Say do you remember when I posted my Top Twenty Favorite Movies a while back? Yes of course you do it was freaking fantastic, in fact in recent months I’ve been approached by many adoring fans/one drunk guy in a bar who I’m pretty sure mistook me for Claudia Winkleman (Don’t ask) who have been imploring me to publish my top Twenty favorite TV shows. Well the wait is finally over, tonight I am writing my newest top twenty list. Who am I to deny the masses, here are my top twenty favorite TV shows.
(Warning: Chances are most of you won’t agree with my choices, I know many of you won’t care but there’s always one…)
20) Being Human (2008 – present)
This is the show about a werewolf, George living with a Vampire, Mitchell in a house haunted by a ghost, Annie…Questions? I would cite this show as a perfect example of fine tuning the balance between Horror and Humour, the situation itself presents A LOT of opportunity for hilarious hijinks (ever heard of Abbot and Costello meet the wolfman??) but most of the funny moments tend not to come from that and I like that, they have a perfect opportunity but they often choose to use other factors of the show ,like fact that their flatmates, and completely ignore the whole…thing. Another reason why I like this show is that it dwells into the whole culture of vampires, werewolves and ghosts. It really does create a world for them and special credit must be given for the use of fantastic racism between werewolves and vampires which, although not entirely original *cough* underworld *cough*, is brilliantly shown. I love the whole underground vampire society which is sort of like the freemasons only with pointier teeth (I should be shot for that joke). The fantastic racism really comes out though in two things. The insults to George and the cage fighting. Plus it also gives us a hell of a great villain in the shape of Herrick who seeks to be part of a global vampire takeover. Awesome. I like the whole door of death thing although it’s not really something that I love per-say although I do think it’s pretty original and it’s done well.
Fate and destiny come across strongly in this show, when it’s your turn to die you can’t prevent it. When it’s your turn to go it’s your turn to go. Furthermore I adore the way that these characters are portrayed. All the actors are excellent and I love the way that they all struggle with their…things. Mitchell’s hunger for blood comes across well and his attempts to go cold turkey are both charming and funny. George has to come to terms with being a werewolf which becomes more difficult when he infects Nina and, although a relationship blossoms, it’s still pretty touch and go. Annie was murdered and most of the first series revolves around her trying to catch her killer, very moving. Not much else to say really. Being Human. Kinda like the odd couple, but with more blood…and sex…and fantastic racism…and teeth…(Oh Jesus I did it again…)
19) Monk (2002 – 2009)
Adrian Monk is an ex detective with OCD triggered by the murder of his wife. Together with his assistants (Sharona and then Natalie) Detective Leyland Stottlemyer (?) and Deputy Randy Fisher they solve murders. This is such a charming show I find it had to say. monk is such a brilliant and lovable character that I think Tony Shalob deserved those three Emmeys…and that Golden Globe..and to be recognised by the screen actor’s guild…twice… I love the other characters too. I love Leyland for having to deal with Monk being OCD and weird pretty much everywhere, especially the crime scene. Yet the two are friends and Leyland respects and admires Monk. I love the assistants for being there for Monk and for putting up with his OCD (Spot a theme here?). The acting is great and Tony Shalob (yes I’ve already mentioned him but he deserves it) turns in one of the finest performances as Monk. The theme tune is important, even if Randy Newman does somewhat seem to be churning out the same song over and over again. The murders in Monk are not conventional murders and I think this is the second biggest part of the show’s success, along with the characters themselves. There are many examples including a man who kills a hobo by shooting him, stabbing him, poisoning him, beating him, suffocating him, strangling him and then running him over in a car just to distract attention for the waitress he killed earlier. These are smart killers and it brings me nicely onto my next point. Monk solves the cases through his OCD and this sets him aside from other TV detectives. Most importantly though is the way he tells people how he solves it. It’s not so much built up as it is explained in one massive moment and I like that because it’s different. I’m not gonna lie the last episode made me cry and this is for three main reasons. One, it’s the last ever episode of Monk. Two the fact that he solves Trudy’s murder. Three the f*cking montage. The song and the way it goes through the most important episodes like the one with his brother (crap I’m welling up, conclude damn you, conclude!!) Monk is a funny, charming show with plenty of character that will keep you enthralled for days on end.
18) Heroes (2006 – 2010)
This is a show about a group of people who suddenly find that they have certain powers. Each series has a different major plot point ranging from the nuclear holocaust of destruction in New York to the creation of a formula which is capable of giving people abilities. Basically the plot is x-men meets Dawson’s Creek. When I first saw this show I knew it was something special. It was a new type of superhero show which didn’t have extravagant costumes and the characters weren’t billionaires or alien princes. They were ordinary people trying to cope with their gifts in the best way they could. These were interesting characters. The Petrellis were a memorable family, Nathan and Peter’s relationship seemed very genuine and you could easily invest in it. The same goes for the relationships. I think out of all the shows on this list this is the one where most people became invested and I’ve found that shipping (Shipping is a term that refers to when fans want two characters to get together) crops up a lot with this series. Claire and Peter got the most attention in this respect. So many people wanted them to get together it surprised me. I think that that’s the point when you know your show has succeeded, when people are shipping your characters.
These characters were very likable and I think everybodys favorite has to be Hiro Nakumaura, the time travelling Trekkie. He was a funny, well written character and I am not afraid to say that the whole Charlie/ Hiro storyline made me cry a little, which is a testament to excellent writing. Furthermore I loved how long the seasons lasted. They could go for around 30 episodes and for me that’s a decent chunk of time to flesh out a storyline. By far though, the best thing about this series was the villains. Mr Linderman spent the majority of the first series unseen which built up suspense and then when we got to see him who played him?? Malcolm Mc Dowell, famous for a Clockwork Orange and frankly they couldn’t have done better, unless they got Christopher Lee, and Lindermans plan was actually bordering on Bond villain, which I personally love. Adam Monroe was charismatic and memorable and he possibly has one of my favorite back stories of the series. I won’t go into it now but be sure to look it up. These were memorable villains. So I know what your thinking, why is it 17th on my list if I think so highly of it? Well one word. Sylar. He started of being my favorite character. Zachary Quinto is an excellent actor and I loved the complexity of the character and getting into his psyche was quite a ride. Problem? When they made him a good guy. This was Sylar a guy who killed people for their abilities, he was epic! Sylar should have died an honourable death rather than be turned into a protagonist. The writers obviously looked at the series and though to themselves: mm Sylars a pretty popular character but we’re running out of stuff to write for him 😦 Wait I know! Lets make him a protagonist because if we kill him off we may lose some of our audience! That’s a great idea! Well done mr Big shot executive. If you hadn’t of done that you may have ranked higher on this list. I hope your happy. Douche.
17) Futurama (1999 – present)
Set in the year 3000 (approx), Futurama is based around the adventures of the Planet Express Delivery team as they….do stuff…Remember when I did a post a while ago expressing why I hated the Simpsons? Well Matt Groening created that abomination and yet he somehow came up with this later. How? It’s such a leap and yet it’s not held in the same regard. The characters are far more interesting and far funnier. Fry is a far more likable protagonist than Homer, although he still suffers from some similarities but that’s to be expected due to the fact that they share a writer. This show looks great and they get a lot of good animation simply from the setting. I especially love the look of the cities especially New New York. This is a world which is not only great to look at but also easy to immerse yourself in and it is funnier than anything in the Simpsons. This is a world with suicide booths, where robots have a hell and where noses are alien aphrodisiacs. I especially like the creativity of these characters. You’ve got a lobster doctor, a Cyclops pilot, and a robot , the sheer diversity of these characters creates a lot of funny moments. Most of all though I love the way the characters are kept quite tightly in groups. The Planet Express crew is a group on its own, the other events revolve, generally, around them and whilst Fry is the main character it is the crew as a whole that we tend to concentrate on. Not a lot else to say but bite my shiny metal ass.
16) Desperate Housewives
Now I know I’m a guy but I think this is one of the best shows to come out of America despite the fact that it tends to repeat itself. The series centres on the lives of 5/6 women with the cast occasionally being edited slightly. Each of the women is a housewife and has their own personality trait. For example Bree (recognize her from my top ten fictional females list?) is a Catholic with a typical 1950’s stereotype thing going on. Edie’s a whore, Susan’s clumsy etc etc. The acting is generally good, especially from Marcia Cross as Bree, and the characters are likable and often very funny. Even the secondary as hell even the TERTIARY characters have their moments but the limelight for me, usually rests on the main characters themselves. The look of the street is great and I especially love the colour scheme with the various colours clashing. The seasons all have a mystery to them which unfolds throughout the series and whilst they differ from being brilliant to slightly boring, the main cast and other plot lines keep the show running. The use of narration is also something I think works very well, especially the bits at the beginning and end which usually act as both book ends and define some for of theme like, loneliness, vanity, childcare etc. I honestly think that this show is the best thing to come out of America since (Insert stereotype here).
15) The Apprentice (2004 – present)
Now for this I’m counting both the American version, specifically the celebrity edition, and the British version, specifically the normal and junior editions. I’ve actually heard that the show started in the States which, in all honesty surprised me a little. When I think the Apprentice I think Alan Sugar Not Donald Trump. Anywho I digress, the format is simple. Take a number of budding albeit egotistical entrepreneurs/celebrities desperate to throw themselves back into the limelight/help their charities and have a multimillionaire business magnate set them tasks at the end of which one of them is fired. The show works for several reasons. Firstly the contestants are usually cocky and therefore pretty easy to hate or mock and watching them fail is incredibly gratifying. but generally there are some who you begin to like straight away. Secondly the Tycoon. In the British version we have Alan Sugar, a down to earth guy who made millions after leaving school at 16. For America we get Donald Trump and his toupee. Trump’s nicer but I think it’s good for them to be vicious at times. Next we have Sugar’s advisors Nick and Margaret, yes I know Maggie left but I don’t care I still love her. These two were so freaking awesome because for one thing they delivered the best lines in the show. Who can forget Nick’s “you were on it like a tramp on chips” or Maggie’s “I guess Edinburgh isn’t what it used to be”. Its lines like these that keep people tuning in, plus they’re just so likable its difficult not to watch. Finally the theme is great and If you haven’t seen Victoria Wood’s parody of it with Nick and Maggie dancing then I highly suggest that you find it. Now the celebrity edition is better in America because it lasts longer. In Britain it only lasts one episode for children in need and we need longer than that. I’ll admit I’ve only seen one celebrity edition and one thing stood out to me. Piers co&* fu^ker Morgan. I despise this man. He is an odious fame seeking pric% who believes himself to be popular despite the fact he is in fact an utter tw@. It was this show that gave me my hatred of the man and for that I like it.
14) QI (2003 – present)
I can only think of one way to describe this show and that is Quite Interesting (yeah I did it, so shoot me). Basically its a quiz show hosted by Stephen Blackadder Fry with four panelists one of whom is regular Alan Davies. The questions are usually quite difficult but always quite interesting (Yeah I know). This is an intelligent show and Stephen Fry is possibly the best possible host that they could’ve gotten for it (although they originally consider Michael Python Palin for the part). I like the idea of having Alan Davies as a regular as in a way he and Stephen represent different types of intelligent, Stephen knows facts and interesting notes for dinner party conversation while Alan has common sense, not to say Stephen doesn’t of course. The other guests on the panel vary every week and are usually comedians although sometimes they have TV specialists in various fields. This is one of the best quiz shows on TV at the minute. Its funny and intelligent t the same time, you can actually learn something interesting from it. I also like the way the series moves through the alphabet e.g. series A, series B etc. The klackzon is one of the best parts of the show and is usually triggered by Alan and it is his determination and childlike nature that help make the show what it is, but the best thing by far has to be the host. Stephen Fry is such an intellectual it is impossible to sum it up. QI would not be the same without him.
13) Shark Tank (2009 – present)
Now I doubt whether any of you have actually even heard of this show but trust me, most of you know the premise. Shark Tank is the American version of Dragon’s Den and is the show which allows budding inventors and entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors, business magnates worth millions each. They are the Sharks. Shark Tank is a better show than Dragon’s Den for several reasons. Firstly the building where show is filmed looks nicer. The Den looked horrible but the Tank (?) looks like something a Bond Villain would have especially the whole aquarium tunnel thing that they have leading to the Sharks, which coincidently also happens to have sharks in it…who knew? Second I prefer it because they actually have a clip of the entrepreneurs at home, giving us an insight into the person we’re dealing with. Immediately we make our minds up about them and we can either want them to succeed or fail horribly. Thirdly, and most importantly, in Dragon’s Den the Dragons were friends and whilst they disagree from time to time, maybe even get annoyed, they never really argue. The sharks go at each other all the fu8king time. They argue over anything, if one of them invests and another one disagrees then they argue, if someone says something about the product and someone else disagrees, they argue. I remember one time when Barbra, my favorite Shark, invested and another Shark actually WENT OUTSIDE, FOUND THE GUYS AND TOLD THEM THAT THEY HAD MADE A HUGE MISTAKE. This guy was not fu%king around. The Sharks are far more enjoyable than the Dragons and 100 times more charismatic. Plus Barbara is the only Shark or Dragon from any of the versions that I actually like, and there are many, many versions. Also the Sharks are actually capable of being nice. They smile all the time, something you never see with the Dragons. Shark Tank is a great show and if you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it.
12) The Big Bang Theory (2007 – present)
It is very difficult to get a new comedy show off the ground these days. Chances are they’ll fail miserably and even if they do succeed it’s no guarantee for large viewing figures, you may only last one season. That’s why the Big Bang Theory is so special. Its done something incredibly rare and continues to be held in high regard today. The show revolves around a group of friends who also happen to be scientists who also happen to be nerds and their lives. Also there’s Penny… Ok I can’t do it justice so I’ll move onto what I love about it. Firstly the premise is not completely original but still they make it work. Lets be honest guys, its Friends. I mean there are differences sure, but at the end of the day the blueprints are that of Friends. Nevertheless they edit it slightly and I like that. I love the geeky references and the episode titles are all written in the style of scientific theories which is very fresh and fits well with the plot. Secondly these are fantastic characters, all are funny, all are likable but two stand out. The first is Raj whom I don’t hate per say, it’s really more that I like him less than the others. I mean he has his funny moments sure but there very few and the character himself can just be an asshole. There’s a scene where, after he was being a douche about being in Time magazine, he takes Penny to some VIP party which depresses Leonard because he loves her. Then Raj makes a pass at her and goes the next day to apologize, when he does Penny hugs him, Leonard sees and does Raj correct him and tell him that obviously it wasn’t what it looked like as a real friend would? No the bast1rd just smirks.
The second character is the remarkably handsome, intellectual atom bomb that is Dr Sheldon Cooper PhD. If I ever do a Top Twenty Favorite fictional character list then this guy will defiantly be on it because he is one of the best things about this show and certainly my favorite character. In fact I’ve often been compared to him, in fact I’ve been known to burst into a hearty rendition of Soft Kitty hen drunk, (I’ve decided, after much debate, that it’s a good thing) which accounts for my opening sentence to this paragraph, I’m not gay I promise…I’m saving all that for University. The Theme tune is great, the characters are great, it’s funny, not much else to say but Bazinga!
11) Allo Allo! (1982 – 1992)
Set in Nazi occupied France, Allo Allo is set around cafe owner Renee, his wife and his staff as they try to survive the war as best as possible, complete with the Gestapo, Italians, The German Army and the French Resistance. This is a show that had it’s fair share of controversy in its time, who knew a sitcom about war-torn France could offend people? Well anywho this was a great show. I love the characters. They’re all so stupid and yet so lovable. There’s the Cafe owner who’s having it off with his barmaid, his wife who can’t sing the gay SS officer, there is such a varied spread of characters in this show and it works perfectly. Some of the characters left but it works well because you have time to invest in them and sometimes they even make cameo’s. The plots are hilarious, the whole fallen Madonna with the big boobies storyline is such a funny concept and it is presented so well that its easy to get into and therefore is funnier. Most of the characters are stereotypes, the English, especially officer Crabtree fit this description. Finally the catchphrases in this show are some of the funniest and most memorable in history. Right lets give this a try *clears throat* “Good Moaning!” “You stupid woman!” “Oh Renee!” “Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once.” “Klop!” “Ze Fallen Madonna with ze big Boobies” “My little tank “What a mistaka to maka!!” “It is I Lelerc” “Yes Herr Flic” “Oh my dicky Ticker!!” “The flashing Knobs!!”…*collapses from exhaustion*. This is the finest of the sitcoms to come out of the 70’s/80’s and believe me there were a lot. Allo Allo, if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out.
10) American Dad! (2005 – present)
Seth McFarlane is one of the finest comedy writers I know of. Family Guy was brilliant when I first saw it but it got old and stale very quickly. American Dad does not suffer from this, instead it only keeps getting better. The show is based around the Smith Family which is made up of the stereotypes already featured in the other shows by McFarlane, e.g. the fat idiot father, the animal best friend etc. I love this show for several reasons. First the animation is great, in some respects better than Family Guy which seems strange because they’re obviously made in pretty much the same way, meh maybe it’s the colours but whatever it is it looks great. Secondly the fact that Stan works for the CIA opens the show up to more possibilities and characters like Deputy Director Bullock voiced by Patrick ‘Star Trek ruined my career as a Thespian’ Stewart. Also the characters in this are just fantastic. Stan is funnier than Peter and I think this applies to most of the cast. They are all funnier than their Family Guy counterparts and its good to see Seth McFarlane’s work keeps getting better and better, well at least until that Cleveland show, which will never be mentioned again. My favorite characters by far are Roger and Stan because when you have them together they are just hilarious and naturally, hijinks ensue. It is with the characters, however, that my one and only criticism comes in. Klaus needs more to do. I mean I know he’s a fish and there’s only so many situations that you can et out of that but surely you can try? American Dad is one of those shows that’s so good that I doubt anything he does will be able to top it…unless he does a film or a crossover…
9) Have I got News for you (1990 – present)
Well we’re back to panel shows and this one has to be my favorite. The show consists of two teams and a host (Angus Deaton who was later…encouraged to leave, we’ll get to that, and then succeeded by a number of guests hosts). The host asks questions about the week’s news and the contestants have to buzz in etc etc blah blah blah I’m sure you know the sort of thing we mean here. Firstly I love the Hosts, most importantly the guest host idea. To be honest I never really liked Angus so when he got high with a prostitute, rapped and then had sex with her, I was glad when the tabloids found out, mostly because of the jokes Hislop and Merton (the captains) got out of it but also because Angus had previously taken the piss out of Merton divorcing Caroline Quentin (whom I also hate not that I think about it…). The guest hosts vary, my favourites being Brian ‘WHERE ARE MY EAGLES!!!’ Blessed and Bruce Forsythe. I think the host means a lot in these sorts of panel shows so the fact that they alternate makes it all the more enjoyable. Secondly I love the format, especially the different rounds which seem quite original. Thirdly I love the relationship between Paul Merton and Ian Hislop. I swear Paul Merton is one of the funniest men I know, he’s intelligent (despite the only qualification he’s ever received being a woodwork level 1 thingy)and it really shows in some of the other stuff he’s done, plus his impressions are just priceless. Hislop is more of a satirist, being editor of private eye helps I suppose, and once again this is evident in his style and composure whilst on the show. The two seem to be friends but their styles often conflict. Hislop is a satirist and obviously upper class while Merton is more down to earth. Have I got news for you is one of my favorite shows of all time and if you haven’t seen it you are missing out.
8) Doctor Who (2005 – 2010)
Blasphemy! I hear you cry. Doctor Who is one of the greatest TV shows in history, why is it only number 8?! Well I can explain but firstly let me clear something up. I’ve seen one episode from the old series and so I don’t count that massive chunk of around 30-40 years worth of episodes and I actually don’t really like the ones with Matt Smith as the Doctor and this is for two reasons. Firstly I don’t really like Matt Smith as the Doctor, I mean he’s alright and I suppose sometimes he has his moments and considering he had to follow on from David Tennant I really think he’s got it difficult but even so I just don’t like him very much. At first I thought it would take a while getting used to him like it did with Tennant after a while I realised I still didn’t like him and I’ve found this with a lot of people. Maybe it’s the writing, maybe its the actor or maybe it’s the fact that we’re still not over David Tennant yet but whatever it is I don’t like him. Secondly Steven Moffat took over as head writer after Tennant left. Now, let me make it clear I think Moffat can write good episodes, we’ve seen that. He gave us Blink, The Empty Child and Silence in the Library, plus the whole Tessa whatever and the ganger idea at the end of the most recent series was pretty damn clever, he had us all distracted with such a simple idea and frankly that gained my respect. However, just think about it. What do all of Moffat’s episodes have in common? That’s right there all batsh^t terrifying that’s what, and this is a big problem. Moffat continues to try to make his episodes scary which shouldn’t be done. Doctor Who has taken a new turn which isn’t so much dark as it is trying to be something that it really shouldn’t. Frankly we need to go back to the days of Davies who, whilst still had some scary episodes in there, still understood the need to vary things slightly. Moffat doesn’t do that… And that children is why I love Doctor who, next!….oh wait…I haven’t said anything good….ok then….awkward…
Well lets see, the characters are great and the concept of regeneration gives a lot of opportunity to the writers and very often they use it to mould the Doctor’s personality to the actor. Speaking of which lets take a look at the two that concern us, Doctors nine and ten. Christopher Eccelston was certainly talented and really good when it came to portraying that war-torn, bitter, lonely attitude that the Doctor had after the time war. Tennant was more fun and quirky but nevertheless one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen. Plus Doctor Who resulted in one of the biggest shipping crazes of all time. The Doctor and Rose. So many people wanted them to get together it was unbelievable, and of course they did…kinda. Rose was a good, well-developed, independent character and frankly I liked Billie Piper in this series. I love the relationship with Donna and the Doctor, which seems more poignant after all his other assistants seem to have feelings for him. With Donna they were just good friends with no complications and complexity that Moffat seems to look to with the whole Amy/Rory/Doctor thing. I hated Martha though, she was a bland character and Freema Agyman is a pretty terrible actress to say the least. Nevertheless, on the whole, these are very likable characters. I also think special credit should go to Davies because, as head writer, he is responsible for the arc words. Every series there would be an arc word e.g. Torchwood, Mr Saxon, Bad Wolf etc. This was a clever idea and led to some memorable series finales and memorable performances from Julian Glover as Davros and John Simm as the Master. I was actually surprised to find that a lot of critics didn’t like Simm but I thought he was a big ol’ ball of insanity and a perfect contrast to the Doctor’s nature, yet very similar. That’s how it should be. The Master and the Doctor are almost two sides of the same coin. Frankly I love 98% of the Davies series but I’m afraid that other 2% coupled with the Moffat series, really drags it down.
7) Top Gear (But only the specials!) (2002 – present)
I wanna make it clear that I don’t hate the ordinary Top Gear series, not at all. Instead I just don’t watch it much because, frankly, I don’t care about cars that much. When I have watched the ordinary series there have been things that I’ve liked. The presenters are good, it can be funny, the Stig is great, the guests are good but it never really engaged me. The challenges were something else, they were fun and this sort of premise is really utilised in the specials. Let me explain. The specials usually last an hour or more and are set around the three guys going to an exotic location somewhere and completing various challenges. I love these specials for several reasons. Firstly these locations are beautiful, interesting places. For example; Vietnam, America, Bolivia, The North Pole there are more but I can’t remember. Nevertheless these were great looking places. Secondly the challenges and the cars. In the ordinary episodes the cars are just cars but in the specials the team really bond with them, usually. The challenges are also great because there is generally a theme to them e.g. getting to one side of the country to the other. Thirdly the team itself. In my Jaws review I talked about how I loved the way the characters engaged one another and the same applies to the team. Jeremy, Richard and James are friends, of course they are. They genuinely do care about one another, like in the Middle Eastern Christmas special when James smashes his head and ends up in hospital. Most importantly though, they are not against being prats around one another, constantly taking the piss. I love it. These guys have so much fun doing what they are doing in these specials and it really keeps your interest. Furthermore, it’s just funny. These guys can be hilarious and I think the production team deserves a lot of credit because the editing is just golden. The Top Gear Specials are amazing and I love them more than the show itself. I eagerly await their next adventure!
6) Hustle (2004 – present)
Now I’m sure you’ve all heard of this show but for those who haven’t it’s premise is pretty simple. The show revolves around a group of con artists ,or grifters, as they bring justice to the greedy and immoral fat cats by taking them for every penny they have…well not every penny. Anywho on to what I love about this show. The characters are great, the con artists themselves are lovable rogues yet sophisticated gentlemen at the same time. The team changes from time to time but nevertheless all of the characters are great. You’ve got Mickey whose the leader for the first few series. He’s recently divorced and beat his ex’s lover half to death resulting in a prison sentence. The character is charming enough and intelligent to boot. Then you’ve got Ash whose sort of the technical support guy. He has to support his ill wife so there is a factor of that in there, making the character easy to sympathize with. I swear to God he’s like the master of accents, going from a working class guy to an upper class toff in a second. Then you have Albert who is by far my favorite. He is an old master and something of a Jedi Master to the other grifters, having a Fatherly relationship with Stacey. Robert Vaughn does a great job playing him. Whilst the whole con artist thing may lead people to believe that they’re anti-heroes, they’re actually more like heroes. These are good guys albeit working through a less than legal method. Furthermore I think we should include Eddie the barman in this. He’s not intelligent but he’s not stupid either. He is constantly being conned by the team and this leads to a lot of humour. Also the marks, the people getting conned, are really interesting and often very unlikable characters, like the banker with a penchant for prostitutes and horseracing, the old people’s home manager who charges too much and cons people out of their homes and the media tycoon who will do anything for a story. These are memorable characters and the show gives them really interesting weaknesses like wine, comics and fashion, which leads to the villains being more than one-dimensional characters but more developed than that. We get to know them, some of them in a decent amount of detail. Finally the ways that the marks get conned can be pretty imaginative. Usually the plan gets foiled somehow and the team have to enforce their backup plan…which was sometimes their plan all along…yeah it can be confusing…anywho I love this show, I would tell you more things that I like about it but there is simply too much and you probably wouldn’t read it.
5) Psychoville ( 2010 – 2011)
This how comes to us from the creators of the League of Gentlemen and there are similarities. Firstly though, lets talk about what Psychoville actually is. Psychoville looks at the lives of several strange and even slightly disturbing characters, each of whom are connected to one another due to their history in a psychiatric home. The seasons each have their own main plot points, the first being one of mass blackmail the second involves the secret of raising the dead (yeah it’s that kind of show), frankly these strange plots really work in its favour. I absolutely adore this show. Firstly the characters are memorable, for example Mr Jelly, a foul-mouthed clown with a wooden hand whose career is failing. How bout David Sowerbutts? The serial killer obsessed man-child who is a little too close to his mother… Joy, the midwife who treats a training doll as a real child. There are more and each and every one of them is interesting and likable. The acting and the writing plays a massive part in this shows success. The acting is great and you can see the same old names from the league of Gentlemen, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearesmith etc. These same guys write it and you can see that they draw a lot of influence from other movies, especially Hitchcock and urban legends. Plus this show is just hilarious. I rarely laugh as much as when I’m watching this show, it is honestly one of the finest examples of comedy writing and kudos to the writers for making it so. The humour is different to other shows, its more disturbing and surreal than any of its competition and that’s the sort of style that the League Of Gentlemen had. Even so, Psychoville perfected it, I think the fact that it wasn’t just set in a village worked in its favour as it gave them more opportunities for humour. Also in the League of Gentlemen it was only the village that was strange, we even see new people arrive and they seem perfectly normal. With Psychoville, the plot isn’t confined, its open to the world and so pretty much everybody is a little bit strange in some way, which helps to make it the firestorm of perfect comedy that it is. Sadly Reece Shearesmith has announced that there will nt be a third series. Now for sutible period of mourning.
4) The Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964)
“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”
Sweet mother of freaking Jesus. The Twilight Zone is without a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest shows ever made in the History of the planet. Basically its a series of stories, with strange twists, for example one episode “The Fever” a man becomes obsessed with gambling and has haunting dreams about slot machines. In another episode “The Eye of the Beholder” a disfigured woman is in a hospital undergoing an operation to make her look normal but then it is revealed that…..No…what?…You didn’t really think I would spoil the plots of one the greatest shows of all time, did you? This show is such a brilliant creation I find it difficult to express. It is so creative and incorporates so many different areas of fiction such as aliens, vampires, death, Satan, robots, space travel, time travel so many concepts are included in this series that it is difficult not to find an episode for everyone. Every episode has a moral message to it. For example The Eye of the Beholder talks about how beauty is subjective. “The monsters are due on Maple Street” is about how paranoia can destroy us and how our own worst enemy is very often himself. I think the moral messages certainly come across well with the story ideas.
The acting in this show is mediocre at best, bearing in mind that this is the 60’s and back then talent…was thin on the ground. They did, however, get the talents of William ‘Ya want some cheese with that ham?’ Shatner and Telly ‘Kojak’ Salavas, so to be fair there are some big names on this show. Finally we have the narration of the late, great Rod Sterling. This man has since become an iconic image of the 60’s. Standing there and introducing us to the characters and the main jist of the story with his cigarette. In fact, like desperate housewives the narrator opens and closes the episode by summarizing some form of message. Sterling was a fan of anthology pulp fiction stories as a little boy and as an adult, he wished to write of social commentary themes such as racism, government, war, society and human nature in general. He decided to combine the two so he could not only indulge both of these passions, but also to get away with talking about these on television at a time when television wasn’t allowed to address such things. Rod Sterling was one of the finest minds of the 20th century and his voice helps make this great show what it is. Thank you Rod. I can’t express how much we admire your genius.
3) Pushing Daisies (2007 – 2009)
Of all the shows on this list this is the one that warms my heart the most. The show revolves around the lives of Ned and Chuck. Ned is a pie maker who has the ability to raise the dead, also taking the life of one close (proximity wise not emotionally) to him. In the show Ned uses his power to revive his childhood sweetheart after she has been murdered and together with Detective Emerson Cod and help from Olive Snook (who is secretly in love with Ned) and Aunt’s Lily and Vivian they solve murders. I cannot express how much I love this show. Firstly it’s so quirky and has that fairytale feel to it, the art direction is fantastic on this show btw. I love the look and feel of the sets and I think the music has a lot to contribute to that, the soundtrack is magnificent. The sets are great especially the look of the Pie Hole itself, not to mention the quirkiness of the others like the windmills and the sweet shop. The plots are just great and also, really funny. Several spring to mind like the time when Aunt Lily and Vivian find a bird with a broken wing and repair it. Frankly the murders are also a great part of the series and follow along the same line of quirkiness that the series does. A woman is coated in some sort of oil that attracts sharks and, naturally, she gets eaten. These are wonderful character. Firstly Emerson Cod is hilarious, his catchphrase “oh Hell no!” has stayed with me since the show was cancelled (We’ll get to that). He seems impatient with the others and quite serious but you can tell he loves them…deep down…somewhere, his storyline with his daughter and the relationship with the uber strict doggie trainer are interesting and well written not to mention his pop up book hobby is frankly just cute. Aunts Vivian and Lily are wonderful. Lily is an alcoholic, a typical lady drunk complete with shotgun and eye patch. Vivian is an agoraphobe and shut it, she also sings and being played by Ellen Green (Little Shop of Horrors) really helps. The two of them are a synchronized swimmer group and this makes the characters even more likable. The whole Ned/Chuck/Olive love triangle thing is possibly one of the few examples of me shipping something. I wanted Ned to be with Olive but also with Chuck, I loved both characters but Kristen Chenoweth’s singing is sensational and this really made me feel for the character. Chuck new Ned still loved her but not that Olive had feelings for Ned. It was a strange love triangle in the sense that all of the options were enjoyable, of course he was always gonna end up with Chuck but even so. That’s another thing about this show. It was a musical series. There were many songs all delivered perfectly; Eternal Flame got to me, Birdhouse in your soul always makes me smile, Morning has broken touches me, every song has an emotion attached to it and credit must be given to the performers. The one bad thing about this series was the fact that it was cancelled far, far too soon. I miss this show so much and frankly I was pissed when it was cut. They should have at least let it run to its conclusion.
2) South Park (1997- present)
Most people think this show is about fart jokes and toilet humour but it really isn’t. I think that Trey and Matt know exactly what they’re doing with this show and my God do thee do it well. I would even go as far to say that this is one of the most intelligent shows on TV today. Now, admittedly, the earlier episodes are based mostly around toilet humour and you can’t find the satirical slant in it, because that what South Park is nowadays. A satire. it takes issues that pretty much every other comedy show is looking at and it does something completely different with it. For example there’s an episode where the boys become obsessed with Queer eye for the straight guy and being gay becomes cool. The boys mock Kyle (or possibly Stan) for not being gay. It’s obviously attacking homophobia by twisting it slightly and it is perfect. I really get annoyed when people say this show is stupid because it isn’t it is genius and Trey and Matt know exactly what they are doing when they write this. The characters are brilliant, diverse and memorable. They are well written despite being underdeveloped but let’s be honest its a comedy show and the characters don’t really need to be developed. I especially love Mr Garrison, Mr Mackey (“Mmm Kay?”), Mr Hankie the Christmas poo, Towlie, Kenny, Stan, Kyle and of course Cartman. I’m only gonna talk about three characters here. Towlie was created simply for the purpose of making a character that couldn’t possibly be merchandised, in fact during one episode Towlie is called the worst character ever. Kenny follows this sort of concept. As we all know Kenny is killed off in pretty much every episode and naturally this began to get a little old after a while. None of the other characters was noticing that Kenny kept on dying and Matt and Trey obviously noticed that this running joke was dying just a little. So what do they do? Practically centre several episodes around Kenny dying and the kids reactions to it, like in the stem cell research episode where the boys have to cope with Kenny being diagnosed with a terminal illness, but this idea really comes to strength in the Coon and pals episodes. In these episodes it is revealed that Kenny actually has a super power, which actually turns out to be more of a curse. I won’t spoil it for you but when Kenny talks about his power, it’s both sad and funny. Matt and Trey certainly knew what they were doing when trying to keep this joke fresh.
The final character I want to talk about is of course Cartman. I love this bastard and in all honesty had I found the show sooner I would have put him pretty high up on my top 10 manipulative bastard list. Why do we love him? Because he is racist, homophobic, completely ignorant of everybody else’s feelings, selfish, cruel and above all funny. He constantly derides Kyle for being a Jew and Kenny for being poor. In one episodes he is inspired by Mel Gibson’s passion of the Christ to exterminate all the Jews. In another he gathers Stem cells from aborted embryos and ,rather than use them to save Kenny, he uses them to build his favourite restaurant. The most well-known example of Cartman being Cartman is in the episode “Scott Tenormann must Die”. In this episode Cartman tricks a guy into eating his own parents whom Cartman had previously had killed before grinding them into chilli. Why? Because the kid conned him out of money to buy pubic hairs. That’s not just crossing the Moral Event Horizon, that’s not even jumping over the moral event horizon, that’s freaking catapulting yourself over the moral event horizon, hell Stan and Kyle even agree never to piss Cartman off again. It turned Cartman from an annoying, spoilt asshole into the most evil child on the planet. Cartman is such a wonderfully vile and yet enjoyable character that he goes a good way into making this show what it is today. I love the theme tune, I love the fact that the animation is crap because it requires less effort and therefore episodes can be made a few days after major events, like the death of Saddam Hussein. I love the characters, I love the humour and I love the writing. This is damn close to a perfect show.
1) Frasier (1993 – 2004)
Yeah you all knew it was coming and yes I’ve already reviewed this show before but nevertheless I feel a more detailed approach may be nessarcery. The show is the only really successful spin-off from Cheers. Where do I begin which this show? Firstly I love the characters, Frasier and Niles are portrayed by two brilliant actors, Kelsey Grammar and David Hyde Pierce. These are two characters that started off as snobs but as the series went on they developed and that’s what I love to see in shows, characters that develop with the series. My favorite of the two has to be Niles if only because he is acted so well and the character himself is just a riot. Sometimes they argue but they’re brothers so they get through it and the love s there if you scratch at the surface. I love the other characters as well. Martin is a lot of fun and a good, healthy contrast with his sons (once again acted brilliantly). Roz is great and once again contrasts slightly with Frasier and Niles but they remain firm friends throughout the series. My only main problem with the characters is Daphne and by problem I mean a very minor one. I don’t think that the acting is that good and though this only really applies to when the character is being serious, I still think that it’s a problem. May be its the actress (who hasn’t really gone on to do much since…jus sayin is all…) maybe its the accent, maybe it’s because it contrasts so much with the fun side of Daphne which is far more quirky. Frankly I don’t know. By far my favorite character of the series is Bebe and I’m sure most of you already know my feelings about this woman if you’ve read some of my other work so I’ll try to keep it short. The devil jokes, like the Kenny death jokes from South Park, should get old but there handled in such an intelligent way that they work. Also, Bebe appears only once every couple of seasons and so the writers have a lot of time to think of jokes. That’s another thing about this show. It is hilarious.
Frasier has this brand of humour that dabbles in being both intelligent (generally from Niles and Frasier), less intelligent but still damn funny humour (Roz and Martin), camp humour (Gill), dick jokes (Bulldog), quirky humour (Daphne), the list is endless. I also love the way the episodes are set out. For example they are divided into segments each of which is named humorously. In this respect the episodes become somewhat like a play, making it more cultured and fitting in with the characters of Niles and Frasier. Furthermore I also think it nessarcery to talk about how the characters grow and develop so well. The brothers start off, as previously mentioned, as snobs but throughout the series they fall in love and learn from their father. Its heartwarming and something I don’t really think enough sitcoms do. I think Frasier is one of the finest sitcoms in history and ,whilst it could be considered to have faults, I still think it rightfully deserves to be my number one favorite tv show.