Following on from my Top 30 Sitcoms of All Time articles (which you can find in the Article Index at the top of the page) I’ve decided the next logical step would be to do a countdown of the Top 50 Television Dramas of All Time.
And you know what? Finding 50 TV dramas worth inclusion was more difficult than I thought it would be.
I should point out that these are just the shows I’ve watched, there will be plenty of TV shows – shows that I’m sure are brilliant – that I haven’t seen or are on my “To-Watch” list, so don’t all go getting upset because I haven’t included the likes of Borgen, The Killing, Deadwood or Boardwalk Empire; if I haven’t seen them, I can’t rate them.
The aim here is not just to rate the shows, but to get you guys reading it to discover ones you hadn’t heard of or you’d forgotten about, while maybe also suggesting shows to me that aren’t on the list.
So anyway, here’s the first five…
Sneaking in at Number 50 is the comedy drama about the lives of four nurses who live and work in Leeds.
While it’s not the most fashionable of shows to include on a list like this, it was stellar in both scripts and acting performances in its run between 2004 and 2006.
Indeed, a testament to its quality is that most of the regular cast – like Francis Magee, Jo Joyner, Sunetra Sarker and Derek Riddell – are still regular fixtures on “bigger” TV shows to this day.
#49 – Heroes
If the quality of the first season – an intricately told story of how a group of ordinary people from all over the planet discover they have super-powers and then come together to “Save the Cheerleader; Save the World” – had persisted throughout then it would be worthy of a place in the Top 20.
But it didn’t.
And indeed I don’t think it could have.
When you watch a Superhero Movie, the best bit of the story is how they came to find they had their superpower; beyond that it’s mostly stunts.
As the show developed, the writing became tenuous and the acting – especially that of Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panettiere – was horrific.
I ended up giving up around the time Veronica Mars turned up.
But that first season…it was great.
Ok, laugh it up; Grange Hill is a kids show, right?
Well yes, it is, but there was a time back in the 80s (I didn’t see the stuff in the 70s) when it was a powerful drama for kids – and probably adults – to enjoy
I wouldn’t have even considered it for inclusion had I not the other day checked out Mr. Bronson’s Best Bits on youtube.
I advise you to do the same, because when you do, you’ll realise that the acting standards from the likes of Michael Sheard surpass that of almost anything you’ll see on TV today, let alone in a kids show.
And what’s even more impressive is that while watching those clips, I remembered them all. I hadn’t seen the Mr Bronson/Danny Kendall story since it was on in the 1980s, but that cliffhanger where he finds his car has been stolen is something I remember as clear now as the first time I saw it.
It’s just a shame that over time, the quality of acting dipped and it was put out to pasture in 2008.
#47 – Torchwood
Eve Myles’s Gwen Cooper is one of the least likeable lead characters I’ve ever seen.
The first two seasons maybe suffered from being too closely linked to Doctor Who and as a result had scripts that were probably deemed not strong enough for that show. It also had the problem of trying too hard to be “adult” with sexual themes being thrust into plots where they were neither wanted nor needed.
But once it got into its groove, the last two seasons – Children of Earth and Miracle Day – were both highly enjoyable.
#46 – Chuck
I like Chuck.
The problem with it though was that the premise could not work for the 91 episodes that the show ran for.
So while I enjoyed it, it ran too long and didn’t develop as it should have. Had, for example, Chuck moved away from his job at the Buy More after a couple of seasons, it would have made sense, but to still have him working there, and for the writers to have to come up with something for the other staff in the shop to do four seasons in…well it became repetitive.
It also should have ended – and had it done so it would have gone out on a high – at the end of Season 4.
But it didn’t, and so Season Five was one of the most tenuous and poorly thought-out pieces of Television I’ve ever seen.
Don’t let that put you off though; when it was good, it was great!
And One That Misses Out
On each of my articles during the countdown, I’ll also add in one Television Drama that doesn’t deserve to be on the list – in my opinion anyway.
First up we have…
Six Feet Under
In the days when people would actually buy DVD boxed sets of shows they hadn’t seen rather than just download an episode or watch it on demand to see what it’s like, I got the Complete Six Feet Under for my birthday.
Despite it being lauded almost the world over as an excellent example of Television Drama done well, I found it to be the most boring show I have ever seen. Ever.
One single episode felt like years and I would actually fall asleep in the middle of the day trying to get through it.
Eventually I gave up and cast it aside, never to be watched by me again.
My brother enjoyed it though, so I guess someone got use out of the DVDs…