5. Friends (1994-2004) - Once again, this is a case of: it would be higher on a 90's list. In fact it might be my number one or near it (along with The Simpsons and Seinfeld) on a 90's list. But even as a new decade dawned, Friends was still one of the best sitcoms on television (in my opinion the best period), and while its
3. The Wire (2002-2008) - All of the great cop shows in television history were building towards one climatic point. And that point was HBO's The Wire. Considered by many to be the best show of the 2000's, and one of the greatest of all time The Wire never received much attention from Television Academy voters, and top-notch ratings always eluded it. But those of us who were brave enough, bold enough, and yes, cool enough to tune in, were treated to something spectacular, something never before seen on television. Yes, we all know about the police heroes who keep our streets safe. We even know the grittier versions that show the duplicity of most men in uniform, and the reality of a cop's life and career in shows like L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, and The Shield. But never have we quite seen the struggle play out between cops, and yes between the drug dealers and criminals. Given equal time, and tons of fiesty interplay, the drama that sparked was sent through the wire. It was daring to give time to drug dealers, to run parellel stories that
2. The Sopranos (1999-2007) - When I did my Best of the Emmy Awards, I had a tie in my Best Drama Series final. I chickened out. I could not find the strength within me to make the hard decision. Well, the time has finally come, and I'm pretty sure this decision will shock some, infuriate and baffle others, and I still would not change it. In my opinion, the two greatest television dramas of all time, came in the exact same year. One of those shows, and the one probably most recognized as the best since 2000 is HBO's stunning mob drama, The Sopranos. Watching The Sopranos every week was like watching one of Coppola's or Scorsese's best. But instead of having to wait for years for a new installment, you only had to wait a week. It was crime drama at its best. On the surface, it had all of the blood, the crime, the shady dealings, and the manerisms and culture of the mob, and of Italian-Americans at the turn of the century. It has every great plotline, character, and style of the great mob movies in American history. But make no mistake, there was
1. The West Wing - So what made the difference? What put The West Wing over the top? I graduated with a degree in political science and American history, and maybe I am a little biased. But there has never been anything on television, nor will there ever be, as unique and wonderful as NBC's The West Wing. As our nation becomes even more divided by the lines in the sand including: race, religion, sex, sexuality, and of course political persuasion, perhaps we need to revisit the White House of President Jed Bartlett. It fulfilled every political fantasy, every political desire, every liberal's dream, that has ever played out in my head. It was a pitch-perfect drama about the intricacies, the relationships, and the struggle that the President and its staff must endure on a regular basis. It brought in big guns, former White House employees, White House journalists, and other important political figures to ensure a sense of authenticity. And it turns out, that the
only real difference is that the staff members neither walked, nor talked as fast as the actors. But other than that, we might as well have been watching a documentary on the interworkings and the day to day world of White House staffers. It was an incredible achievement, and my favorite show of all time. Aaron Sorkin deserves most of the credit, because even when he left the show, his mark was long felt on the style, direction, and storylines of The West Wing. His idea of the perfect liberal president, was not a perfect man who did no wrong. Not a man who never saw fault in his ideas. But instead, Sorkin created an incredibly deep President, who made tons of mistakes, who sometimes compromised his goals to achieve political success, but never lost hope in the democratic process, in his ideals, and in the abilities of his smart, funny, and hardworking staff. Led by Martin Sheen's monumental creation, Jed Bartlett, the cast, and the beloved characters that they created will forever go down in television infamy. The late John Spencers noble Leo, Stockard Channing's loving and determined Abby, Bradley Whitford's brilliant and passionate Josh, Richard Schiff's cynical, yet loveable Toby, Rob Lowe's ambitious and enthusiastic Sam, Janelle Maloney's gullible, yet caring Donna, and Dule Hill's wide-eyed and loyal Charlie, were all Sorkin's creations that were brought to life by some fine actors. At the top of the heap, along with Sheen, is Allison Janey, and her creation of C.J. Cregg, probably the finest female character (along with Falco's) in television history, definitely the best since 2000. The West Wing won four Best Drama Series Emmys in a row, and it could have won seven, and you would hear no complaints on this end. There is a reason that Emmy voters were so enraptured by The West Wing. It was beautifully drawn, impeccably written in its fast-paced, constantly moving way by Aaron Sorkin, and perfectly acted by a wonderful cast, and it remains one of the best. There is also a good reason why Americans of all persuasions loved this show as well. At its core, it was a visual experience that showcased the power of American democracy, the ability of leaders to find solutions to challenges, and the ultimate truth that those that dedicate their lives to public servie, truly do so because they firmly believe that what they are doing is bettering people's lives. As a local government employee, it was nice to see the recognition. In this blogger's humble opinion The West Wing is quite simply: the best.