Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I have written and re-written this paragraph trying to sum up the greatness of this show in a small space. Ultimately I think it comes down to the fact that the creator Joss Whedon and his crew of writers love the material and they all “get” it. This is the definitive show about growing up for people who are now in their twenties. It is funny, sad, dramatic, happy, and depressing at different points, sometimes all at the same time. Best taken as a single 100 hour long epic, characters and storylines often come and go as if there weren’t separate episodes or seasons. There are hundreds of little jokes and comments that refer to previous episodes that give the show a continuity that is deeper than most novels. If you like a good story you owe it to yourself to pick up the DVD’s and give the show a shot.
I see Angel as just an extension of Buffy. The first season of Angel and the fourth of Buffy are so intertwined with crossovers that you miss an entire dynamic of each if you don’t watch them together. While Buffy is about growing up, Angel is about dealing with your past and moving on, no matter what that past may be. If you like Buffy, chances are you will like Angel just as much.
Sci-fi from Joss Whedon and Tim Minear that Fox stupidly canceled in the middle of the first season. That alone should get you to rush out and buy the DVD set of all the produced episodes. This probablyÂ would have become the best sci-fi show ever if it had lasted more than thirteen episodes. Fortunately, there is now a very goodÂ movie, Serenity, and there is a possibility of resurrecting the show or making more movies.
Veronica Mars is the best drama currently on TV. Every episode is well written, and it can switch from funny to serious in a way that only Joss Whedon’s shows did previously.
The Wire has the best overall plot writing and realistic dialog of any TV series. No other show even comes close to the realism and seriousness that The Wire brings to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I love clever dialog like Buffy and Veronica Mars, and lyrical dialog like Aaron Sorkin writes, but I have no doubt the people on the streets of Baltimore speak exactly like the characters in The Wire. If you have to make a show that deals with real world issues like the drug war and underfunded police, this is how you do it. The show is amazingly solid, and only gets better, season after season.
Alias has the best pilot filmed so far. The first two seasons are incredible, with more action, surprises and drama than most shows fit in their entire run. The later seasons are more hit and miss, but still have something to offer.
Farscape is more hit and miss than Battlestar Galactica and Firefly, but it wasn’t afraid to make sweeping changes to the show like killing off main characters and cloning a main character and then keeping them both alive for a season. It’s first DVD release was ridiculously expensive, but they are re-releasing the show in a much less expensive version.
Babylon 5 is the show that convinced me that it was possible to have a deep engrossing story arc on a TV show. The shows five seasons were planned out from the beginning, and it shows. It miraculously beat off the sci-fi show cancellation curse(by a narrow margin) and was allowed to run it’s course. Even though it has been finished for a few years now, it is still the best completed sci-fi show.
Cowboy Bebop (which really has nothing to do with cowboys) is all about the atmosphere, from the animation to the music. It follows four characters as they deal with their past and try to move on. It also gets progressively darker and more serious as it progresses.