarke played out like a Shakespearean tragedy.  It took 10 seasons for Clarke Kent to go from “farmboy” to “The Man of Steel” and my family enjoyed every minute of it.

 

8.  Star Trek- Probably no television show molded my childhood more than Startrek4Star Trek.  Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.  Two opposites yet best of friends.  While exploring strange new worlds Kirk & Spock held logic and emotion, faith and science, intuition and fact in a tension that drew out the strengths in each.  Romulans, Klingons, and “warp core breakdowns”, I loved it all!

 

Mash7. M*A*S*H – Another childhood favorite I would often watch with my dad that stands the test of time.  Watching Alan Alda’s “Hawkeye” and Wayne Roger’s “Trapper” lounge around in bathrobes drinking martinis one minute and then demonstrating compassion and expert lifesaving surgery skills the next modeled for me the “competent smart ass” I’ve always aspired to be 🙂 Sometimes I still just need to watch a “Col. Flagg episode” or “5 O’Clock Charlie” and remember to smile and laugh.

 

6. Yes Prime Minister – I re-watch Yes Prime Minister possibly more than any other show.  Although set in the ’80s, its critique and parody of political systems is as relevant now as ever.  Watching the incompetent Prime Minister James Hacker in dialogue with the Machiavellian Cabinet Secretary Humphrey Appleby is some of the most biting, and funny, political critique available on television.  Whats scary is its probably closer to the truth than we care to believe.

 

5. Sherlock – The series that inspired today’s post.  The first two seasons were great, the new season is exceptional.  I have been a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories since I was a child and have pretty much read them all.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s John Watson capture all of what made Arthur Conan Doyle’s groundbreaking…and then take it up a notch.

 

4. Firefly One of television’s greatest tragedies?   FOX’s cancellation of  Firefly after just half a season.  Set 500 years in the future Joss Whedon mixed science fiction with classical “Western” and gave us a group of outlaws with hearts of gold but always one step ahead of the law.  And surprisingly one of the crew of Firefly is a Christian minister or “shepherd”. I always thought Whedon was bold in including Christianity,as well as Buddhism, in his picture of humans in the future.  Something other shows, such as Star Trek, would have thought to hot to touch.  The escapades of Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his crew though so overwhelmed DVD sales that the show was resurrected one more time for the motion picture theatrical release, Serenity.

 


3. Doctor Who- What can I say about Doctor Who on this blog that I haven’t already said?  The alien from Galifray who travels time and space in a 1960’s British phone booth and is continually stopping to help humanity (and various other civilizations) has captivated the Hackmans.  Whether he is just being witty, or spouting something Jesus would say, the Doctor is something the entire family enjoys together.

(Great clip of Ben Linus seeking and receiving redemption)

2. Lost –  What started out as a group of ill fated passengers stranded on a deserted Island turned into an existential journey of destiny, faith, logic, and spirituality.  Writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse admitted their Catholic faith influenced some of the direction especially in the areas of redemption.  The final episode was ultimately polarizing with some fans hating it and others saying it was the best ending to a series ever.  I am in the latter category.  The hope and redemption inspires me and the final episode is never off my iPad.

1.

The West Wing – Wednesday night was “West Wing night” in the early 2000s at our house.  I would stop by Chipoltle for burritos on the way home from work those nights and eating out favorite food with our favorite TV show became a tradition for a few years with Tammy and I.  Aaron Sorkin’s show describing the ins and outs of a group of Presidential staffers working at the White House still, if I’m honest, is my favorite show ever.  Witty dialogue, humor, politics and I’ve always said America looks a whole lot brighter and more hopeful seen through Aaron Sorkin’s eyes!

Well, there are my Top 10.  What are some of yours?  What did I miss?

Cheers,

Steve

 

 

 

 

4 comments

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  • Adam Benner

    Reply

    Love your list. Renee and I also “binge-watch” Friends. I’m waiting in breathless anticipation for the new series of Sherlock to arrive in Australia. Lost was a brilliant show. Firefly should have run for 5 or 6 seasons, if you ask me. And you can’t go wrong with Star Trek.

    But where’s Knight Rider?

  • Adrian

    Reply

    I’ll go for a top five, Steve – you clearly watch far more TV than I do 😉

    Heroes
    Although it got a bit samey by season 4, I loved it for the idea of ordinary human beings being empowered with the extraordinary, trying to make the world a better place and being persecuted for their troubles…

    Survivors
    BBC drama from 2008 about a handful of survivors living in the north of England after a virus has wiped out the rest of society. Compelling viewing as they are thrown together into their new lives, becoming family for one another, but not without the tensions and difficulties that close relationships bring…

    Once Upon a Time
    I can’t think of a show that more accurately portrays the human spiritual condition… everyone merrily going about their daily lives, completely unaware of the rich heritage of their true identity – and all because of the effects of a curse… sound familiar?

    Breaking Bad
    Who hasn’t known someone struck down with a debilitating disease (cancer or otherwise); someone who hasn’t struggled to come to terms with the perceived mediocrity of their life; or of secrets kept from loved ones – not to mention the cold harsh reality of addiction and the levels of depravity to which it can lead. For its raw and gritty portrayal of life, it has to be in the top five.

    Any, from: Great Expectations, Bleak House or Little Dorrit
    No one tells the story of the human condition like Charles Dickens and these recent BBC offerings tell his stories in a way that no other movie or series has previously managed. No character or event is without importance to the overall outcome and, as what has been previously hidden is gradually brought to light, redemption ultimately shines forth as the defining feature of the story. Brilliant TV 🙂

    Doctor Who would also come well within my top ten and I agree with you about the likes of 24 (as well as Continuum, Fringe etc.) – great TV, but lacking the ‘connection’ that you’re talking about. I’m afraid West Wing wouldn’t make my list either, for the same reason… I would contest that ‘Borgen’ – its Danish counterpart – paints a far more believable picture of modern political life. I’ve only watched the first episode of Firefly (and the end of season movie), so I can’t really comment on that one yet. Never seen Lost either – so, I must put that on my list!

    Thanks for a thought provoking Saturday morning 😉

  • Connie Mudore

    Reply

    I loved The Avengers with Diana Rigg. Her character, Emma Peel, was the only female on TV when I was a kid back in the 1960’s who was strong, brave, beautiful, intelligent, independent, and could kick butt! I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I also like Star Trek and Star Trek Next Generation, Twilight Zone (great writing), West Wing, Lou Grant, The X Files, House, The Big Bang Theory, and a Korean show with English subtitles called The Queen of the Office. (If you can find the Queen on dvd or podcast or rerun, definitely go for it. Funny and thought provoking with an amazing cast.)

  • Steve

    Reply

    Connie, The Avengers was on my shortlist! I loved John Steed and Emma Peel!

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