JT finally got a list out before mine. Clearly he has been handicapped by his time in der Dorf. Also, I really like TV. It’s one of the my vices I wish I could do something about. Most of my other vices I’m pretty comfortable with. With one notable exception, all the shows on the list had at least three seasons. While great, shows like Chappelle\’s Show and Flight of the Conchords just don’t have enough episodes to stack up. And before I get any complaints, not that anyone is reading these lists, I have never seen Mad Men and have seen only the pilot of Breaking Bad.
10. Good Eats – This is probably a surprising entry, but I felt it had to be on my list since there was probably no show I watched more of in the oughts. Good Eats is a cooking show that masterfully balances information and entertainment. And it taught me much of what I know about cooking.
9. Survivor – I felt obliged to have at least one reality show on my list since the 2000s was the decade of the reality show. I hadn’t watched it much the last few years. So it may seem odd to have it on my list. But I came back this season; which may be its best. Go Russell!!
8. The Family Guy – For much of this decade, this was the laugh-out-loud funniest show on TV. In recent years, as Seth MacFarlane’s empire has expanded, the quality of The Family Guy has gone down. Still, there is usually at least one fall-off-the-couch moment every episode.
7. Battlestar Galactica – The best show you probably have never watched because of the cheesy name. A beautifully grimy metaphor for post 9/11 America, BSG never shirked from tackling such controversial subjects like torture, suicide bombers and smoking hot robots.
6. Arrested Development – We\’ have reached the point in this list where I must lament the early cancelation of a great series. But to be fair, Arrested Development did have three seasons. What other series would dare to have dialog like this:
Michael: [To GOB, about his new boat] Get rid of “The Seaward.”
Lucille: I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.
5. Firefly – How Fox can keep a crapfest like Til Death on the air season after season but have no patience for an amazing show like Firefly is one of the greatest mysteries of the oughts if not the entire universe. Firefly was essentially a western set in outer space. And that description may have been what doomed it. But it really was more than that. Hulu should be cycling back to the pilot soon. So make a new year’s resolution and watch them.
4. The Sopranos – This is the show that started the TV renaissance of the 2000s. Without the Sopranos there is no Shield, Wire, Lost or Mad Men (which I’ve never watched but people say is good). I have recently started re-watching season one on Blu-Ray and it still is awesome. It would have been higher but I felt the last seasons were a bit self indulgent and rambling. I got the ending and it made sense. But that doesn’t make it satisfying.
3. Lost – Has there ever been a show that has changed so much but still remained great? Has there ever been a show that has been able to continually introduce new characters year after year that are often more interesting than the character we started out with? It’s not a perfect show. The time traveling of early season five did give me a headache. (oops, is that a spoiler??) Thank Christ they finally stopped. And it did seem a bit made-up-as-we-go early on. But there is no other show I regularly have watching parties for and then spend even more time listening to podcasts about. I may have a problem.
2. The Shield – So here’s the pitch for the show. Our main character (Detective Vic Mackey) will do something unspeakably horrible in the first episode and then do more horrible things throughout the series, all the while the home viewer will cheer every time he narrowly escapes what he rationally deserves. Pretty much every episode induces an ice cream headache and thus seems to last about five minutes. Of the series on this list that had finales, this one had the most satisfying.
1. The Wire – This may actually be the best TV show ever. The more I read about the failings of Dallas city hall and the school district, the more relevant this show becomes. If you want to know why American cities are failing, watch this show. It starts out as a relatively by-the-book cop show (Its creators were the creators of the best show of the 90’s, Homicide: Life on the Streets). Then each season expands it’s stage by adding another failing sector of the city – the docks, city hall, the schools and finally newspapers.