50 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Best TV Series Ever

  1. I haven’t watched much series TV lately, though I’ve caught some on DVD. Two of my favorites on TV were the original _Mission Impossible_ and _The Avengers_ with Diana Rigg. I liked the Inspector Morse series. Anyone remember _Sergeant Bilko_ or _McHale’s Navy_?

    More recently, on DVD, I’ve enjoyed the first few seasons of _New Tricks_ and _The Closer_.

    Radio? As a kid I’d lie in bed with my radio: “Return with us now, to those thrilling days of yesteryear. When out of the west come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver…” and the William Tell Overture.

  2. Maybe not the best, but the best one that no one else seems to have watch is “Justified.” Great show. I’d rank “The Shield” pretty high as well.

      • It was one of the few series that had a finale that I absolutely loved. Usually shows kinda peter out, but Justified ended strong. Timothy Olyphant was outstanding, and Walton Goggins was even better.

          • Mad Men superb? I thought the whole last season failed to live up to the prior seasons, and the ending was meh. To each his own, right? Oh, and best twist ever for series finale has to go to “Newhart.”

            • I thought having Draper come up with the most famous commercial of all time was fab. So he obviously goes back to NY…and it’s up to us to wonder if he’ll be more Draper than ever. I also thought all the characters ended up where they deserved to be.

              That Newhart twist was once-in-a-lifetime brilliant.

          • Just watched The EnglishFrench version of The Tunnel (3rd season ending).
            I was sobbing. Gripped. And shattered.
            Rare for me. It’s a series I’ve loved from episode one.

  3. No way, with the billions of fantastic choices in shows that I had growing up that I could narrow down to just one. I can’t even choose just one by genre!

    For westerns it was Gunsmoke & Bonanza; Older generation comedy I loved Good Times & MASH. More recent old, Perfect Strangers. MacGyver (the real one played by Richard Dean Anderson) is in a class by himself. As to cop shows–egads, wouldn’t know where to start.

    This question would be a lot easier if it was only favorite TV show that is on now, for my answer would be NONE. I quit watching TV after Mac went off the air in ’92. Came back for a brief foray in 2010 to watch the Hawaii Five-0 reboot, but they screwed that show up within about 3 years. So now it’s the occasional HGTV or classic reruns and that’s it.

  4. “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” It came on at 11 p.m. when I was a kid. I remember staying up late in summer with a big glass of iced tea to watch it. We had one black-and-white T.V. in the den, which was downstairs and at the other side of the house from the bedrooms. It was terrifying and I loved every minute of it. “Twilight Zone” came on after, and “Outer Limits” after that. I couldn’t have been more than 12 years old, and if the dog hadn’t stayed down there with me, I wouldn’t have been brave enough. I loved that show!

  5. I would have said Northern Exposure until the last two seasons, but then I remembered Hill Street Blues with perhaps one of the best lines in television when, during a Christmas episode, the blues are pursuing bad guys dressed in elf and reindeer costumes. The line: by Renko. “Oh my god. Here it is Christmas Eve, and I’m gonna get shot dead in a moose suit.”

    But then I settled on Blue Bloods. The show has gravitas and balance way beyond whether Jamie and Eddy are going to get together. NCIS is, in my opinion, another show with some good writing and characters. (And, yes, put me down: Ziva is going to be back at least once more.)

    • When my wife was waiting tables in L.A., she served Tim Conway at lunch one day. The restaurant had big soft chairs, and Conway made a crack about them. Then, each time Cindy came back to the table Conway had sunk a little further down. When she brought him his meal only his eyes were at table level. He had given her a whole comedy routine for free just because he loved being funny.

  6. Twilight Zone, hands down. Rod Serling’s classics stand the test of time. We like to watch holiday marathons of that show. Even after many viewings, those great stories still startle and resonate.

  7. MIKE HAMMER (1984-1989) with Stacy Keach, admittedly male chauvinist noir, though it didn’t seem as much so 30 years ago. Evolution? Maybe. One of the best lines, to me, “Who shines your suits, Hammer?” Another when Hammer confronts a behemoth bearded bouncer in a nightclub, whose first utterance is along the lines of, “Why all the hostility?”

  8. Breaking Bad – watching it all the way through is to get a perfect lesson on character arc. And a unexpected but inevitable ending.

  9. Can’t pick just one!
    Star Trek, the original series
    The Avengers (named one of our cats Emma Peel)
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker
    The Addams Family

    • ACK! How could I have left out ST TOS! The most quotable TV show in the history of television!

  10. “The Wild, Wild West.” This mashup of pulp, Westerns, and spy thrillers was both entertaining and intelligent. Robert Conrad’s stunts still amaze. Plus, the series inspired its own genre, Steampunk.

  11. Law and Order. Twenty years on the air. For me, the center of the show was Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach). He is my favorite detective of all time. He was an average guy with big challenges including divorce, a daughter on drugs, and the death of Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennesy) in a car Lenny was driving. He was tragic on a Shakespearian level. I miss him and of course Jerry Orbach who died in the role.

  12. Am I too bold to say Rosanne? (older shows) As mentioned above, Carol Burnett. If you can make me laugh, you’re my show. I can’t think of anything else. FIFA world cup and Josh Gates shows are dominating my TV screen for now.

  13. It would be a toss-up between:
    Remington Steele (1982-1987) with Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist
    Moonlighting (1985-1989) with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd

    2nd place would go to: The Rockford Files (1974-1980) with James Garner

  14. The best show of all time? Wow. There’s so many I’ve enjoyed over the years. Four of my favorites are Hannibal, The Following, Dexter, and a BBC show called Wire in the Blood.

  15. Gilmore Girls- for its snappy the dialogue, story lines, and family dynamics.
    The Office- its jokes and punchlines are spot on. Plus, I’m sure we have all worked with or know a Kevin, a Kelly, or a Michael Scott.

  16. Too hard. Best in what way? Most enjoyable? But so many series, even great ones, fade in later years. Most influential? Because of what it spawns? Some of my favorites include:

    The Twilight Zone – so many great individual episodes, early talent exposed, etc.
    Star Trek, original – We’re still quoting it today
    Monty Python
    Fawlty Towers
    Hill Street Blues – this show is enormously influential in how tv dramas develop
    The X- Files, original, not the movie, not the reboot
    Justified (it faded, IMO, but still loved it)
    The Americans
    Breaking Bad – If you watch this show from start to finish it flows like a purposeful narrative, planned from start to finish. It was anything but.
    The Wire (can’t believe no one has mentioned this one yet)
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer (enjoyable and influential both)
    Pushing Daisies – a really clever show that I wish had been around longer
    Westworld – it’s only two seasons in so it could easily still fail, but I’m optimistic it will go the distance

    I think the ending of Newhart was the best series ending, ever. I loved that show, too.

    I can already think of half a dozen more. No way to narrow it to just one.

  17. Hill Street Blues. But then it was eclipsed by Homicide, Life on the Streets. And then both were topped (by what I personally choose to believe is the third in a trilogy) The Wire.

  18. Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods, recently. Older ones include: Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Mash. My favorite comedy: Golden Girls

  19. For consistent characters – The Beverly Hillbillies ~ seriously…

    Series, where ther IS character development~ Longmire, though it did sort of slump for a few, it had a more satisfying finale than expected.

    And The Closer / Major Crimes~

    There are some Brit-tective series on Netflix and/or Amazon Prime, but they seem to “disappear” as if cancelled midstream… 3-4 seasons, and then- POOF~ left hanging ~

  20. Favorites by Genre
    Detective Cop Genres: Columbo, Midsomer Murders, Magnum PI, Shetland, The Old Sherlock Holmes Series with Basil Rathbone.
    Suspense/Thriller: Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Twilight Zone
    Comedy: Keeping Up Appearances, ‘Allo ‘Allo, Seinfeld, MASH, Newhart (Old and New), Andy Griffith Show, The Goode Life, Frazier
    Drama: BallyKissangel, Monarch of the Glen (Love BBC shows)

    If I had to pick one, it would probably be Frazier – Love that Show! The Writing, the Casting was all spot on!

  21. Black List: because of the twists. You never see them coming.

    The Americans: intense.

  22. I’m not surprised you have all missed the true best TV show of all time. It was never super popular to begin with. The show? Babylon 5.

    It premiered in 1993 – two years before Toy Story. And it was the first show to use computer effects for its special effects. The effects in the first couple of seasons are dated, but it gets better by the end of its five year run.

    It was always intended to be a five year story arc. As such, there is a beginning, middle, and end to the story. The characters grow and change. Yes, the show was almost canceled at the end of season 4, so season 5 feels a bit like it is tacked on, but overall, the show is wonderful. Fantastic characters, interesting story. I really need to go back and watch it again myself.

    And keep in mind this was story arc before story arc was a thing. Now, we don’t think anything of shows with a season long or multi-season story arc. Back then, it was almost unheard of.

    And you are in luck. The show is currently on Amazon Prime.

    (I promise, my only connection with the show is being a huge fan since season 4. Yes, I came late to the game. No, I don’t recommend you starting there because I missed so much until I started from the beginning.)

    • YES! I was coming here to say that very thing!

      An amusing story: I had the pleasure of seeing J. Michael Straczynski pitching Babylon 5 at a SciFi con a couple of months before it premiered.

      Along with a clip of a Vorlon ship coming through a jumpgate, he had transparency slides of concept art for various characters and would show them and talk about the character.

      I will always remember the moment when he picked up a slide, looked at it, and said, “You all will know who this is right away.”

      When we saw the picture, everyone in the audience yelled, “Security!”

      His comment: “I don’t know why that guy has a red shirt. Nobody in the show wears a red shirt.”

      Other favorite shows: Justified, the first five seasons of Supernatural, and I have an odd fondness for NCIS: Los Angeles.

      For animated series: The Tick.

    • Never saw Babylon 5, surprising since I always liked Bruce Boxleitner who, if I’m not misstaken, was in this series.

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