When it comes to rounding up the best TV series of all time, how far do you go back? For modern audiences, where the typical movie goer is between 12 and 35, their memories do not go back too far so “of all time” can easily include a list of TV shows that they have never heard of.
With sci-fi, unless it was made in the last decade, the special effects will be sorely lacking the quality of the recent effects that come out of places like Industrial Light & Magic. This can detract from the enjoyment of the show for some, whereas for others, this matters not at all.
What makes a great show is usually not the special effects, but the story lines and the character that popular each show. Unlike with movies, you do not only have a couple of hours to introduce some characters and tell a story, but instead the story of their life experiences can be told over a hundred hours or more in a series of episodes. This allows for far greater depth with exploration of characters, their many layers & contradictions, and what ultimately motivates them.
What follows therefore is a subjective list of classic TV series that were hugely enjoyable for the viewers at the time and can be rediscovered now by young and old. For young people they will be something new and for older people they can get to revisit old favorites.
The West Wing
The West Wing came from the pen of Aaron Sorkin, one of the best writers working in television today. Originally intended to only feature the US president in passing, Martin Sheen did such a good job in the early portayal of the president of the United States that the script was completely overhauled to feature the president as a central character. Backed up by a collection of fine actors, with the White House as a backdrop with good people trying to do a difficult job, the writing was just a joy to behold.
Focusing on the Korean War, this war based comedy series starring Alan Alda drew raves and high ratings when it was shown. It featured many lovable rogues like Hawkeye and straight shooters like Radar. The cast changed in places as the series aged, but this one ran for many seasons and was always entertaining.
Once and Again
A drama series that ran for three seasons starting Sela Ward and Billy Campbell. Following a group of forty somethings as they try to date while bringing up kids and dealing with their respective ex husbands and ex wives. Some of the best writing for a drama series, which took an early look at young lesbian relationships.
Back in the day when growing up, I have white lunar lander model craft to play with and Space 1999 was the sci-fi series. Based around a lunar base on the moon around the year 1999, lots of computers, spacecraft and drama in every episode.
Woodward stepped into the role of a type of private bodyguard for those that needed the assistance. Overweight, but with CIA experience, Woodward’s character was a somewhat unlikely defender of what was good and right. While today this would seem out of place in the days of mixed martial arts and extreme physical conditioning, the dark overtones of inner city life in the US, with dark soundtrack to match, you could only take the Equalizer seriously.
Bosco has made a very long list of legal, police and political dramas for several networks over the years. LA Law was one of the first legal dramas to gain wide notoriety for the types of cases that the lawyers took on. The flamboyant characters dressed in expensive designer suits, some with strong ideologies, others wanting to drive their BMW to pick up twins for a threesome, LA Law had no shortage of great storylines and multi-layered characters to keep you coming back for more each week.
The A Team
BA, Hannibal, Face and Murdock team up as soldiers of fortune who are for hire to those that can afford their low rates. Accused by the military of crimes they did not commit, they now fight for the rights of those that are oppressed and need their help. The Black Truck loved by BA, Murdock with his crazy ideas, Face with his seductive tendencies with the ladies, and Hannibal always with a plan that comes together, the series had action, explosions, car chases and great repartee between the characters on the show.
The X Files
For those that love sci-fi shows, The X Files was one for the books. Featuring Mulder and Scully as two FBI agents who investigate the strange and mysterious cases that the FBI would rather not look into. An ongoing conspiracy with The Smoking Man at the center of it kept the duo always looking for answers for the strange goings on. The best episodes always were the conspiracy related episodes often with The Smoking Man turning up at some point to cause confusion and through the team off their trail. Government conspiracies, strange aliens and dark & rainy atmosphere on screen with most seasons shot in rainy Vancouver, Canada Made the a careers of both the leads.
A classic TV comedy series set in New York. It featured a handful of friends, three guys and three girls, as they live their lives. Many classic episodes and classic lines, with relationships unfolding, and hilarity ensuing. Jennifer Aniston’s hair style promoted almost a generation of women to try to get the same hair style as her. Ross being “on a break” from his girlfriend when he dated another girl, but never being forgiven despite having broken up with his girlfriend (or on a break!) with her at the time.
Classic scenes where one of the girls kissed one of the guys. Rachel describes the moment in second by second accuracy, whereas the Joey character just asked “you kissed?”… “tongues?”… “Cool!” This typified many of fundamental differences in the sexes with dating and expectations in life. The only strange thing was that, like with the Cosby Show with Bill Cosby, it was a very white New York with all main characters being white and rarely any black or Latino extras and new characters added. However, the show was never intended to be a realistic take on New York life.
A new take on the classic Western, the three season series took place in the town of Deadwood during the time of the late 1800s. A time of debauchery with the gold rush, taverns with booze and women of easy virtue, and gun play all around. Ian McShane as the evil tavern owner sets the dark tone, as does the way the series was shot. As close to the muck, rancor and lawlessness as you will ever likely to want to get to.
The 4400 was a sci-fi series that featured 4400 people that were previously abducted by Aliens and returned back to Earth at the same time with no memory of the period of time that had past. An elite team is set up to monitor the 4400, an assess them, as many begin to exhibit special abilities. The 4400 were sent back to protect humanity from itself in the future, with each ability aligning to help change the course of humanity. More drama than sci-fi, a top quality TV series all round.
If you want to watch all these series and more, then you owe it to yourself to start looking into new release DVDs online. The biggest advantage of ordering your DVDs online is that they are a physical medium, meaning that you don’t have to rely on a steady internet connection, or having a device that is connected to the internet. Stay caught up with your favorite TV series by ordering a huge boxed set containing every episode. What’s more is that these box sets typically contain hours of bonus footage and even commentary from the directors and cast! A must have if you’re looking for an authentic viewing experience.