How is it that I've never listed off my ten favorite TV shows? I did a list of my ten favorite western TV shows a while back, but not of my favorite shows across all genres. Silly me. Time to fix that. Thank you, Eva, for posting your top ten list and inspiring me to do my own!
1. Combat! (1962-67) American infantrymen battle their way through Normandy after the D-DAY invasion. Some of the very best serious writing I've ever seen on a series, and the acting is top-notch too. The show was so well-respected that movie actors like James Coburn and Lee Marvin asked if they could guest-star on it. I've loved this show for 23 years, and I've written and co-written close to three dozen fanfic stories for it, which I've posted under my "call sign" of White Queen at the fansite my best friend and I maintain, Fruit-Salad.com. Sergeant Saunders (Vic Morrow) is my favorite fictional character of all time. I've got a list of my ten fave eps here.
2. Angel (1999-2004) Angel (David Boreanaz) is a vampire who's been cursed with a soul. Determined to help people for the rest of his time on earth, to make up for all the people he killed when he was evil, Angel sets up what basically is a supernatural detective agency in Los Angeles. I was first drawn to this show because of Angel's search for forgiveness (well, that and Boreanaz' impossibly handsome looks), but I grew to love all the characters, the mystery-of-the-week format that riffed off the film noir and hard-boiled detective stories I loved, and the amazing writing of Joss Whedon and his pals. This is the only other TV show I've ever written fanfic for, and you'll find those stories on Fruit-Salad.com too because I crossed it the show with Combat! for extra fun.
3. The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68) Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) does his best to keep the peace in quiet Mayberry, NC, with the help of a host of amusing friends and family. He's one of the best fictional fathers I've ever encountered, caring alone (he's widowed) for his son Opie (Ronnie Howard) with wisdom, love, and good humor. I've recently introduced my kids to this show, and they love it too now!
4. The Big Valley (1965-69) A wealthy widow (Barbara Stanwyck), her children (Richard Long, Peter Breck, Linda Evans), and her husband's illegitimate son (Lee Majors) have a host of interesting adventures on and around their California ranch. Loads of wonderful guest stars, loads of emotionally engaging stories, and Stanwyck's matriarch is one of my role models.
5. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966-69) Starfleet personnel aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise go boldly where no man, woman, or Vulcan has ever gone before as they explore the universe, meet all kinds of interesting aliens, and generally have lots of adventures. I've got a list of my ten fave eps posted here.
6. The Rifleman (1958-63) Widowed rancher Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his young son Mark (Johnny Crawford) spend a lot of time getting into and out of one adventure after another in the little town of North Fork, NM. Most of the time, Lucas ends up having to use his specially modified Winchester repeater to save the day in one way or another. Lots of great guest stars on this one too, like Sammy Davis, Jr., Vic Morrow, Robert Vaughn, and John Carradine. Lucas McCain is probably the other best fictional father I've ever seen, tying with Andy Taylor. He's tough, but kind.
7. Five Mile Creek (1983-85) An American (Jay Kerr) and an Australian (Rod Taylor) team up to start a stage coach line back when Australia was as wild as the American West. Another American (Louise Caire Clark) and another Australian (Liz Burch) start up a way station to feed the stage line's passengers. And then they all have lots of family-friendly adventures, some of them fall in love with each other, and it's just generally fun and sweet and exciting and I love it to bits. Whyyyyyyyyy won't they release seasons 2 and 3 to DVD???
8. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) High school girl Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends (aka the Scooby Gang) battle vampires and other monsters while trying to navigate first high school, then college, then adulthood. (Angel is a spin-off from this show.) Joss Whedon's way with characters, dialog, and plot twists elevate this from the mindless schlockfest you might expect to a truly poignant look at life, with many of the monsters standing as metaphors for things we endure while growing up.
9. A Nero Wolfe Mystery (2000-02) Reclusive genius Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) and his energetic operative Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton) solve crimes for a host of interesting clients. This show got me started reading Rex Stout's novels that form the basis for the show's scripts, but while the books are set in the decades they were written, from the 1930s to the 1970s, the TV show sits solidly in the late 1940s to early 1950s -- just after WWII. The show as a whole has a sort of "community theatre production" feel to it because they deliberately use the same actors week after week for all the guest characters.
10. Lost (2004-2010) A plane crashes on a mysterious island, and the survivors spend the next six seasons trying to survive, solve mysteries, and get off that island. It is a very odd show, and I wasn't sure I was going to put it on this list, but my deep and abiding love for Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and the fact that I own all six seasons convinced me that yeah, it belongs here.
Interesting patterns here, huh? I seem to really gravitate to shows that either were made in the 1960s or the early 2000s. The only one that doesn't fit that is Five Mile Creek.
Also, I am clearly drawn to shows that involve families. Every single one of these fits that theme! Every show revolves around either a biological family (The Andy Griffith Show, The Rifleman, The Big Valley) or a "found family" of people who forge a family-like unit under the stress of their adventures.
How about you? Do you love any of these shows? Do you have favorites you'd like to share?