Remember the show you just couldn’t wait to watch or perhaps left you sad and lonely when the season wrapped? The television series you knew you would be talking about with friends and co-workers the following day. The season finale that left you in awe of the writing staff and how they yet again pulled off a great episode.
As the new fall television season begins, Oakdale Leader staff members took a moment to reflect back on what each of us consider the best series ever. Answers, as well as reasons, run the gamut as there is no right or wrong answer — they are simply opinions — our opinions. Now, we want to hear yours as well.
Visit www.oakdaleleader.com to share your thoughts on the best television series.
It’s tough to zero in on one single ‘best’ show; I could list my best comedy, drama, variety, etc.
I’m not big on reality shows; aside from the news I want my TV watching time to be relaxing and entertaining. So if you want me to settle on one show, it is The Twilight Zone.
The original, hosted by Rod Serling, who also did the bulk of the writing for the science fiction-fantasy series. What I enjoy most about it is the way it takes you into ‘another dimension’— and how anything is possible. There was usually a twist to the story as well, so the characters ending up learning some type of lesson … even if it came a little too late and their fate was sealed. So much was packed into a half hour show and the cast featured plenty of well-known actors and actresses, often before they were household names.
A Twilight Zone movie followed and then various reincarnations of the TV show, all of which had their good points, but for pure drama, suspense and great storytelling, no one did it better than Rod Serling.
Besides, who doesn’t know that signature theme music?
Editor, Oakdale Leader, Riverbank News, Escalon Times
Okay. I guess this dates me. But my favorite TV show would have to be M*A*S*H. I watched this show way back when it was on prime time and I still turn to it when I can find reruns at the bottom of the TV schedule. It is ostensibly about practicing meatball surgery in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital but it’s more about disparate characters thrown together and trying to get along. It’s comforting. It’s even soothing. But it’s very funny too. I know Hawkeye will continue chasing the nurses, Radar will cling to his teddy bear and the Colonel will ride away into the sunset on his beloved horse. Sometimes the show ventures into more difficult themes. Do you operate to save the life of a North Korean who’s just been killing your buddies? But, from the opening scene with its haunting signature tune when the helicopters begin descending on the valley, I’m hooked every time.
Editor, Riverbank News
This was so hard. At first I was torn between naming a television series from my childhood to the sophisticated shows I enjoy now as an adult but in the end, I selected a show that I wasn’t even going to watch but ended up loving madly.
Battlestar Galactica (the remake).
The best writing, phenomenally executed, top-notch acting, a soul-shivering score, and just overall awesomeness — I doubt we’ll see this kind of genius anytime soon. I can watch this show repeatedly and catch a new layer of plot and nuance that I missed the first go-around. In an age where we are subjected to a dearth of trite, ridiculous television fare (most reality shows make me gag) it’s refreshing to find something smart to enjoy. I cried when the series ended and I listen to the score nearly every day.
Kim Van Meter
In 1981 I was a rookie police officer when I came across this new TV show. It was gritty, somewhat accurate (more than most cop shows on TV), and had a great storyline.
The show? Hill Street Blues.
It had an ensemble cast of great characters, from the salty old sergeant who held briefings, or roll call, to the whacked out SWAT commander.
It was one of the first — if not the first — TV series to use handheld cameras on a routine basis. This helped give the show a documentary style look, more like one might see on the evening news rather than a Hollywood production.
As a brand new cop, I loved watching officers Andy Renko and Bobby Hill as they patrolled their city. In fact, I used to mostly work the midnight shift with other new officers back then, and we would often talk about the show on Thursday nights (when it aired) when we came to work.
Hill Street Blues, with its large cast and multiple storylines, set the stage for later shows such as ER and LA Law.
Choosing my favorite TV show is kinda like choosing which child you like, there are so many. I liked the variety shows like Andy Williams and Carol Burnett but my favorite is probably Little House on the Prairie because of the family values and the down to earth views followed by a comic Golden Girls as it is so much like my life at this time. I can say that many of the new shows on TV could learn something from the older TV shows. I really don't care for many of the new shows.
I grew up in a home where TV was not allowed in the evenings during the work week. We always had homework to do, board games to play or books to read. However, my dad would always tape our favorite shows on the VCR and we would watch them together on Friday or Saturday night. We had to be very selective about what we wanted to watch since VCR’s were not what DVR’s are today. The show of shows for my family was ‘The Cosby Show.’ Bill Cosby and his TV family always made us laugh while teaching my brother and I some type of life lesson (although at the time I never saw it as a lesson, just a funny dad with a really cool family). As I got a little older and moved on to high school ‘Friends’ became a bit of an obsession with me. I couldn’t wait to be that age, living anywhere but Manteca and in an apartment that I couldn’t afford. They made it look so glamorous and easy (and cheap!). Since my brother and I were older, the TV was allowed on during the weekdays and everyone in the house knew that Thursday at 8 p.m. was Must See TV and Friends was a mainstay in the house. A few years out of school I was lucky enough to see a taping of the show. It took over 8 hours for a 30 minute show … and I loved every minute of it!
When posed with this question my first thought was Star Trek The Next Generation. As a Trekker for most of my life, that show was probably my favorite of all time. Due to the original Star Trek’s success in the sixties, the chances of the Next Generation being successful were so slim that even Gene Roddenberry stated “its success would be like catching lighting in a bottle, twice.” Yet, after seven years on TV and four major motion pictures it will always be my favorite television program.
But then I began to think about the question itself. The “best” television series ever, not necessarily my personal favorite. The best being defined as the greatest, the most important television series ever. I asked myself what series had the most impact on its viewers? There have been so many TV series that entertained us like, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Carol Burnett Show, The Twilight Zone. So many that made us laugh, cry, shout and cringe in fear. But what show stepped beyond all that? I had to rethink my answer. There was only one that immediately came to mind … All In The Family. I can’t really say I liked All In The Family, as a child my parents watched it and thus I watched by proxy. But I do remember the effect it had on us. As a nation it brought to the forefront issues like prejudice, war, spousal abuse, bullying, and many other social ills that are still relevant today. All In The Family got us talking, thinking, and questioning ourselves. It cast a light where none had been before. On ourselves. It was pioneering for television at that time, and now. Moving beyond mere entertainment, it actually changed lives. An amazing accomplishment for any television program. So that’s why I vote for All In The Family as the “Best” Television Program, ever.
This question is hard for me because it depends on what kind of mood I am in. But I would have to say Scrubs because of the layers of humor it has, I can always find something funny that I hadn’t noticed before.
The original Star Trek with Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones, etc. is one of my all time favorite series. When I was a girl, my dad, my brother and I would sit down every evening and watch these brave men and women go where no one had been before … Not only was space travel an exciting subject for our family, the time spent with my dad and brother was a wonderful experience for me.
And who could not mention M*A*S*H? All those wonderful, full characters! Radar was a favorite. And Klinger! Frank was a riot. Charles Winchester was the most pompous, self-righteous blow hard on TV. Hot Lips Hoolihan as the every woman, tough, brave and softhearted. The innocent confusion of Father Mulcahy. Colonel Potter the ever patient, and exasperated father figure. And the manic genius of Alan Alda, finding humor in the horror of the war. I loved them all and will stop and watch whenever I run across any episode.
Hmmm, the Best TV Series Ever – do I pick pure laughs, satire, or educational? I think I’ll go with satire and say, “Sex and the City.” With entertaining exaggeration and frankness, it exposed the lives of single women over 30. It revealed how guys seemed normal at first but then their weaknesses, hang-ups, and kinks were revealed — usually to the shock or embarrassment of the female characters; how the women sabotaged their connections with good men; the cynicism and the fairy tale fantasies about men and relationships. With the drama, there was a good dose of humor.
Some criticized the characters as shallow, but they evolved through the show and represented a version of truth for a lot of women. It’s definitely not PG, but that’s life. Plus they all have fabulous shoes, wardrobes, and apartments.
For pure laughs it’s “I Love Lucy.” For educational, it’s definitely “Sesame Street.”
Dawn M. Henley
I would have to say the Cosby Show is without a doubt the “Best Television Series Ever.” This is a tough question, that is for certain. Before ‘reality’ television our ‘tubes’ were filled with many well-written television series, which now years later make this such a tough question.
The Cosby Show, however, was one of those shows that seemed to validate life lessons with humor. I so fondly remember sitting with my mother each week and laughing as Cliff or Claire would reiterate a lesson to their children that we had tackled in our home. Simply put it was relatable. But most importantly it was funny.
Through the brilliant writing and acting talent of the team that made up this show, I learned a number of valuable lessons. Lessons I now hope to pass on to my own children, all while maintaining a bit of a sense of humor.