Best TV Series Of All Time

Tuesday, May 3 by Travis Petersen

Television is in a golden age where it is threatening to surpass film as the best means of visual storytelling, and the best TV series of all time illustrate how cinematic techniques have entered television. The best TV series of all time take drama, humor, and artful social critique, blending them into a mix that surpasses what film can do.

  1. "The Sopranos." "Oz" paved the way, but "The Sopranos," HBO's first true blockbuster original drama, changed the game. Over six seasons spanning 1999-2007, the story of Tony Soprano and his two families, the one at home and the mob one he runs as boss, took television to a new level, bringing in the cinematic style of filmmakers like Martin Scorcese in service of long-running storylines and the most well-drawn characters in TV history. It is truly the best TV series of all time from beginning to controversial end, hitting milestones of pathos, humor, and action along the way.
  2. "The Wire." While "The Sopranos" was the story of a family, "The Wire," also running on HBO for much the same time period, was the story of a city, and how its institutions, from the police and politics to its criminal empires, fail its people. Though it was never a ratings hit, it was a favorite with critics and a feverish cult of fans who declare it the best TV series of all time. Great writing, heartbreaking stories, dark humor and intricate plotting add up to five great seasons of television where all the pieces matter. 
  3. "The Office." The original British version only ran for two short seasons and concluded with a holiday special, which is somethin the American version should have taken into account. While the American version of the show is funny, the British version is darker, more depressing, more real, and also more funny, making it, with its groundbreaking, oft-imitated documentary style, one of the best TV series of all time. 
  4. "The Shield." In the wake of "The Sopranos," it became okay to have an anti-hero at the center of a cable TV series, and FX launched its drama department with the story of crooked cop Vic Mackey (the perfectly cast Michael Chiklis) and his team of bad guys on the right side of the law. Over time, the show grew to focus not only on Mackey but on everyone in the precinct, creating a diverse group of characters both good and bad and often a little of one and a little of the other. The final season is a twisting, turning, tragic masterpiece that is Shakespearean in its scope, raising a good cop show into one of the best TV series of all time.
  5. "Seinfeld." The best sitcom ever concludes our list of the best TV series of all time. The story of four self-centered friends in New York complaining about life's minutiae, the quintessential show about nothing changed the face of TV comedy for the better. Eminently quotable and immensely rewatchable, "Seinfeld" truly is one of the best TV series of all time, strong throughout its entire run.


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  1. May 3, 2011 6:19 pm

    Mr. E

    WHERE’S DEADWOOD????????????????

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