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CW Names the Top TV Show of All Time: Countdown!

Shady Slim

International Regular
coming in at thirteen with 59 points on 6 lists, we have a show that full disclosure i know absolutely zero about so strap in

Firefly

a show that follows the crew of the serenity spaceship, pioneers in the star system in a future where china and the us formed a united government here on our earth (seems crazy to think eh). taking place in 2517 we get a glimpse of creator joss whedon's vision of the future, where planets are terraformed for an ever-expanding population of greedy humans while others live on the wild-western-except-space-esque fringes of the society. malcolm reynolds, the captain of the firefly, as well as first mate zoe washburn, are members of the failed force that tried to resist the alliance government, living on their spaceship to escape the control of the alliance government - outsiders in a culture of sino-american fusion where mandarin chinese is a common second language when people aren't speaking like it's the wild west!

what would in a normal circumstance seem like ubiquitous and overplayed western tropes take on a fun new spin with the space opera style of storytelling that takes old cliches through a new lens, adapting genres that previously seemed (literally) worlds apart in to a one of a kind ****tail; landscapes are a frequently used narrative device, where whedon takes advantage of the space setting to be able to explore a series of unique worlds, and we all love space cowboys don't we hey. the series only goes for fourteen episodes - even less than yes minister and very unique for an american series; often said to be cancelled far too soon, firefly holds it's place on the list. SOS @StephenZA to give more comment!
 

Howe_zat

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I'm amazed it's as high as it is for a CW poll. I'm a big fan, one of like half a dozen DVDs I own is the Firefly box set. But it's very much 'what might have been' for me.

Serenity is very good, but not quite what I wanted.
 

StephenZA

International Coach
Firefly is definitely one of those what could have been sort of stories... some nice intriguing story ideas, with some great classic characterisations. But like lots of Sci-fi for TV stuff needs to make a big impact within non-geeky types otherwise tends not to survive long. Serenity was nice attempt to complete the story for everybody, but was always going to be a rushed concept.

Interestingly without the cancellation of Firefly... Castle would not have existed with the fun of Nathan Fillion and we might never have seen Stana Katic? Also Adam Baldwin could not have gone on to play the same character for Chuck (which is not dissimilar to his cameos in SG1)...
 

grecian

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
Looks lame
It's okay, despite being a big Buffy fan, never really got the hype.

If I was to go for prematurely cancelled show that didn't have a chance to lie up to it's potential it would probably be Freaks and Geeks.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
coming in at twelfth, scoring 60 and also taking a spot on 6 lists is what i think is the best series of all time (ranked second on my list)

Fargo

if you have seen any coen brothers movie, you'll know they deal extensively with themes of fate, conscience, circumstance, and what can happen when you put a regular person in dire dark situations far beyond their depth. No Country for Old Men, Fargo, heck even the Big Lebowski, all in some way can be looked at through that lens, just off the top of my head. the coens come in as producers in this noah hawley-directed anthology masterpiece consisting of three seasons of ten episodes each (all occurring in different time periods though in the same universe, and in the same universe as the movie too), and there's a fourth on the way. ensemble casts in every season create a world of captivating and characters; the formula, if you can say there is one, starts with an ordinary couple of minnesotans who, by choice or by chance, are sucked in to a vicious world where every day brings a new bullet for them to dodge.

with nuggets of black comedy and moral philosophy prevalent through the series, fargo is not for the faint of heart. each season has what you could call essentially a manifestation of the world's evil and vice; and whether that be the psychopathic yet insouciant malvo, the rampage of chaotic revenge hanzee or the controlling omnipotent hand of vm varga, the race for our protagonists in the season to dodge and overcome the evil they find they are entangled with can often seem impossible. it's hard to call our protagonists heroes; indeed, in both the first and third seasons our lead guys are entirely to blame for the situation they are in. nonetheless, it is that exploration of fate, conscience, circumstance and the underlying evil in the world (and in all of us), that plays so well off the black comedy and philosophical undertones, that makes this crime drama to me the best television series of all time.
 

nightprowler10

Global Moderator
It's okay, despite being a big Buffy fan, never really got the hype.
I liked it but aside from a few cool moments the only thing that really sticks out in memory is that episode where that dude infiltrates Serenity. Oh, and I do love it somewhat for introducing me to Morena Baccarine.

I think the hype is mainly down to it being a space western, which hasn't really been tried before I don't think.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
next up at eleventh spot we go back to the UK, 65 points and on six lists

Fawlty Towers

a classic from john cleese and connie booth, ranked first on the british film institute's hundred greatest british television programmes in 2000, and, in 2019, named as the greatest british tv sitcom. we follow the owner of fawlty towers, basil, a hotel in the english riviera; wife sybil and chambermaid polly as well as waiter manuel (@Gnske) as our put upon crew struggle with an array of interesting guests who make their time hellish. the crew is put in many farcical situations - partly of their own doing, partly not, and we get a front seat in to the absurdism of running a hotel in the quaint and quiet villages. much of the humour is character based, with basil and sybil's lovers tiffs verging in to black comedy territory as they navigate the hotelling world.

conservative basil is longing to upscale the class and clientele of his restaurant, directing outbursts at the placid manuel (@Gnske), with elements of physical comedy to go with the verbal. cleese's propensity for method acting sees him get really in to the role as a sort of proto-kramer larger than life galoot with the physical bits, much to the dismay of our spanish waiter. a serious of unfortunate coincidences, events, cross purposes and stuff-ups leads to basil's longing for improvement to the hotel being regularly foiled, though often not without his own snobbishness getting in the way. while basil does actively care for his wife deep down in his heart, his misanthropy and social climbing make him a perfect candidate for the laser guided karma that he so often receives. all in all we love to see basil hoisted by his own petard and falling victim to his wacky scheming on the regular; but you do root for the guy every now and then!! and coupled with that quintessentially british sense of humour, fawlty towers takes eleventh spot on our list.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
in to the top ten! my apologies for taking so long - shady slim's a busy man. coming in at tenth with sixty seven points on seven lists...

Curb Your Enthusiasm

larry david takes his first seat at the table (but this isn't the last we'll hear from him mind you), starring as a fictionalized version of himself as he navigates semiretirement and the world at large too. david plays around with and subverts social conventions and perfects the embarrassing humor brand reminiscent of ricky gervais' extras for the american stage. a cast of guest stars, many of whom also play a caricature of themselves, in combination with that unique larry david humor and observational comedy sets us up for a barrel of laughs show. often unscripted or semiscripted, david gives the rogues gallery of guest stars a lot of leeway in how they characterise their caricatured self, letting them take the reins in his fictionalised world

much like the ubiquitous seinfeld, which we'll get to later, curb's humour often revolves around david's observations of the quirks, eccentricities, and foibles of the everyday, on expectation and social convention. david's characterisation of himself as a curmudgeon (which, tbf, also true) lets him get ridiculous at the best of times for the show, and break the chains and free himself - there's little on earth funnier than a pissed off sardonic larry david bit that you just know has come from something he's seen in the real world - and you have too. almost anyone who's anyone has been on curb in a guest role and for the most part they've nailed it - leading curb to sit comfortably in tenth spot on our list
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
a tie for eighth place, let's get to our first; coming in with seventy points on eight lists

Blackadder

and so we come to the final great british comedy on our list - this one with an ensemble cast featuring rowan atkinson, stephen fry, tim mcinnerny, tony robinson and hugh laurie. each season of six episodes is set in a different era, though all of them follow the misfortunes of that era's edmund blackadder, part of the blackadder family dynasty present in that era - the first during the era of kings and castles, followed by the time of elizabeth i, followed by the third king george in the third season and in the final season, wwi. accompanying blackadder is his 2IC baldrick, who is the intellectual superior to rowan atkinson's blackadder in season one but the roles reverse from then on; as you can imagine, antics ensue just as they have in almost every other british comedy we've listed when the intelligence dynamics between our main two play off of each other

arguably known most for it's final episode of season four, which takes a comparatively darker tone to previous seasons as we deal with the war (especially in the finale), blackadder's depth is its' strength, judiciously showcasing the ability to be poignant and touching in between the comedic sketches. atkinson and other creator richard curtis wanted to avoid comparisons to fawlty towers, hence doing the eras bit - but you can see the similarities, especially with the aforementioned dynamics of the smart and cunning protagonist trying and failing to scheme with only dimwits in his coterie. complimented by a couple of TV specials like the christmas episode, what blackadder doesn't have in quantity it definitely makes up for in quality, and takes out tied eighth on the list.
 

grecian

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
a tie for eighth place, let's get to our first; coming in with seventy points on eight lists

Blackadder

and so we come to the final great british comedy on our list - this one with an ensemble cast featuring rowan atkinson, stephen fry, tim mcinnerny, tony robinson and hugh laurie. each season of six episodes is set in a different era, though all of them follow the misfortunes of that era's edmund blackadder, part of the blackadder family dynasty present in that era - the first during the era of kings and castles, followed by the time of elizabeth i, followed by the third king george in the third season and in the final season, wwi. accompanying blackadder is his 2IC baldrick, who is the intellectual superior to rowan atkinson's blackadder in season one but the roles reverse from then on; as you can imagine, antics ensue just as they have in almost every other british comedy we've listed when the intelligence dynamics between our main two play off of each other

arguably known most for it's final episode of season four, which takes a comparatively darker tone to previous seasons as we deal with the war (especially in the finale), blackadder's depth is its' strength, judiciously showcasing the ability to be poignant and touching in between the comedic sketches. atkinson and other creator richard curtis wanted to avoid comparisons to fawlty towers, hence doing the eras bit - but you can see the similarities, especially with the aforementioned dynamics of the smart and cunning protagonist trying and failing to scheme with only dimwits in his coterie. complimented by a couple of TV specials like the christmas episode, what blackadder doesn't have in quantity it definitely makes up for in quality, and takes out tied eighth on the list.
Series one isn't good and almost stopped the others being made, and though series 4 is the most poignant, series 2 is perhaps the funniest 6 episodes of all time, can't think of one moment that isn't hilarious, and Flashheart is just pinnacle, she's got a tongue like an electric eel, and knows how to use it, so oft repeated by my mates in younger boozier and hedonistic times.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
coming in at T8 with blackadder, so obviously with 70 points but only on seven lists

South Park

this i did not expect. look, while i don't hate south park - eighth!!?? eighth best of all time!!?? i suppose it's a corollary of getting people to pick their favourite shows and having a small sample size, i want to say? either way - the people had voted. maybe lam is on to something repressing the vote in HK, because this is what happens when zorax gets to vote (spicy! hope all is well for him). centering on a group of kids; stan, kyle, eric (cartman), and kenny, and what they get up to in their titular little town in rural colorado. one of the leading adult comedies of the early 2000s, south park can't be accused of pulling punches, taking aim at almost everything during it's twenty three season run - and it's still going!

if i was to say one thing about south park in my experience is that it's a bit hit and miss - there are some bits that'll have you in stitches and there's hardhitting elements of current affairs and political satire, such as their allusion to the elian gonzalez border patrol raids in the episode airing that week; but there are other moments, to me at least, that seem to be edginess for the sake of edge that doesn't really hit. nonetheless, especially during the more early seasons of the show south park was definitely reliable for swift and liberal parody of really serious current events. a coterie of side characters that includes the ubiquitous chef and their nasal schoolteacher have spawned some of the internet's most recognisable memes from the 2000s, and have had a lasting impact on popular culture; bringing the show over the lie to tie for eighth position
 

mr_mister

Hall of Fame Member
you're quite young right Shady? I wanna say 23?

I've never wanted to pull the back in my day card but being 10 and watching SouthPark episodes as they came out around 2001 was one of my fondest memories. It was the coolest **** ever at the time. Had to sneakily do it without your parents knowing and stuff, was a whole experience. I had no idea TV could be that crude and loved every minute of it
 

NZTailender

I can't believe I ate the whole thing
It's okay, despite being a big Buffy fan, never really got the hype.
I loved Firefly when I first watched it, and rewatched it quite a bit in a short time frame. Then I rewatched it after a decent period (I think about 5 years) and...well...I figure it having one season was a good thing IMO. It would've ended up another show of it's era where each self contained story is wrapped up neatly at the end of the episode and the overall story arc (river and her brother) would be dragged out, excruciatingly, for as long as the series would be profitable. It's campness was fun but it's also what would've diminished its reputation if there had been more of it.

If I was to go for prematurely cancelled show that didn't have a chance to lie up to it's potential it would probably be Freaks and Geeks.
100% Although having rewatched it last month I feel like it ended on a good what if note....like I'm not sure where they would've gone to next.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
now we come to number seven; it features on only five lists, but it got 71 points, meaning it was ranked on average 1.8 on all the lists it actually made

The Sopranos

we are at one of the quintessential TV Knower TV Classics, a show that features unequivocally on each and every shows you must watch before you keel lists and is a celebration of italian-american culture; headed up by the late but always excellent james gandolfini as tony soprano, he divulges to his psychiatrist the struggle of balancing being the big cheese of a criminal organisation with being a good dad and family man. ranked first by rolling stone in 2016 when they did a list of great TV shows, though still taking an incredulously respectable spot on our list, the sopranos is unequivocally easily the first classic of the new millennium. set in new jersey and mainly filmed on location, the sopranos is one of the best all time examples to show a burgeoning director or producer; one of the aces when it comes to using camera angles, lighting and other tricks of the trade to perfect drama

filling out the main cast is tony's family and criminal inner circle, such as the matriarch of the family, livia, and wife of our mobster antihero, played by the also famous edie falco. what's special about the sopranos, compared to many organised crime dramas that came before it, would be the grit and underbelly it exposes in the mobster life. while most of the fictional mobsters of past productions were glamourised, lionised, almost put on the same pedestal as action strongmen, the mobsters of the soprano family are quiet, cunning, cordial, and businesslike; except in all fairness when the business on the table is offing a snitch or cutting loose a dangerous end. tony soprano is the kingpin of a criminal empire. tony soprano is also a dad going through a midlife crisis. tony soprano is a cold blooded killer. tony soprano also just wants to live quietly. that portrayal of a mob boss who deep down is really just a guy is what makes the sopranos worthy of such a lofty spot on our list.
 

Shady Slim

International Regular
you're quite young right Shady? I wanna say 23?

I've never wanted to pull the back in my day card but being 10 and watching SouthPark episodes as they came out around 2001 was one of my fondest memories. It was the coolest **** ever at the time. Had to sneakily do it without your parents knowing and stuff, was a whole experience. I had no idea TV could be that crude and loved every minute of it
21 as of a week ago; think GAS is 23?

you could well be right, and i was probably a bit harsh on the show - but it just never caught me. family guy's a guilty pleasure of mine in part for the reason of nostalgia (though i'm not a really big fan of the recent eps). king of the hill, while being not as crude, also has that nostalgia element to me and holds up today fwiw, banger of a show that was unfairly treated by you lot
 

BoyBrumby

Englishman
A bit surprised The Sopranos isn't higher. But it's my favourite telly show ever, so I would be.

As Slim correctly states it is the first classic of the 21st century and, arguably, the herald of the new golden age for American tv drama. With no Sopranos, there's no Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Shield, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, etc.

It showed what can be done with the serial format and that television, when in the hands of a master like David Chase, isn't just film's lower rent cousin; it can even be its superior. The possibilities for character development over 13 hour long episodes are vast.

It's grand, sprawling, operatic, human and, crucially, has the ring of verisimilitude. It made a cold blooded murderer, who's venal, grasping, serially unfaithful, ignorant and, frankly, a whiner into someone one really cared about. Tony Soprano is the greatest tv character ever, IMHO. And it's the late, great James Gandolfini's triumph that it's impossible to imagine anyone else so thoroughly inhabiting him.

Chase took the archetype of the American (and in particular the Italian American) organized crime boss and mined into its bedrock to drill the neuroses that lie beneath. In less skilled hands he would've been a cliche (the series is knowing and meta enough to explore this with Christopher Moltisanti's cringe-inducing attempts to write a film script) but in Chase's Tony is a fully fleshed out human being.

We lived with him, cared for him despite ourselves and, ultimately, were left wondering what the blue flip happened to him.

Touching on it as I have, I will say I was initially annoyed at that ending, but now think it's perfect. Cut to black. Done.
 

nightprowler10

Global Moderator
A bit surprised The Sopranos isn't higher. But it's my favourite telly show ever, so I would be.

As Slim correctly states it is the first classic of the 21st century and, arguably, the herald of the new golden age for American tv drama. With no Sopranos, there's no Wire, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, Shield, Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, etc.

It showed what can be done with the serial format and that television, when in the hands of a master like David Chase, isn't just film's lower rent cousin; it can even be its superior. The possibilities for character development over 13 hour long episodes are vast.

It's grand, sprawling, operatic, human and, crucially, has the ring of verisimilitude. It made a cold blooded murderer, who's venal, grasping, serially unfaithful, ignorant and, frankly, a whiner into someone one really cared about. Tony Soprano is the greatest tv character ever, IMHO. And it's the late, great James Gandolfini's triumph that it's impossible to imagine anyone else so thoroughly inhabiting him.

Chase took the archetype of the American (and in particular the Italian American) organized crime boss and mined into its bedrock to drill the neuroses that lie beneath. In less skilled hands he would've been a cliche (the series is knowing and meta enough to explore this with Christopher Moltisanti's cringe-inducing attempts to write a film script) but in Chase's Tony is a fully fleshed out human being.

We lived with him, cared for him despite ourselves and, ultimately, were left wondering what the blue flip happened to him.

Touching on it as I have, I will say I was initially annoyed at that ending, but now think it's perfect. Cut to black. Done.
How do you have time to post this when you very obviously have diapers to change?
 

Line and Length

International 12th Man
There was a time when Australian sense of humour was closely aligned to British humour. Sadly Australian TV comedy is predominantly US cartoon/animation productions. To an extent this explains how something like South Park can rank above Fawltey Towers and sit alongside Blackadder. But then I'm a grumpy old man who never appreciated US humour. However, I can appreciate good US drama like Sopranos.
 

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