Friday, 2 September 2016

Best TV Series of All Time (supposedly)

I've been a subscriber to the German magazine "TV Movie" for more than 10 years. It's a television guide that is published every two weeks. While I lived in England I had a satellite dish which picked up German television channels. For many years watching German television was a way to avoid paying the extortionate British television tax (currently £145.50 per year, about $195). Then the law was changed to make it compulsory to pay British television tax even if I only watched foreign television channels. I found that extremely unfair, but the law is the law, so I ceased watching German television rather than pay the tax. However, I continued to buy "TV Movie" because it was a source of information about new German films, especially television films.

There are several television magazines in Germany, but I consider "TV Movie" to be the best. I looked at them all before I decided it was the one I wanted. It's very good for what it's meant to do, i.e. tell the reader what's on television. It presents all the programmes in a grid that's easy to read, and it writes articles about the most important programmes of each day in a separate section. The feature articles are more controversial. It frequently presents articles with titles like "The 10 best films of all time" or "The 20 best actors of all time". It's interesting to see that whenever the 10 best films of all time are listed half of them were made in the last two years.

What's the source for these lists? It's not reader votes. It's not sales figures. It's just the personal opinion of someone sitting in a room in the TV Movie offices. The lists are presented as objective, but they have no value. It would be more correct to write "These are the films that Heinz Schnitzelgruber likes to watch".

That brings me to a list of "The Best Series of All Time" in the current issue of "TV Movie". That's what the list is called. That's how it's presented, without any sort of disclaimer. Please take some time to read the list before reading my comments.

  1. Game of Thrones
  2. Walking Dead
  3. Big Bang Theory
  4. Star Trek
  5. Fargo
  6. Sex and the City
  7. X-Files
  8. Breaking Bad
  9. Sopranos
  10. House
  11. Two and a Half Men
  12. Miami Vice
  13. King of Queens
  14. Mr. Robot
  15. Mad Men
  16. How I met your mother
  17. CSI
  18. Gilmore Girls
  19. E.R.
  20. Bones
  21. Prison Break
  22. Grey's Anatomy
  23. Narcos
  24. 24
  25. House of Cards
  26. Boardwalk Empire
  27. Fall (GB)
  28. Doctor Who (GB)
  29. Homeland
  30. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  31. Simpsons
  32. Twin Peaks
  33. Orange is the new black
  34. Shameless
  35. Criminal Minds
  36. American Horror Story
  37. Sherlock (GB)
  38. Club der roten Bänder (DE)
  39. Married with children
  40. Dallas
  41. Preacher
  42. Lost
  43. Buffy
  44. Californication
  45. Stromberg (DE)
  46. Transparent
  47. Downton Abbey (GB)
  48. Girls
  49. How to get away with murder
  50. Ray Donovan
As a list that's supposed to be objective, it's very biased by nationality. The list contains 44 American series, 4 British series and 2 German series. What happened to the rest of the world? Does this supposedly objective list tell us that nothing of value was made anywhere else? There aren't even any Canadian series in the list.

Many people would agree with "Game of Thrones" being in first place. "Walking Dead" is also a very popular series. But how did "Big Bang Theory" get into third place? "The Sopranos" is rather low in ninth place; many people would place it first. Why is "Buffy" so low (43rd place)? And currently "Downton Abbey" is the world's best selling television series on DVD and Blu-ray, so why is it only rated in 47th place?

There are quite a lot of series in the list that don't deserve to be there, in my personal opinion, but rather than pick them out I'll name a few series that are missing.

The Spanish series "Isabel" has won countless international awards. It ought to be in the top 10, but Heinz Schitzelgruber obviously didn't even consider it, because it wasn't made in one of his favourite countries.

There have been many excellent TV series made in Canada. They were also very popular, in Germany and other countries. To name just two series, "Highlander" and "La Femme Nikita". They both deserve high positions in the list.

The British television series "Rome" is the most expensive television series ever made, costing over $10 million per episode, and the quality of the finished episodes shows that the money was well spent. (Sometimes it's called an American series, because HBO supplied most of the money, but the creative control remained with the BBC). This is a series which should be in the top 10 of any best series list.

"Peaky Blinders", another British series, is an obvious omission from the list. An older British drama series, "Callan", from the 1960's, also deserves to be in the list.

There are also British comedy series (sitcoms) such as "Are you being served", "On the Buses" and "Father Ted" which should be in the list.

"Star Trek" (the original series) is close to the top of the list, as it deserves to be, but where are the other Star Trek series ("Next Generation", "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager")? Many Star Trek fans consider "Next Generation" to be better than the original series, so it's another series that deserves to be in the top 10.

Probably the most amazing omission from the list is "Dexter". This was one of the most successful television series ever. Why isn't it in the top 10? Doesn't Heinz Schnitzelgruber like it?

Quentin Tarantino says that "Xena: Warrior Princess" is the best television series that's ever been made. While I don't quite agree with him, it's definitely a series that should be in the top 10 of any serious list.

"True Blood" was a highly rated series in recent years. Why isn't it in the list? Unbelievable! It has to be in the top 20 at least.

There are a few American comedy series that Mr. Schnitzelgruber has forgotten. I'm not a fan of American sitcoms, but if I wanted to be objective they would have to be included in any best series list. "M.A.S.H", "Seinfeld", "Friends", "South Park", "Family Guy". Have I forgotten any?

What has happened to the classic American detective series "Columbo" and "Kojak"? They're very popular, even in Germany.

"Wire", "Alias" and "Heroes" are three recent American series that deserve to be high in the list. They all received great critical acclaim when they were being shown. Then there are the current series "Arrow" and "Gotham", both of which deserve to be in the top 20, at least.

That's 27 series that ought to be in the list. That means that 27 series need to be deleted from Heinz Schnitzelgruber's list. I hope he will read this post and make his next list better.

There are other series that I like, but I won't name them here because they haven't been widely praised by critics and the public. I've attempted to be objective in naming omissions. I've tried to name series that everyone would agree need to be in the list, even if they aren't quite to their taste. Maybe there are other series that I've missed. I'm sure there are top quality television series from France, Italy, Russia and countries all over the world. Please leave comments if you know any other series which you think ought to be in the list.

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