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June 04 2009

Television Critics Assn. picks best TV of the decade. Whedonverse garners "Just Missed" honorable mentions in 3 of 6 categories.

Of the nominated drama series I've watched, I can see how someone would prefer all of them to Buffy, even if I don't. Except LOST. I'm a huge LOST fan, but I just don't think it's even close.

[ edited by Jobo on 2009-06-05 02:25 ]
Also notice "24" lost out as well, despite the fact it made history by taking a new tack on telling a season-long story. That makes me less mad that Buffy gets snubbed again.
It may have made history, but I don't think a novelty item like 24 can be compared with the likes of Buffy or the incredible shows that were nominated.

[ edited by streetartist on 2009-06-05 03:27 ]
I've been on record as saying that I firmly believe that ten, twenty, fifty and many more years from now, people will be watching, studying, and marveling at Buffy, and these other shows, however good, will be academic footnotes to history.

No disrespect to the other shows, but...well, this is art, of a high order, that happens to be a TV show. I'm certain it will endure.
Well, streetartist, 24 would be a novelty that was popular, and still is. I guess I used the fact it didn't make the final cut to keep myself from ranting about how Buffy again didn't get the respect she deserves, and so forth.
Sarah Michelle, getting a bit of the respect she deserves!
Exactly, Pointy. We all know that Buffy deserves to be on the list and aren't surprised that it is, but SMG has never gotten the recognition she should have. I love them for giving it to her.
Pretty good list, BUT...

Friday Night Lights, and I say this as a huge fan, seriously, LOVE the show, is NOT, in any way, better than Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, or The Shield. It's just a silly argument, really. Friday Night Lights is a teen drama about football players and their families. That's it. It does that extremely well, but only that. The other five shows (I give in to West Wing, though I wasn't a fan) and the four 'just misses' I mentioned are so much more. So much. Sorry, had to get that out. :)

And Kyra Sedgwick? Really? Better than, say, any of the other choices? Not the least of which is SMG.

I will say, though, quite impressed by the inclusion of Arrested Development. Classic. Comedy gold, that was.

[ edited by Ifwewait on 2009-06-05 05:10 ]

[ edited by Ifwewait on 2009-06-05 07:45 ]
I think the first season of FNL often was more than just a teen drama, and became a significant examination of "devil towns" or whatever. They lost that a bit from season 2 on, but in its first year I think it went deeper than simple high school stuff.
I would disagree, Ifwewait. Admittedly, I've only seen the first season of Friday Night Lights, but it is literally the only show I've ever watched that I felt reflected anything about my life. I have no interest in football as a rule, but what I am interested in is depictions of red state America since that's all I've ever lived. And while the show does drift over the line into drama, there are moments--mostly involving Eric and/or Tami--that make me gasp at the reality. They have actual conversations that people around me have and interact in ways I'm familiar with. I never see that on TV or at the movies.

Hollywood has such a disdain for the very people they create their products for that their depictions of flyover country don't reflect reality in the least. Friday Night Lights can and often does. It's not perfect, but that first season I watched blew me away for those reasons.

I'm just interested in what your definition of "more" is. Maybe I'm a bit overprotective of this show because it means so much to me to see myself on screen, but I wonder what you think the show is lacking that the others have.

[ edited by Lirazel on 2009-06-05 05:31 ]
3 of the 6? I'm only seeing 2, what am I missing?
NPH got nominated for something. But for HIMYM.
Ah, right. Wasn't counting that one.
Buffy may have done better but for the fact that the first 2.5 seasons aired during the '90's.
The pretentiousness of this list is astounding.
Other than occasionally watching The Daily Show, I've never seen a single show on the list. Don't really feel compelled to, either.
If I were in charge I'd give Buffy the awards for best drama and best comedy. Maybe a good thing I'm not in charge
I am fake outraged over this.
I've been on record as saying that I firmly believe that ten, twenty, fifty and many more years from now, people will be watching, studying, and marveling at Buffy, and these other shows, however good, will be academic footnotes to history.

Even The Sopranos will be a footnote? Good luck with that.
I'm fake outraged that Simon's outrage is fake

Even The Sopranos will be a footnote? Good luck with that.

I don't want to be too much of a fanboy but I think Chris in Virginia might be right. I love the Sopranos, Deadwood etc. But I do think Buffy is on a whole other level. Without hyperbole I think that Joss is another Shakepseare. I expect this opinion to be lampooned :)
Not lampooning you, Let down. Joss is a genius.

So genre is getting more serious recognition. Good to see, although not nearly enough and far too slowly.

Mary McDonnel actually got on the list for best actress, not just the "just missed" list, which thrills me no end.
I'm glad to see the kudos for SMG, too. She did an incredible, sustained, consistently fine and subtle job of acting for years in Buffy. And I love The Wire, it's been so very fine. I watch Lost regularly, and even look forward to it, but it is just not in the same category at all.
Agree that it's always nice to see SMG get some of the praise she rightly deserves (though she definitely deserved atleast a nomination, or IMO even the win). She really was an incredible Buffy (and ofcourse all those others: from Buffybot to first evil to Faith, etc.) for all those years.

Friday Night Lights, and I say this as a huge fan, seriously, LOVE the show, is NOT, in any way, better than Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, or The Shield.

Yeah, I'm a fan of the series, but I really don't get all this praise for it. And were is the love for Six Feet Under? Not even a near miss?

Atleast I'll have someone to root for in every category. My picks (from the nominations) are: "The West Wing", Michael C. Hall "Dexter", Allison Janney "The West Wing", "Arrested Development", Jason Bateman "Arrested Development", Lauren Graham "Gilmore Girls".
I am fake outraged over this.

Hahaha Simon
So, I have a different question. Here are shows I have never seen: Deadwood, BSG, Sopranos, FNL, West Wing, The Wire, and The Shield (and Six Feet Under). If I had to start with one of these, and only one, which one should it be?

Let me add, I would have included In Treatment on this list, because I think it is spectacular TV, even if the show is only 2 seasons old. I was very glad to see Gabriel Byrne get a nod for this.
Since you are that much of an In Treatment fan, I'd say Six Feet Under. The emotional resonance I get from the characters in In Treatment is often very near to the ones Six Feet Under provoked in me.
For me, I'd have to go with Battlestar Galactica, Dana5140, purely and simply because of the shows you listed it's the one that blew my mind on a regular basis and ended exactly how I always wanted it to.

And I would mention that BSG is closely followed by The Shield, if not for your pesky "and only one" stipulation. So better not mention that then. ;)
Dana5140 stop everything you are doing now and watch BSG starting with the miniseries. I'm not a fan of spaceship shows, but this one is so much more than the sum of its parts.
It'd be impossible for me to pick between BSG and The Wire. In my opinion they're the two best shows ever (even if they both faltered a bit here and there in their final seasons). Would you rather have gritty, realistic, thought provoking sci-fi or gritty, realistic, thought provoking, social commentary (because it's so much more than "cop drama")?
If people have watched all the great American shows, I'd recommend popping over to Blighty and having a butchers at Our Friends in the North, G.B.H., House of Cards and the Red Riding Trilogy. They're top top television drama. I'd say Our Friends in the North is the best tv program ever made but that's just me.
Or, if you happen to be in the mood for a UK classic, see if you can track down Ultraviolet. Also well worth your time.
I'd agree that it's strange that FNL made the list, however much I like the show. I don't think anyone's denying it's quality television, but when compared to Buffy and The Shield, I feel they both deserve to be on that list more than FNL. Same thing goes for Lost which I absolutely adore, but despite that I still think that both Buffy and The Shield have more to offer in character work and emotional pay-offs. So those are the two changes I'd make: FNL and Lost for Buffy and The Shield. I'd also put BSG in there, but as far as I'm concerned it lost in quality in the last season and therefore doesn't make the cut by a very thin margin.

Still, the entire list is pretty much a summary of quality television in the last decade. Buffy (and Angel and Firefly), The Shield and The West Wing are my favorite ever television shows, The Sopranos is the critical darling and The Wire is #1 on my 'to watch' list. I've adored FNL, Lost and BSG for the quality television they are and keep hearing good things about 'Mad Men' and 'Deadwood'. I am glad that 'Grey's Anatomy' didn't make the cut, though. I know it's well loved and it's certainly not bad, but it can't hold a candle to the other shows nominated. I'd vastly prefer something like, say, Gilmore Girls to GA on the list. And finally: where's Six Feet Under? I haven't seen much of it, but it's supposed to be very good and would deserve to be on there.

As for the actors list: I would've exchanged Michael C. Hall for Martin Sheen who not only deserves to be in there, but deserves to win the entire thing :).

Dana, I haven't seen all those shows, but I have seen:

- The West Wing. It is inspiring political drama. Apart from Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin is my favorite television writer. It has smart, funny dialogue, a 'found family' with many characters to invest in and some absolutely wonderfull actors, great drama, etcetera. It is my favorite non-Whedon show and at times makes me want to be a better person.

- The Shield. This is one of the grittiest shows I have ever seen. None of the characters are either good or bad, but you find yourself rooting for many of them despite the things they've done. Main character Vic Mackey is one of the most human, complex and interesting characters in the history of television and the way he runs his Strike Team (like a family) while doing both great and morally completely reprehensive things makes for gripping, intense television. Apart from the great character work, it features what I feel is a very realistic portrayal of life and police work in a city filled with violent gangs and down-on-their-luck people. It is absolutely recommended.

- BSG is a very complex science fiction show with well-rounded characters, some excellent writing and a very layered story. In the tradition of the best science fiction out there, it takes real world issues (terrorism, good government, politics, religion, war, etcetera) and shines a new light on them through extraordinary circumstances. I myself found the show tough going in its third and fourth season, when it got ever more bleak and my favorite characters were changed in ways that they - at times - were almost unrecognisable from the versions I used to invest in. Plus: I felt the finale was weak, because it failed to satisfyingly deliver on many of the story elements that were fleshed out in the episodes preceeding it. But: you would find many here and on the interwebs who'd disagree with that statement and in the end BSG is high quality television which got consistantly great reviews.

- FNL is, on the surface, a high school show about football and life in a small Texas town. But the writing is outstanding, the actors are very good, the characters are engaging and the things they go through look and feel very real. It's hard to not find anyone to love and latch on to. In some ways, FNL's is the most straightforward show here, but then again: life itself isn't a high concept proposition either.

As for which one you should watch first? I don't know. That all depends on personal preferences. Which concept speaks to you most, which character groups do you prefer, etcetera. But in the end, these are all quality shows which deserve to be seen. If you were me, you'd love The West Wing and The Shield most (they both feature 'found' families, which I love and tend to latch onto). In fact, I'd say that in many ways The West Wing is the most whedonesque non-genre show out there, in writing (dialogue style and pacing), mixing of moods (funny/serious, etcetera) and direction (lots of lovely one-shots and nice, lived-in set). But for all I know you might get turned off by the political and philosophical discussions, the high pace 'walk and talk' sequences, you might disagree with the viewpoints of certain characters to such an extent that you end up hating the show), etcetera. It really is a matter of taste, at the end of the day.

I know that, for me, 'The Wire' will be the next show I try. I've already tried 'The Sopranos' which didn't speak to me as much as I'd expected it to and SFU which was very good but instantly depressed me to such an extent that watching it became a chore instead of being fun. I expect to fall in love with 'The Wire', but I can't be sure.

[ edited by GVH on 2009-06-05 14:56 ]
Dana5140, I'd suggest The Sopranos - it's bloody brilliant
Hehe, couldn't help smile at the comparison between GVH's in-depth suggestions and Let Down's more pithy approach. :D
I have to agree with most of the posts above. While I don't share Simon's fake outrage, I am content with the fact that even a group of television critics, as much as it might pain some of them, have to acknowledge the greatness that is Buffy.

While we know it probably does belong on the short list at the top of the page, its still given proper credit.

And IMO, Buffy is WAY better than LOST (and I never miss a week of LOST). Based on the all-important "looking forward to seeing it scale," I'd give it equal footing with The Soprano's.
Keep 'em coming, folks- I am genuinely reading the responses and will go out tomorrow and buy S1 of something as a result of your suggestions. Right now, it seems as though BSG is the lead, and I do like sf a lot, as well as political stuff (and personal stuff, etc.)...

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2009-06-05 15:53 ]
If it's BSG make sure you start with the miniseries before season 1
Dana I have seen Deadwood (all 3 seasons), BSG (3 of the 4 seasons), and the Sopranos (3 seasons and most of the 4th season). I think out of the first 3 seasons of Deadwood, the first season was the best, all the acting is great but Ian McShane is fantastic and riviting throught as Swarengen.

I love BSG too, I enjoyed seasons 1 & 2 the most so far, season 3 was much darker and I was less into it, but I still plan to see season 4 because even though I was less into season 3, BG is always better than so most other shows.

IMO the first season of the Sopranos was the best out of what I saw. I never really got into it, although it is fun to watch because I live in NJ and it is filmed there.

If you haven't seen it yet, you may like TrueBlood - I'm loving True Blood.
Let Down - When I bought season 1 of BSG the miniseries was included in the season as disk 1 so if I bought it separate I would have paid for it twice. I bought mine in America, I don't know if it's different in other countries.
If it's gotta be the first season of something, it should be the first season of The Wire.

Of the shows you enumerated the only one I can't speak to is The Shield. The rest are indeed very good (in particular the first season of FNL), but The Wire is just so much more immersive to me, and sustains a really rich and detailed and smart story.

It's an angry show, and a polemical one, for sure. But I don't see those as bad things. It argues with great passion for its point of view, and is a better, more involving show for it.
Dana 5140: Here are shows I have never seen: Deadwood, BSG, Sopranos, FNL, West Wing, The Wire, and The Shield (and Six Feet Under). If I had to start with one of these, and only one, which one should it be.

If you could only watch one, I'd have to say The Wire. It's consistently excellent from start to finish.

Fortunately, you don't have to choose just one. :-)

I just started The Shield and am really liking it so far. Deadwood and BSG, obviously, are great, as is the first season of FNL (it's gotten kind of over the top since then). I have no opinion on, or interest in, West Wing, so I defer to others on that.
Yeah, as others have said, VERY important that you get the BSG miniseries before season one, Dana5140. I've known a few people who bought the season one boxset expecting (fairly, I'd have to say) that that is where the story begins. Really not the case. Episode one of season one is already well into the story with very little pause for anyone who isn't up to speed.

May have to check out The Wire myself sometime soon. The West Wing wasn't particularly interesting to me, although the acting was superb.
Sounds good! (I do have the True Blood DVD set, and watched the show religiously, btw).
If it were me, I'd choose "The Wire". No contest. I had a love-hate relationship with BSG. When it was great, it was amazing, but when it wasn't, it was pretty bad. One of the most uneven shows in recent memory. Some of the arcs were so brilliant, but then they'd have like 3 or 4 really bad episodes in a row.

That and the fact that the 2nd half of the final season was a big disappointment.

Still worth watching, but IMHO is nowhere near the excellence the "The Wire" brought during its entire run.

You want to talk about shows that will be studied years down the road? That's the one, right there.
So, I have a different question. Here are shows I have never seen: Deadwood, BSG, Sopranos, FNL, West Wing, The Wire, and The Shield (and Six Feet Under). If I had to start with one of these, and only one, which one should it be?

The West Wing was my favourite television show for a long time, though I'm watching Six Feet Under for the first time now myself and that just might take over the crown.

Like GVH wrote, The West Wing manages to be both smart and funny all the time and is full of very likeable & interesting characters portrait by an amazing cast, with brilliant storytelling and inspiring liberal politics as an added bonus. Six Feet Under is an all around wonderfull portrail of a family of undertakers, that makes me care for the characters even more than the West Wing or even Buffy did. If you like True Blood (also by Allen Ball) and Willow and Tara (it also has a wonderfull gay relationship between Keith and David) it's definitely the show I'd recommend. I think you'd really enjoy it.

The other shows on that list that I have watched are FNL, BSG and The Sopranos. Friday Night Lights and The Sopranos I think are both decent television, but nothing spectacular and a bit unstable, but I imagine you might like the psychiatrist element in the Sopranos if you like In Treatement (I've seen them compared, but I've not (yet) watched In Treatement, so I'm not that sure about how similar they're.) With BSG I had even more trouble to care for or like the characters than with Dollhouse, so (knowing you had the same problems with Dollhouse) I wouldn't immediately recommend that one to you.

Don't know "Deadwood", "The Wire" and "The Shield" though I'm sure I'll check them out someday.

Whatever you choose, have fun watching!

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2009-06-05 17:28 ]
... and also if you're looking for a show that's still currently on, AMC's "Breaking Bad" is utterly brilliant. It just finished up season 2, and is just getting better and better.
Dana 5140:

If you had to choose one, based purely on quality, I'd say The Wire. But since you say you like sf and political issues, I'd say BSG, though The Wire comments on politics all the time.

These are the only two shows that have even had a chance of challenging Buffy as my favorite show of all-time. They didn't get there, but they're, like, 2a and 2b.
Given all the comments- and thank you for them- I am going to splurge and get S1 of BSG and S1 of The Wire- plus the introductor DVD I am told I should watch for BSG. Nifty!

Groosalug- if you can either get the full DVD set of S1 In Treatment, or netflix it- watch the show in order, even when some of the characters appeal to you less than others. It really enhances the viewing. And again, I have said this before, but the plotting in this show is quite as good as Joss in that little things that do not appear important in early eps have devastating payoffs later. I will mention only one and you will not understand it until it happens- the books.
DANA - Check Amazon. In America S1 of BSG comes with the mini series. You don't want to buy it twice.
Dana5140 - (After the whedon shows)Deadwood comes top in my list - Absolutely superb TV (violent and very bad language though) even with a touch of Zach Whedon in the final season. Then I'd say BSG (start at miniseries and go from there) closely followed in no particular order by Sopranos, West Wing and The Shield.

I've just started on the Wire thanks to the BBC showing it here and so far it has me unexpectedly gripped. Tried to get into SFU but I lost track of it somewhere early in S1.
Ah Dana5140, I am so pleased that you have made these 2 selections, they are just what I'd have picked for you. Love them both...I'd say The Wire is in a class by itself, the very best but nonetheless, I may love BSG even more.
I dislike "anyhting of the decade" awards and contests. It's an artificial construct of time, unlike, days, years,even months, and careers don't follow that sort of abstract measure. An annual Ten-Year Achievment Award makes more sense. (admittedly, I've been bothered by this ever since Alabama won CMA Artist of the Decade in 1989. Sure, theyd eserved it, but what about acts which scored well over most of a group of ten years not correspondign to the numbers?)

That said, I agree with the rest of you.
To all- a big :-)

Heh, Dana, starting not one, but two high rated television shows.. that's not a bad way to spend some time :). Let us know what you think, m'kay? :). I might join you in buying S1 of 'The Wire' soon, by the way, as soon as I've completed S7 of 'The Shield'.
I am currently deep into The Wire, and I have to chime in about its awesomeness. It took me awhile to get into it--I'm more fond of the funny & the sci-fi than the gritty--but by the time I got to the end of Season 1 (I'm now in the middle of 4), I was completely sold. The world it creates is so real, to me it's more like reading a long novel than watching a TV show. I wouldn't watch it over & over the way I do Joss' shows, but it is surely a profound work of art.
Here's my list:

(1) Buffy
(2) Six Feet Under
(3) The Wire
(4) Lost
(5) Sopranos
(1) Angel
(2) Dexter
(3) BSG
(4) Veronica Mars
(5) Rome

What's that you say? No one cares about my list? Oh well...

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-06-06 03:32 ]

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-06-06 03:33 ]

[ edited by Squishy on 2009-06-06 03:38 ]
Dana5140 said:

So, I have a different question.

Here are shows I have never seen: Deadwood, BSG,

Sopranos, FNL, West Wing, The Wire, and The Shield

(and Six Feet Under). If I had to start with one of

these, and only one, which one should it be?

Surprised that Six Feet Under didn't make it onto that list (I would've put that and/or In Treatment in 24's spot, much as I've enjoyed some seasons of 24--24 is blockbuster pop TV, with occasional emotional resonance--SFU and In Treatment are quality works of art). My vote for suggested next viewing (after the other two you already picked) goes to Six Feet Under, though I haven't seen from your list Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, The West Wing, or The Wire (and I'm still three seasons away from finishing The Shield, but the first four were fantastic).

Someone said this list seemed pretentious. If well-written, well-acted television is pretentious (I think the inclusion of 24 and, even more puzzling, Grey's Anatomy in the honorable mentions makes it a lot less pretentious, to be honest), then I guess I love pretentious TV. If you're pissed just because some genre show you like didn't get on (and this list was very fair to genre dramas), I dunno what to say.

[ edited by Kris on 2009-06-06 06:54 ]
Groosalug- if you can either get the full DVD set of S1 In Treatment, or netflix it- watch the show in order, even when some of the characters appeal to you less than others.

You've made me very curious, so I'll try to get to the DVD. Or I might watch it if it ends up getting broadcast here someday soon.
Great choice Dana5140. My recommendation is to start with BSG, but I'm prejudiced in the extreme, it's my second favorite show ever, after Buffy. And I so don't agree with a couple of the comments about the final season, which I thought was spectacular, and especially the two-part series finale, which I found to be the single most satisfying series finale of any show, ever. (But then, I've had Joss lessons in having my heart ripped out and saying "thank you very much".) ;)

The Wire is grueling, tragic and brilliant. And for future reference, I agree that the exclusion of Six Feet Under is unforgivable.
A bit late to the game here, but:


To be honest, besides "Mad Men" (which is fantastic and I think it deserves to be in the top six dramas) and "Lost" (which is overrated and certainly, to me, doesn't), I haven't seen the "top six" dramas on the list. Oh well--I at least know what one I would gladly trade out for "Buffy." I like "Battlestar" but am kind of glad it didn't make the top six--it's miles ahead of "Lost," but still way behind, e.g., "Buffy" in consistency of vision and strength of characterization, with a few exceptions. (And I do think that the "Battlestar" finale was weak, incidentally; its final season was, on an episode-to-episode basis, its strongest, but it often felt like there was no communication between episodes, as if each writer had their own story to tell.)

I'd add "Angel" and "Dexter" to the honourable mentions list at least; and "Firefly," which is my favourite drama of the past decade, although I don't mind it not being included given its brief running time. I also like "House" and am glad it made it to the honourable mentions.


First off, love that Michael C. Hall not only gets the nom but gets his picture; he and Hugh Laurie have portrayed two of the most iconic recent characters. Love that Jon Hamm got nominated, too. I would add Edward James Olmos for "Battlestar Galactica." (And Nathan Fillion, too, but his career is brief. I'm not going to push too much for 'verse supporting players like Tony Head, James Marsters and Alexis Denisof, because this is clearly mostly lead actors.)


Great to see SMG, though she deserves in the main noms and not runners-up. And Mary McDonnell! Huzzah! Good stuff. (I would love to see Summer Glau and Aly Hannigan, but, supporting, yadda yadda....)


I'm wondering if "The Office" refers to both shows; both the UK and US ones deserve recognition. So do "30 Rock," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Daily Show" and especially "Arrested Development"; I could pass on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and trade it for "South Park," really kind of underrated. "The Simpsons" was a great show but not really in the past decade, its glory years being mostly over by 1999 or 2000 (though most put it later). I'd add "Coupling" to the supporting shows list. Nice to see "Flight of the Conchords," whose first season was pretty great.


Stephen Colbert is the biggest omission; scripted shows yadda yadda, he plays a CHARACTER just like other actors, and with tremendous bravery. Nothing but praise for all six nominees though--I might trade out Kelsey Grammar for Colbert, but only because his character was already established way before the last decade. And NPH is great, even though it's kind of a supporting role and if we permit that then we also have to let in the floodgates for (e.g.) Will Arnett and Michael Cera and Rainn Wilson and Martin Freeman.

COMEDY ACTRESS: Good on Tina Fey; and the rest of the nominees are fine, even though I'm not that familiar with most of them. And hey! Jenna Fischer! Awesome! But she's supporting etc. etc. oh well, it's fine, she's awesome.

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