Well, here we are, once again. I’ve had a good few goes of the old “Top Ten TV Shows” dealio, but I always end up coming back to it — I watch a lotta telly — with a whole new set of additions. That’s the reasoning for today’s post. No real “rules” here, all genres allowed, etc. I’m not in the mood for intros right now — let’s do this, eh?
15. Spaced (1999-2001)
What a cracking way to kick off the list, eh? Our first visit with the greatest director of our TIMES, Edgar Wright, Spaced is the testing ground for everything that would make the Cornetto Trilogy so great. The dynamic and masterful direction added so much in the way of visual humour, while the sharp writing and on-point performances from Pegg, Hynes, Frost, Heap and MATE, TYRES, were always reliable on delivering solid laughs.
14. Inside No. 9 (2014- )
From the warped minds of Sheersmith and Pemberton, behind League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, comes one of the most diverse, masterfully crafted, most anticipated additions to the TV season. Honestly, if this list was ranked solely on how objectively amazing a series is, this would be near the top. Twisted humour meets genuine terror meets heartwrenchingly dramatic stories throughout these anthology stories — all brought together by truly genius performances from a cast of technically gifted actors. It’s just so, so good.
13. Father Ted (1995-1998)
A bonafide favourite of Reubs, and undoubtedly the best thing to come from Graham Linehan, this relatively wholesome, if at times surreal, comedy has gone down in history as one of the greatest Irish exports, along with *insert lazy stereotype here* and potatoes! Ha! In all seriousness though, there are just so many great moments from this show, it’d take ages to even scratch the surface, and so many quotable lines. Careful now.
12. Black Books (2000-2004)
That gif should explain every damn reason why I love Black Books. Brought together through a stellar lead cast and some stellar writing, this sitcom feels strangely familiar yet unlike any of its peers due to its sheer drunken brilliance. Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey work as one of the best comic pairings in TV history, again, as that gif should properly illustrate. It’s just excellent, and brilliantly rewatchable — and I really should watch it more.
11. Black Mirror (2011- )
From one Black, to a wholly different one — the racial misunderstandings of that are wide and dangerous. Regardless, this unsettling sci-fi anthology series is one of the major cultural commentaries of modern societies, especially in the TV medium, with its comments on technology ranging from “oooo nah mate” to “WHUT STOP MATE NO”. The twisted writing, courtesy of Brit favourite Charlie Brooker, is some of the smartest in mainstream telly, with shock endings galore. This is topped off with a cacophony of cracking performances, with high-end stars (Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas-Howard) to more indie darlings (Alex Lawther, Daniel Kaluuya), all finding themselves tangled in the fibreoptic cables of the f-f-f-f-f-fuuuutureeeeee!!!!
10. The Fast Show (1994-2000)
Oh man, o h m a a a n. What can I say about this show — the show that I’ve watched so many times, I can quote every character from it in an instant. The brainchild of Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson, The Fast Show, for me, is the pinnacle of what sketch comedy can be. A healthy mix of catchphrase humour and proper established LAFFS, the amount of classic moments in this show is too many count. It’s a shame that I have to see it barely scraping in the top ten, because it really is one of my old favourites.
9. Peep Show (2003-2015)
I only watched this in it’s entirety last year, but it’s just so quality that I’m quite happy with it sitting at my beloved no. 9 spot. Mitchell & Webb have long been one of my favourite comedy duos thanks to That Mitchell & Webb Look so it’s a wonder why it took me so long to get into this. So many iconic moments packed into Peep Show‘s 12-year run, all wonderfully irreverant and quotable in equal measures. The character’s are so memorable that Reuben & I make regular practice of seperating the Marks from the Jezes, with the rarity of a Super Hans. It’s excrutiatingly awkward at times, but painfully funny at all others. AHHHM NAHT SICK BUT AHM NOT WEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLL…
8. I’m Alan Partridge (1997-2002)
Fun fact! I spent a solid 20 minutes giggling at Alan Partridge gifs while looking for that diamond above. This should be testament to how highly I rank the laughs in this show, as well as the fact that this has placed well on both of my previous lists. The writing is excellent, but Steve Coogan’s performance here, in every episode, in every iteration, is one of the most brilliant characters on British TV. Kiss my face.
7. The Office (2001-2003)
Whenever I rank my favourite TV shows, this and my previous pick are always entwined next to each other. The character of David Brent is indebted to Alan Partridge, for sure, but, while Alan had that element of disbelievability, Brent is so realistic, I feel like plenty of people can relate to knowing someone like him. It’s a masterstroke from Gervais, who plays him perfectly. The Office also boasts some surprisingly strong and emotional story archs; there’d be no Pam and Jim without Dawn and Tim, that’s for sure (UK > US, always). And, along with a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, I’m pretty sure you can find a boxset in every UK household.
6. Sherlock (2010-2017)
One of the BBC’s strongest dramas ever (in my opinion, their strongest), Sherlock benefits from every aspect of what makes a good television or cinematic experience. The writing, from Gentleman Mark Gatiss and Dr. Who regenerator Steven Moffat, is absolutely genius, with every episode beaming with confidence and littered with twisty turns. It plays in it’s own cleverness, while providing an excess of sardonic wit. The performances, particularly from Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott, are some of the finest put to the small screen. This is capped off by stellar direction and visuals, with a great soundtrack to boot!
12ty-7. The League of Gentlemen (1999-2002/2017)
Hello Dave. Another from the brain of Mark Gatiss, along with Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson, the League broke out onto mainstream telly with this twisted piece of pitch black comedy. The array of colourfully demented characters, along intertwined geniusly, leads to countless classic scenes and storylines. When it’s bad, it’s great. When it’s great, it’s unbeatable. Without it, there would be no Psychoville or Inside No. 9, and Sherlock would be a lot different. It’s a total comedy classic, if an offbeat one.
4. My Name Is Earl (2005-2009)
One of the biggest crimes to television and general happiness was the decision to cancel this slice of gold. With one of the most genius plotlines, My Name Is Earl had so much potential for plenty more seasons. As with all of these shows, the characters here, even the minor ones, were fully fleshed out and memorable. So many great episodes, and so consistent. Thanks to the sheer rewatchability of the episodes, this is a series I frequently come back to, with the hilarious situations being completely unique in terms of its peers. It’s probably the most underrated show on the list, and everyone should watch it all the time.
3. Friends (1994-2004)
I love Friends, sue me. It’s a classic, beloved sitcom adored the world over. It’d be easy to shit on it, however, with its very “American” comedy and over-the-top performances. That being said, there’s so much in the way of hilarious writing and geniunely smart humourous moments. The show’s long-running stature made it possible for us to really get to know and love the six leads, and seeing their lives play out. This leads to a lot of emotional moments too, though they rarely linger and are often broken up by one-liner. There’s not much I can tell you about this show that you probably already know — *clap clap clap clap*.
2. RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009- )
This is IT. This is the reason I had redux this list — there was no Drag Race. Probably one of the most major cultural shifts in my life, watching this show, and becoming FULLY ENGROSSED in this show, has undoubtedly changed my personality and a wide range of my interests (though not my heterosexuality, sadly). It’s not for everyone, granted, as I found when Reuben watched some CRACKING episodes (Valentina’s lip sync, mate) and still wasn’t impressed. However, it’s just a way of life. It’s got a lot of obnoxious reality show traits, I can see that, but there are real characters here, and people you just grow to love. There are more than enough hilarious and touching moments through it’s 10 season run, and it’s the best thing on TV right now. It’s such an important shift of queer culture into the mainstream, and such a wonderful fanbase to be a part of. NOW MORE GIFS MATE.
After all this, we got some honourable mentions!
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-2018)
Flight Of The Conchords (2007-2009)
Big Train (1998-2002)
That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006-2010)
The Simpsons (1989- )
15 Storeys High (2002-2004)
Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out (1990-1991)
Orange Is The New Black (2013- )
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013- )
Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (2004)
The IT Crowd (2006-2013)
Brass Eye (1997-2001)
Of course, we know what’s coming now.
1. The Mighty Boosh (2003-2007)
It’s topped this list every single time I’ve written it. It’s topped this list since I first watched it when I was around 8 years old — that’s almost a goddamn decade, boi. I’m at a loss for words to describe the heavy effect this show has had on the way I think and act, as well as how fucking excellent it is. From reading the no. 2 spot, you’d think “damn, he really likes that show” — nothing on the Boosh mate. The visuals, the music, the writing, the characters — all perfect in my eyes. The offbeat and surreal stories are some of the best out there, there are so many quotes from this — it’s the alternative comedy bible. It’s just the best thing out there — along with Scott Pilgrims and By The Way‘s of the world; perfection.
So that’s it. That’s the dealio. No, fuckin’ Fawlty Towers or whatever wasn’t in it. I’m not sure if I really care, but please engage with me anyway — I haven’t had any contact in 14 years.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations