Must see top 21 series list

by frogwithmilk | created - 07 Jun 2016 | updated - 28 Apr 2017 | Public

Series are always tricky. Some of them stop while they are super good like Geeks and greeks or Invasion. Other ones continue and painfully continue until nobody is interested any more like the x files or ER. And most of them are just a waste of time and... going nowhere. But some of them are as good, even better than what cinema has to offer. This list lets you discover the most surprising ones television history has to offer. A lot can be learned for storytelling, especially the complexity of characters and mixture of long, real long and short story lines.

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1. The Wire (2002–2008)

TV-MA | 59 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement.

Stars: Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn, Wendell Pierce

Votes: 232,236

Good show. Slow but interesting until the end. Second has it flows, but for the rest it is a brilliant analysis of big american city living.

2. Twin Peaks (1990–1991)

TV-MA | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks.

Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Mädchen Amick, Dana Ashbrook

Votes: 146,186

One of the best series of all times. Ok... Lynch doesn't make it until the end... the second season is less strong, and the end is a bit to far fetched. But the again, all the rest is such high level. A perfect mixture of soap, suspense, drama and humor.

3. Riget (1994–1997)

TV-MA | 561 min | Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Doctors at an ultramodern hospital in Denmark become convinced, by way of weird, inexplicable happenings, that the place is haunted.

Stars: Ernst-Hugo Järegård, Kirsten Rolffes, Ghita Nørby, Holger Juul Hansen

Votes: 15,717 | Gross: $0.09M

The first 4 episodes released in the nineties as 2 cinema films, is a perfect mixture of horror, humor and drama. To bad the second season didn't succeed in a perfect follow up. But man those first 4 episodes is best what television ever produced.

4. Death Note (2006–2007)

TV-14 | 24 min | Animation, Crime, Drama

An intelligent high school student goes on a secret crusade to eliminate criminals from the world after discovering a notebook capable of killing anyone whose name is written into it.

Stars: Mamoru Miyano, Brad Swaile, Vincent Tong, Ryô Naitô

Votes: 167,083

Many manga's are very high rated on imdb. But this one deserves it. Some episodes a brilliant. It is like a chess game in which every word, every gesture is a move. The second season doesn't keep up the tension we had in the first one, but still it is nice that this series ends in an interesting fashion.

5. The West Wing (1999–2006)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama

Inside the lives of staffers in the West Wing of the White House.

Stars: Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Allison Janney, John Spencer

Votes: 53,576

7 seasons is a long time in television land. So no, the series doesn't stay interesting that long... but it does achieve in telling this storyline for a long time. The exceptional writing and the speed behind it makes it very enjoyable to watch. Especially the non stopping drive behind the stories... wathever they throw at us, we will continue to try to make this a better place. uplifting television.

6. The Shield (2002–2008)

TV-MA | 47 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Follows the lives and cases of a dirty Los Angeles Police Department cop and the unit under his command.

Stars: Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace

Votes: 63,882

A simple cop series. Maybe. But one that with the high peak in season 4, and after working towards the end of the main character. The end is good, very good, which makes it very rewarding to spent so many hours with these characters. Good or bad doesn't apply here.

7. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999)

TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

A police homicide investigation unit investigates violent crimes in the city of Baltimore.

Stars: Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Kyle Secor

Votes: 10,130

Antoher detective series. you don't have to see everything to see how brilliant this series is. Especially season 1 til 3 are exceptional. It is not as much a detective story about the homicides, but all about the cynical view on life, which creeps upon these characters doing what they are doing. Addictive television.

8. Borgen (2010–2013)

TV-14 | 58 min | Drama

A political drama about a prime minister's rise to power, and how power changes a prime minister.

Stars: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Emil Poulsen, Freja Riemann

Votes: 14,227

Brilliant analysis of politics, but also a very interesting female leading role. The hours spent on script development were not wasted. It lifted European series to a higher level

9. The Newsroom (2012–2014)

TV-MA | 55 min | Drama

A newsroom undergoes some changes in its workings and morals as a new team is brought in, bringing unexpected results for its existing news anchor.

Stars: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, John Gallagher Jr., Alison Pill

Votes: 92,923

Like many series, the first and second are best. But I am also happy with the third in which the premisse which was already in series one came to a resolution. Not a happy one... but an interesting one. This series raises many interesting issues about the media today as a fourth power.

10. The Muppet Show (1976–1981)

TV-G | 30 min | Comedy, Family, Music

Kermit the Frog and his friends struggle to put on a weekly variety show.

Stars: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz

Votes: 19,635

It is exceptional television. Out of date of course... but who care. These are puppets making you laugh... they became part of our culture.

11. Show Me a Hero (2015)

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, History

Yonkers Mayor Nick Wasicsko takes office in 1987 and has to deal with the serious subject of the building of public housing in the white, middle class side of the town.

Stars: Oscar Isaac, Peter Riegert, Natalie Paul, Carla Quevedo

Votes: 7,893

Perfect analysis how power works. Based on a true story... but don't let this misguide you. The dramatics in this series are well done. Very sharp storytelling with gripping characters.

12. The Singing Detective (1986)

415 min | Drama, Musical, Mystery

Tormented and bedridden by a debilitating disease, a mystery writer relives his detective stories through his imagination and hallucinations.

Stars: Michael Gambon, Patrick Malahide, Joanne Whalley, David Ryall

Votes: 3,796

Unique in its kind. This is superb storytelling, in which different times and worlds a combined in the mind of one person. Brilliant television.

13. ER (1994–2009)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Romance

The lives, loves and losses of the doctors and nurses of Chicago's County General Hospital.

Stars: Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, Eriq La Salle

Votes: 45,007

The first 3 seasons were groundbreaking television. Since then television got speed, different narratives were mixed. To bad the series has lasted for 15 seasons and lost it high level of writing. Still one has had to see some episodes: Love labor's lost is my favourite, and has the tension of a hospital thriller.

14. In Treatment (2008–2010)

TV-MA | 25 min | Drama

A psychotherapist questions his abilities and gets help by reuniting with his old therapist, whom he has not seen for ten years.

Stars: Gabriel Byrne, Dianne Wiest, Michelle Forbes, Blair Underwood

Votes: 14,106

An original series, with short episodes and only 2 people talking. As far as storytelling goes, this is a very interesting how these television makers are succeeding in telling a gripping story simply by using dialogue. The search of this psychologist for what is going on beneath the surface of his patients, is an interesting story teller tool.

15. NYPD Blue (1993–2005)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Detectives from NYPD's 15th squad investigate homicides within their precinct.

Stars: Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, Gordon Clapp, James McDaniel

Votes: 10,182

One of the best cop shows out there. Like ER this was groundbreaking television and the the previous Hill street blues which made way for new kind of storytelling in television NYPD became a huge succes. With the continuously moving camera, more explicit sexual material and strong language one was used to in that time this series made it to the top of television history. As far as story design the focus was not as much a whodunnit story but more how to survive in the big apple as a cop. Like many series the succes put this series a little too long out there, so the format began to wear out at the end. But still the life struggle of Sipowiz, the racist grumpy cop who becomes a very sweet father is on of the best examples of character developments trough out more than 10 years.

16. The L Word (2004–2009)

TV-MA | 50 min | Drama, Romance

Follows the lives and loves of a small, close-knit group of lesbians living in Los Angeles as well as the friends and family members that either support or loathe them.

Stars: Jennifer Beals, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Mia Kirshner

Votes: 21,693

Most of the films about people who are gay, or transgender are about identy. This series also works with that, but is more about everyday relationships, which is refreshing. Not only that, it does it in an pretty good analysis of how today's modern families try to cope with the complex society we live in today. Especially the first season are must see material.

17. Love My Way (2004–2007)

50 min | Drama, Romance

A story about a group of thirty-somethings dealing with the ups and downs of life.

Stars: Claudia Karvan, Asher Keddie, Brendan Cowell, Dan Wyllie

Votes: 702

An Australian series which has a very powerful first season... it is one of those series which breaks your heart without being sentimental. It is also one those series who puts women in strong leading roles. It is interesting to see how powerful a series can be, it it works to an interesting climax completely out of the blue, but as an audience you understand this was the series was all about.

18. The Storyteller (1987– )

225 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

An old storyteller tells European folk tales to his sarcastic dog.

Stars: John Hurt, Brian Henson, Frederick Warder, David Greenaway

Votes: 3,371

Jim Henson's storyteller is an interesting way in how to put basic storytelling on screen. Words and images, which create a beautiful and strong story design.

19. Life on Mars (2006–2007)

TV-14 | 60 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

After being involved in a car accident in 2006, DCI Sam Tyler wakes up to find himself in 1973, the era of 'Sweeney' type policing, Mark III Cortinas, and flared trousers.

Stars: John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, Dean Andrews

Votes: 26,264

This is one of BBC's best. Magic Realism put on a higher level, which brings us back to the rocky seventies. A time of cigarettes, sexist male characters and crime detectives with only their gut and almost no technology. But the most interesting part is how the characters are written... how does one act in a seventies style? Well Life on Mars shows it to you. And like all Magic Realism, the ending is a more a question mark than a finish line.

20. Boston Legal (2004–2008)

TV-14 | 44 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

Boston Legal is a spin-off of the long-running David E. Kelley series The Practice (1997), following the exploits of former Practice character Alan Shore (James Spader) at the legal firm of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt.

Stars: James Spader, William Shatner, Candice Bergen, Rene Auberjonois

Votes: 39,244

Another show with lawyers? Not really. There is more than meets the eye. Not only is this one of the really rare truly funny shows, it also has a, like the good wife, deeper storyline which asks for interesting ethical questions in society. It is also one of the few shows which doesn't decline in qualtity through out the whole 5 seasons. How to make your point by letting do your main characters do the opposite is one of the things we learn from this series.

21. Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

PG | 283 min | Drama

Ten years within the marriage of Marianne and Johan.

Stars: Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson, Bibi Andersson, Gunnel Lindblom

Votes: 13,338

This Bergman series is television at it's best. A simple daily happening not so interesting for many filmmakers, but life changing when it happens to you: a divorce. Bergman analyses the complexity of a divorce brilliantly, putting all thoughts and feelings into these characters, which makes this timeless, hard to watch, but at the same time an very must do experience.

22. When We Rise (2017)

TV-14 | 85 min | Drama

A chronicled re-telling of the gay rights movement in the United States, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Stars: Rachel Griffiths, Austin P. McKenzie, Mary-Louise Parker, Emily Skeggs

Votes: 2,607



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