After 2 month break, it is time to start writing. This time, I’m creating a new list on best TV shows I have seen.
I keep track of every TV show I have seen on IMDb List. As of now, I have seen 39 TV shows — excluding cartoons and anime on this list. There are about 5 shows on there that became so bad that I quit watching — shows like Revolution and The Walking Dead.. I actually enjoyed the first 3 seasons of Walking Dead but around season 4 was when the writing and plot began to fall off the map (I had to force myself to watch season 5 to give it a 2nd chance, but show is finished from my perspective).
TV shows I tend to judge differently from movies because most TV shows have multiple directors from season-to-season, often episode-to-episode. The plots also change from season-to-season and cast/characters change. It would be completely unfair for me to judge these the same as movies. As far as I’m concerned, these are my 10 favorite shows regardless of seasons (excluding ‘True Detective’ which is done very differently). I expect this list to grow to top 25 in the future.
As far as genres go, I enjoy action, adventure, thrillers, and anything exhilarating from start to finish.
Top 10 Shows
Last updated: August 24, 2016
1. Game of Thrones– Best show on TV. There are a few shows that come close, but Game of Thrones has pushed the boundary of what a show ought to be. The story here combines fantasy with action, adventure, almost every genre you can think of to create a world that appears as real as possible. From the story-line to the characters to the directing and cinematic, this is truly a marvelous show. While they have gotten away from the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ book series by George R.R. Martin in the name of entertainment and keeping the story somewhat concise, HBO has done a great job overall.
One of the difficulties of this series is that it takes place at 5 to 6 locations at any one point in the seasons and with many characters. That makes it not an easy series to follow, let alone put together a script & direct so many various components being built over a number of seasons before being brought together for the climax. I expect the final 2 seasons to be truly epic, pushing even farther beyond what we have come to expect from this show (hopefully they don’t mess up what they have built so far!). MUST WATCH SHOW! 9.5/10
2. Breaking Bad – One of the best written shows I have come across. While the storyline is dark where the main character is a chemistry teacher Walter White who acquires cancer. In order to be able to pay the bills for chemotherapy, he decides to produce meth using his chemistry expertise and selling it on the market. The acting is so good and realistic, it feels as if you are truly part of the world watching it unravel from nearby.
The betrayals, the desperation, the killings, many subtle details showcase the dark world of drug addiction. Walter White, in the process, becomes essentially a druglord as he starts to make more and more money. As he becomes more and more corrupt over time, we see a deep storyline develop. This one man puts together a complex meth operation with an old student of his while being chased by the Feds, local police, other druglords, lawyers. He literally takes on everyone through brains, and that is where the intrigue lies. In the end, it is less about drugs than it is about how he tries to outsmart everyone with his string of lies built upon lies. MUST WATCH SHOW! 9.5/10
3. True Detective (season 1 only) – This is without a doubt one of the darkest shows I have watched. We follow 2 detectives Rust and Hart trying to chase down a serial killer, who was very precise and exact in his killings. The way the directors and crew setup the murder scenes was truly mind-boggling cold. I could literally feel empathy crawling up and down my tingly spine. This show is definitely not for those who can’t handle gore and graphic content. The murder scenes get fairly dark and grotesque.
The first season is absolutely marvelous as we follow a brilliant detective Rust Cohle, played by Matthew McConaughey, and Martin Hart, played by Woody Harrelson, in their search for the serial killer. McConaughey is spectacular in his role as a very calculated person but with a very dark childhood that impacts him. Everything comes full circle as Rust fights for justice and to save himself. MUST WATCH SHOW! (Or first season only since the case and cast changes after first season & quality drops significantly). 9.5/10
4. Band of Brothers – For years, I considered this show #1 (top 3 shows on this list I didn’t watch until 2012 or later). Band of Brothers was truly ridiculously well done. It felt more like an extended movie than a TV show, but it left me at the edge of my seat from episode 1 to the end of episode 10. We follow Easy Company throughout Europe as they work their way from the beaches of Normandy to the fields of French countryside to knocking on the gates of the Third Reich. Their goal is to take down Nazi Germany. The writers and direction crew made it as realistic as possible by following actual eyewitness accounts from the soldiers who fought in Easy Company and diaries/notes to be as accurate as possible. They did justice to each of the soldiers portrayed, whether they died or lived on after the war.
We see the Allied paratroopers jump behind Nazi lines as they infiltrate across almost the entirety of the France on D-Day, the largest invasion in history with 39 divisions from the Allied side – 156,000 troops landed on that single day, close to a million soldiers throughout the invasion. There were about 15,500 paratroopers who parachuted behind enemy lines; Band of Brothers follows Easy Company from the elite 101 Airborne division. The direction, writing, and acting all done amazingly well. We, as viewers, feel the entire spectrum of emotions from pain, empathy, joy, anguish as we follow the soldiers from city to city, area to area fighting the formidable opponent in the Nazis. We see just how much blood, sweat and tears were put into the fight by the Allied troops for the future of principles such as freedom and democracy against the Third Reich. MUST WATCH SHOW! 9.5/10
5. Firefly – Firefly was initially a flop as very had few heard of it. Marketing and advertisement for it was weak. Show was cancelled before the first season even finished airing. Couple years later after it was cancelled due to not enough viewers, this show took off when it released on DVD. Fans clamored for a movie, which was produced. It has since become a highly acclaimed show and gained cult status. Many people, including the cast members, have tried to buy the rights to this show from Fox by offering to raise money and many signed petitions from fans, but Fox has refused to sell the rights for whatever reason. The writer and creator Joss Whedon also publicly stated he is never working with Fox again even if they were to restart it after how his team was treated by them in the creation of Firefly. The show is probably not returning.
This show is truly fresh as it combines sci-fi with western. The characters travel in a spaceship named Serenity in a distant future and fight space pirates, savages, breaking into banks, and many side-quests. It is essentially Star Trek meets western cowboy era, which is truly original in concept. Acting, directing, writing all done very well. MUST WATCH SHOW! 9/10
6. Stranger Things – Very good show that brings back some of the 80’s style in how shows/movies were done. The premise is there are a group of 4 friends all aged around 12. One of them goes missing, abducted by a ‘monster’. The remaining 3 friends go on a journey to find out what happened to their friend. I will leave it at that without spoiling anything. It is essentially ‘Stand by Me’ meets ‘ET’ meets ‘Goonies’ meets ‘Super Eight’ all packed in 1 while paying homage to Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, George Lucas, and many others. I was not around in the 80’s, but I have seen many of the 80’s movies. This show recaptures that era, charm, and generation in a spectacular fashion.
The sign of a great show is the ability to develop a sense of empathy for the characters, which this show does wonderfully. The kids were amazing in their acting. What an awesome show! Absolutely no complaints. 9/10
7. The Wire – This show does a great job of showing Baltimore police force apprehending criminals. We see the perspective of the criminals themselves and the police force. It is truly a well-done show where they brought in actual retired cops and journalists who covered cases throughout Baltimore. The directors did a great job trying to recreate old cases to the best of their abilities. The actors were awesome filling in the shoes of the characters they were portraying.
This show, to me, seems to go beyond pure entertainment. I initially had a hard time getting into this show because there is so much going on simultaneously. There has got to be hundred characters at least so it is difficult to keep track of all of the characters and their individual stories. There is some darkness and also some light in the intricate plots. I highly recommend this show. 9/10
8. Dexter – Arguably the darkest show on this list. Dexter Morgan, who we follow, is a serial killer with a twist. Since childhood, he and his father both realized Dexter had the tendency to kill. He started with killing small animals and moved up to rabbits, cats, dogs, deers. His father was a police detective and knew his son would soon move up to humans. He teaches Dexter a code, a code to kill only the worst criminals. That includes serial rapists and murderers killing innocents. Dexter joined the police force as a Forensics expert, and uses what his dad taught him to find proof the criminals had done the crime. After finding evidence, he would kill them, chop them up, and discard at various locations.
This show is very dark. There has been criticism that it glorifies murder, even if it is killing serial rapists and other serial killers. It is not for everyone, but it was truly a well-done show. This show would be higher on this list, but the last 3 seasons were not good. I highly recommend this show. 9/10
9. Better Call Saul – BCS is a prequel in some ways to Breaking Bad. The nuances in subtle details of each episodes and plot lines is very well done. It is somewhat of a slow-paced show so not everyone would appreciate the details. It is not as good or thrilling as Breaking Bad, but it is still a must-watch show. I would first start with Breaking Bad before watching Better Call Saul.
This show takes place from the perspective of a corrupt lawyer Saul Goodman, who represents Walter White from Breaking Bad, years before Breaking Bad takes place. Before he becomes Saul, he was Jimmy McGill who tried to do things the right way. He spirals downwards towards corruption and doing it his way. This show showcases how he spirals to doing crimes in his path to corruption. I highly recommend this show. 9/10
10. Sherlock – I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and read Arthur Conan Doyle’s original series twice. This show takes a compelling twist by modernizing it to present day London. The writers have done a great job bringing Holmes and Watson to life once again 80 years after the great Arthur Conan Doyle passed away. Sir Doyle would truly be proud to see his character live on more than a century later. This show has great directing and acting is spectacular.
Benedict Cumberbatch is the star of this show, and boy does he do a great job as Sherlock. He is literally Sherlock from his oozing arrogance, brilliance, and meticulous detective personality. While I definitely prefer the original books, I cannot say enough positive things about this show. I definitely recommend this show. 9/10
Honorable Mention (when I eventually get my list up to top 25, I expect a few of the shows below to enter the list above):