Top Ten Favorite TV Shows Of All Time

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday sponsored by The Broke and the Bookish is all about favorite kind of stories outside of the literary medium. Options included movies but for someone who has spent a significant portion of her life dedicated to movies,  picking ten is like pulling teeth.  However I can manage to pull together a list based on favorite TV shows, so that’s the kind of story I’d like to focus on today.

The formula for this list depends on original enjoyment and the re-watchable factor. It could be stellar the first time around but if I’m never compelled to watch it again, then it cannot possibly be a favorites. I’m also excluding reality favorites like Ru Paul’s Drag Race or Project Runway or Face Off because the post is supposed to be about stories you enjoy not competition/reality shows. And these are ranked in as best of an order as I can manage, and let me tell you this was a painful process. It will likely be even more painful when I realize I’ve forgotten something. Alas, such is the life of a list maker.

1. Friends

Did you know that Friends was almost cancelled in its second season? I cannot imagine my life with out this show. Every life situation that I have been in can be referenced by a Friends episode. It was traumatic when this show ended. I still watch this show regularly on Nick at Night; Nick plays it from start to finish on loop in the evenings about six episodes at a time. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen an episode, I’m always happy to watch it again. These characters still make me laugh and cry with regularity. I’ve always thought I was 50% Rachel and 50% Monica. One of my best friends is 100% Phoebe, and this is how I quantify my life. I”m totally looking for my Ross-Chandler hybrid too. Favorite episode: It shifts a lot but right now I’d say Season 6 Episode 22 “The One Where Paul’s the Man.” Bruce Willis guest stars as the father of Ross’ girlfriend Elizabeth. It’s hilarious.

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Let’s be real, I will watch just about anything Joss Whedon wants to put out there. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was and still is one of my all time favorite TV shows. I wanted to be as cool and punny as Sarah Michelle Gellar. And her sense of style inspired young me to do her own thing. I would definitely say that this was a formative show for me and I still soak up paranormal stories in large part because of  Buffy. I think this was even the first show I collected the DVDs for. I did kind of fall off with my viewership around season 5 when things got weird for Buffy  when she was working in a fast food restaurant. But I did go back and complete the series and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Favorite Episode: Literally any episode with Spike in it. “Lie to Me” when he’s a big baddie and his flashback episodes like “Fool For Love.”

3. Game of Thrones

How awesome is this GIF? My Grandmother actually introduced me to this show, which sounds really weird but if you knew my Grandmother it wouldn’t be. Another amazing show with high production values and killer (literally) story lines. It’s a show that grabs you and it’s still going strong. I physically cannot wait until season five starts. No one is safe in this show; get attached at your own emotional peril. But it’s an undeniably captivating series, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy shows. And the books are equally grabbing but they’re not for the faint of heart because they are hefty. I love this show so much I even dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen for Halloween complete with dragon and egg. Love it! Favorite Episode: Season 3, episode 9 “The Reins of Castamere.” Red wedding for the win!

4. Boy Meets World

The Feeny call is maybe one of the greatest thing to happen to television as far as I’m concerned.  This show was such a major part of my childhood. I felt in many ways like I grew up with Corey, Topanga, and Shawn. Yes, there were morals to each episode but they felt so natural–like you were a part of the Matthews family. It’s another show that you can reference for nearly every life situation, and for me it never gets old. This past Christmas, I received the complete Boy Meets World on DVD and I geeked out hard. It’s a treasured part of my collection. Favorite Episode: Season 3, episode 3 “What I Meant to Say,” which is an adorable episode about the awkwardness of saying “I love you” for the first time.

5. Xena: Warrior Princess

Girl power, thinly veiled innuendos, and free love for all! Plus Lucy Lawless kicks some major butt every episode. Most of the sexual stuff flew way over my head when I was a kid, but I loved the empowering message for girls Xena offered. I always liked that Xena wasn’t always good and that battling her dark side was a constant struggle. And it’s another punny show with a paranormal bent. If you haven’t noticed a pattern yet, here is the point to start picking up on it! Fun fact, the writers of Xena are none other than the brilliant team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci who have done movies like The Proposal and Star Trek Into Darkness. Favorite Episode: Any and all with Ares. There’s another terrible pattern here.

6. The Big Bang Theory

When this show first came out, I watched a handful of episodes and kind of gave up on it. About a year later I got sucked back in and realized how awesome this show really is. From talking to friends over the years, my experience of not loving it right away seems pretty typical. It’s a show that took a bit to hit its stride. I will re-watch episodes of this show like a true addict.  And they still make me laugh. It’s not a show with a revolutionary plot line, but it’s charming and you start to get really attached to the characters and their quirks. I also feel really intelligent when I get some of the off-beat nerdy references. Favorite episode: Season 6, episode 18 “The Contractual Obligation Implementation,” talks about girls in sciences and the girls go to Disneyland.  Hilarity ensues.

7. Firefly

Another Joss Whedon genius moment! I’ve always described it as a spaghetti Western in space. It’s quite possibly the most beloved show that never made it past its first season. Fans are still fired up about this show years later. There’s always the threat of it returning and the actors always seem game. At least there was some kind of closure with the feature film Serenity. This will always be a favorite of mine and I love getting people to watch it who have never known how shiny this show really is. And it’s another punny show! Favorite Episode: Season 1, episode 4 “Jaynestown.” I think Jayne just might be my favorite character because he’s so nuts. And “Jaynestown” is my favorite episode because you get to see him be forced into the uncomfortable role of hero.

8. The Twilight Zone

Classic science-fiction show! Trippy, thought-provoking short stories that are all the more dramatic for being in black and white. A lot of the episodes have social critique in them too. Twilight Zone episodes are fairly easy to find online and are great to grab quick bites of story. The episodes aren’t really connected, but they’re each great examples of original storytelling in the short form. And some of them are downright spooky. Favorite episode: Season 5, episode 17 “Number 12 Looks Just Like You.” Set in a future society where everyone undergoes plastic surgery at nineteen to look the same, a young girl struggles to hold on to her individuality. Still a crazy valid bit of social criticism and it sticks with me to this day.

9. Scrubs

Zach Braff is brilliant. There. I said it. His imagination is fabulous, and his antics take a hospital procedural to a funny and endearing show. It’s another show that still makes me laugh on repeat viewings. Puns galore and quirky references all around! The actors seem to shine under the ability to be goofy. John C. McGinley is a scene steal-er every dang time.  I love how meta this show, which only enhances the humor. It’s also a show that makes neurotics look cool and I’m all for that. Favorite Episode: Season 6, episode 6 “My Musical.” Because “Guy Love” is one of the greatest musical efforts to come out of a serial television show.

10. True Blood

I love the crazy stuff that comes out of Pam’s mouth. True Blood is a show that occasionally shocks me but in a good way. At times it’s a wee bit ridiculous but I always find myself absorbed in the plot. I gave reading the books a shot, but didn’t love them the same way I love the T.V. series, even though many of the plot lines are similar. And if I’m being honest, it’s one of the sexiest shows on television with some serious man-candy and that has never hurt my interest level.  Favorite Episode: Season 1, episode 4 “Escape From Dragon House.” Season 1 is really my favorite. And episode 4 is the first episode where we meet Eric and Pam, which are some of my favorite characters of the series.

There you have it, my all time favorite TV shows. Hope you enjoyed my list, and feel free to share your own.

Book Review: Game of Thrones

“If Tolkien and Dickens had a baby it would be Martin.” –Caitlin McCann (Me)

I recently finished George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones and have been recommending this thing like a madwoman. Heck, I was recommending it before I had the whole book finished.

I got into Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series because of my friend Chelsey. She kept telling me about this amazing series I had to read. For months I put her pick on the back burner, because as any bibliophile knows, a must-read list quickly becomes an infinite thing. Plus, Game of Thrones is about 800 pages and I was waiting for summer time to read this mammoth at my leisure.

A reader’s tip: I read the appendix first to get a good feel for the characters and the history of Martin’s world. It made me feel more knowledgeable, and I wasn’t constantly flipping to the back of the book.

I also read the book in segments of fifty pages or more because this book is dense (in the best way possible). You have to attack this book or risk defeat. For me, the density is a bonus, but I understand it may not be for everyone. Some of my favorite authors are Tolkien, Irving, and Dickens: all known for their detail and depth.

I rattled off my quote above to my friend Carolyn, as I was making yet another recommendation. Truly, if Tolkien and Dickens had a literary baby it would be George R. R. Martin. Tolkien fans will be drawn to the fantasy element of Game of Thrones. There’s a well-developed backdrop of fantasy that bolsters but doesn’t over-dominate the plot. Dickens lovers will also appreciate Martin’s skill at character development and casual craft of language.

The novel takes awhile to truly pick up in pace, but what will pull readers through the intellectual thicket is the characters. Martin has a talent for connecting readers with his characters. Everyone will have a favorite. Mine are Daenerys Targaryen, the naive but regal young exile, and Tyrion Lannister, the witty and honest dwarf of a noble house. Game of Thrones is composed of small chapters, each told in the voice of one of eight characters. As I writer, I have to give Martin praise for the finesse it takes to balance so many perspectives. He takes on adults, children, men, and women, as well as differences in class. Martin’s gift is that each character is fully developed as if the whole novel was theirs. It’s damn hard, and he makes it look easy.

The multiple perspective format enhances the element of mystery inherent in the story as each character reveals new information that helps the reader piece together the plot. I felt more drawn in to the story because each chapter took me somewhere new. I also appreciated that not every character was pristine and 100% lovable. Some were definitely more likable that others but each is flawed and has to come up against those flaws in some way or another. I thought the characters made the book worth the read. Beware, they will grab you.

Game of Thrones is the first novel in a series, and it sets the tone well for a visual thrill ride full of strong characters. If you’re not already a fan of the HBO series by the same name, then get on that too. The stellar visuals translate beautifully to the small screen, and book purists will be happy to note the TV series follows the novel respectably. [Note: I haven’t seen the second season yet so I can’t pass judgement on it.]

George R. R. Martin has quickly risen to my personal pantheon of favorite authors. I can’t wait to start the next installment, A Clash of Kings. And next time, I’ll be moving Chelsey’s picks to the front of the line.