Top 108 TV Shows – Part 9 (12 – 1)

Well the end is finally near….

Hopefully you have enjoyed my top television show countdown.  It has been really fun revisiting some old shows and discovering new ones along the way.

So here it is, my Favorite Top 12 Television Shows of all time:

#12.  ER (1994 – 2009)

ER changed the way medical dramas were shot .  I can remember watching it for the first time and being blown away by the quickness of each shot.  You really felt like you were in an ER. That was thanks to Michael Crichton, the creator, and John Wells, the producer.  It was more realistic than anything we had seen on tv and it was refreshing.  I guess the cast could have had something to do with it also.  This was George Clooney’s launch into superstardom.  The show ran for fifteen years and many actors came and went in that time, and pretty much all of them were top-notch.  Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Margulies and Laura Innes will all be remembered mostly for their roles on ER.  There are some really great medical shows out there but this one is the best and would be very difficult to beat.

Notable Performances:  Maura Tierney as Abby Lockhart

                                                         Goran Visnjic as Luka Kovac

Memorable Episode:  Season 2 Episode 7:  Hell and High Water


#11.  Parks And Recreation (2009 – Present)

Parks and Recreation is the most recent show in my top twelve.  Usually a show takes years to get to the level that Parks is at.  I think the first season they were feeling out their audience and the second season they just went for it and hit it out of the park, pun intended.  Now, just finishing its third season, it is a must see for Thursday nights.  Pawnee, Indiana is the setting for this documentary-style sitcom.  It follows the government officials of the town, in the parks department.  A superbly talented group of actors, I could watch these characters sit around and do nothing and they would still be funny. 

Notable Performances : Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope

                                                         Nick Offerman as Ron Swanson

Memorable Episode:  Season 2 Episode 4 : Practice Date (This is one of my favorite episodes of all time, absolutely hilarious!)


#10.  Arrested Development (2003-2006)

It is almost a crime that this show was only on for three seasons.  It follows the wealthy Bluth family in which the Patriarch, George, is arrested in the pilot episode and the family doesn’t know how to function.  Son Michael steps in to try to bring some common sense to the situation but his siblings usually get in the way.  There is so much going on in each episode that is hilarious it needs a second and third viewing to get it all.  Way before its time, Arrested Development was such an unfortunate cancellation.  It made a huge impact on television in just three seasons, imagine if it could have been on longer.


Notable Performances:  Will Arnett as Gob Bluth II

                                                         David Cross as Tobias Funke

                                                        Jessica Walter as Lucille Bluth

Memorable Episode: Season 2 Episode 13 : Motherboy XXX



#9.  Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-Present)

This is my favorite procedural show and my favorite partnership ever on television.  Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson tackle the most unimaginable crimes.   The reason I think it is the one of the best partnerships is that they have an amazing dynamic under the most awful and sometimes unusual circumstances.  Olivia is very personal with the victims and makes them feel safe and comfortable.  Where Elliot does whatever it takes to bring in the perp, lots of time crossing the line, and his anger gets the best of him.  Between the two of them they make an unstoppable duo.  Unfortunately, Chris Meloni, who plays Elliot, is leaving the show and I am not sure that they could find the same symmetry with anyone else, hopefully I am wrong.

Notable Performances : Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler

                                                         Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson (Emmy Winner 2006)

Memorable Episode : Season 9 Episode 17 : Authority



#8.  The Golden Girls (1985-1992)

I remember watching The Golden Girls as a kid and thinking it was so funny.  Then I didn’t see it for many years until it came out on DVD’s and Lifetime started playing reruns of it.   I realized that not only was this show still funny, it was so smart too. Developed by Susan Harris, who also wrote most of the episodes and created spin-off’s Empty Nest and The Golden Palace. The writing of this show was so sharp and along with the four main cast members who were absolutely perfect, it’s no wonder it was a huge hit.  It was because it was hilarious and the women, Bea Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, were such pros, they nailed every scene.  It is one of only a few shows that stayed on track its entire run.  It had the same momentum from the pilot episode to the season finale.  When Bea Arthur decided to leave the show, the creators decided to end the show instead of continuing on with only three of the four cast. 

Notable Performances:  Betty White as Rose Nylund (Emmy Winner 1986)

                                                         Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo (Emmy Winner 1988)

Memorable Episode :  Season 1 Episode 13 : A Little Romance


#7.  Fringe (2008-Present)

Fringe, I believe, is the most underrated show on television today.  This show has some of the finest acting and an unparalleled mythology that makes you think and wonder what the heck just happened?  It seems to fight every year just to stay on the air but it does has a large network of fans that hopefully will keep it going for a long time to come.   Olivia Dunham is a FBI agent assigned to the secret Fringe division that investigates strange and bizarre happenings.  She enlists the help of an eccentric scientist, Walter Bishop, who is a genius but also was institutionalized.  It starts out as a type of procedural sci-fi show in its first season, and it really takes off in season 2 as this epic story that unfolds as Olivia and Walter discover why all these peculiar things are happening.  It is such a shame that it hasn’t won any Emmy’s, especially for Anna Torv and John Noble.  The complexity of the characters that they play are unsurpassed.

Notable Performances : Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham/Alternate Olivia/William Bell/Olivia Dunham playing Alt. Olivia/Alt. Olivia playing Olivia/Future Olivia

                                                        John Noble as Walter Bishop/Walternate (Alternate Walter)/Walter in the Past/Walternate in the past/Future Walter/Future Walternate


Memorable Episode:  Season 2 Episodes 22 & 23 : Over There Part 1 & 2

#6. Saturday Night Live (1975 – Present)

Lorne Michaels created this sketch show in 1975 and he is still pumping out shows thirty-six years later.  That is amazing in itself.  Yet, SNL has lasted that long for a reason, it is the place to be seen if you are an up and coming performer.  Hosting the show is an honor and it shows the audience a different side that we might not get to see.  It is a unbelieveable list of people who have worked on SNL and the talent that has come out of it can not be denied.  Tackling the politics of the world, celebrities and some wacky characters, SNL isn’t afraid to go there.  They make fun of things that we are all thinking but can’t say ourselves. 

Notable Performances : Will Ferrell as George W. Bush

                                                         Molly Shannon as  Mary Catherine Gallagher 

Memorable Episode:  Season 32 Episode 9: Justin Timberlake


#5. Cheers (1982-1993)


The bar in Boston where everyone knows your name, is the first show I remember needing to be home to watch every Thursday night.  Cheers was so comfortable, it made you feel like you were hanging out in the bar with these guys.  Really vivid characters and a familiarity each week made it an enormous hit.  A test of a truly remarkable show is that when one of the main cast members leaves, someone comes in without missing a beat.   That is what happened when Shelly Long decided to part ways with the show, Kirstie Alley stepped in and we almost forgot about Diane Chambers.  The center of the show was Ted Danson as Sam Malone.  He was the heart and soul of Cheers and led this amazing cast through eleven years of terrific memories.

Notable Performances : Ted Danson as Sam Malone (Emmy Winner 1990 & 1993)

                                                         Rhea Perlman as Carla Tortelli (Emmy Winner 1984,1985, 1986 & 1989)

                                                         George Wendt as Norm Peterson

Memorable Episode : Season 5 Episode 9 : Thanksgiving Orphans



#4.  Three’s Company (1976-1984)

Three’s Company was my favorite tv show growing up. Reruns played all the time in the mid-eighties, and I just loved them.  Once I got older and re-watched episodes I realized there was no way that I understood half these jokes as a child, but I loved it anyway.  On the outside Three’s Company seems like a slapstick type of show with a lot of sexual innuendo, but it actually has some really great writing and the cast was perfect.  John Ritter was outstanding as Jack Tripper, the klutzy womanizer who is living with two girls. Suzanne Somers was overshadowed by her blonde bombshell looks and the controversy surrounding her departure, but she was exceptional as Chrissy Snow.  Definitely very dated but oh so much fun!

Notable Performances :  John Ritter as Jack Tripper (Emmy Winner 1984)

                                                          Norman Fell as Stanley Roper

                                                          Don Knotts as Ralph Furley

Memorable Episode : Season 3 Episode 19:  The Bake-Off


#3.  The Office  (2004- Present)


Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin branch in Scranton, PA  has been the home to many awkward situations usually caused by Scott himself.  Steve Carrell is  brilliant as Michael Scott, the boss who just wants to be liked but borders on being offensive.  He thinks of his co-workers as his friends and just wants to do right by them.  Very funny, dry humor that you sometimes have to look for.  Jokes are not in your face, they are subtle and often uncomfortable.  The first five seasons the cast was perfect, great chemistry with each other.  The last two seasons have felt a little unbalanced with the departure of Michael and new characters introduced.  Hopefully it will get back on track, and if not the time we have had at the office has been fabulous. 

Notable Performances : Steve Carrell as Michael Scott

                                                         Rainn Wilson as Dwight K. Schrute

Memorable Episode : Season 2 Episode 10:  Christmas Party 



#2.  Seinfeld (1990-1998)

My all time favorite comedy.   Seinfeld changed the way sitcoms were perceived and made us think about what was funny.  Petty observations were the theme of Seinfeld, often referred to being a show about nothing.  They took the simplest little quirks of people and made a whole entire episode about that and how others react to it.  Absolute genius, thanks to co-creators Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.  The four main cast members couldn’t be more perfect.  I do think that if someone different had been cast, it wouldn’t have worked.  The show will forever live in pop culture as being a pioneer of what sitcoms have now become.  I can watch Seinfeld any time, any place, any episode and I still enjoy every minute of it.

Notable Performances:  Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld

                                                  Jason Alexander as George Costanza

                                                  Michael Richards as Cosmo Kramer (Emmy Winner 1993, 1994 & 1997)

                                                  Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes (Emmy Winner 1996)

Memorable Episode:  Season 2 Episode 11:  The Chinese Restaurant






#1. Lost (2004-2010)

Lost is my number one pick because it changed the way I watched tv.  No other show had me thinking about it long after an episode aired.  I didn’t start watching it live until season 4, and in a world with online viewing and DVR’s, it was a show that you had to be home to watch.  After I realized I couldn’t stop theorizing and wondering about this show I went online to see what others thought.  What I found was a rabid online community full of podcasts and websites all dedicated to this series that I was so intrigued with.  I have never experienced anything like it, and am very doubtful I will again.  Lost managed to have it all, superb acting with a very large cast, mysteries that had us guessing until the very end (and even now), amazing writing that tied six seasons of a show together exquisitely, and a musical score from Michael Giaccino that just melted your heart.   The premise of  plane crash survivors on a mysterious island is captivating enough, let alone all the things I just mentioned.  I believe your favorites things in life are things that you spend the most time doing, well that is what Lost managed to do.  I’ve spent hours upon hours theorizing what is going on, on that island.  For that reason alone I couldn’t pick any other show for number one.

Notable Performances:  Matthew Fox as Jack Shepard

                                                         Terry O’Quinn as John Locke/MIB

                                                         Michael Emerson as Ben Linus

Memorable Episode : Season 1 Episode 1 : Pilot


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