We’re now getting into the really good stuff; the shows that are almost without fault, or if they do have faults, they are overcome by the general level of brilliance.
#15 – Friday Night Lights
The show about an American high school football team has mostly realistic, grounded characters and storylines, and a selection of decent actors taking on the parts.
It’s driven for me by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as Coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami, but there are plenty of other young actors who have gone on to bigger, or at least equally good things as well.
And let’s not forget one of my brother’s favourite ever TV characters, the great Buddy Garrity.
Sure, there’s an element of predictability about the results for the team, but since we’re watching it, we’re supporters of that team, so it’s fine by me.
#14 – Ashes to Ashes
Keeley Hawes does an admirable job of replacing John Simm, and of course Gene Hunt is Gene Hunt; possibly the finest TV character in history.
Where it fails to be as good as its predecessor though is that 1980s London isn’t quite as ‘Alien’ as 1970s Manchester.
And though it takes a while to get to the point, the final few episodes, where everything is revealed, is top-notch television. And the end is quite sad.
#13 – Castle
With a strong ensemble cast led by Nathan Fillion as the show’s namesake, Rick Castle, this is a show that manages to shine where so many other programmes fail.
Why? Because in spite of it being formulaic, it manages to keep me entertained, amused and interested each week.
And unlike many of the shows that have failed to make it beyond the “One That Didn’t Make It” list, it has kept the nucleus of the cast together and developed their characters and relationships.
It also does a superb job of parodying almost every conceivable genre without being ridiculous.
#12 – Battlestar Galactica
What’s interesting about Battlestar Galactica (and of course I mean the remake from a few years ago rather than the original series) is that I bet many people dismiss it as Science Fiction, and that’s not fair.
Rather than being a by-the-numbers Space Opera that’s a ripoff of the likes of Star Wars and Star Trek, this is serious, well performed drama to rival any political or military show you’ll see getting heaped with praise.
The only difference is that this political/military drama is set in space.
But remove your preconceived notions of what “Science Fiction” actually is and give this a shot, because you won’t regret it.
#11 – Cracker
I started watching Cracker around the time I thought of making this list, and it might be that there’s a certain “Patricia Routledge Winning Best Actress Of All Time At The BBC 50th Anniversary Awards” style “in-vogue” favour being attached to it by me, but I enjoyed Cracker immensely.
Almost every episode was classic drama (I say almost because the one set in Hong Kong was shite) and there were some genuinely jaw-dropping scenes in amongst it all.
What are they? Well I won’t spoil them.
But Cracker is brilliant, and though it looks dated now – more so than almost anything else on this list because of the cheap look of early 90s film – the quality of scripting and acting still shines for a first time viewer in 2013.
I wanted to like it, but I just couldn’t get into it.
I didn’t have a clue what was going on, the plotting was bizarre and the acting and pace weren’t up to much either.
Not for me, thanks all the same.