So, following on from films and music, here, in no particular order, are my top 10 Tv shows…
I went through a real CSI phase. At times my favourite of the three franchises varied between Mami, New York and the original but of them all, it is the original to which I return most frequently. The ensemble cast, the intriguing, sometimes out there storylines; all added up to a memorable and gripping 15 seasons. Gil Grissom, head of the Vegas Crime Lab, marvellously portrayed by William Petersen, is probably my favourite Tv character ever, quite possibly because of his little quirks and his almost, I say almost, Asperger like qualities.
Now heading towards its thirteenth series, Supernatural has always relied upon the obvious chemistry between its two leads, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The entertaining mix of “Monster of the Week” shows entwined with an overarching mythology mixed with a sense of not taking itself too seriously has kept it continuously popular. Occasinally you have to suspend disbelief, the boys would be dead long before now as most episodes seem to end with one of them either tied up or unconscious at the hands of a vengeance swearing demon, but it’s Tv, its escapism and, at least for now, good conquers evil (well, mainly).
I was mortified when the show was cancelled after three seasons. Just a brilliant show with Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancey outstanding in their roles and Mads more than stepping into Anthony Hopkins shoes as the genius cannibal Hannibal Lecter. Not for the faint of heart (when it’s gory it’s very very gory) but beautifully and cleverly crafted. A taut, bloody psychological thriller. Oh, and Gillian Anderson is in it. And she’s beautiful.
Another show cancelled (perhaps finished) after three seasons. A dark, gothic horror starring Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett and the extraordinary Eva Green. Her performances were simply spellbinding whether displaying aching loss, fear or mania. How she never won an award for her portrayal I will never know. Gory, sexually explicit and definitely for adults it’s an absolute masterpiece of twisted victoriana bringing together Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Grey and more in a tightly woven tale. My only criticism is the rushed ending.
The X Files
From my youth it seems. Another show that successfully blended monster of the week shows with an overarching mythology and had the benefit of two attractive leads in David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Although it ran out of steam when Duchovny left the first four seasons in particular were masterful television. Oh, did I mention Gillian Anderson was in it ?.
I loved Stargate the original series. Loved the cast and some of the episodes were great but the spin off, was, to me, the superior show. The Wraith were such creepy adversaries and it seemed to be more tightly plotted than the original. Likeable cast, a dash of humour and slightly less hackneyed dialogue than usual all added up to five seasons of memorable stargate universe adventures.
Whoever thought a tale about three priests on an island could be so hilarious ?. The wonderful performances of the late, great Dermot Morgan (taken from us far too soon) as Father Ted, Frank Kelly as Father Jack and Ardhal O’Hanlon as Father Dougal raise this from merely good up into the realms of the great. And who can forget Mrs Doyle ?. “Ah go on Father. Go on, go on, Go on, go on, go on”. Bizarre, strange, yet genuinely endearing it’s a comedy that I just love.
One Foot in the Grave
Richard Wilsons performance as Victor Meldrew will go down in history as one of “the” great comedy performances. Genuinely funny mixed with a touch of pathos, his character does, I believe, speak for many of us with his genuine irritation at what’s happening in the world. Misunderstandings, lack of communication, treating the environment badly, press intrusion etc, are all dealt with when you look beneath the humour to the reality of what Victor experiences. Annette Crosbie is marvellous too as Victors long suffering wife. It’s a genuine classic.
Over 7 seasons I watch Detective Vince Mackey get deeper and deeper into the mire. His inability to cope with an Autistic child, his scheming, corrupt attempts to protect his families future by any and all means. His head butting with authority, anti social behaviour and brutality all wrapped up, somehow, with a likeable, cocky individual who you’d want on your side. Michael Chiklis benefits from some find writing but still has to deliver his lines convincingly and he does just that. From murdering a colleague in the first episode to picking up his gun and walking out of his desk job to get back on his streets in the last, his performance is fabulous. Add in guest stars such as Glenn Close and Forest Whitaker and you have one of the best cop shows ever made.
The West Wing
I never thought I’d enjoy this. I never thought I’d enjoy a political drama. I thought, given its accolades it would be over hyped. I was so wrong. The most wonderful cast, played to perfection, characters you cared about, gripping stories intermingled with humour and tragedy, this is some of the best television ever. Martyn Sheen, John Spencer, Rob Lowe, Richard Schiff, Alison Janney et al seem so real that you almost believe this is what happens behind the closed doors of the West Wing. The first four seasons in particular which cover topics as diverse as racism, terrorism, human rights, bigotry and the presidents illness, are virtually faultless. This is masterful television.
Amongst many, honourable mentions must go to : Boardwalk Empire, 24, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, Into the Badlands, Person of Interest, Black Books, Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line, The Fast Show, Mr Bean, Bosch and Fringe.
So there you are, my top ten (it might change tomorrow) shows. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some.
Perhaps you’ve seen these, perhaps you haven’t, perhaps you’ll check one or two out.