A better title for this post may have been “Television Series That I Watched Every Episode Produced,” but it was clunky enough already.
There are a lot more than ten television series that I’ve watched in their entirety. Like all of my 10-Lists, this one had its own unique set of ground rules.
The series on this list shouldn’t have appeared on any other 10-List. That eliminated a lot of shows, including Lost, Seinfeld, Sons of Anarchy and Gilmore Girls.
I’ve excluded the entire Trek franchise, because, let’s face it, I write about Star Trek a lot. There’s no need to lump it in with the hoi polloi.
The series in the list must have also completed their runs. It’s that completist thing that’s hardwired into my brain. Lucifer hasn’t finished its run yet, so I can’t include it (also, it was in another 10-List, but that’s just splitting hairs). Similarly, this would have eliminated Supernatural, Ozark, Shameless and Peaky Blinders, if they weren’t already crossed off the list.
The shows on the list also had to be ones I actually liked. This requirement isn’t too difficult to meet. I don’t finish watching series that I don’t like.
If I’ve written reviews of a series before, I excluded it from my list. This bumped Halt and Catch Fire from this project, although I forgot about writing the reviews until I looked it up. Also, iZombie, Veronica Mars and Colony.
Finally, I must have watched every single episode of the series. I’m on the honor system here, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. For instance, even if it otherwise qualified, which it doesn’t, I couldn’t include The X-Files, because my viewership became sporadic late in the series run, especially after Mulder disappeared. Finish watching The X-Files is a permanent item on my To-Do List.
By the way, I didn’t include Firefly on this list, even though I considered it, because I’ve already planned to write a review of my recent rewatch of the series, and I may write a detailed episode breakdown in the distant future, after I clear my current docket. For similar reasons, I also excluded Freaks and Geeks.
These self-imposed restrictions made the creation of this list a little more difficult. But, that’s part of the fun for me. A mental challenge. My ultimate goal is to stave off senility here. At least for a little while longer.
Now that all the legal stuff is out of the way, here’s the list, in alphabetical order:
Battlestar Galactica — Although I also watched the 1978 series created by Glen A. Larson, I am, of course, talking about the Ronald D. Moore reboot. This series began as a two-part miniseries on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2003, followed by four seasons (76 episodes) before ending its run in March 2009. This is high space opera that opened my eyes to science-fiction television beyond Trek. I put this one in the same class as Firefly and The Expanse. Plus, Edward James Olmos elevates any production he’s in.
Crossbones –– John Malkovich as Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, the infamous pirate. If that’s not enough to entice you to watch this short-lived but amazing series, I’ll add that the scenery is beautiful and the story exciting. I was still playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag when I watched this back in 2014, and there was some overlap in the stories. The series is based upon The Republic of Pirates, by Colin Woodward, which I own but haven’t read yet. I think I’ll wait until I play Black Flag again to read it. The series also features Richard Coyle, from the wonderful BBC show Coupling, and Claire Foy before she became Queen Elizabeth II on The Crown.
Eureka — In the UK and Republic of Ireland, this show was released as A Town Called Eureka. Here in the U.S., this aired on the Sci-Fi Channel (before it became iffy as SyFy), from 2006 to 2012. Five seasons and 77 episodes. The fictional town of Eureka (which is in Washington state during the pilot, but in Oregon thereafter) is populated by geniuses who work for Global Dynamics, an advanced research facility responsible for nearly all major technological breakthroughs since it came into existence. Lots of crazy stuff happens on the show, and the special effects aren’t terrible for television. Heck, the effects look better than some I’ve seen in theatrical releases, to tell the truth. But, that’s not the reason I liked this series. I liked the characters. Sheriff Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson – now the Maytag repairman in the commercials) is the central character, and possibly the only non-genius in town, but he is surrounded by a likeable ensemble cast. Sheriff Carter struggles with fatherhood and potential romance while keeping Eureka from being destroyed on an almost-weekly basis. There is humor, and science, and psuedo-science, all in the name of entertainment. Each season has its own story arc, and there is a nice maturing of the show from first season to last.
Fringe — This one may be a bit of a cheat, because the series was mentioned in my post 10-List: Fictional Corporations. Massive Dynamic is an important fictional corporation in this television series. This science fiction series ran on the Fox network from 2008 to 2013, five seasons and exactly one hundred episodes. The series was created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, names known to most nerds out there. Joshua Jackson and Anna Torv play the Mulder and Scully of this imaginative story. The series starts slow until it finds its footing, and then we have parallel universes, alternate timelines, Leonard Nimoy as the mysterious Dr. William Bell, the founder of the biotechnology company Massive Dynamic, which I mentioned earlier. The corporation looms largely over everything that happens in the series, like the Umbrella Corporation or Delos. I liked this one as well.
Justified — This FX crime drama ran for six seasons, starring Timothy Olyphant as US Marshal Raylan Givens and Walton Goggins as series bad guy Boyd Crowder. Like famed character actor Margo Martindale, who is also in this series, Goggins pops up a couple of times on this list. The series was based upon a character created by Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite mystery/crime novelists, and I would characterize the show as a Western set in modern times. Not just because Olyphant wears a cowboy hat and boots, or because he was in the series Deadwood, which I haven’t watched yet. This was a great program that I will rewatch. Someday.
Mad Men — This period drama was on AMC for seven seasons from 2007 to 2015. Set from 1960 to 1970 in the world of Madison Avenue advertising. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) joined the pantheon of television antiheroes that includes Vic Mackey (you’ll read about him in a bit), Tony Soprano, Walter White, Kenny Powers, BoJack Horseman, Dexter Morgan, and others. This group continues to grow because the viewing public just loves a bad guy. I watched every episode of this series and still didn’t recognize Alison Brie when I began watching Community.
My Name is Earl — This offbeat sitcom, created by Greg Garcia, had four seasons between 2005 and 2009. 96 episodes. Garcia also created the sitcoms Yes, Dear and Raising Hope. This show starred Jason Lee as the hapless Earl Hickey, a lovable loser type. Ethan Suplee plays Earl’s brother Randy. Because Lee and Suplee have been in several ViewAskew productions, I thought Kevin Smith may have had something to do with this series. He didn’t, but I’m willing to bet Smith liked this show as well. The premise is that Earl discovers the concept of karma during an episode of Last Call with Carson Daly. After winning $100,000 in the lottery, then getting hit by a car, Earl makes a list of bad things he’s done in his life and sets out to make amends for each one. Jaime Pressly, as Earl’s ex-wife Joy, steals every scene she’s in.
The Riches — I suppose it’s possible that you’ve never heard of this series. And that’s a shame. It had only two seasons and twenty episodes on FX between 2007 – 2008. The series starred Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver as members of a family of Irish Travellers (gypsies) who steal the identities and home of a wealthy dead couple. This show made me an Izzard fan, regardless of his penchant for crossdressing. Shannon Woodward and Noel Fisher play the children in this larcenous nuclear family. Woodward went on to be in Raising Hope and Westworld, among other projects. And, Fisher is the volatile Mickey Milkovich on Shameless, among many other projects, again. None of the actors on this short-lived series have been lacking in work. Famed character actor Margo Martindale is in this show as well.
The Shield — This FX crime drama premiered in 2002, lasting for seven seasons and 88 episodes. The series follows the activites of an experimental division of the LAPD in the fictional Farmington district, which is lousy with gangs, drugs and prostitutes. The focus of the series is the division’s Strike Team, led by Det. Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis). Mackey is not above breaking the law to get what he wants. This is an ensemble show, even though Mackey chews up the scenery. Of note is Strike Team member Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins). This was my first exposure to Goggins, and I thought he was terrific then. The guest-stars throughout the seven seasons is impressive: Glenn Close; Forest Whitaker; Franka Potente; Laura Harring; and, Laurie Holden. Plus, CCH Pounder is in this series. ‘Nuff said. This show caught my attention during the very first episode, when its star commits cold-blooded murder. The series may be due for a revival.
Smallville — This superhero television series premiered in 2001, during a time that I wasn’t watching a lot of television. In fact, I didn’t begin watching this one until after it went off the air in 2011. The superhero is, of course, Superman, and he never appears in this series. Not even once (unless you count that flapping cape at the end). This is the story of how Clark Kent (Tom Welling) becomes Superman in his adopted hometown of Smallville, Kansas. In this reimagining of the story, Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) begins as a friend to Clark. There is a definite Buffy the Vampire Slayer vibe to this series, and I loved all ten seasons of it.
And, there it is. I personally recommend all of the series above. This is the good stuff.