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Top 10 TV Drama / Sci-Fi (as of 07/01/2013)

I could possibly rename this as 'Top 10 American TV Shows' as that's where they're all from. It wasn't intentional, there are just a lot of great American Drama and Sci-Fi shows. Obviously this chart only includes shows I've actually watched, so before you say something like "hey, why isn't Breaking Bad on there?", it's because I've not gotten round to watching it yet (the Pilot aside).

10. Fringe (2008 - 2013)

As I write this, the last season is still being broadcast and I'm actually a few episodes behind at the moment. It could turn out that the last episode is hugely disappointing and I'll wish I'd not included this here, but as of this moment in time I think it's been a great show and I'm happy to sing its praises. It started off a bit X-Files-esque, with a weekly monster / fringe event that needed investigating, but over the seasons it's gotten more and more complex, with alternate realities and such like. The X-Files meets Lost! Although this last season's all a bit 1984. The characters are good and interesting, particularly Walter, and the plot's developed well and deliberately; a lot of shows feel like they're making it up as they go along (which I'm sure they are), whereas this show at least feels like it's been well mapped out. I just hope it reaches a satisfying finale.

9. Angel (1999 - 2004)

Yes it's the Buffy spin-off. I think it tends to get overlooked, just because it wasn't Buffy, but I liked the darker edge and there were some great characters and storylines. It also had a brilliant and fitting ending. Plus there's an episode where Angel's a puppet! Gotta love that.

8. Six Feet Under (2001 - 2005)

I only watched this within the past year or two and realised what I'd been missing out on. It's funny, it's sad, it's unnerving... it's human! Albeit some particularly troubled humans, but still, aren't those the best to make TV shows about? It's also another show with a great ending.

7. Firefly (2002 - 2003)

Shiny. I was tempted to put this slightly higher, but it's difficult when there are only 14 episodes! I suppose a Sci-Fi Western was always going to be a bit of a niche genre?! The episodes that do exist are highly entertaining, beautifully shot and with some great characters who really start to come into their own when it all abruptly ends. Oh. At least there's the film 'Serenity', I guess, though I don't think the hardcore fans (The Browncoats) will ever stop campaigning for more episodes to be commissioned.

6. Lost (2004 - 2010)

I struggled a lot with where to position this. When the show was on, I loved it: The cliffhanger endings to practically every episode; the bizarre goings on; the time travel; the large number of characters and their interweaving storylines. Some people hate shows where they're left with more questions than answers, but I'm a total sucker for them. An episode would end with some big shock revelation and I'd literally sit there open mouthed and gasp. This is why I was so immensely disappointed by the last episode. I was expecting a rollercoaster of revelations and plot twists and maybe even a vague and open-ended climax, but instead it got all sappy and focused on tying up one specific plot thread that had only been introduced in the last season anyway! So yes, it totally marred my overall enjoyment of the show and put me off re-watching all the episodes, which is what I'd been planning to do. However, now with some hindsight, I can re-appreciate how great the vast majority of the show was and maybe I actually will re-watch it at some point soon. Although I might stop short of watching the last episode and maybe write my own version of it instead!

5. Mad Men (2007 - present)

This chart placing is just based on the first 5 seasons, but I really hope it continues to be brilliant. It took me quite a few episodes to really get into it, but once I did I couldn't get enough. It's all about the characters really and how well they're played. It does also make you want to drink a lot of whisky though - not that that's necessarily bad.

4. The West Wing (1999 - 2006)

I was a latecomer to this too and watched it all on DVD boxsets. That is a great way to watch shows though, as you can binge on as many episodes as you want. I'm re-watching it at the moment and really enjoying it again. There's a lot of talking, often quite quickly, and a great array of characters that come to feel more and more like family. My favourite being CJ - she's awesome.

3. Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 - 2003)

I'd watched the 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' film that came out in 1992 and really enjoyed it, so when I heard they were making a TV version of it I was disappointed and didn't want to watch it - you shouldn't try to turn films into TV shows! However, my family weren't so morally militant and they did watch it. For the first three weeks I shut myself away in my bedroom while it was on, but on the fourth week I was bored and decided to join them in the living room. I saw most of the episode 'Teacher's Pet' and had to confess I'd really enjoyed it. I no longer shut myself away in my bedroom (at least not when Buffy was on). It seems funny now that I thought it wouldn't be worthy of the film, when the film's actually pretty awful, particularly in comparison with the TV show. Although, in my defense, I must have only been about 12 when I watched the film. The TV show's brilliant though, particularly once it gets into its stride. Yes it's a bit 'teen', particularly in the early seasons, but it can also be incredibly dark. The season 5 episode 'The Body' is one of the most moving, perfectly directed and stark 45 minutes of TV I've ever seen.

2. Twin Peaks (1990 - 1991)

I first saw Twin Peaks in about 1995. It was being shown on one of the cable channels we had at the time (Bravo, I think) and my Mum and Step-Dad fancied watching it, so I started watching it with them, not knowing anything about it (I think I was mostly trying to avoid having to go to bed!). It was strange, amusing, intriguing, twisted and had one of the greatest characters ever in Agent Dale Cooper. I was hooked! I watched it every week, quite often on my own, which wasn't always a great plan as it's pretty disturbing at times - Bob scared me. I've lost track of how many times I've re-watched it since then - it's just one of those things that needs doing every few years. Plus in 2011 I got to actually visit some of the Twin Peaks locations while I was staying in Seattle. Seeing the waterfall and then going for a coffee and pie in the diner was like some surreally brilliant dream, worthy of Twin Peaks itself.

1. The X-Files (1993-2002)

The X-Files has been my favourite TV show since about 1994! I came across the Pilot randomly on Sky One, enjoyed it and never looked back. Of course there's the monsters and the aliens and various spooky things, which are great, don't get me wrong, but the real draw of the show for me was Mulder and Scully. Maybe not initially, but increasingly over time. Individually they were great, but their relationship dynamic was even more engaging. The care, the tenderness... I'm a big softie. Scully I particularly loved as a character; she's strong and brilliant but also vulnerable, even though she tries to keep it hidden. Of course it wasn't the same in the last 2 seasons when Mulder was mostly absent and Scully became less of a main character too, though I still enjoyed those seasons, just in a different way - the storytelling was good and there were some pretty scary monsters - plus I liked Doggett and Reyes as characters (just not as much as Mulder and Scully of course!).

 
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