My Favourite TV Shows of the Decade

I began the decade watching a lot more television that I have done as it draws to a close.

Too often, or maybe not, I have just found myself preferring to do other things with my time but after some thought I have managed to draw up a list. The first ten were easy and then I had to start concentrating.

So here goes:

20) 24 I was totally gripped by the first half of the first series…then I got bored never to return.

19) The Shield – I love cop shows and this with its dark side and its very flawed cops was one of the best.

18) The Thick Of It – British comedy at its most bitter and observational. God help us because our politicians are probably just like this. So bitter yes but very very funny.

17) House – Funny, sophisticated, mad and superbly crafted – I cannot get enough of it and life will never be the same without it.

16) Grand Designs – my favourite factual programme of the decade. Even if I never build that dream house in reality, I have done it over and over again in my dreams.

15) Big Brother. I was addicted to the first two series of the UK version loving its faux psychology and the breath-taking “reality” of it all. Things went rapidly downhill of course but most famously the programme created the unforgettable Jade Goody who was the ultimate in being “ordinary” and yet, of course, a “star.”

14) Cranford – the best costume drama of the decade. Actually the only one I have liked – usually I am already bored by the end of the first episode and wish I could return to the book.

13) NCIS – I love this series and got hoked on it before I realized that it is actually one of the best written shows on television. It is all in the writing – a comedy dressed up as a cop show. Abbie of course is one of the best TV characters of the decade.

12) True Blood – it has only just gone out here in the UK but apart from a few stylistic failures, this is a clever, provocative and funny. Vampires have “come out” and “straight” society is challenged to integrate with a grouping that makes ordinary people feel uncomfortable about themselves.

11) Life On Mars. The first series of the UK original was wonderful – original and dramatic in an absurdist situation. Series two never quite delivered and the spin off series that followed was just cynical cashing in.

10)Prison Break. I could not stop watching the first series which was a thriller in every sense of the word. I was nearly as excited by the second series and then I drifted away. I never saw the last series so no one tell me what happened.

9) CSI Miami. Well it is rubbish, I know but so enjoyable. For all the preposterous characters and plots, the glamourous labs and the grizzly corpses, all of which I love, it is really all about David Caruso. His character is the triumph of corn – how any one dared to write that stuff I do not know but I admire them to the rafters.

8) The Office. This is “great” television, “great” comedy and the main character is one of Television’s greatest creations. It makes me weep still to remember the sad underbelly of this classic slice of British television.

7) Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It began in the 90s I know but I never watched it then and it came to its glorious conclusion in 2005. What can I say? Ludicrous idea turned into a joyous celebration of wit and imagination. Also, if I am honest, I am simply an addict and maybe I am beyond judgement here.

6) The Wire. So far I have only seen part of Series One but, this is ground-breaking, original stuff and I can’t wait to see the rest.

5) NYPD Blue. My favourite cop show with a central character who should go down as one of the great tragic figures in television. Superbly acted too once one David Caruso left the cast early on.

4) Oz. Daring, brutal and brilliant look at real life inside an American prison with, amazingly, a central role for a modern day Greek chorus. How did they get that through?

3) Frasier. I know it began in the 90s but it, like Buffy, came to an end in the Noughties. It is simply the funniest sit com of any decade and it is still playing in my head.

2) The Sopranos. It has all been said about this magnificent series. Dark, funny, sad, human and multi-dimensional. It would be the top of a list celebrating the best television ever.

1) Six Feet Under. This is my favourite. I loved the idea, the film-making, the acting and each individual character within this heart-breaking and life-enhancing series. The last episode must be one of the best pieces of programme-making from any decade. It has got me crying again.


  1. What about 'The West Wing' – no list is complete without that. Wisecracking scripts with heart (and the brilliant recycling for the 'meeting of the tight ass club'), and great performances. It was really driven by both character and plot. It is some of the only TV I miss.

  2. I'm so glad you liked NYPD Blue.I loved it and SO agree about the quality once Caruso had left. Andy was just so complete and believable – what a special series 🙂

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