Sep 29 2010

10 Shows You Should Watch Now That They’ve Ended

Published by at 12:00 pm under Lists,Television

I’m writing this post in response to everyone who keeps asking me “What are good shows to watch?” which as an entertainment blogger, is a question I should naturally have an answer to. I could recommend any number of titles that are still on the air, but to me, nothing is more frustrating that watching a show on DVD, then switching to watching it week to week.

In fact, I think the way to best watch TV is to wait until the entire series is over, and then watch them in big chunks whenever you have time, finishing an entire series in anywhere from a few days to a month. If I had the willpower to wait years for many of my current favorite shows to go off the air, I’d do that with them as well, but now I only do it on occasion. I’m currently working my way through True Blood season three, and I’ll probably catch up on Entourage soon.

But as for shows that are already off the air, here are the DVD sets you should pick up (or torrents you should download), if you want to get into some really good TV that you can watch whenever you feel like, without being constricted to a mere twenty or forty minutes per week. They feature some of my all-time favorite series, and if you have any more questions about any of them, I’d be happy to elaborate more in the comments.

Arrested Development


This is the “duh” one on the list, because I reference it on the site here more than Pokemon, but I cannot emphasize this enough, watch this show. Yes, it’s dead and no amount of post mortem viewings can extend its short life, but simply put, this is a perfect show, and its early death at the hands of Fox might have actually saved it from going downhill at some point, which as it stands, it never does.

The problem with AD when it was on the air is that each episode requires you to have watched all the previous episodes to understand most of the inside jokes, and the entire show is practically inside jokes. This was especially hard to convey via a fifteen second television commercial, and so the show died.

It’s the story of a man trying to keep together his crazy socialite family after his father is sent to jail, and features the best writing in TV history, along with a cast 100% made up of memorable characters, even background players are noteworthy in their own right (Steve Holt!), and every line everyone says is practically a quotable classic. Let it be known, that this is my number one show of all time, and that nothing else even comes close.

So check it out, and be sure watch them in order. Once you start, I don’t think you’ll be able to stop.

The Wire


There are a great many HBO series I could put on this list, but most of them don’t translate very well to viewing in massive chunks. Trying to get through The Sopranos and Oz was EXHAUSTING as all are 60 minute episodes instead of the usual 42, and there are like, sixty of them.

The Wire is different. It’s equally lengthy, but it’s just so damn good it doesn’t matter. It’s the story of the drug game and its police counterpart in Baltimore, and is so well written and acted, it’s one of the only shows I’ve ever seen that doesn’t actually feel like a TV show, it just feels real.

Yes, some seasons are better than others, and it does start to veer off the deep end near the close of the series (hobo murder?), but it’s worthwhile throughout, and worth the long haul it takes to get to the end, as yes, you’ll spend more time with this show than you will with any of these others. But to me, it still stands as the best scripted drama I’ve ever seen.

Battlestar Galactica


Yeah, yeah, I know this sounds like the geekiest show I could ever possibly recommend, but trust me when I say it’s not. It’s just a really good action drama that HAPPENS to be set in space. I managed to get the two random asian girls who I lived with in NYC hooked on this show, when previously their TV viewing only extended to various Real Housewives installments. It’s just good TV.

It’s the story of a planet system ravaged by a machine race, some of whom are giant robots, and some of whom are perfectly engineered humans who could BE NEXT TO YOU RIGHT NOW! The Battlestar Galactica (it’s a ship) charts a course with the rest of the surviving human ships toward a legendary 13th planet somewhere in the galaxy called Earth. That’s when things start to get interesting.

The fun of the show comes from its central mysteries, what will happen when they find Earth, and who among the cast are actually evil robots. It’s enough to propel the series for four seasons (it does feel a bit lengthy eventually), but I will say I think the finale is satisfying enough to be worth the trip. But don’t get me started on Starbuck. You’ll see what I mean.

Lost


And speaking of finales, Lost‘s was only a few months ago, but it qualifies for this list without a doubt. In fact, I would argue that Lost is the best out of all these shows to watch on DVD, because when every single damn episode ends in a cliffhanger, the next one is just a click away. But be warned, this will also make this by far the most addictive show on this list.

I’ve always had a rule with Lost that has yet to be proven false. Watch the first four episodes and you won’t be able to stop. It gets that good, that quick, and yes, season one is the best, but the show as a whole is something that will be remembered in TV history for ages.

The Island is perhaps the greatest mystery in television, and the mini-mysteries that surround it are equally compelling. Pair that with a cast that grows to feel like family, and superb writing and acting, and you’ve got yourself a cultural icon.

Deadwood


I’ve already mentioned HBO shows when I talked about The Wire, but Deadwood is another one I feel is worth checking out. It’s only three seasons, as opposed to five or more for most other long running HBO shows.

It’s set in the Old West, and tells the mostly historically accurate tale of the town of Deadwood, where Wild Bill Hickock met his end and Al Swearengen ruled with an iron mustache. Timothy Olyphant is the star as the new sheriff in town, but Ian McShane’s Swearengen steals the show and is one of the most memorable villains (and eventually anti-heroes) you’ll come across in any of these shows.

Sometimes the pace can be a bit dull, and episodes can drag as can any hour long show on HBO, but ultimately I think it’s worth the trouble, and Deadwood is a genre series that does it better than all the rest.

Extras


I realize that the slow pace and dry humor of Ricky Gervais’ The Office may polarize some people, so I’m not explicitly recommending it here (but you should watch it anyway). Rather, I’m going with Extras, his second effort jammed full of celebrity cameos, in a good way. Still plenty of dry humor, but it’s more overtly funny than his usual stuff.

Gervais plays a film extra in season one, and on set he encounters a number of celebrities including Ben Stiller, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Radcliffe and more. Every episode has at least one celebrity in it, but their appearances are almost always self deprecating. Kate Winslet moaning about how she can’t win an Oscar, or Orlando Bloom being stunned that a woman isn’t into him are two of my favorites.

Season two follows Andy when he gets his own show, a low-brow parody of The Office, and it starts to mimick Gervais’ actual life a bit more. And after that? There is no after that. There are only twelve episodes of this show total, plus a Christmas special. You could knock it out in an afternoon if you really wanted to, but I’d recommend spreading it out a little more than that.

Firefly


Speaking of short lived, there is no more tragic story than the death of Firefly, Joss Whedon’s space western that was yet again, too good for Fox. But while Arrested Development was at least allowed a four episode arc to wrap-up, Firefly just was flat out cut in the middle, and the series just kind of ends midway through.

But never fear, the fan outcry was so great after the show’s demise, that the two thirds of a season was bolstered by the release of Serenity, the full-length feature that is the perfect bookend to the show. This is the only time I’m actually pairing a movie with a show in this list, but once you’re done you must watch it.

The cast becomes family, and the sci-fi universe is incredibly unique, and more importantly funny. You don’t see that very often in this genre. Unlike say, Lost, which is addicting after a handful of episodes, Firefly takes getting used to, and I didn’t particularly care for it until five or six episodes in. But after that, I’ve rewatched the series three or four times, and it’s among my favorites as you can see by its inclusion here.

Freaks and Geeks


Once upon a time before Judd Apatow’s name was overused in Hollywood, he worked on brilliant TV shows. Freaks and Geeks, the story of Michigan high schoolers in the eighties, some will argue is his best work, and I could be persuaded to agree.

The show launched the careers of Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and James Franco, and though it lasted only a season, is full of brilliant comedy and moving drama. It’s hour long format sometimes wears thin (I’m not a fan of comedies being an hour, it’s why I can’t watch Glee), but as the show is only a season, when it ends you’ll wish it had been even longer.

Undeclared


This segues right into Undeclared, Apatow’s next show when NBC killed his first. But this time Fox didn’t even wait around to the end, as Undeclared ends mid-season a-la-Firefly.

It’s the story of a group of college freshman adjusting to life at school, and I personally prefer it to Freaks and Geeks as each and every episode is pure hilarity. It has Segel and Rogen as well, but is also where Jay Baruchel and Sons of Anarchy‘s Charlie Hunnan got their start. After seeing this show where he plays a British ladies man, I never thought his next role would be as a hardcore American biker.

It’s just so well written, it’s no wonder why Apatow made the jump to writing classic movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up after this. But I would trade all those if Undeclared was allowed to run for a few more seasons.

Dollhouse


At long last, Fox finally learned its lesson about axing shows, which as you can see, killed four of the ten on this list prematurely. Somehow, for Whedon’s latest effort, they felt pity and gave Dollhouse a second season, it’s long enough, and makes the show a perfect and abridged work of genius, and something unlike anything else on television.

The show starts off like a procedural, and I hated it. “Dolls” are imprinted with personalities and sent out on various jobs. The star, Echo, might be a hostage negotiator, an assassin or a sex slave on any given day, and each week she’d undergo a different personality swap.

But something happened, and midway through season one, the show realized it was something bigger than a run of the mill Alias/CSI wannabe, and started dealing with overarching plotlines and complex issues of morality and science. When I say it’s one of the smartest shows ever written, I’m not exaggerating, and I’m recommending it here because not many other people appreciate it as much as they should.

So there you have it, if you’ve seen all these, I probably have a few more I can suggest, but hopefully this is enough to get you started.





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111 responses so far

  • Jeremy

    Several of these are amongst my favorites. Veronica Mars would be another good choice.

  • Cheryl

    So glad you mentioned Extras – The first episode I saw was with Kate Winslet and it was pure hilarious!

  • Bigdog

    Would love to have seen Jericho in this list, but this is a really superb list.

  • Grant

    Buffy should totally be on this list =P

  • Greg

    Firefly could have been so great if Fox has just aired the show in order and given it a fair shake! And I couldn’t believe it when Freaks and Geeks was cancelled! I was so eager to find out what her summer as a Dead Head was like.

    Fox seems to be king of killing shows before their time…Firefly, Arrested Development, Freaks & Geek and Undelcared! I would also contend that Futurama was cancelled before its time, I am really glad that it came back with the movies and new episodes on Comedy Central.

    Great post!

  • http://nope Hallam

    Nice list, and actually quite useful, since I haven’t watched some of these and I’m looking for that exact kind of recommendations. I’d suggest Rome. Two very solid seasons, and then you move on with your life.

  • Jeff

    I like Gervais a lot, but Extras was pretty bad. I recommend the first few episodes of the series though, they were hilarious. The strength of those early episodes kept me watching through the rest of the series which became dull and unfunny. I absolutely hated the Stephen Merchant character.

  • Madison

    Great list, Paul. I will definitely be checking a few of these out.

    For what it’s worth, I’d add Buffy (obviously) and The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

  • Alex

    Yes. Freaks and Geeks rule. It’s so sad that almost no one has heard of this show

  • Daniel

    I didn’t see Babylon 5 on this list.

  • hector19

    Apologies, but Judd Apatow neither created Freaks and Geeks nor wrote Superbad.

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    Need to try Veronica Mars and I guess Babylon 5 (though that some seems lengthy to get into).

    I tried Buffy but just could not get into it, as much I love Whedon. I don’t know why. Same thing happened with The X-Files.

    Rome and Jericho are worthwhile too, but they didn’t blow me away.

    And how do you not like Extras or Stephen Merchant! To each their own.

    @hector – correct

  • Phil

    Great list but yeah if you haven’t seen Rome give it a shot. Epic.

  • Tex

    Jericho on CBS.

    Remember how it got axed but the fans dumped like 2 tons of peanuts at the CBS office. SO they gave it another season try

    Great what if story

  • Oserus99

    The one I would add to this list would be “Dead Like Me”. Only two seasons, but I have yet to meet anyone who watched it who didn’t like it.

  • Bud the Chud

    Space: Aboce and Beyond – another great show Fox cut short in it’s prime. With a cliffhanger to boot. Also Dark Angel was one of my favorites. It got to seasons at least.

  • Bud the Chud

    Apparently I can’t type, that’s Space: Above and Beyond.
    Oh also does any remeber Strange Luck?

  • Bert

    All good choices, especially Undeclared – way too few people have actually heard of it, and like AD I actually caught it on TV, then complained when they cancelled it.

    But seriously, the Sopranos, Oz, and Six Feet Under are all well worth your time investment. The sheer level of complexity and violence in the first two are intellectually challenging, not to mention JK Simmons as an Aryan leader is a pretty surprising role (but exceedingly well done). And of course the fact that Tony Soprano is THE best anti-hero in the history of television (Swearengen is up there though).

    Six Feet Under is way different of course, but so well-written, well-acted, and realistic (even the hallucinations) that you can’t help but get sucked in. But I guess it IS kind of cheating to list five HBO (six? I can’t recall what network Extras aired on) shows on a list of ten.

  • Guy Incognito

    I’m definitely going to try out some of these as well as others I’ve never gotten around to like Alias. I would definitely recommend Veronica Mars and Rome. Rome almost feels like a really long miniseries. I’m glad someone mentioned Futurama which certainly would need to be on this list if it wasn’t for Comedy Central.

    Now I’d like to point to a little known cartoon called Clone High that everyone has to watch. It’s about a high school populated entirely by clones of famous people throughout history as part of a secret government project to create super soldiers. It features fantastic voice work from Will Forte, Michael McDonald and Nicole Sullivan (of MadTV), and Donald Faison as well as some truly mind-boggling guest stars. It also has the catchiest theme song of any TV show. Ever. Torrent this if you can’t find a DVD to rent. At 13 episodes of 22 minutes, you can watch this in an afternoon if you wanted to and the finale is spectacular.

  • http://www.nerdnexus.com Helder

    I dig the list, especially shows like Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared and The Wire (the greatest show ever)

    I might add Spaced, Parker Lewis can’t Lose and The Trailer Park Boys as shows I think people should lend an eye to.

  • LAO

    As fantastic a show as Arrested Development is, I just don’t get the assertion that its plots and jokes are too complex for the average viewer unless they slavishly watched from day one. There was nothing more convoluted than Friends or Seinfeld ever did, and with Ron’s narration constantly reminding you of the major past events whenever they were brought up, I’d say it was even more accessible than most shows.

  • Kevin

    Don’t forget Farscape, one of the better series out there that never caught on

  • Steve

    I spent the entire weekend watching every episode of The Man Show. I’m almost halfway through the last season now. I liekd this show when it was on tv, but now, 10 years later, I appreciate and understand it so much more. And I believe it may very well be the greatest show ever made. The image of girls jumping on trampolines is now burned into my retinas.

    As for “Firefly”, I saw Serenity in theaters with 2 friends who kept saying how awesome it is. I felt like I was actually on a different planet in that theater. I didn’t get the jokes or understand anything that was going on (characters and such) while everyone laughed away. Needless to say, I didn’t care for the movie much. A “ho-hum” sci-fi feature at best. I won’t be checking out the show. And as for “Lost” one of my friends is now one of those “Lost’ geeks like trekkies and the like. Thanks to him I won’t be checking that show out either.

  • Guy Incognito

    @Steve: I too actually thought the Serenity movie was very average when I saw it before seeing the show. This summer I watched series and then the movie and loved it. It seriously is worth a go. Also, that’s a poor reason to not watch one of the best shows ever. You should try the 4 episode challenge as mentioned above. Watch the first 4 episodes and if you don’t like it at that point, you can quit. I’ve had so many sceptical friends get converted by actually watching it. Dismissing it because you don’t like someone who watches it is dumb.

  • James

    In what universe is the ending of Battlestar Galactica considered good? That was the cheesiest, lamest cop-out I’ve ever seen!

  • juan

    I really recommend Angel, even if you don’t like buffy, it’s a great show with a great cast, and almost all of the things that come along with a whedon show

  • tom

    Madison – totally agree on Sarah Connor Chronicles – it takes a while to hit its stride, and there are some down episodes, but if you’ve got time, the payoff is worth it. Another that was canceled before its time (really, just as it got amazing), but has one of the best final episodes I’ve ever seen.

  • juan

    sorry for the double post, but i’m watching the wire (3rd season) and i’ve seen a lot of people complain about season 5. is it really that bad?

  • Jason

    As mentioned above…Joss Whedon’s Angel. I was so pissed they killed the show. The whole entire basis of the character Angel was him redeeming himself and becoming human again. Instead Fox gives them a couple episodes to wrap it up.

  • http://www.uberfangirl.com UberFanGirl

    Love almost every show on your list! A couple I did see exclusively on DVD (Firefly, BSG), but a few I suffered the real-time heartbreak of their endings (Dollhouse, Arrested Development, Lost).

    One thing I would add: the Sarah Connor Chronicles. That show kicked some major butt!

  • Susie

    Would add Veronica Mars and Party Down to the list as well – along with the Sorkin trio of Sports Night, West Wing, and Studio 60.

  • Tyler

    “This segues right into Undeclared, Apatow’s next show when Fox killed his first. But this time they didn’t even wait around to the end, as Undeclared ends mid-season a-la-Firefly.”

    Yeah, just so you know, NBC broadcast Freaks and Geeks.
    Also, they never aired all of it.

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    Hmm, don’t know why I thought it was on Fox, I guess I just assumed due to their ability to kill shows. And NBC did air all of it eventually, the three last episodes were aired months after the other ones.

  • ViciousCircle

    With the exception of Undeclared, The Wire and AD, I have seen all the shows on that list. BSG, Firefly, and Dollhouse are my faves.
    I really recommend Buffy and Angel (which btw, had nearly half a season notice to their cancelling). Alias is another one that is a great bulk watch. While not “series” per se, I do recommend both Masters of Horror and Fear, Itself. Great chances to watch and enjoy some of the biggest names in horror, in writing, directing, and acting.

  • http://myculturalexperience.blogspot.com badblokebob

    Good list, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to prove your Lost rule false — I struggled through 8 or 9 episodes of season one before just giving up.

    I know I’m not alone on this one either, especially here in the UK — though it did OK and certainly attracted a fan base, it didn’t really take off over here. Perhaps it was too much hype from across the pond, perhaps it’s actually just overrated — it wasn’t well received by UK critics either, as I recall.

    Still, for all that, I keep meaning to give it another go, just in case.

  • ViciousCircle

    I will also add, that I was not a Lost fan…I dragged myself through nearly 2 seasons before giving up on it. So much hype and not nearly enough payoff for what you suffered through.
    I will also 2nd whoever mentioned Dead Like Me. Brilliant show, great cast, ended way too soon. At least they got a chance for an ending.

  • Tyler

    They aired 3 more, but 3 episodes were held off until the show reran on (ironically) Fox Family.
    Also, with the exception of (imho) Lost, this is a great list.

  • iksnel

    Hyperdrive, it is only 12 episodes long and only aired on the BBC so in the US you have to bit torrent, but it is worth it every time i watch the show it gets better.

    Also Rome is so addicting that I can not watch an episode during the week because I will just keep watching them all night.

  • Guy Incognito

    Can’t believe I forgot to mention this one but Flight of the Conchords is amazing and truly one-of-a-kind.

  • Neptuny

    Great list; they’re definitely the essentials to any TV-phile. I should check out ‘Deadwood’ and should see more ‘The Wire’ as I’ve only seen bits and pieces. My personal list would include: ‘Veronica Mars’ (best overall dialogue ever written on a TV show, IMO), ‘Cowboy Bebop’ (fans of ‘Firefly’ will love this), ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender,’ ‘Angel,’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’

  • Boss

    I would add ‘strangers with candy’- colbert at his best, and the first few seasons of ‘newsradio’, and finally ‘the state’ from MTV.

  • Jaron

    Thanks for all the recommendation.

    Re: Buffy, I saw a few episode when it was on air but didn’t really get it. Then I saw Firefly, Dollhouse and BSG. I came to respect Joss and Jane work so I started watching Buffy from the beginning and stuck with it. I find that the first two season had their moment but it did not got me hook until season three, when Buffy ran away. It’s more interesting when the heroin is at her lowest point, what she learn about herself. At the same time, the other characters got an opportunity to develop more and came into their own.

  • Keith

    Firefly was just awful, poorly concieved verse, unfunny dialouge, and godawful acting by everyone bar Baldwin and Torres. I gave up after three episodes.

    I’d like to echo the thoughts of everyone who recommends Angel (by far the best put-together and casted of the Whedonverse shows), Veronica Mars (far wittier and better written than Buffy), and Babylon 5 (blows anything done by BSG or ST away).

    Also, no West Wing love? The 4400 is another show I’d recommend, it comes off like a more intelligently written Heroes.

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  • Natty

    Wow Keith, you must have been watching a different show to me.

    There is so much quotable dialogue that a significant number of t-shirts have been produced based on individual lines (see thinkgeek). Not to mention laugh out loud moments. The ‘verse is so well conceived that QMX have produced a map (and now an atlas) of it, as they also have for Serenity herself.

    I dare anyone to watch Episode 4 ‘Safe’ and not love these people. It’s not even my favourite episode, but it does have a couple of my favourite quotes and is a good encapsulation of each character.

    On a different note – Both BSG and The Wire are great. BSG falls a bit flat at the end, but I didn’t feel completely cheated like some did. The Wire is just AWESOME. The only criticism I can make about this show is: Not enough Omar.

    I would also add T:TSCC to this list. There were a few flat eps, but mostly it was clever, exciting and really well acted.

  • Natty

    That should be episode 5 ‘Safe’ I forgot about Bushwhacked.

  • Kevin

    I have all of these on DVD :( Any other recommendations?

  • carli

    Great recommendations – thanks! I’d also rec “Kings” which only lasted half a season and was brilliant – the writing, acting, cinematography, all of it stunning.

  • tishy

    What?! No Sliders?! I loved that show, though granted, you can basically watch the first 2-3 seasons, then forget the rest in my opinion.

  • Bert

    I definitely second the Trailer Park Boys suggestion. And while we’re on the topic of comedies, two that are extremely hard to get a hold of (because they were on the CBC) but awesomely funny are “Made in Canada” and “The Newsroom”.

    And I have to put forward a suggestion for the original two-season British comedy – “Fawlty Towers”. John Cleese does a sitcom. Enough said.

  • wagdog

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned Wonderfalls. Another Fox ‘let’s kill it halfway through season one’ show. A big shout out to Caroline Dhavernas!

  • Grandizer

    The Unit. By far one of the best shows, should be on this list.
    XY as well. Along with it’s older version that preceded it, The Pretender.

  • JaySin420

    I wish I could go back and stop watching Lost after the 5th season cause it would have been one of the best shows ever.

    What about the Sopranos though? I’m re-watching it now and somehow it’s even better than I remembered.

  • Glaeken

    Pah. Watch The Wire, avoid the rest. Check out This Is England ’86, it finished last night and is the best thing to come out on TV this side of Breaking Bad.

  • http://www.modsuperstar.ca/ jamEs

    I saw some mention Jericho, which I would have been able to get behind if not for the abortion that was the second season. The second season was rushed, dropped any form of character development and felt like a slap to the face how it ended. They crammed about 4 episodes worth of story into the season finale. I know this wasn’t the writers fault, but it ruined what could have been a great 4-5 season show.

  • Matt

    The really fucking great about Lost is that it’s impossible to spoil the ending because after six fucking years of following that fucking show religiously and defending the fucking writers saying that they knew what they were fucking doing, there is no fucking ending. They just all die … eventually. Which could have been the fucking ending of every fucking show ever. Change the fucking church to Cheers, Monk’s, or Central Perk and you get an ending that makes just as much fucking sense for Cheers, Seinfeld, and Friends. They didn’t answer a single fucking mystery. Fuck Darlton and fuck you for putting that bullshit fucking show on this list.

  • epic

    if you thinks thats where Charlie Hunnan got his start…try imdb.com

  • http://www.orffsite.com Toe Truck

    This goes way back, but I rolled on the floor watching every episode of Police Squad! The TV public just didn’t get it. The same shtick did finally “take off” in the movie “Airplane”. I think you can watch all the Police Squad! episodes on Netflix. It’s lots of fun if you enjoy crazy puns. Scuse me, the toe truck just pulled up outside.

  • Delthram

    Sigh. I can’t believe no one has mentioned Better Off Ted. That show was amazing.

  • bo-breaze

    I would like to add that 70s show to your list sir. Great sitcom second longest one that fox aired. Its to bad the stars tried to move into hollywood acting and it hasn’t gone well for them. Well except maybe Ashton Kutcher he has done ok in hollywood.

  • kevin

    “and the entire show is practically inside jokes.”

    precisely why arrested development, while funny at times i admit, is a shitty show that got what it deserved.

  • Max

    I was just about to suggest Wonderfalls myself, but I see it made the comments already. Trust me, it’s really good. C’mon, try it. You’ll thank me… ;) Also, “Satisfaction” rules. It might be a matter of taste, but it certainly is quite special…

  • Keith

    “Wow Keith, you must have been watching a different show to me. ”

    No, I was watching the same show, the most over-rated show going.

    As for the verse itself, it was pretty uninteresting with none of the complex verse-building of many of the best TV shows in Sci-Fi – like for example the criminally under-rated Babylon 5.

    Oh and it was wittier than Whedon’s self-involved tosh that seems to orbit around making up words and making grown-ups sound like twelve year olds.

    To be honest, Fireflop was drivel for those who think overlly not to mention childish and unrealistically glib dialouge on its own means good writing. It doesn’t, you need consistent characterisation, continuity, motivations that makes sense, and original verse-building.

    Course, this wasn’t helped by ‘Glazed Over’ Glau, ‘Terrible Tudyk’, and Stone-Face Fillion bringing their own versions of non-acting.

  • Joe

    The Wire and Arrested Development both belong here for sure. The Wire has some of the greatest writing ever and AD was such an underrated program.

  • Stevie

    Keith–

    Bang on the money. Joss Whedon is an awful writer. His dialogue is painfully self-conscious in its attempts to be ‘hip’ (see Diablo Cody, Kevin Williamson as well), when it should be focused on realistic characterization. Only in a culture ridden with unmitigated crap could a show like ‘Firefly’ garner such undeserved praise.

  • TF

    The writers & creators of Firefly created a realistic-feeling world full of realistic characters. All 9 actors were amazing in their roles, and the writing was fantastic. Love, love LOVE Firefly.

  • Trey

    Every show on this list is awesome, I haven’t gotten around to watching The Wire yet, but i still know it’s awesome.

    and AMEN on Dollhouse…i barely managed to hang on through the first half of season one when they were doing the whole “different person each show” thing…but im SO glad i did. The second season (and the unaired last episode from the first season) was some of the finest television ever made.

  • Kyler

    How the F*#@ could the “Trailer Park Boys” NOT be on this list?

  • Matt

    The SHIELD!

  • Me Too

    The United States of Tara

  • Byron

    Party Down?

    Loved that show. Cut way too short.

  • maltman

    I disagree with half of the shows on here. just because the masses liked some of them doesn’t mean they are good shows. such as Lost for example. I figured this would’ve have been filled with pure gold, such as freaks and geeks. but instead you get shows that any joe on the street would recommend.

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  • AnonymousPerson

    Great suggestions all, gonna have to check out Veronica Mars. I have to mention “The IT Crowd” it airs on BBC and is about to come out with a 5th season. Its great.

  • MS

    Why mention shows that met untimely ends, like “Deadwood,” when you could have pointed out shows that GOT to finish, like “Rome?”

    And no “The Shield?”

  • JC

    Hey guys some of the shows posted I’ve seen and loved but if you want to go a bit quirky you should try out a show that aired on the CBC in Canada called JPOD its about 20 something video game programmers and it features Emilie Ullerup from Sanctuary. Also I can’t believe anyone mentioned this but a show that you need to see is Showtime’s Carnival it only ran 2 seasons before it got axed due to production costs and viewership. It follows a carnival around during the dust bowl era and focuses on themes of good verses evil. I highly recommend it but be forewarned you will wish there was a third season after you finish.

  • Markus

    Defying Gravity was pretty good too.

  • Jamie

    Wonderfalls, Alias, and the BBC version of Coupling.

  • Tom M

    Finishing after *ten years* on TV and not even a single mention of 24 in either the article or the comments?

    Everyone needs a bit of the Jack Baur Power Hour!

  • http://www.unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    I thought about including 24, but it’s far too exhausting to watch eight seasons of 24 episodes each. I’d recommend probably seasons 1-3 and then skipping ahead to 5 and then stopping.

  • Eric

    Are you insane? Season 7 and Season 8 of 24 are by far the best of the series!

  • http://bugsbane.net bugsbane

    Add Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The last 6 episodes are better than any of the terminator movies.

  • http://www.jeremyornelas.com Jeremy

    excellent article, thank you.

  • Blue Jupider

    For all you Dead Like Me fans, I highly recommend Pushing Daisies.

    In general, I would like to add the British show Life On Mars. NOT the American re-make.

  • http://rateoholic.co.uk darkflame

    Farscape and Babylon 5 would be much better choices.
    They both ended infinitely more satisfyingly then some of these (specificaly BSG).

    Hell, Babylon 5 managed to end satisfyingly in its 4th season :D

    In either case these are shows with NO hanging plotpoints and give you a good, solid, conclusion.

    “For all you Dead Like Me fans, I highly recommend Pushing Daisies.”

    Both fantastic shows…but neither ended very satisfyingly to me.
    Pushing Daisy’s still had a fair bit to resolve, and it was a crime it never got the chance too.

  • http://rateoholic.co.uk darkflame

    “. They didn’t answer a single fucking mystery. Fuck Darlton and fuck you for putting that bullshit fucking show on this list.”

    Theres many things to hate about the Lost ending, but this attitude baffles me.
    Did you watch the show with your eyes closed? There was a few things unexplained, and for that they should be criticized.
    But LOADS of things were, over the course of its run.

    Heres some of the top of my head, in rough order that the mystery’s appeared on the show;

    What caused the plane crash? explained.
    What’s in the hatch? explained.
    How did Locke get cured? explained.
    What/who are the two dead bodys in the cave? explained.
    Whats with the black/white stones on the floor? explained.
    Who are the Dhama Initiative and what happened to them? explained.
    Where did the polar bears come from? explained.
    Whats the weird voices in the forrest? explained.
    Why the “The others” kidnap people at the start? explained.
    What happened to Danielle Rousseau’s crew? explained.
    How comes that Shark had the Dhama logo on it? explained.
    Why are the others building a runway? explained.
    Who did Locke “come back’ from the dead? explained.
    How come Jack is seeing his dead father on the island? explained.
    How did Richard get to be immortal? explained.
    Where did the smoke monster come from? explained.
    Who is jacob? explained.
    ..quite a few more.

    Now maybe you didn’t like some of these explanations. Fair enough. Maybe the pysdo-religion/science annoyed you. Thats ok.
    But to say they wern’t covered and “nothing was explained” just plainly wasn’t true. Especially as in the last season they were explaining stuff *really* blatantly. I mean, stuff like the voices in the forest they just blatantly told us. No subtly whatsoever.

    So for anyone who hasn’t watched Lost I give this advice;
    Don’t believe the FUD. Its a flawed show for sure, but it does remember most of its plot-points, and does explain many many things. Just don’t always expect satisfactory or scientific answers.

  • The Man

    What about HIDDEN PALMS ?!?! Best show ever….

  • Pita

    Carnivale: definitely the dark side of Waltons’ mountain.

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  • Micah

    I was surprised it took a while for “West Wing”, and “24″ to be mentioned.

    I would also add Alias, though the second to last season was garbage until the end.

    How about a shout for Band of Brothers? Does that fromat count for this list?

  • John

    Buffy. You have to stick with it. Buffy is a show that, unlike everything else in the world, gets better as it goes along. Seasons 4~7 far surpass 1~3, but you need to get there first.

    Angel. It’s a must-see, ideally in conjunction with Buffy for the crossovers and the initial information, but it stands well enough on its own. I actually got into Buffy through Angel.

    Glad to see the ‘house and Firefly get the respect they deserve on this list, though. While it was on the air, Dollhouse was the best show on television. True. Fucking. Fact. I dare anyone to dislike the show after seeing all of season one, especially including the unaired season finale “Epitaph One.”

    Sad to see there aren’t any animated shows featured here but I expect that.

    The 4400 was great even though it dropped the ball near the end, and I still don’t know why LOST continues to get praised…

  • http://regularrumination.wordpress.com Lu

    Have to agree with everyone who has said Veronica Mars. I just watched all three seasons in a row. No doubt in my mind, the show was the best during Season 1. Season 2 was also good and by Season 3 I was so hooked I didn’t mind that it wasn’t as great. The first season of Prison Break is good too, but it gets ridiculous (and unwatchable) around the middle of Season 2.

  • BOLT

    (I’m not a fan of comedies being an hour, it’s why I can’t watch Glee)……That’s why you didn’t watch Glee…Really? A simple, its’ terrible would have been just fine.

  • Shayla

    Wow. I feel like I found kindred souls lol. So let me repeat what all have already said and add nothing of new value.

    Lost is horrendous. Don’t know what’s up with people who have good tastes in other shows liking it…I suffered through 4 episodes before giving up (and on DVD at that–no commercials, just pure…Lost).

    Buffy I watched on faith after hearing promises it would get better. It did. It was worth season 1-3.5, halfway through season 3 something shifts and from there on out, every episode ups the ante. It sheds the high school cliche completely and it grows into itself, commenting on life, the human condition and all without taking itself too seriously. Don’t dismiss it, it has the full range.

    Veronica Mars is Buffy-like, in that you’ll have to overlook the school setting to realize the show is one of the best encountered in a long time. Tragic ending–both in its cancellation and that after that terrible series finale, I think it might have been a late death. I understand why they converted in season 3 to something that might be easy to just jump into but it lost something.

    The Wire I realized I dismissed because I kept watching it while doing other things–this show must be watched, it’s nuanced, subtle and genius.

    Firefly was typical Whedon in that it took a few episodes to get going and then it was skyrocketing…and then it was cancelled. His concepts usually need some explaining which can take away from an easy opening that you’ll get in a 24 type show. I strongly urge you give it a chance to explain why you’re in a cowboy/spaceship environment. It’s worth it.

    Dollhouse I’m only on episode 3 and I was prepared for it to take a while to like since, again, I feel like Whedon is a “slow grow” but I loved it from the first episode mainly because even though it wasn’t “there” yet–I can see where it can grow into so I believe the posters telling me the best is yet to come.

    Speaking of 24. Just watch season 1. It’ll take over your weekend because it will be 24 hours of pure excitement and enjoyment (well minus commercial cuts). And know that seasons 2-4 just keep improving. After that, I can’t say because I watched the first 4 on DVD and tried to watch it on TV when I caught up…but it wasn’t the same for me. So that might be my unwillingness to wait a week combined with some degree of growing tired of Bauer the renegade.

    Great post & comments!

  • http://mostrim.wordpress.com Jmac

    @JC Agree with you there, really liked Carnival, some of the character acting is superb

  • Cwazola

    I would put “The Shield” on this list, too. It was a show I always wanted to watch, but was too far behind when it aired on FX. I started watching the entire series just as the last season was airing and I am glad I did. It quickly became one of my favorite shows of all time. Chiklis is awesome, and it introduced me to Walton Goggins, for which I will always be grateful.

  • JimmyLOu

    ohhhh lord how did you forget SCRUBS!!!!!! are you freakin kiddin me that show is halarious…good story line too(recommended)
    everyones recommending rome and jericho, but personally the tudors and pillars of the earth are the best shows ive seen…historically speaking!
    BTW GOOD JOB WITH LOST!!!!!
    and just out of curiosity has anyone heard anything good about supernatural..just curious!!! :)

  • Megan

    I agree with most of the shows on the list. I haven’t had a chance to watch Lost yet.. I’ll give it a shot some day.

    Pushing Daisies is definitely a must see. It’s quirky and unique.

  • Ben

    The fact that I love so many of these shows means the few I haven’t watched. I will soon by your advice. Great list.

  • Nicki

    Another good one is Jericho! Unfortunately it ended in the middle of season 2. Such a bummer it ended. Still worth a watch!

  • Qualanqui

    I’m still in mourning for Firefly such an awesome and original premise unlike all the other rehashed crap you get nowdays

  • http://none Khalid

    I have to disagree with you about Deadwood being dull. I watched all three seasons and found it riveting throughout and never once found it dull. Best written show ever.

  • Cola

    I’ve seen most of these shows already, all of them are good. I would recommend the BBC show Outcasts!

  • ben

    just finished watching prison break and i loved it! shame there aren’t more to go through, wont give anything away but they could easily pull another season out of it…. hope they do one day!

  • jamesyd

    Not heard of some of these so might check them out. here’s my best tv shows list for anyone interested http://www.infobarrel.com/My_Top_5_Must_See_TV_Shows

  • Josh

    what a list. i’ve never seen dollhouse but if i made a list of 9 of my favorite shows plus dollhouse, this would definitely be the list. such brilliant shows. and now i really need to watch dollhouse.

  • babar

    a few very good seasons mentioned above. here is my list. i hope you would like it,

    1. Downton Abbey
    2. Dexter
    3. Breaking Bad
    4. Deadwood
    5. Game of Thrones
    6. Boardwalk Empire
    7. Homeland

  • jon carmona

    Charlie Hunnams’ next role wasn’t Jacks Teller in SOA. He played in Green Street Hooligans along side Elijah Wood, though I doubt that was his next role as well.

  • StephenR

    Veronica Mars is probably the smartest show I’ve ever seen. Brilliant dialogue, excellent acting, and clever humor… all in one show.

    Other fantastic shows:

    Firefly
    Buffy
    Dexter
    The Wire
    The Guild (web series)
    Northern Exposure
    The L Word
    Kids in the Hall
    Band of Brothers (miniseries)

    ———————————————-

    Overrated shows:

    LOST – season 1 was brilliant, after that it was downright awful
    Mad Men – very boring dialogue, mediocre acting, all style and no substance… but it’s EXTREMELY trendy to say that you like it
    24 – after one season the premise becomes ridiculous
    House – it was great in the first few seasons, then it became a relationship soap opera between House, Wilson, Cuddy, etc… totally lame

  • Ryver Stix

    Brilliant list! :) I found this while searching for “Sci-fi shows that came to an end without being axed” Other than Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Star-Trek and a couple of others I find it very hard to ACTUALLY find shows which tie up all loose ends and have an ending… Could you give any suggestions on this please?

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