Posted by: Kelsey | October 1, 2013

Top Ten October: 10 TV Shows We Miss

Welcome to “Top Ten October,” where each day of this tenth month we will delight (or anger, or annoy, or bore) you with a top 10 list of our choosing. We love top 10 (and top 5–we can’t forget you, top 5!) lists, and we hope you will come to love them too. 🙂

Let’s kick things off with our “Top 10 TV Shows We Miss.” Whether the plug was pulled too soon or the story arc came to its predetermined end, each program on this list left a 30- to 60-minute hole in our hearts. Call a cardiologist!

KELSEY’S LIST

  1. Freaks and Geeks (NBC, 1999-2000)
    freaks-and-geeks-your-nex-007This woefully short-lived dramedy pushed my nostalgia button like nothing else. Set in the glorious 1980’s and following freak Lindsay and geek Sam through awkward high school years, each of F&G’s 18 episodes are perfectly written, acted and directed, and endlessly re-watchable. Many shows have tried (and some very successfully) to capture coming of age in a past decade, but F&G leaves a fuller time capsule than any. (Yes, even better than the long-running and much-loved series The Wonder Years. There. I said it.)
  2. Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-13)
    The reason I wanted to make this list in the first place, Breaking Bad (which aired its last episode on Sunday night) had more captivating drama in one baby blue crystal than most shows have in their entire lab. The show–following gentle, cancer-stricken chemistry teacher Walter White as he turns into the meth-cooking, murderous emperor Heisenberg–never dipped, never dropped, never jumped. As Patton Oswalt tweeted at the series’ end, show creator Vince Gilligan gave viewers a “100% pure cook.”
  3. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959-64)
    This show’s 4th of July marathons on the SyFy channel are the only reasons I’m ever excited for the holiday.
  4. Seinfeld (NBC, 1990-98)
    I’ve never been so thankful for syndication. This show has been off the air for 15 years, but you can still find the reruns on several channels, day or night. There’s a reason for that. Interminably quotable and always hilarious.
  5. Six Feet Under (HBO, 2001-05)
    Not always consistent, but beautifully quirky and dark, this drama about the Fisher family and their funeral home ended its run with one of the most heart-wrenching and breathtaking conclusions I’ve ever seen. (I got goosebumps thinking about it just now!)
  6. 30 Rock (NBC, 2006-13)
    Liz Lemon and her crew at TGS have made me pee my pants laughing more times than I can count. This is definitely the most-quoted show around the Barnes house; we sing “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” at least once a week.
  7. My So-Called Life (ABC, 1994-95)
    When I watched this show as a teenager, I did so mostly for Jordan Catalano (sigh…), though Angela’s constant yearning and high school angst spoke tenderly to my flannel heart. When I watched the entire series again two years ago, I was shocked to relate more to Angela’s parents (am I getting old???), and was presently surprised to find the portrayal of their marriage so authentic and fleshed-out. Who knew?
  8. Gilmore Girls (The WB/CW, 2000-07)
    Two girly shows in a row… Well, if I’m gonna lose street cred, best to do it over the titular fast-talking mother-and-daughter team of Stars Hollow. I don’t know many females who don’t have a soft spot for Lorelai and Rory.
  9. Friday Night Lights (NBC, 2006-11)
    originalThe plot lines weren’t always good (Landry murdering a dude? Really?), but they were always starring Taylor Kitsch. I mean, I didn’t only watch the show for Tim Riggins (I always loved the realistic marital dynamic of Coach Taylor and his wife Tammy), but… sometimes I only watched the show for Tim Riggins. Who is so, so fine he landed this show a coveted spot on my list. (Sorry, Felicity!)
  10. Quantum Leap (NBC, 1989-93)
    I adored this show so much as a preteen that I still have the intro monologue memorized. Oh, you don’t believe me? (said no one.) Well, a-hem… “Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator–and vanished! He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap… will be the leap home.” <–FROM MEMORY!!!! BOO-YAH!!!! (Yes, I know I’m the only one impressed by this magnificent feat.)

JAMIE’S LIST

    1. Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008-2013)
      9fb261b16f69ebfb02e3fd82ff94289bFor 5 gloriously dark seasons, we made the slow descent into hell with Walter White as he transformed before our eyes from clumsy and innocent into something completely sinister and calculating. This show was captivating from start to finish and often had a physical effect on me as a viewer. I could feel my pulse quicken and body heat rise every time DEA agent Hank got closer to unmasking his brother-in-law as the elusive Heisenberg. To me, Breaking Bad not only raised the bar for television drama, but snapped it in half and dared every other screen writer out there to glue it back together. Season 4, in my opinion, is the best season of television the tube has ever seen. Now I’m hungry for some Los Pollos Hermanos.
    2. Freaks & Geeks (NBC, 1999-2000)
      Gosh, what a great show. The fact that this gem never got a chance beyond its first season is proof we live in a broken world. F&G perfectly skated the line of parody and sincerity and could warm your heart while simultaneously doubling you over with laughter. My favorite episode is “Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers,” where we get a heart-wrenching front row seat to the loneliness of geek and latchkey kid Bill Haverchuck and the complex emotions of having your mom shack up with the one teacher who humiliates you day after day. Also, this show used pop music placement better than anybody. ANYBODY!
    3. The X-Files (FOX, 1993-2002)
      Peanut butter and jelly. Oreos and milk. Mulder and Scully. Every week some crazy super natural thing would happen and this brilliant pair of belief and skepticism in the form of two FBI agents would jump into action and uncover something that would ultimately scare the bejeebies out of us. Granted the show lost an edge when David Duchovny was replaced, but it produced countless images over its nearly 10 year run that still haunt me at night. Sometimes I swear I can smell the stale cigarette stench of Cancer Man watching me whenever I google “alien phenomenon” or “Area 51” late at night. I don’t google that, actually. I swear. Shut up.
    4. The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959-64)
      Rod Serling was a freakin’ genius. No argument. This collection of odd tales, myths and wondrous scenes could make us jump in horror and take on social issues with a single leap into the unknown. Whenever something weird happens in my own life, I always keep an eye out for Rod to be in a corner somewhere, cigarette burning in hand, giving a monologue about my messed up life. We all have our favorite episodes. Mine would be “To Serve Man,” wherein a visiting alien race graces mankind with a book that supposedly holds the key to peace and harmony. We later find out its filled with dozens of recipes to literally serve up man. Somehow, it still sounds more pleasant than anything published by Martha Stewart.
    5. Seinfeld (NBC, 1990-98)
      I’ve seen every episode multiple times and I still put down the remote when I come across it now that it has been off for 15 years. It’s really hard to imagine a sitcom being as consistently funny or an ensemble cast being having more synergy. Even the odd characters that would pop up for only one episode or so (soup nazi, Bania, vegetable lasagna, Lloyd Braun) are completely memorable and stronger than most characters that put on screen for entire seasons. God bless you, Seinfeld.
    6. Twin Peaks (ABC, 1990-91)
      Yeah, this crap was hella weird, but it was what TV needed. For two seasons we went along on David Lynch’s strange carnival ride of finding out who murdered Laura Palmer and things went from stranger to WTF! real quick. To me, this series set the bone structure up for dark crime dramas like “Breaking Bad” or “Dexter” to be fleshed out. It’s worth revisiting or viewing if you’ve never seen it – just watch out for Bob.
    7. Dark Shadows (ABC, 1966-71)
      dark-shadows-barnabas-pic-colorI was not alive when Dark Shadows originally ran, but thanks to the SyFy channel, I was introduced as a young lad to this campy, gothic vampire-soap opera in all its lo-fi production glory. It is all centered around a mysterious, seemingly cursed Collins family and the refined patriarch Barnabas, who also is one of the undead. My obsession with all things related to Halloween made this increasingly fun to watch, but it was just as fun to keep an eye out for line flubs, mic boom stand cameos or just laughable performances. It seems the show’s creators didn’t believe in editing and that makes it all the more endearing. Since this puppy aired every single day, there are hundreds of episodes which you can now collect in probably the biggest TV box set ever issued. I still haven’t seen all of the show and probably never will. The episodes that were fueled by the appearance of the disembodied head of ancient warlock Judah Zachary are my favorite. Sound ridiculous? It is. And I love it.
    8. The Wonder Years (ABC, 1988-93)
      I feel like my best friends growing up were Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. This show was clever, hilarious and sweetly sentimental in a satisfying way. Jack Arnold (Dan Lauria) goes down as probably the best on-screen dad charicature ever. Favorite episode: the one were Kevin buys an electric guitar and forms a band with fellow classmate that they dub “The Electric Shoes”.
    9. The Cosby Show (NBC, 1984-1992)
      Sweaters, zerberts, bacon-burger-dogs, Gordon Gartrelle shirts, jazz, Cockroach, Bobby McFerrin intros, hidden hoagie sandwiches, Ray Charles family lip-synchs, Pinochle, how-far-apart-are-they?, Cliff, Claire, Denise, Sandra, Theo, Rudy, Elvin, Bud, Olivia, but not cousin Pam. NEVER cousin Pam!
    10. LOST (ABC, 2004-2010)
      Yeah, I know. I groaned a bit too when I included this on my list. But I had to because you and I looked forward every week with great anticipation if more clues were going to be uncovered about our favorite castaways and the strange island they found themselves marooned on. What’s down in the hatch? How did that Polar Bear get here? Who the hell is Jacob? This show handed us some serious mind benders that kept us up at night. The ultimate problem with it is that it never fully answered all of them and ended with one of the most disappointing finales of all time. Oh, and Sawyer sucked.

There you have it–our long- and not-so-long-gone favorites. Do you agree? Tell us, what did we miss? What should or should not have made our lists???

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Responses

  1. House. I miss House.

    • I can’t believe I forgot House!!! 😦 There has been a serious lack of sarcoidosis in my life since House went off the air.

      • It’s funny because the show had a serious lack of actual sarcoidosis.

      • Well, I’ve had a serious lack of hearing the word sarcoidosis since House ended. I mean, they pretty much suggested it as a diagnosis on every episode, right? Sarcoidosis must have a lot of symptoms.

  2. Ok Kels, we must talk Friday Night Lights soon. Chad and I just finished the series this past Sunday and you are so right about that Tim Riggins. Love him. Seriously. You hit the nail on the head. 🙂

    And Jamie, yes, LOST. You just have to add it. We finished it in August and kind of sighed as we watched the last episode. I’m still not sure if it was worth our time or wasted our time. Mixed reviews.

    Can’t wait to read all your top ten’s! Love ya’ll.

    • Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose! 🙂

      I wish I could’ve put LOST on my list. It’s so disappointing when you devote so much time and energy to a show, only to be let down at the end. I think this is how Hollywood starlets must feel when they pick out a gorgeous dress for an awards show, spend hours perfecting hair and makeup, and they feel fabulous on the red carpet… only to see the pics in People the next day and find that their lovely ensemble was completely see-through under all the photographers’ lights.

      • If you want to like LOST again, lets talk. I also invested too much to come away disappointed. I rewatched the highlights if the show and I still contend it was the best show on tv ever.

  3. I thought Sawyer sucked when the series originally aired. However, when I watched it all again on DVD (with Kristen, who hadn’t seen it), Sawyer became one of my favorites. I have no idea why.

    Anyway, lots of good shows on these lists.

  4. Great lists! Seriously lacking Aaron Sorkin shows, but great lists nonetheless!

    • Fletch, The West Wing was #11 on my list. It was a hard decision, but Quantum Leap won out for sheer sentimentality.

  5. I’m surprised Jamie didn’t include Gilmore Girls to his list. Kelsey, if I were to create a list it would probably be similar to yours, which is funny because I thought they would be completely different. But my número uno would have been GG and probably close behind it Veronica Mars.

    • I would love to see your list, Dorothy! Veronica Mars holds a special place in my heart, too, and definitely would have made it into my Top 20, maybe Top 15, if the list went that long.

      • My list would probably be very interesting considering my parents wouldn’t let me watch more than half of the stuff on TV growing up. I do have memories of staying up late with my brother and sister watching SNL. If my parents knew what was on it, there is no way they would have let us watch it!!

  6. Umm. Dexter?? He way hotter than Tim Riggins. And Deb? Best female character on television ever. I’m not sure my eyes can bear the weight if this oversight.

    • Haha! You know we love Dexter, Heather, and I agree about Deb–but we couldn’t bear the weight of the horrendous writing that has plagued the show since season 5, this last season being the worst. I still love the character of Dexter, but I think if he was a real person, he would kill the show’s writers and not be at all in violation of The Code, seeing as how they butchered the series. But if I was writing a post on my favorite SEASONS of shows, season 4 of Dexter would be close to the top–that was the peak for me.


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