Picking 10 favorite TV shows of all time agonizing task for critic
Every year when the Emmy nominations are announced, they bring to mind not only the worthy shows of this year, but also those of the past. As a TV critic, one has to view the good, the bad and the ugly. But occasionally you stumble on something great. And when that happens, you realize the power of that little illuminated box to thrill and inspire.
So, I’ve come up with my 10 favorite TV shows of all time. They are all personal choices based on this criterion: Was it a show that I couldn’t wait for the next episode? Scores of television programs of the past proved exemplary, and winnowing them down to 10 is an agonizing task. In no particular order, here are my 10 favorites.
‘Hill Street Blues’: This was a cop show like no other before it. With the jiggly hand-held camera, nervous jump cuts, the show rumbled with a sense of immediacy and veracity. And creators Steven Bochco and Michael Kozoll devised officers so unique and endearing that you quickly knew them by name and personality.
‘Sesame Street’ (the early years):
PBS’ “Sesame Street” bought a new and creative way to introduce the small fry to their ABCs and 1-2-3s. Abetted by
Jim Henson’s whimsical Muppets, it was a show that even the grown-ups could enjoy.
‘I, Claudius’: This “Masterpiece Theatre” series chronicled the gimpy, stuttering Claudius, who found himself the unexpected emperor of the Roman Empire amidst treacherous political plots. Poisonings, stabbings,
incest, adultery, betrayal, sex — what more could you ask from a classic based on Robert Graves’ two novels?
‘My So-Called Life’: This ABC series followed the daily life of a teenage girl through all the self-doubt, hesitancy and angst that a girl feels. Claire Danes as the introspective Angela Chase is surrounded by a clique of colorful and distinctive friends including a gay pal way before it was cool to be inclusive.
‘The Civil War’: Ken Burns’ nine episodes about the agonizing conflict between brothers that changed our nation set new standards for documentaries. Utilizing the rare proceeds from early photography, characters portrayed by our best actors, and a narrative deftly defined by writers Geoffrey C. Ward and Ric Burns, this remains a series about our history that continues to make history.
‘I Love Lucy’: The criterion here for comedy was, did it make me laugh out loud? “Lucy” always did. Lucille Ball was just plain funny with her clown-like delivery and perpetual gaffes.
‘Roots’: The story of Kunta Kinte’s agonizing journey from his home in Gambia to slavery and captivity in the U.S. introduced a slice
of American history that had not been told as definitively before on television. The miniseries’ script by Haley and James Lee kept people salivating for the next episode.
‘Deadwood’: This was a classic western. “Deadwood” showed how the West was really won through grit, profanity, lawlessness and greed.
‘Leave it to Beaver’: Many worthy family shows followed this black-andwhite entry, but none quite captured the innocent and loving ambiance of this family unit. “Leave it to Beaver” demonstrated the enduring validity of family in our lives.
‘Breaking Bad’: In this Faustian tale, a well-meaning family man, thinking he’s suffering from cancer, sells his soul to the devil. We watch as Walter White (Bryan Cranston) slowly devolves into evil, cooking up crystal meth with his erratic partner, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).
But it’s torture to have to leave out wonderful shows such as “Southland,”
“The Larry Sanders
Show,” “The Simpsons,” “Two-and-a-Half Men,” “The Sopranos,” “The Americans,” “Yellowstone” and on and on.