Best of the Small Screen


"Most TV shows don't reward you for paying attention." — Matt Groening

If you are a fan of TV, the past 25 years have been a magical time. First we had the Golden Age of TV in terms of programming, much of which was considered revolutionary and ground breaking. And now we're in a second golden age that has to do with the volume and choice of content. Many shows are good, yes, but there's also so many content producers that everyone has a show to fill their niche.

It's projected that in 2017 we'll crest over 500 scripted shows airing. Think about that, 500 shows. Not 500 hours of shows, which would be a lot, but 500 series, each with seasons ranging from six to 25 episodes. That's a lot of TV. That's a lot of options. And it's created a fractured viewing audience.

No longer do we have these national prestige shows where everyone is watching. Now, you try to find the 4-5 people who are watching your show if you want an outlet. Or, you turn to the Internet.

And with the advent of streaming sites, you can now catch up on series you might have missed. Which, naturally, has led to discussions about the greatest show of all time. If you run in Social Media circles, this frequently comes up. And everyone has an opinion.

Last year I looked at my favorite films of all time. Now it's time to consider the small screen. Over the next few weeks I'll be looking at my favorite series in three categories — Mini-Series and series cancelled too soon; Comedies; and Dramas.

And here's the ground rules:
* These are my opinion, which are based on personal preference in addition to quality.
* I was born in 1981, so your 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s classics probably aren't in my wheelhouse.
* This will include only shows that have completed their run. There's a reason for this. I think it's impossible to accurately judge a series that's still running. It could be at a high point waiting to crater. Think of "Dexter." If you were rating series after its fourth season, I would probably have it in my top 10. After how it finished, not a chance. That matters. There are plenty of great series on right now. I think "Game of Thrones" could be an all time great. But it has 13 episodes left, and how that plays out will tell us a lot about the legacy of the series. So there's many current shows that would be worth considering, but won't be on this list.

I will begin next week with my five favorite Mini-Series or Series cancelled too soon, those that lasted two or fewer seasons, or had less than 30 episodes. Then I'll detail my 10 favorite comedy series and, finally, my 10 favorite drama series.

As always, I love and welcome feedback. Have a suggestion, disagree, agree? Leave a comment!

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