26th Best TV Show Evar!!!!11

… according to EMPIRE magazine, anyway.

I did work experience at Empire, once. Some of the people there were very nice (and Chris Hewitt is one of the geekiest geeks who ever geeked). They still employ a few of the finest film writers this country has ever had, such as Kim Newman, Ian Freer and Ian Nathan. So it’s nice to see Dwarf still getting a bit of recognition from a reputable source (although it was a reader vote… and although they’re a film mag, not a telly mag).

Feel free to tear apart their blurb, though. I mean, these things always have mistakes or wrongness in them – and having written for such lists before, I know what a bloody hard job it is.

But it would have been nice if they’d counted ALL of Doctor Who, like.

94 Responses to 26th Best TV Show Evar!!!!11

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  1. Start of article :”and ended its nine series run as a cult phenomenon”

    End of article: “The word show’s expletive, ‘smeg’ is used 194 times across the show’s eight seasons”

    (Let’s not even get into the placement of the word ‘word’ there…)

  2. G&T Admin

    Not a bad list, that. I LOVE how it all looks, with the massive images in the header. It’s very nice. Some really shocking writing in there, though. Apparently only the first season of Prison Break was set in a jail. Well, apart from the WHOLE OF THE THIRD SEASON. And if one more person makes a crack about Hurley not losing weight on the island I’m going to stomp on their Internet faces.

  3. They get fairly close to the mark on “best episode” for quite a lot of them, I reckon – “Blink”, “Let’s Go To The Hop”, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and so on; although not for Dwarf, Arrested Development or The Simpsons, to name a few…

  4. G&T Admin

    With the odd honourable exception, most people who voted in that list seem to think that good TV started in the 90s.

    Yes, I know the reasons behind it – it’s what most people of the readership of Empire grew up with. It’s still annoying.

  5. Yeah, it’s a bit annoying when you consider that on the original nominations vote, they were at pains to include suggestions from every decade from the ’70s onwards…

    (you could argue that the ’60s should have been included; but far less ’60s TV exists nowadays, of course)

  6. And they get Deep Space Nine and Babylon 5 very, very wrong.

    I am pleased, though, that all five of the shows I voted for feature in the countdown.

  7. G&T Admin

    > With the odd honourable exception, most people who voted in that list seem to think that good TV started in the 90s.

    This is a good point, but I think the list shows quite effectively just how much of a golden age we’re living in for American drama. It might be a slight exaggeration to call it a golden age, but there seems to have been a relentless stream of fantastic stuff coming from America since the mid to late 90s.

    Obviously it’s too weighted to those shows in that list (there’s NO WAY Prison Break should be there, off the top of my head) but it does illustrate a good point.

  8. So RD beat Fawlty and Fools. Its a different kinda group taking this quiz. Some VERY odd choices in the top 10… Its all abit daft really.

  9. G&T Admin

    “The word show?s expletive, ?smeg? is used 194 times across the show?s eight seasons”

    Are word they right though? Is it 194 times?

  10. > it?s what most people of the readership of Empire grew up with.

    Empire has a decent ‘older’ readership, though – more so than, say Total Film. It’s probably more accurate to say that it’s the era the website votorship grew up with. (Generalisation, of course, but there can be an age factor to Teh Internets; if it were a post-only poll in the mag itself, I’d anticipate very different results.)

  11. G&T Admin

    > So RD beat Fawlty and Fools. Its a different kinda group taking this quiz. Some VERY odd choices in the top 10? Its all abit daft really.

    I didn’t think the top ten was all that bad, really. I’m pretty bored of The Simpsons being top of everything, but it’s still an accurate reflection on public opinion, even now.

    What did you disagree with?

  12. G&T Admin

    I think it’s pretty odd that there’s only ONE UK TV show in the top ten. And that’s at number 10!

    Don’t get me wrong – I think the US is producing brilliant stuff at the moment, and has shamed us in the drama stakes for a number of years now. And it’s all subjective anyway (as much as I love Spaced, no WAY would it come above any number of UK comedies for me). But there’s a bit too much of a bias towards US shows there, I think, for a UK magazine.

  13. I hate that it starts with ‘Science fiction comedy on the lowest of low budgets…’ Why are people so obsessed with banging on about the budget? Fair enough if the show actually looked cheap, but it HARDLY ever does. Some of the sets in series 1 & 2, fair enough, and stuff like the Holly Hop drive, but that was fucking deliberate. Post-2 there are very few moments where the BBC sitcom budget actually takes you out of the episode. In fact, pre-III it doesn’t either, but it’s easy to see how a non-fan, an outsider, a heathen fucker would look at it like that. Some of the publicity shots do make it look like a cheap and cheesy kids TV show!

    As for the rest of the list, I reckon due to the lack of British TV shows The Office and Fawlty should have rated higher to compensate. Not only was Office brilliant in its own right (stfu all you motherfrakking twatfaced haters) but it paved the way for the US version and also greater exposure of Gervais, without which I wouldn’t have cried laughing at Ricky/Steve/Karl podcasts on several occasions (I know people also hate the podcasts but…they’re just…mental). The utter excellence of Fawlty doesn’t need to be explained.

    I’ll say one more thing – Heroes above Who and South Park…. I……… and then Family Guy above…several million shows better than it…… I don’t agree with how high Buffy is either. Buffy should have ended with season 5 (Spike being the only good thing about the last two seasons, apart from Andrew sometimes having a funny line showing how much of a GEEK he was!) Stupid idiot voters.

  14. G&T Admin

    > I wouldn?t have cried laughing at Ricky/Steve/Karl podcasts on several occasions

    You prick.

    > (Spike being the only good thing about the last two seasons, apart from Andrew sometimes having a funny line showing how much of a GEEK he was!)

    You prick.

  15. G&T Admin

    Looking at that top 10 again, I’d say only 24 is really undeserving of the placement. It’s good, it’s not nearly good enough for such a big placement. I’m not a huge fan of Friends, but I wouldn’t begrudge it its position purely for how popular and consistently well written it is.

  16. G&T Admin

    There’s not really a single show that I’d objectively look at and say it was completely undeserving per se – it’s a subjective poll, after all. Simpsons is nowhere NEAR my favourite show, but I don’t begrudge it as being number 1.

    But the overall balance is way-off, I reckon. Not a single UK drama EVER in the Top 10? Really? Not a single UK audience show? None of the other genres of telly completely unrepresented in the list?

    There are SEVEN US drama shows in that Top 10. SEVEN! And they’re all from the 1990s onward! There’s more to telly than modern US drama, no matter how great it it. And I’m not denying the best of it is truly some of the best telly around – just that it’s WAY over-represented in that list. And if it had been seven UK comedy shows, I’d be complaining too…

  17. >Are word they right though? Is it 194 times?

    Does word Smee count?

  18. Yeah, the fact that so many of the shows come from the 90s onwards renders the whole thing rather redundant. Any poll like this is bound to be biased obviously but basically you have a list of the most popular shows from the last 15 years or so with a few others thrown in.

  19. G&T Admin

    The thing that irritates me about these polls is they can become self-perpetuating; if younger readers only get reminded about the same old stuff, they may assume that it’s the best by default. It’s like ‘Fork Handles’ being named as the best Two Ronnies sketch by virtue of it being constantly repeated in clip shows, because someone said it was the best a while ago. As John’s said before, ‘Swear Box’ is much funnier.

  20. Be nice if they could do one which only contains shows that have actually finished so they can be judged a bit more subjectively as a whole.

    >Are word they right though? Is it 194 times?

    Surely not. They’d be averaging over 3 times per episode.

    I wasn’t surprised about the top two and won’t complain (I don’t have much right to anyway since I didn’t vote) but I will agree that The Simpsons winning everything, despite being mediocre for the last ten years, is getting old.

    Nice to see Quantum Leap make the list.

    As for the rest of it. I’m surprised by how many of those shows I’ve never watched or, to be honest, dislike (Firefly, Family Guy).

    >> I wouldn?t have cried laughing at Ricky/Steve/Karl podcasts on several occasions

    >You prick.

    WRONG.

    >> (Spike being the only good thing about the last two seasons, apart from Andrew sometimes having a funny line showing how much of a GEEK he was!)

    >You prick.

    CORRECT.

  21. According to these Empire poll voting idiots (and yes, I did vote – Dwarf, Who, Spaced, Python and Buffy), The Office is better than Red Dwarf.

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Are word they right though? Is it 194 times?

    Surely not. They?d be averaging over 3 times per episode.

    *runs a Grep-search on the online transcripts*

    “217 matches in 49 files for ‘smeg'” (Although that includes words like “smeghead” and “smegger”)

    The transcripts which didn’t return a hit were Terrorform, Back to Reality and Emohawk.

    Searching with ‘whole words only’ ticked gives 120 matches in 40 files – The End, Me?, Parallel Universe, Dimension Jump, Quarantine, Psirens, Legion, Gunmen of the Apocalypse and Back in the Red III being the additional non-hits.

    (You will note, however, that 120/40 = an average of 3 an episode in the episodes it’s used, and 217/49 = 4.4 an ep-where-used for the expanded version, and 4.2 across all eps).

  23. Bloody hell….

    Buffy the 2nd greatest show of all time? I can’t watch it. So smug it makes my skin crawl.

  24. 24 is one of the few shows deserving a top ten place.

  25. G&T Admin

    > 24 is one of the few shows deserving a top ten place.

    Surely you can’t think that?

  26. G&T Admin

    To be honest, looking over it again, I have a problem with Friends being at 7. Now, I really like Friends – it’s an extremely well-written show, and a lot of people seem to slag it off for no reason. And I don’t deny the cultural impact, either. But really: the best TV comedy ever made? Seriously? It doesn’t even come close.

    But as I say, my major problem with that list is less specific choices, and more the extremely narrow frame of reference for what people who voted in that list seem to think is good telly. I find that slightly depressing, really. And I’m hardly the most wide-ranging of TV viewer…

  27. G&T Admin

    I guess it’s just indicative of your average Empire reader. The magazine covers films and cult (for want of a better word) TV. The reads like those shows the best and this list seems to be a fairly good representation of the best of those shows. At least from the 90s onwards. I agree that it’s depressing and frustrating that it seems to be such a narrow church, but it’s fairly unsurprising for the target audience.

  28. G&T Admin

    Yeah, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. And it’s telling that most of the programmes chosen fall into the “we basically shoot a film a week!!!!1111” category, as production people on those shows are so fond of telling us. For that matter, the film readership would explain why Spaced is considered the best UK TV comedy ever!

    Still, I shouldn’t be that annoyed – as I get older, I’m more and more interested in a wider range of programmes myself. Ask me ten years ago, and seven out of ten of my favourite shows ever would be UK audience sitcoms. And if the internet audience skews younger, then I suppose all the factors add up, however irritating the final list is to me.

  29. Hey, the results come from a narrow group. Plus how many people (ourselves aside) take the responsibilities of an unregistered ‘greatest ever’ poll on the internet a) intensely seriously, and b) as a definitively different poll from one asking for ‘favourite shows’?

    Truth be told, anyone complaining about shows that are missing are still mostly talking about things that are well-known and/or available on DVD or video, late-60s-onwards ‘classics’. Which, in its way, is the same as voting for stuff that’s just ‘on’. Stuff that’s had an influence and been at least vaguely maintained in the consciousness still gets the nod over forgotten gems.

    But unless every voter has time to watch All The TV In the Universe Ever, taking in all eras (was the news in the 50s actually really good? Where’s That Was The Week That Was? ), all genres (no factual TV in there? No Panorama? Nor any one-off dramas like Brimstone & Treacle?) and every language (no French shows, Indian shows, even Australian shows?), you’ve gotta let it go.

    Plus – it’s on a movie site. It’s not a government funded poll, incorporated into the census. There ‘ll be another one on another site next week. Me, I’m just happy that the comedy stuff isn’t ruled by Fools and bloody Horses.

  30. G&T Admin

    Yeah, obviously no person can vote for the “best shows ever”, because as you say, nobody’s seen all telly, or anything approaching even 0.0000001% of it. So it just becomes “your favourite shows”, which is a bit of a different thing. And yes, even if more types of show had been represented, there’d still be some massive gaps (you’re spot on about factual shows, for instance – there’s not a chance in hell that any would make it into the Top 10). And I nearly made the point about shows in other languages, too.

    Still, even with all that taken into consideration, I still think the range is irritatingly narrow. There’s a difference between not taking all telly ever into account, or having loads of genres missing, or having a bias towards a certain kind of television – all of which is inevitable – and SEVEN of the shows being modern US TV drama. That’s gonna irritate me, no matter how much I understand why from the audience sample.

    Me, I?m just happy that the comedy stuff isn?t ruled by Fools and bloody Horses.

    I can’t say I disagree. With all of John Sullivan’s work, I find it very easy to admire, and very hard to love.

    Truth be told, if there’s one comedy show that I think deserves to be in the Top 10 above all else, it’s Python. Still, I suppose it’s there at 39, at least.

  31. Buffy, while being good at times, is one of the most up-its-own-arse television shows of all time. Friends was up its own arse from season 3 onwards.

  32. Examples?

    One of the only instances I can think of a show being “up-its-own-arse” is The Simpsons doing a “Behind the Laughter” Special.

  33. I admit I love Only Fools and horses, but I’m glad it wasn’t high in the list. Mostly because it nearly always wins on mainstream TV and partly because it’s repeated again and again and again. (See what I did there.) So much so that I rarely watch it any more.

    I don’t find it that surprising that Monty Python wasn’t higher, because the comedy isn’t that mainstream and is very much an acquired taste. Ok , all comedy is an acquired taste, but some is more ‘out there’ than others. Then again, as I said earlier, other less mainstream shows made it onto the list (Twin Peaks) but then I imagine this magazine is more biased towards horror and sci-fi (ok, Twin Peaks isn’t entirely either of those, although there are certainly elements of horror.)

  34. >One of the only instances I can think of a show being ?up-its-own-arse? is The Simpsons doing a ?Behind the Laughter? Special.

    Matt Groening didn’t want to make it, so the exec producer ignored him. I personally thought it was hilarious.

  35. It wasn’t that I didn’t find it amusing…

    [“Fame was like a drug. But what was even in more like a drug was the drugs”]

    …it was just that it completely broke the reality of the show (much more so than the clip-shows and without resolution). I can’t think of instances in Buffy (“Normal Again” doesn’t count!) or Friends where they were so over-confident that they pulled a trick like this.

  36. > (?Normal Again? doesn?t count!)

    I was always impressed with Normal Again. A dumber show would have played to Back to Reality thing to the hilt, despite audiences being tuned in to what the ‘twist’ would be (they’re not changing the format, or claiming the show’s a dream, mid-season). Normal Again made it clear good and early that it was a delusion, then asked the more-interesting question: would you choose it over your real life anyway?

  37. I do find such vast differences in opinion interesting. For me, the tone of Buffy (and a lot of Joss Whedon’s stuff) is incredibly grating. But others love it.

    I’d rather eat a bucket of hot gravel than watch Hollyoaks, but my girlfriend watches it religiously.

    Same with the Behind the Laughter special of the Simpsons. For me, the show had screwed so much with its own reality that it had the right to do something completely outlandish and it could be accepted for what it was…a clever satire on another show.

    It’s not necessarily part of the Show’s canon, but then again neither are the Treehouse of Horror episodes.

  38. > For me, the tone of Buffy (and a lot of Joss Whedon?s stuff) is incredibly grating.

    Nope. Can’t see it. At all. Rounded, vulnerable characters, empowerment of outsiders and the undervalued, rich, smart dialogue with a show-specific dialect. It’s a mid-season replacement, based on a failed movie. It’s ALL underdog. Don’t see the problem!

    Presumably you have similar smugness issues with Firefly?

  39. Doesn’t bother me as much in Firefly and Serenity. Buffy and Angel are the main culprits…and I also hear his writing voice in Alien Resurrection….in lines like

    “Who are you?”

    “I’m the monster’s mommy”

    …………………….

    “I thought you were dead”

    “Yeah, I get that a lot.”

    So often sounds self-consciously / knowingly smart / smug to my ears.

  40. >Matt Groening didn?t want to make it, so the exec producer ignored him.

    I wonder what Matt thought of That 90s Show this season, in which all of the characters’ histories are moved forward in time so that they can all be the same ages they are today, in 2008.

    In both instances (90s Show and Behind the Laughter) I think the ideas are appalling, but they were both executed pretty darn well. If you can get over the frustration of the fact that the episode exists at all (and I’ll be honest and say I can fully understand if you can’t) you’ll find something that’s actually better made than most of the “traditional” episodes they’ve been doing during those years.

  41. > I also hear his writing voice in Alien Resurrection

    While I’d argue that there’s a difference between a CHARACTER being smart-mouthed and a show/movie being – Buffy’s cockiness covers a lot of insecurity while referencing action movie clich?, Ripley’s new form is designed to be over-confident, etc. – I certainly agree that Alien: Resurrection suffers from a dialogue style that’s just out-and-out WRONG for the franchise.

    Whedon’s been pretty out of line in his critique of that movie. Sure it may have veered from his script in some places, but it stuck remarkably close compared to most flicks of its type – and what it stuck close to was just inappropriate. Being lured down a corridor with candy bars, in a dream, works for Xander in Buffy; a pirate being lured down a corridor by successfully larger guns is just crap.

  42. While I?d argue that there?s a difference between a CHARACTER being smart-mouthed and a show/movie being – Buffy?s cockiness covers a lot of insecurity while referencing action movie clich?, Ripley?s new form is designed to be over-confident, etc. – I certainly agree that Alien: Resurrection suffers from a dialogue style that?s just out-and-out WRONG for the franchise.

    Agreed! I also think maybe people misinterpret the heavy irony in the show, and the character satirical one-liners with the so called ‘smugness’ of the show.

    I think it was good that Buffy ended when it did (much as I liked the show.) Not for reasons of ‘smugness’ though, I just felt things were getting a bit tacky in a way to ‘spice up the show’, what with all the character affairs, violence shock value etc. The show’s always had a dark tone, and they gave a reason (again that lack of security and wanting to ‘feel again’ if you take Buffy and Spike as an example), but I just didn’t really find it all that believable.

    That being said, I still tuned in right up until the end, so they were still doing something right. And I also plan on grabbing the season 8 comics at some point…

  43. The later series get a lot of stick, some fair, some not. No doubt the lack of Whedon, trying to keep Angel’s production on the rails while launching/salvaging Firefly, hurt – but episodes like Tabula Rasa, Conversations with Dead People and Lies My Parents Told Me still had the old magic, and some new tricks, in spades.

    I disagree that any of the sex/violence was for shock value, that anything was about ‘spicing up’ as opposed to just telling stories. (Blowing up a high school adds loads of spice, doesn’t make it inappropriate to the story.) But certainly the show got a chance to grow up on the new network, which made sense given the age of the characters, and that inevitably shifted the tone away from what we started with.

    Den of Geek are currently running a somewhat pointless series re-viewing the Series 7 shows:

    http://www.denofgeek.com/television/19416/revisiting_buffy_season_7_episode_1.html

    (Okay, Sarah, can we just assume we’ve seen 21 further articles of sarcastic commenty where you still somehow conclude that show’s actually quite good? We’d all save a lot of time we could better spend elsewhere.)

    I just started the Series 8 comics with the first TPB. Vaguely irked by how fan-fic the returning characters make it seem, but there’s too much good to ignore. Feels odd to be out of Sunnydale, though.

  44. I’d agree with her that there doesn’t seem to be quite as many knockout moments in Season 7 (although she doesn’t have long to wait for one at the end of Lessons).

    However, Chosen and Conversations with Dead People (why no Xander?) are both firm favourites and I prefer the season as a whole to season 5 which I found, on the whole, dreary and depressing. Season Six, gets a lot of flack, but there are quite a few vintage episodes in there. 2,3,1,6,4,7,5. In that order.

    Since I’ve never been into comic books, I’ve yet to rush out and buy the comic book. Giving it serious thought but it does indeed sound a bit fan-ficcy.

  45. > Season Six, gets a lot of flack, but there are quite a few vintage episodes in there. 2,3,1,6,4,7,5. In that order.

    Christ, that’s the whole front end! I love Life Serial, OMWF and Tabula Rasa but I’d struggle to to peg any of the others listed above Normal Again, Older and Far Away, Seeing Red and Two to Go (the series climax is SUCH a fumble, though; shame).

    But then I really liked series five, so we’re clearly nibbling the Buffy hot dog from opposite ends.

    And on that confusing image…

  46. >we?re clearly nibbling the Buffy hot dog from opposite ends

    Is that why she smiles at the end of Chosen?

  47. Den of Geek are currently running a somewhat pointless series re-viewing the Series 7 shows:

    http://www.denofgeek.com/television/19416/revisiting_buffy_season_7_epis

    (Okay, Sarah, can we just assume we?ve seen 21 further articles of sarcastic commenty where you still somehow conclude that show?s actually quite good? We?d all save a lot of time we could better spend elsewhere.)

    I’m going to try to refrain from getting involved in a debate here, since Sarah commissions me to write things, but… ouch! That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it?

  48. I gotta be honest, I keep going to Den of Geek and…if it weren’t for Seb’s stuff, and one or two, others, I’d want it renamed Den of Wrong.

  49. >> I wouldn?t have cried laughing at Ricky/Steve/Karl podcasts on several occasions

    >You prick.

    This must make me a prick as well. I’m not going to apologise for what causes my brain to send involuntary convulsions of laughter to my voice and belly. There’s nothing to defend.

  50. G&T Admin

    > This must make me a prick as well. I?m not going to apologise for what causes my brain to send involuntary convulsions of laughter to my voice and belly. There?s nothing to defend.

    Aw, now you’ve made me feel bad. If it helps, I’m always looking for an excuse to call performingmonkey a prick.

  51. I disagree that any of the sex/violence was for shock value, that anything was about ?spicing up? as opposed to just telling stories.

    Fair enough. I guess my problem really was I felt the torrid affair between Buffy and Spike seemed unrealistic to Buffy’s character. (I believe that was the previous season, but anyhow…) The scene with Grace and Xander in a previous season was believable in that Grace has always been a right saucy little minx with a casual attitude to sex and Xander was a frustrated teenage lad, but Buffy was always more disciplined in that regard.

    I understand the reasoning behind it.. she’s been dragged back from heaven, she feels empty and want to feel again, but it just felt to me way over the top. Like they just slapped it in there… (no innuendoes intended.) Surprisingly explicit for something mainly viewed by a younger audience too (although I noticed they cut quite a bit of that first scene out of the earlier viewings.) Or maybe that was just my dirty mind filling in the gaps…

  52. >The scene with Grace and Xander in a previous season was believable in that Grace has always been a right saucy little minx with a casual attitude to sex and Xander was a frustrated teenage lad

    Faith?

  53. Well it’s nice to know that there will always be differing views on everything…

    For me, this was/is the chocolate teapot of all polls but that’s not to say it isn’t valid in terms of their readership. Very much like the radio times poll it does portray the views of a group of people and therefore it’s hard to get arsy with it much as it differs from my opinions.

    It’s no huge surprise to see The Simpsons at No 1 but then the top 20 takes a huge nose dive for me (and the simpsons would struggle to make my top 20)

    I’ve tried to get into Buffy, Sopranos and West Wing and just failed, they do nothing for me whatsoever..
    Currently Lost would be my No1, but all time is another matter but top 20, yes..
    24, nah, just lost interest very quickly..
    Friends, I enjoy fleetingly and I’ve never heard of The Wire!.
    X-Files would make my top 20 but it tailed off into nothingness, dropping it down the list somewhat.

    Spaced is a great show but not top 20 in my view…

    I actually dislike Seinfield with a vengeance..

    Battlestar,Firefly, and arrested developement, I’ve never watched..
    Family Guy is Ok and very funny at best…
    Heroes started off very well for me and then just seemed to lose it..
    And I’ve only just got into Scrubs (I do like this)
    South Park, I just find purile…

    Blackadder and Dr Who would make my top 10 without doubt…

    So 4 out of the top 20 would make my list and having thought about it, the Simpsons wouldn’t…

    In reality, with my views on the top 20, I think it’s an excellent result for Red Dwarf to make 26, I would also say, given its standing in other polls, Dwarf probably has a bigger fanbase than anyone gives it credit for..

  54. If I had to do a top 20 list off the top of my head based purely on the enjoyment they have given me over the years it would look like this..

    Dr Who
    The Avengers (excluding anything with Gareth Hunt)
    Red Dwarf
    Monty Python
    Blackadder
    Reggie Perrin
    Thunderbirds
    NTNN
    Lost
    The Prisoner
    Michael Palins great journeys
    Father Ted
    Soap
    Green Wing
    M.O.T.D
    X-Files
    Fawlty Towers
    The Two Ronnies
    Benny Hill
    Wild Life on One

  55. A top twenty in the order they fell out of my brain:

    Doctor Who
    Red Dwarf
    The League of Gentlemen
    Spaced
    Futurama
    Buffy
    Angel
    Firefly
    Six Feet Under
    Blake’s 7
    Life On Mars
    Star Trek: Deep Space 9
    Dangermouse
    Wacky Races
    Father Ted
    Dark Season
    The West Wing
    ER
    The Sopranos
    Porridge

  56. Remind me again how Whedon got to write Alien: Resurrection?? All his self-aware bullshit dialogue stylings from Buffy crossed right over. Also, I like to think his involvement with Toy Story was minimal (though I may be wrong). He somehow became the second coming by writing a few lines of ‘snappy’ dialogue.

    As far as Firefly is concerned…that I will concede. But I didn’t much like Serenity. Firefly continuing as a series would have been a million times better.

  57. >I wonder what Matt thought of That 90s Show this season, in which all of the characters? histories are moved forward in time so that they can all be the same ages they are today, in 2008.

    I would imagine that he wouldn’t have a huge problem with it. His biggest problem with what were described as the “Format busting episodes” was that they broke the fourth wall. However he has repeatedly said in the commentaries that he accepts that the characters’ fixed ages* would require a ‘floating timeline’ of sorts- this is even a running joke in the early seasons where they refer to Joe Piscopo- in Lisa’s First Word Homer mentions a ‘young Joe Piscopo’ and in Homer’s Barbershop Quartet he refers to ‘an aging Joe Piscopo’

    * if you ignore that Homer suddenly was two years older at around season 7.

  58. G&T Admin

    I’ve been trying to come up with a list of my favourite shows, but as usual, I just like too much stuff to come up with anything sensible. And when you’re talking about ALL TV EVER, it just gets impossible.

    In the interests of balance, however, I’ll nominate the Les Dawson episodes of Blankety Blank as some of my favourite TV ever. Not many shows give me quite as warm a feeling inside, and there’s tons of proper belly laughs per episode too. It’s not great because it’s cheap and tacky – in its own way, it’s incredibly well-made television. Well worth catching next time they’re on Challenge.

  59. I always liked Wogan. And National Lottery: Jet Set.

  60. > Fair enough. I guess my problem really was I felt the torrid affair between Buffy and Spike seemed unrealistic to Buffy?s character.

    I massively disagree. But even if I didn’t, doesn’t make it attention-seeking storytelling. Certainly the fanbase was seeing them as the preternatural Bruce and Cybill long before it happened – it was coming along as early as the fourth series’ Something Blue. (A lot of this reminds me of the complaints that Willow’s sexuality was ‘changed’ for reasons of cheap exploitation. Which is patently ridiculous.)

    > Surprisingly explicit for something mainly viewed by a younger audience too

    Is that it’s main audience? Ignoring the previous point – that the show’s grown up along with its characters, just as Harry Potter’s gone from PG to 12 certs – the DVDs are all 15s, and the show’s 6pm slot was a BBC choice, not the makers’. (The later series only went out uncut in the late slot.) When your show begins on a bloodsucking demon basis, it’s clearly not targeted at 10 year olds.

    Plus I happen to believe that sexual content is infinitely less harmful to individuals, and society, than violence…

    > Remind me again how Whedon got to write Alien: Resurrection??

    It’s the Buffy/Fox connection in part – they figured he knew female heroes and SF/fantasy, so he must be the guy for the gig.

    Also, he had an ENORMOUS reputation as a script doctor. You’re wrong about Toy Story – it’s not ‘his script’, but his contribution was significant. (And noticeable – “What’s with him?”/”Laser envy.”) His rep isn’t just on the dialogue.

    > As far as Firefly is concerned?that I will concede. But I didn?t much like Serenity. Firefly continuing as a series would have been a million times better.

    I disagree about the movie – but you do know that continuing the series is what the makers would have preferred, too, right? It’s not like they all quit the show to make a film…

  61. I’ve already spotted one glaring programme missing from my list…
    Hitchhikers would have to be in there and near the top.

    As John says, it’s nigh on impossible when all tv ever is involved and I’ve now had well over 40 years worth to soak up and much of it is probably lost forever.

    There are just so many shows I had to be home for yet there were long periods when I didn’t bother with TV at all.

  62. >The scene with Grace and Xander in a previous season was believable in that Grace has always been a right saucy little minx with a casual attitude to sex and Xander was a frustrated teenage lad

    Faith?

    Erm.. yes. I had to think of her name for a moment and I still managed to get it wrong. Still, it was in the same territory wasn’t it. ;)

  63. But even if I didn?t, doesn?t make it attention-seeking storytelling.

    Fair enough. Maybe my critique was a bit harsh there, but it still seemed unbelievable to me. I agree there was some attraction between them for a while though, but that seemed mainly on Spike’s part to me.

    A lot of this reminds me of the complaints that Willow?s sexuality was ?changed? for reasons of cheap exploitation. Which is patently ridiculous.

    Not really ridiculous. Bear in mind Willow was pretty much heterosexual up until that point, even having a boyfriend she slept with. Your comeback argument would possibly be that at a young age many people are uncertain of their sexuality… and the indications were there earlier with her vampire parallel universe counterpart. Again a valid point, but it’s at least understandable why people came to the conclusion they did. Not so much ‘patently ridiculous’ though, but possibly ignorant.

    For myself, I’m not all that convinced that her sexuality would make such a drastic u turn, although I’m more open minded concerning it than I was at the time. I have a friend who is a lesbian, and I understand from her that there are areas of grey particularly in growing up. She would spoke of having a crush on this or that boy when she was younger although she is adamant she’s only into women now.

    I don’t think that was done to ‘spice things up’ though, although I was suspicious at the time. I think maybe they just wanted to bring in the fact that homosexuality is a prevalent in society, and thats true for characters in this world as well as the real world. In fact they introduced it rather gently, rarely even showing them kissing. (It got a bit more explicit in later seasons mind you but I guess they figured we’d gotten used to the idea then.)

    When your show begins on a bloodsucking demon basis, it?s clearly not targeted at 10 year olds.?.

    Erm no. I wasn’t thinking that young (more mid teens, although granted I liked it/still like it at an older age) but good point about show growing up with the audience. Kinda like the 2000 AD comic which started of a kids mag, but I really wouldn’t suggest kids buy it now.

    As for sex being less damaging that violence, again good point and I agree in part. I think casual sex can be very damaging but that’s possibly due to my own upbringing and bias. Not physically damaging (depending on how rough it is.. oo-er) but on an emotional level.

  64. > I agree there was some attraction between them for a while though, but that seemed mainly on Spike?s part to me.

    Hence the change in Buffy being the catalyst. It makes absolute sense – making bad decisions coming out of trauma is bog-standard psychology. As is using sex as an emotional substitute.

    I’m not of the ‘Buffy 4 Spike 4ever’ brigade, but there’s no denying that the situation is relatable.

    > Not so much ?patently ridiculous? though, but possibly ignorant.

    In this instance, I’d say one leads from the other. I’m ignorant of their biology, so I assume dogs can fly, which it turns out is ridiculous.

    The only way I can understand the reaction is if it’s based on hearing about how ‘that telly show got itself a coupla lesbians and a ratings bump’. To watch it and still conclude that it’s any kind of crass maneuver requires…well, that the viewer has issues of their own. It’s a graceful evolution patently built on a heavy emotional foundation – where’s the ‘hey we’ve got lesbians!’ marketing benefit in gently showing a budding relationship?

    > In fact they introduced it rather gently, rarely even showing them kissing.

    No choice. Welcome to mainstream American programming in the 90s!

    > (It got a bit more explicit in later seasons mind you but I guess they figured we?d gotten used to the idea then.)

    If by ‘explicit’ you mean ‘it showed them kissing’, I guess. But that’s about as explicit as Buffy and Angel in series two.

    Plus, as I say, they switched networks. When you write a couple in love, NOT showing them kiss is crackers – but the puritanical nature of the American broadcasters (judging, it has to be said, from the reactions of an often puritanical audience) forces insane constraints. Moving, as they did, allowed at least SOME attempt at a more realistic presentation.

    Which, of course, was also true for other aspects of what the show was trying to include as part of the drama.

    > I wasn?t thinking that young (more mid teens, although granted I liked it/still like it at an older age) but good point about show growing up with the audience.

    Also, mid-teens is 15 (um, and a half). That’s the cert the show has on UK DVD, and I think it’s about right. Beyond that, it’s at parental discretion – I know people whose 12 year old kids would have had no problem dealing with even the later series.

    > As for sex being less damaging that violence, again good point and I agree in part. I think casual sex can be very damaging but that?s possibly due to my own upbringing and bias. Not physically damaging (depending on how rough it is.. oo-er) but on an emotional level.

    And the last thing Buffy is is an advert for how great casual sex can be.

  65. > Your comeback argument would possibly be that at a young age many people are uncertain of their sexuality

    Oh, and this issue is in no way limited to young people alone.

    Thank you.

  66. >And the last thing Buffy is is an advert for how great casual sex can be.

    Truer words were never spoken.

  67. Oh, and this issue is in no way limited to young people alone.

    True but they’re the majority.

    If by ?explicit? you mean ?it showed them kissing?, I guess. But that?s about as explicit as Buffy and Angel in series two.

    In the last series there was a suggestion of something else. This was after Willow hooked up with another girl, the potential slayer. Again it was mainly just suggestive though so.. just, as I said, a bit more explicit. Again it’s more a case of the ol’ dirty mind filling in the gaps though. ;)

    And the last thing Buffy is is an advert for how great casual sex can be.

    True, if you follow what happened to her through to it’s conclusion. The first scene went on for quite a while in the uncut edition though.

    To be fair though I think that’s the only scene that has been explicit. (Actually there was another with Spike and the Buffybot, but it’s interesting how playing it for comic effect changes it somehow.)

    Anyway I’m not blasting the show as a whole. As I said, overall I liked it. I wished they’d kept the things I mentioned more subtle but I concede that my suggestion it was done for thrills was perhaps unfair.

    (By the way hope this isn’t coming across as an argument or aggressive in any way, I just view this as a discussion!)

  68. Having not watched much of it, I guess it’s unfair to comment..

    Having said that, sexuality and sexual overtones are bombarding us from every angle and pre watershed viewings give little escape..

    Marj and Homer are regularly at it, Eastenders is virtualy built out of the bed hopping antics of the characters and Torchwood covers most angles quite openly.
    In all honesty, it’s all natural and a huge part of life (except for humping aliens
    perhaps)..
    Surely, Buffy is hardly different….

    Violence has to be the main concern imo…

    Make love not war (with adequate protection of course)…

  69. >>And the last thing Buffy is is an advert for how great casual sex can be.

    >True, if you follow what happened to her through to it?s conclusion. The first scene went on for quite a while in the uncut edition though.

    I don’t think Andrew was *just* talking about Buffy’s liason with Angel (which wasn’t really casual sex, anyway; they were in love).

    Examples of casual sex would include: Faith and Xander (Xander feels pretty used afterwards) and Buffy and Parker (Buffy is completely messed up as a consequence for several episodes).

  70. I don?t think Andrew was *just* talking about Buffy?s liason with Angel (which wasn?t really casual sex, anyway; they were in love).

    Neither was I. The love scene in that episode wasn’t that explicit anyway.

    I was referring to the shenanigans between Buffy and Spike after she came back from the dead. Particularly the scene where they start fighting in an empty house, sounds of zips being undone and a certain amount of… movement. To be fair it’s the only scene that was that explicit. Apart from the comic buffybot scene as I mentioned… which was very funny.

    Anyhow, I understand the points Andrew made and have even been persuaded in part.

    I was a bit concerned that the tone of the discussion was getting slightly irate (not that I intended it that way it’s just difficult to judge tone by comments etc.) which is silly as … well.. the stuff discussed is just a small part of the show and the stuff liked way outranks the disagreeable stuff.

  71. It IS worth remembering, of course, that after season five (?), Buffy moved networks, from the teen-orientated WB to the more “grown-up” UPN. So there were behind-the-scenes reasons for it becoming a little darker and more adult from then on.

  72. >Neither was I. The love scene in that episode wasn?t that explicit anyway.

    Ah, apologies. Explicit? No. Saucy? Yes.

    >after season five (?)

    Uh huh

  73. > It IS worth remembering, of course, that after season five (?), Buffy moved networks,

    (I do wish I’d mentioned this twice already. :-))

    There’s no way Whedon stuck to the no-kissing rule with Willow and Tara simply because it was the ideal way to tell their story. That the show turned it into a strength, in season four at least, is down to the talented team – but it’s impossible to applaud the draconian constraint itself.

    It’s bizarre to hear kind of network notes these guys get – and it’s not like they stopped coming when they moved. (“Does the demon have to be quite so callous when he talks about the dead students?”) But at least the ‘can we please not show homosexuality?’ and ‘do we really have to suggest they’re having sex?’ notes lessened.

    They still weren’t allowed to say ‘shit’ of course…

  74. (I do wish I?d mentioned this twice already. :-))

    Hey, some of those posts are long, and I usually read G&T threads when I’m supposed to be working ;-)

  75. G&T Admin

    They still weren?t allowed to say ?shit? of course?

    And yet it’s used in the original Transformers: The Movie

  76. > And yet it?s used in the original Transformers: The Movie?

    Cinema movie – you can say what you like within the certification. Apparently it’s only on TV where swearing CORRUPTS OUR FRAGILE YOUTH!!!!

  77. > Cinema movie – you can say what you like within the certification. Apparently it?s only on TV where swearing CORRUPTS OUR FRAGILE YOUTH!!!!

    This is true, although it’s also about the context of the film itself. Was always surprised to hear a “shit” in a Transformers movie, as much as I would be to hear a “fuck” in a Harry Potter…even though it would still be a 12.

  78. But of course, as soon as you say “fuck”, you get “contains strong language” in your guidance notes.

  79. G&T Admin

    Apparently Vantage Point contained one “instance of strong language” and I’ll be fucking cunted if I could spot it. Poor film, too.

  80. > Poor film, too.

    Mediocre, I’d have said, rather than outright poor. Much of the photography, editing and performance work I liked.

    Brian dePalma would have made a much better version, though.

  81. Was looking forward to Vantage Point as trailers looked promising, but it’s got awful reviews.

    Amazing how misleading trailers can be. Was watching the DVD of the Simpsons movie last night and was struck by how very misleading this trailer is:

    I know the beginning is deliberately miselading but the rest of it makes it look like a very different (and much better) film.

    Still liked the film, mind.

  82. > Was looking forward to Vantage Point as trailers looked promising, but it?s got awful reviews.

    I found the reviews varied between ‘quite good’ to ‘quite weak’ – which I see as a three-star average. No wonder I get on so well with Empire:

    http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=133671

    You’re not wrong about that Simpsons tailer, though. Also reminded me of this one:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mJ73b6UygyE&feature=related

  83. True about misleading trailers. I remember when I first saw an advertisement of Serenity. At the time, I didn’t know that it was essentially a sequel to Firefly (which I hadn’t seen either at that point.)

    I was interested in the look, and the fact that Joss Whedon was involved, but the trailer mostly consisted of a montage of River kicking butt. In a very cool way, granted, but it came across (at least to my mind) as another one dimensional action film.

    Of course when I watched it, it wasn’t like that at all. The action sequences were all there of course, but in context, they worked.

  84. > At the time, I didn?t know that it was essentially a sequel to Firefly

    And, in fact, it was marketing – and written – that way. It was meant to stand alone. (No point flogging it as the follow-up to a ‘failed’ TV series nobody saw.)

  85. > I found the reviews varied between ?quite good? to ?quite weak? – which I see as a three-star average.

    Ah, I was going from the average on Rotten Tomatoes which is 30-something percent I think.

    Still, reviews ain’t everything. *whispers* I liked the Avengers.

  86. And, in fact, it was marketing – and written – that way. It was meant to stand alone. (No point flogging it as the follow-up to a ?failed? TV series nobody saw.)

    That makes sense.

    On the other hand, if the film had been liked, and it had been the Firefly connection were made, it might have created more of an interest in the series, leading to possibly more episodes, or a Serenity 2.

    Of course it’s always easy to think of what might have been and I don’t think the film was entirely successful anyway. I get the impression most who watched it liked it though, but I understand it took a while to become a success… however marketing /film business etc interprets such things.

  87. Vantage Point was OK. I’ve seen a lot worse!

  88. > On the other hand, if the film had been liked, and it had been the Firefly connection were made, it might have created more of an interest in the series, leading to possibly more episodes, or a Serenity 2.

    There’s no way they could have been more successful by being MORE reliant on the TV show!

    The film did drive people to the DVDs. But making the movie LESS accessible – relying even more on a show nobody saw – would have made the situation even worse.

    Serenity was doomed by having no stars, a writer/director known mainly for TV, and competing in a genre where the big boys have way more money to show you their expensive SF universe. Budget-and-cast-wise, the closest relatives are things like the first Apatow comedies – which benefit from being way easier to market.

    Relying more on the show would only have led to lower audiences. And with a failed TV show AND film, there’s no way you get either a sequel or a new show commission.

  89. Haven’t seen Serenity, but from seeing the DVD case long before i’d ever heard of Firefly i’d say the thing that doomed it most was it looked like every other “Hawt girl uses her superspeshul powerz! to save teh universe!..and we’ll get some boobies in there too!” movie ever, if your main selling point on the cover is some chick in a dress holding weapons, most people are gonna go buy Residant Evil instead.

  90. That’s true. River does look very sultry in that cover image doesn’t she? Which is completely misleading when you see the character herself. Don’t get me wrong Summer Glau is an attractive girl, but the character isn’t really about that. At least not to me. Cute yes, but not in that way. (Mind you the character is only 16, although I think Summer was a bit older playing the role. Quite surprised to find out she is about 28 now.)

    She is very hot sometimes in the Terminator:Sarah Connor Chronicles show though, but even there it isn’t just about that.

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