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The top 15 English-language television shows of the post-network era?


Since 1) I have nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon besides grade 170 essays and 2) we’ve been talking about trolls and trolling of late, I thought, “Scott, you should troll your own blog!” So here goes:

After watching last night’s episode of Fringe and consulting the deep recesses of my nerdy soul, I’m going to declare that Fringe is very close to eclipsing The Wire as the best English-language television show I’ve ever watched. That final conditional means I’m not going to include shows from the dark days of network television, because I’ve seen more silent films than I have episodes of Hill Street Blues or Airwolf. Now, I know you’re going to complain that Fringe opened as an X-Files clone and didn’t evolve into anything interesting until midway through its second season — when, threatened with cancellation, the writers decided that if they were going to be cancelled, they may as well do so on their own terms — whereas The Wire‘s first season was a well-orchestrated slow-burn, and I’m not going to disagree. But what I appreciate about Fringe is that it’s become what it is despite itself. Or maybe I’m just being unduly presentist. Either way, here’s my list:

  1. Fringe (technically 1a)
  2. The Wire (technically 1b)
  3. Deadwood
  4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  5. Mad Men
  6. The first season of Twin Peaks
  7. The only season of Firefly
  8. Seinfeld
  9. Every episode except the series finale of Battlestar Galactica
  10. Doctor Who
  11. The first and second seasons of Homicide, as well as that episode with Vincent D’Onofrio
  12. The UK version of Prime Suspect
  13. The first season of the American version of In Treatment
  14. The second and final seasons of Angel
  15. The UK version of Life on Mars
  16. UPDATE: Shows some idiot neglected to include on this list include: Arrested Development; the second, third and fourth seasons of Babylon 5Breaking Bad; the UK version of The OfficeFreaks and Geeks; Leverage; and …

Plus all the ones I forgot or couldn’t stomach including, like the Michael Moriarty episodes of Law & Order, which have been retroactively ruined by his crazy Canadian racism. I imagine I’ve forgotten quite a few, but I’m just as (if not more) interested in discovering and/or being reminded of items not included above.

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