Thursday, July 06, 2017

My Ten Favorite TV Shows

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 RiflemanThe 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?

29 comments:

  1. I may have to do this myself! The only surprise here for me is the Andy Griffith Show. I did not realize that was one of your favorites. :-D But then it's one I've never seen, so... I'm unfamiliar with it.

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    1. Yeah, I don't talk about it all that much, but it's been a fave since I was little. I started showing it to my kids this spring and have realized all over again how much I love it.

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    2. And your list would be great fun to see!

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    3. I'll work on one then!

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  2. I love Lost!! It's been ages since I watched it; I really should pick it up again. I love Sawyer especially. I think it's the only one on your list that I really *know*, although I'm familiar with the rest. I wanted to start watching Buffy this spring, but they took it off Netflix before I had the chance. :-( I'm sure the library will have it!

    Pushing Daisies is my very favorite show - I've loved its quirky humor and sweet characters ever since I stumbled on it, right when it was about to finish airing. (I must have been 10 or 11 - it's been my favorite for that long!) My other favorites I love pretty equally - Downton Abbey, Parenthood, Gilmore Girls, Frasier, Stranger Things...

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    1. Claire, I also haven't watched Lost for several years. I know that, when I do start it up again, I'll probably get sucked in the way I did when I first watched it and be staying up until all hours to watch "just one more episode." So I'm kind of putting it off until I'm willing to commit to that, hee.

      I hope your library does have Buffy, because it's so sharp and fun.

      I've seen the first four or five eps of Pushing Daisies and I loved it! Want to see the rest.

      I've seen a few eps of Downton Abbey and Gilmore Girls, and probably of Frasier too, but not the other two.

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  3. Wow! I haven't seen that many tv shows to make ten, but you have seen a lot!

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    1. MC, well, when you get to be my age, maybe you'll have seen enough shows to make a top ten list! And I haven't seen every ep of all these shows -- I've seen all of Angel, Five Mile Creek, Buffy, A Nero Wolfe Mystery, and Lost, but the others... nope. Slowly working my way through them. BUT I've seen enough of them to know I love them :-)

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  4. Thanks for mentioning my post!

    Love how me both put C! in the top slot. :)

    I, um, might've put Star Trek: Original Series on my list, but certain family members (not my immediate family, though) wouldn't exactly appreciate that, soooo.... :P

    Great list! And I really want to watch Lost, but Mom hates the ending so, yeah, that's probably not going to happen.

    ~Eva

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    1. Eva, you're welcome! Of course I would mention you, since you gave me the idea. And yes, C! in our top slots makes me grin :-D

      I do get that about extended family not always approving your tastes. When I was a teen and just starting to write, my grandma was not pleased that all I wrote were war stories and westerns. Sorry, Grandma.

      Lost has a lot of adult stuff going on in it. I didn't hate the ending, but I'm one of the very few who didn't. However, through the whole series, I was more focused on just hoping against hope that my Sawyer would survive (that show kills off more regulars than Joss Whedon!), and maybe even be kind of happy at some point, so yup, I was totally cool with the ending. I know a lot of people thought it was a cop-out, though. I'm guessing your mom didn't like it for more religious reasons? It didn't bother me any more than the rest of the show, which was very sci-fi and obviously had no bearing on reality in many ways anyway. But that's me.

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    2. But westerns are awesome! ;)

      (I'm considering doing top ten lists for westerns and war films, by the way.)

      I asked Mom about it and she said, nope, it wasn't for religious reasons...she just thought the ending was a cop-out. I still want to see it sometime, though. :) (I can handle those kind of endings better than Mom, I think.)

      ~Eva

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    3. I know, but my grandma was really feminine and old-fashioned. Westerns were for boys, not girls.

      (Would love to see those lists!)

      Aha! Well, I saw an interview with Lost's producers after the show ended where they said that, to be honest, if the finale had been nothing but the two of them sitting in front of a camera explaining every single unexplained thing about the show for two hours, people still would have been like, "Hey, what about _____? What did that mean? Are you saying it wasn't all a bit metaphor for _______? What about this other thing you didn't address? How come XYZ?" So since they weren't going to be able to answer all the questions anyway, they chose to resolve the emotional core of the series by explaining the Flash-Sideways world and bringing everyone's emotional journeys to a close.

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  5. FIVE MILE CREEK is more or less a take on the 1960-61 Aussie series, WHIPLASH. It starred American Peter Graves as a Yank setting up a stagecoach line down under. It was one of the first Aussie produced series to show in North America. There is the whole 39 episode run up on You-Tube. Loved this as a kid back in the day.

    Gord

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    1. Gord, interesting! I knew Five Mile Creek was loosely based on Louis L'Amour's book The Cherokee Trail, but I didn't realize there was a similar series earlier. Nifty!

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  6. Star Trek is my second favorite show, but my favorite was (and is) "Monk". (And I have the entire run of both.)

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    1. Quiggy, Star Trek used to tie with Combat! for my #1 show. They're the only shows I've attended conventions for, and I actually have loved ST the longest of the two.

      My mom likes Monk so much she reads the books based on it. I've watched a couple eps with her, and I do enjoy it.

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    2. I've read all the Lee Goldberg "Monk"s. Haven't gotten around to the Hy Conrad ones yet.

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  7. Top 10 TV series

    These are ones I enjoyed when they were on the tube, and ones I still love. These are in no particular order.

    STAR TREK – the first series with Shatner and crew.

    CHEYENNE 1955-62 Clint Walker ruled the airwaves at my house. Saw it first during reruns in the mid 60’s.

    MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 1966-73 Loved this bit of thriller entertainment every week.

    THE VIRGINIAN 1962-73 Was there a better western out there? This was a fun series with lots of great guest stars and a 90 minute runtime to boot.

    THE FUGITIVE 1963-67 What a barnburner of a series this was. Best man on the run series ever.

    ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE 1959-61 I know, it is a cartoon, but was it fun! I still watch it if it shows up on the tv.

    RAWHIDE 1959-65 Hard to go wrong with this long running duster.

    FIREFLY 2002 The best short lived sci-fi series ever. I trot my dvd set out at least once a year for a weekend binge.

    GREEN ACRES 1965-71 Hands down one of the best comedy series of all time. The perfect “fish out of water” series.

    MAGNUM PI 1980-88 A tongue in cheek take on the detective in an exotic locale. Tom Selleck is charming as always.

    Honorable mention – THE ROCKFORD FILES, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE (Steve McQueen)

    Gord

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    1. Gord, I love Cheyenne too!!! So much that I have the whole series. Cheyenne Bodie was a big hero for me when i was growing up. It and Wanted: Dead or Alive are in my top 10 for TV westerns.

      And I love Firefly. Totally a Browncoat. I almost put it on here instead of Lost, but then I was like, "Three Joss Whedon shows might be a tad excessive?" But I rewatch it more than I do a lot of the shows on my top ten. Just so good.

      I do like The Virginian and The Fugitive and Rawhide too.

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  8. Is it very terrible I've never seen any of these? Or even heard of a lot of them? :P

    Well, I can always use the excuse that we're from different countries. ;D
    (I HAVE heard of Five Mile Creek. *wink*)

    I haven't actually seen that many TV shows - we never used to watch them when I was growing up, except for things like "The Magic School Bus", haha. Or "Little House on the Prairie". Or "Bonanza". Actually, I did watch "The Brady Bunch" and "Get Smart"too... I always liked them. ;)

    Lately, I've only seen Lark Rise to Candleford, White Collar, Arrow... I recently saw some of the navy/seal mystery + action show "Last Resort"... and I saw a little of "Brooklyn Nine Nine" the other night. (Still not sure what I thought about that one. :P)

    My favourite TV show of all time is still "White Collar", though. It's AMAZINGGGGG.

    ~Miss Meg

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    1. Miss Meg, yes, that's terrible. But not very surprising, since we ARE from different countries, and most of them are either quite old or not exactly big hits. Lost excepted.

      I'm glad you've heard of Five Mile Creek, at least! Not a lot of people in the US have. I grew up watching it, Little House on the Prairie, and Bonanza too. I quite like Get Smart as well. And I've seen the first few eps of Lark Rise to Candleford and would like to see more!

      I haven't seen White Collar, but I've heard of it :-)

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  9. My all-time favorite TV show is "Boy Meets World." I love it so much because it takes ordinary, everyday-life stuff and shows how beautiful and special it really is. I mean, it's about a kid and his friends from school and their principal and their regular old neighborhood. Not a frightful lot going on; and yet I will watch episode after episode, over and over again. I am completely enthralled by the characters. They make me so happy (and SAD, too, come to think of it. But happy overall.)

    And I love how the show had really strong morals but wove them into the plot in this very subtle and non-preachy way. That's the best way to do it, I think.

    (Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? I saw it with my best friend this weekend and IT. IS. SO. GOOD.)

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    1. Jessica, I've seen a few eps of Boy Meets World in rerun, but it didn't exactly grab me. It was cute, though! The Andy Griffith Show is kind of like that with the kind and gentle feel, and all kinds of everyday life stuff. AND the subtle morals.

      Haven't seen a single movie in the theater this summer except Cars 3 and King Arthur. Between Cowboy working overtime on Saturdays and me trying to publish a book, it's not been great for movies. I'm VERY determined to see Spider-Man: Homecoming though!

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    2. Yeah, I can see how BMW might not necessarily appeal to you? It doesn't seem precisely like "your" sort of show, although I can't put my finger on why.

      I should probably try Andy Griffith, too :-)

      I'm sorry things have been so hectic! Publishing a book must certainly be a LOT of work. I definitely hope you can see Wonder Woman at some point . . . and Spider-Man!! My brother went to see Spider-Man and thought it was excellent. I haven't been yet but I plan to.

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    3. Jessica, perhaps if I watched enough of BMW, I would get into it, but the few eps I've seen, none of the characters grabbed me, so I've never watched more.

      I'm hoping to see either Dunkirk or Spider-Man this weekend. But I promised I'd take my kids to see Cars 3 first, so we'll see if any showtimes work after that.

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  10. 10 Best Western Series
    This is my 3 and a half cents worth on the subject of top 10 Western Series. Again, these are not in any particular order.
    Cheyenne 1955-63 Clint Walker
    Wanted: Dead or Alive 58-61 Steve McQueen as a bounty hunter
    THE VIRGINIAN 1962-73 Doug McClure
    RAWHIDE 1959-65 Clint Eastwood
    HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL 57-63 Richard Boone as a gun for hire
    TRACKDOWN – 57-59 Robert Culp as a Texas Ranger
    The Westerner 1960 Brian Keith An early Sam Peckinpah series
    Bonanza 59-73 Long running western
    Maverick 57-62 James Garner shines as a smooth card sharp
    High Chaparral 67-71 One of the best westerns ever
    Gord

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    1. Gord, that's a good list! My list of 10 fave western series is here, and I also have Cheyenne, Wanted: Dead or Alive, and Maverick on it. That's my list of favorites, though, not necessarily what I'd consider the best.

      Of the ones you list, I haven't seen Trackdown or The Westerner, and I've only seen one ep of High Chaparral -- that one has such a good theme song!

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  11. Great blog! :)

    Would you mind checking out my book reviews blog at https://elsbookreviews.blogspot.ca/ and possibly give it a follow? Super excited to read your posts!

    - El

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    1. Thanks, El! Sure, I'll check out your book blog :-) I have one too, The Edge of the Precipice, if you want to see what it's like.

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