Yes, I watch television. I realize that kills all of my hippy credentials and makes me a brain-dead, uneducated member of the lower middle-class according to most intellectuals and liberals. Yes, TV is evil, it will melt your brain and it has no redeeming qualities. Well, as with anything else moderation in everything, and like there is shit art, shit movies and there is certainly shit TV. But, like there are also paintings by Van Gogh, and movies like Citizen Kane, there is also great television. I’m a frequent but pretty selective TV viewer and as such my friends who don’t “watch” TV or even own one, come to me for recommendations on series to watch on DVD or stream through Netflix.
So after several friends have made these types of inquiries I decided it was time to put together a list of what I consider the greatest TV shows of all time. I’m going to do this in five parts. In part I, I’ll talk about dramas, part II crime dramas, part III comedies, part IV science fiction, fantasy, horror and in part V the rest, the utterly unique, TV events and anything else. For each part I’ll talk about both current TV shows as well as shows that are no longer on the air.
I can only evaluate shows that I’ve watched, there are some shows like 30 Rock that seem to get great press but I haven’t seen them so I can’t rate them. Enjoy this is part 2, part 1 was on dramas.
For part 2, I address crime dramas, enjoy:
Crime Dramas - currently airing
1. Dexter – the first show that has ever made people cheer for a serial killer, magnificent.
2. Southland – an utterly fascinating of deep and rich characters, what seemed like a shame, being moved to TNT, has turned out to be a major plus, they can attack storylines with much more vigor.
Law and Order – solid quality in almost all of its incarnations.
Sons of Anarchy – I’ve only seen the first season but it was spectacular.
Breaking Bad – the first season was one of the best ever on TV, slowed down a bit since then but still very good.
The Mentalist – Patrick Jane is a truly wonderful character.
Harry’s Law – Kathy Bates every week, doesn’t get much better than that, a really new series but so far it’s been awesome.
Criminal Minds – right there, it was hard for me not to include it in the top tier.
Programs off-air – Crime Dramas
1. Deadwood – hard to purely call this a crime drama, but a category had to be found and wherever it fell and it is truly one of the best shows to ever be on television, truly a shame it never got to run its full course with the final season as planned.
2. Homicide Life on the Street – great characters, great stories an amazing combination of well done TV and gritty hard crime drama.
3. The Wire – every bit as good as Homicide with better production value, but Homicide did it first.
Hill Street Blues – to my mind the crime drama that started them all and for folks my age probably true, for those who are my senior a definite nod to Police Woman, Perry Mason, Kojack and the Streets of San Francisco
NYPD Blue - this show is to younger viewers what Hill Street Blues was to me.
Life on Mars (British version) – part crime drama, part science fiction, part medical drama a really amazing show with an incredible cast, skip the ripoff American version, it’s only highlight was including Gretchen Mol, one of the great overlooked actresses and beauties of our time, in case she’s reading this Gretchen will you marry me?
The Shield – many people will have this higher and I really couldn’t argue with them, it was a spectacular show
Oz – totally unique, amazing cast and maybe the most disturbing show ever on TV
The Sopranos – a weekly dose of the mob for years, fantastic but I’m sorry but the series ending takes it out of the top 3.
LA Law – the original slick lawyer show.
Wild Wild West – Like Life on Mars, or Deadwood, hard to know what to categorize this as but a black and white TV show that had to be on this list.