Top Five: TV Shows of the Decade

31 12 2009

I like television, so here are my favourite shows of the decade. In order to make the list the shows must have started broadcast in this decade, rather than a continuation from previous decades, meaning The West Wing misses out by just over three months.

1. Band of Brothers

This 2001 mini-series marked the first HBO-BBC co-production, and was both the most expensive mini-series ever made and most expensive TV show per episode ever at $12 million for each of the ten parts. The expense did not go to waste, by focussing on just one group of soldiers (E “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division) the show is stunningly accurate (trust me, I’m an historian). American reviewers have often slated it for apparently having no stand out characters, but that was really the point, you’re looking at a group of men as a whole, not the sum of its individuals. So, yeah, I like it a lot.

2. Arrested Development

Originally broadcast between 2003 and 2006, this is a truly unique sitcom. Character driven, and understandably so with so many strange characters, it tell the story of a once rich family, their fall from grace, and their ineptitude in their attempt to mount that greasy pole again (wow, it is easy to sound like Tobias). Utilising hand held cameras and a omniscient narrator to give it a documentary style, along with the complete absence of a laugh track (take notice American production companies!), it allows the show to have a different take on sitcoms, and made it the best sitcom on TV. Unfortunately, Fox didn’t really understand the show (they understand very few of their good shows) and cancelled it despite critical acclaim because of low viewer numbers, this was hardly surprising as they had put it up against Monday Night Football during the third series.

3. Peep Show

Like Arrested Development, this is one of the best character driven sitcoms ever written. The show filmed as if you were literally in the heads of Jeremy and Mark (the show’s protagonists, if you didn’t already know) seemed like an odd idea, but the way the storylines make the mundane seem like life or death situations is inspired. The show has garnered a cult following and huge critical acclaim, but has actually lacked high viewing figures, the highest being for episode one of the sixth series at 1.8 million. This programme only drops below Arrested Development due to an occasional lack of consistency, but it will return in 2010 for a seventh series. Fox actually commissioned a US pilot which didn’t use the point-of-view filming, it was frankly unsuccessful.

4. Planet Earth

A follow up to 2001’s The Blue Planet, this BBC-Discovery-NHK co-production is the most expensive documentary series ever made, and the first to utilise HD cameras. Split into eleven parts, each covering a separate habitat, the series took four years to make, and was only completed halfway through the original broadcast run. The show was visually stunning, and achieved a few TV firsts, including the first piranha feeding frenzy filmed in the water with the fish, and the first filmed evidence of cannibalism amongst chimpanzees. The only downside of this show is if you’re watching in the US, you get narration from Sigourney Weaver instead of David Attenborough.

5. The Wire

You didn’t think I would leave out this, did you? HBO struck gold again with a look at urban life from a different perspective in each of the five seasons. This in itself was fairly unique, but the show kept on breaking new ground with its content and style, it shows Baltimore as a failing city, not due to its prevalent crime, but due to systemic failure of its institutions. It blurs the distinction between good and evil, getting rid of the idea of two-dimensional cops and criminals, revealing what is driving them. Thankfully, because the show was on HBO rather than one of the major networks, the show could reach its conclusion without cancellation despite relatively low viewing figures, but worldwide critical acclaim.




2 responses

31 12 2009
Top Five: TV Shows of the Decade - Tube Happenin's

[…] Top Five: TV Shows of the Decade […]

24 05 2010

Ow, too bad. I like The West Wing. I heard that Band of Brothers is a good show. I haven’t seen it yet. Reading your post, I want to watch it badly.

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