My 10+ Favorite TV Shows
Since my list of favorite movies was received fairly well, I decided to do a similar list of my favorite TV shows. I made an effort to take the entire run of the show into account and avoid shows that haven't finished their runs yet. I also avoided sports programs, as University of Tennessee sports and old southern wrestling territories would make up the entire Top 10.
10. Boardwalk Empire - This show is about organized crime and politics (which tend to go hand-in-hand) during Prohibition, primarily in Atlantic City. The sets and costumes were phenomenal, as was Steve Buscemi's performance. Much of the Atlantic City portrayed in the series is gone, but the Knife and Fork Inn is still there and very much the same. If you have the opportunity, you should dine there at least once.
9. Scrubs - What I find funny and what most people find funny are generally miles apart, so I tend to not get invested in many comedic shows. Scrubs was the exception. It was wildly ridiculous and fanciful at times, but the performance of the cast and the journey of the characters was captivating.
8. Deadwood - A premature ending to the series' run and long-awaited film to tie the show's ending up are all that prevented Deadwood from being in my top 3. The cast and writing of this gritty take on the legendary Western town was superb. Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane were one of the best on-screen duos in TV history, in my humble opinion.
7. Peaky Blinders- While we may have a movie yet to come, I believe the TV series has concluded. Another period series, set in the 1910's-1930's, with an amazing cast and great writing. Cillian Murphy's Thomas Shelby is the foundation of the show, but Tom Hardy's Alfie Solomons' steals every scene he is in.
6. Bosch- I hesitated to put this show on the list, since a spin-off, Bosch: Legacy, is still running with much of the same characters and cast. However, since the 'original' show has concluded, I allowed its inclusion. If you follow me on Goodreads, you may know that I am a big fan of Michael Connelly's work. There are some differences between the books and the TV show, that allow me to enjoy them both as separate entities.
5. Elementary - this adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic Sherlock Holmes character ran for 7 seasons on CBS, starred Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. Miller's Holmes is my favorite depiction of all Sherlocks and there are many great ones. This series, especially in the early seasons, delves deeper into Holmes' addiction and the darker side of his personality.
Another stellar cast, that included Aidan Quinn, Jon Michael Hill, John Noble, and Rhys Ifans, among others, created a fabulous body of work that I seem to binge at least once a year since its original airing ended.
4. Magnum, P.I. - While regarded as just another detective show of the 80's, I see the ORIGINAL Magnum, P.I. as much more. Yes, it was a detective show, but I feel like it was as much about the relationships among the four main characters as it was about the case of the week. The evolution of the relationship between Magnum and Higgins was particularly interesting.
Magnum was the title character and the show obviously centered around him, but Higgins may have been my favorite characters with his stories and "memoirs". In fact, I suggest that a TV network make a series, "The Memoirs of Jonathan Quayle Higgins III", about his adventures during his time with British Army and MI6. If done correctly, it would certainly be better than the current Magnum remake that is airing.
3. The Sopranos- With its current programming, it's difficult to believe that HBO once had the hottest series on TV. That is what The Sopranos was. It captivated much of the country, and I believe it changed the way cable network was looked at for scripted TV shows.
I tell myself that I don't like shows that portray bad people as sympathetic or as the protagonist of the story, but my top 10 list would prove otherwise. It didn't take long before I found myself rotting for Tony Soprano to come out on top of whatever conflict he found (or got) himself in.
2. Justified- This series is about author Elmore Leonard's Deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant. I only count the original series and not the "spinoff" City Primeval, which I did not enjoy at all, until the last 10 minutes of the last episode.
Not only was Olyphant phenomenal as Givens, but Walton Coggins' portrayal of Boyd Crowder made for the perfect antagonist for the series. Nick Searcy, Jacob Pitts, Erica Tazel, and Joelle Carter were great in their respective roles, as well.
Raymond J. Barry's Arlo Givens made for captivating scenes with his on-screen "son" and that warped, damaged father-son relationship was the catalyst for many of the conflicts of the series.
Great guest stars such as Margo Martindale, Mykelti Williamson, Neal McDonough, and Sam Elliot put a different spin on each season, keeping things fresh.
M*A*S*H, (if it was solely based on the first 3 seasons, M*A*S*H would be firmly in my top 5, but when it became more of a drama than a comedy in the last two seasons, it lost me a bit)
Murder, She Wrote (Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher is the longest-running weekly TV series detective with an unbelievable list of guest stars)
Crazy Like A Fox (great show starring Jack Warden that did well in the ratings until it became a victim of the network's constant schedule shuffling and got cancelled after two seasons)
Monk ( this series revolved around the titular character Adrian Monk, a brilliant detective who struggled with OCD and multiple phobias)
Dukes of Hazzard (every guy my age was probably glued to the TV on Friday nights 1979-1985 watching this show)
I could go on and on with shows like 77 Sunset Strip, Kojak, The Andy Griffith Show, Matlock, Simon & Simon, Banacek, and so on and so on, but I'd never finish this list.
So, without further ado.....
1. The Rockford Files- I can just barely remember the original run of The Rockford Files, but the reruns have been a staple of my TV watching habits since I was a teenager. One of the very few aspects of modern technology that I appreciate is the ability to stream shows whenever I want, and this is one that I often do.
James Garner is an icon, a word that is extremely overused, but in this case, is appropriate. I love his performances and his interviews on talk shows or documentaries make him seem like a hoot to be around. The stories others tell about Mr. Garner support that assumption.
For those that aren't familiar with The Rockford Files, Garner starred as pardoned ex-con turned private investigator Jim Rockford. Rockford wasn't the typical hero, as he admitted to being "chicken" although his actions would suggest he was anything but. He lived in a mobile home, sometimes questionably parked in a restaurant parking lot on the beach in Malibu, California. He came out on the losing end of more fights than he won, but he managed to come out on the winning side of the case of the week, although getting paid for his services was another story.
Maybe what I love most about The Rockford Files is how different it was from most detective shows that came before and after it. Jim would rather fish than be a hero who solved a big case. I may have borrowed a bit of that attitude for Clay Sullivan.
I hope you enjoyed reading this list and if you give one (or more) of these shows I chance and enjoy them, let me know.