Where have all the great TV shows gone?


In light of Empire magazine’s compilation of their 50 greatest TV shows of all time article [1] it had me lament the loss of good, even great TV and its replacement (reality TV).  I’ve previously remarked on this previously, however I’d like to address Empire’s list with my own views.  Warning: here be spoilers

Let me start off by remarking that many of the shows listed are great – brilliant – TV shows.  Perhaps my main criticism is in the ordering.  Some of the shows listed only had one or two seasons, which makes me think they barely scratched the surface.  I’d be highly surprised that a show which didn’t air for more than one season can really hold up against some of the longer running brands, but I’m willing to entertain the notion that there are some brilliant exceptions.

Empire’s list is, perhaps, a little heavy on cult favourites.  How can Buffy the Vampire Slayer honestly be considered the second best TV show of all time?  Was it an inventive reimagining of the vampire genre?  Yes, and they did some amazing work, but second all time?  C’mon.

The SciFi genre is very well represented here and includes many shows considered to be amongst the cream of the SciFi crop.  What I really took away from this ensemble compilation is the lack of good SciFi content on the tube these days.  Gone are the days of great SciFi TV, even the surprising favourites like Quantum Leap or shows like it are gone – and we’re left with the silly “SyFy” network and reruns.  As for precedence (in Empire’s list),, how can so many shows come before Star Trek?  Firefly was good, but honestly can’t compare to the Original Series or the Next Generation.

Outstanding animation and comedy programs litter the list, but the top ten are made up primarily of excellent dramatic series.  One serious omission, in my humble opinion, is House M.D. which is one the most successful TV dramas on TV at the moment.  Of the shows included, my all time favourite, The West Wing, is well represented at the 4th position.  This makes me wonder, again, where the good TV drama has disappeared to!

Shows not on the list which could be seriously considered, I think, are:

  • Cheers
  • Boston Legal
  • The Bill
  • Get Smart
  • Moonlighting
  • Dallas or Dynasty
  • L.A Law
  • The Addams Family
  • Hill Street Blues

Some longer running shows such as

  • Saturday Night Live
  • Talk shows, like The Late Show with David Letterman or The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

In an altogether unrelated thought, here are some shows I used to enjoy, but probably wouldn’t be considered amongst the world’s greatest, but I’d like to call thm out anyway:

Alf, NewsRadio, Party of Five, Diff’rent Strokes, The Goodies, Corner Gas, Saved by the Bell, Miami Vice, Knight Rider, Baywatch, MacGyver, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Lost in Space, Gilligan’s Island, Murder She Wrote, The Golden Girls, Degrassi Junior High, Transformers.

Anyways, I’d love to hear about some programs you think ought to have been considered.  Please leave your thoughts, I’d love to hear about a TV show which was one of your favourites which we might have lost touch with!

[1 http://www.empireonline.com/50greatesttv/ ]


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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