After writing about my favourite films, I thought it was worth spending some time talking about my favourite TV shows as well. This was a hard list to make, so before we get to the top 5, a few honourable mentions. While they didn’t make the cut, I also love Friends, The X Files, Once Upon a Time, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, Big Little Lies, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Brooklyn 99. There are two honourable mentions that I want to write about in more detail.
Honourable Mention 1 – Cobra Kai
I didn’t watch The Karate Kid growing up, so when Cobra Kai first came out on YouTube a few years back, I didn’t take any notice. It was only after Kevin Smith gushed about how great season 2 was that I thought it might be worth checking out. I read online that I needed to see the first film first, so about a year ago I watched it and couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it before. I absolutely loved it. It didn’t appear on my top 50 films, because this is all too recent, which is probably why this isn’t in my top 5 shows as well. Instead of moving to the series, I watched the other 3 films first, and while I don’t think they are as good, I still liked them all a lot. Yes, even The Next Karate Kid.
So, it was finally time to watch Cobra Kai, the reason I had started on the journey in the first place. I watched episode 1, and it was fantastic. I just binge watched the whole two seasons, that were available at the time, and thought it was just brilliant. The best show I’d seen in a long time. I then got Tabby to watch the films and watch the show as well. So I ended up re-watching all 4 films and both seasons within a month of watching it myself and loved it the second time as well. Season 3, I’ve only seen once, but it is still magic. I honestly think that the season 2’s finale may be the greatest cliff-hanger of all time. I was edge the whole episode and then that ending. I couldn’t wait for more. Season 3 wasn’t a disappointment and now I’m looking forward to season 4, which will make up my entire New Year’s Eve this year.
Honourable Mention 2 – Jane the Virgin
This was so close to being in the top 5. So, so close. If you ask me tomorrow, it probably would be. Jane the Virgin is a parody of a telenovela, basically an exaggerated soap opera. It’s incredibly funny and the characters are perfect. I also really like this show because Jane is a writer and the show goes into the process in a way that I haven’t seen anywhere else. While the show is exaggerated with strange magical realism moments, it’s a pure blast from start to finish. I only watched this because Tabby was watching it and I ended up catching one random episode with her, partway through season 3, and I quite enjoyed it. We went back to the start and I became very invested, very quickly. It’s very well written and is the only TV show that has ever made me cry. I’m sure anyone who’s seen it will know which part.
So with that out of the way, we’re on to my top 5 shows of all time.
5 – Star Trek
Specifically, the original series. I love all of Star Trek, but I started with the original show and that’s the one that I love the most. While the acting is cheesy, the sets are cheap and some of the later episodes were a bit wonky, it’s still a timeless show. The reason for that is purely the writing. If you go and look at some of the writers who wrote episodes of Star Trek, they were the finest writers of the time. People like Robert Bloch (who also wrote Psycho) and Richard Matheson (I am Legend) wrote episodes. The writing is so great that every other flaw in the series is easy to overlook. It’s the reason why people still watch if 55 years later. Not every episode is a classic, but there are so many, especially from the first two seasons, that are just pure sci-fi at its best.
The legendary sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison wrote the best episode of the entire series (and possibly of the whole of Star Trek) ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’. It’s a magnificent episode, and one of the finest episodes of TV history. There is a book that Harlan Ellison wrote, named after the episode, that contains the original (and some say superior) script, revisions to the script as well as Ellison’s troubled relationship with the show and creator Gene Rodenberry. For anyone who is interested in writing, or TV shows, this is an essential read. It’s really interesting, even if you don’t like Star Trek.
4 – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This was the first TV show that I ever watched and really connected with. I absolutely loved it and recently re-watched it with Tabby and thought it was even better now that I’m older. The storylines are just amazing, the dialogue is funny and it set a standard for a lot of shows that came afterwards. The episode from season 5, The Body, is one of the best episodes of TV ever written. I don’t want to spoil it, because it is a major episode, but it’s one of the most emotional and powerful episodes of TV ever. It grounds the show with a more realistic situation, and it really paid off. As a kid I used to think that Angel was a better show, and while I still like Angel, seasons 3 and 4 are just a mess. Thankfully Season 5 made the show worth watching, but it’s not as good as Buffy.
3 – Watchmen
When they first announced the Watchmen show, I was hesitant. It does feel like everyone is rushing to make anything based on comics recently, with a lot of shows varying in quality and getting cancelled after one or two seasons, without finishing. Watchmen was a breath of fresh air to the genre. The idea not to adapt the comic but make a sequel to it, is just genius. You don’t need to know the story of the original to get along with the show, but it helps. The writing is really excellent, and every episode feels vital. Each week it just seemed to get better and better. As I was watching it, I just kept thinking, it can’t get any better than this week’s, but it did. Episode 6 may be the best hour of TV ever made.
2 – Community
I think Community is the funniest show ever made. I’ve watched it all the way through six times and love it more every time. I always find more things to laugh at or pick up on more subtle details. Even though it was never a hit ratings wise, it has one hell of a loyal following that meant it kept coming back. I do think the best seasons are the first 3, but there’s something to love about each season. It’s incredibly smart writing and full of geeky references to films and TV shows.
I first found Community when looking online for shows like Arrested Development. I don’t think it’s that similar to Arrested Development, but I’m glad I found it. I’ve recommended it to many people in the years since, and some love it, some hate it. It’s one of those shows that’s not for everyone, but those who get on with it, tend to love it.
1 – Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks was groundbreaking at its time and still holds up today. It’s a murder mystery show with a strange and bizarre lore, by the end of season 3 it becomes a tale of good vs evil, as well as an exploration about how we can’t change the past. It’s from the mind of David Lynch and Mark Frost. The first two seasons are among the best of TV, the story is gripping and the characters are wonderful. Every episode adds to the enigma of who killed Laura Palmer. A lot of people feel that the series went downhill after the killer was revealed. I think the second mystery is still really good. When the third season finally aired, 25 years later, it was like nothing before on TV. I don’t think there’s been another show that is as daring or experimental. I will watch this time and time again to unravel the mystery further.
What are your favourite TV shows? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading and until next time,
I watched the first two seasons of Jane the Virgin as they were released and loved it – it’s such a better show than it sounds on paper. I really need to get back into it!
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Completely agree, it’s a hard show to describe to someone to get them to watch it, but it is really good. Hope you enjoy the rest of it, if you get around to it!