Yes, Mom, I am gonna plan my whole life around my TV shows

May 26, 2014

Between summer programming and the upcoming fall onslaught of new shows, my oft-discussed “prime-time shows I’ve watched” list will roar past 900 before the year is out. Yeah, that’s 900 individual shows. Like I’ve said before, if I had put that brain power to use somewhere else who knows what I could have invented or cured. But in my world TV pays the bills, so TV it is!

In the calm before the summer viewing storm, I decided to take a minute and look over some of my all-time favorite shows and characters. All of these are listed in no particular order… and yes, I’m clearly cheating in a few because I couldn’t hold it to just five.

Top 5 all time (I did a full blog about these shows in 2011 — https://niceolelevy.com/2011/07/21/the-fantastic-five-of-this-writers-life/ — so I won’t repeat except to say, they’re magic):

  1. Hill Street Blues — Someone needs to get Daniel J. Travanti back on TV full-time.
  2. Homicide — Frank Pembleton is everything.
  3. NYPD Blue — Sipowicz and Simone forever!
  4. Once & Again — So real it hurt but in all the best ways.
  5. Friday Night Lights — Texas forever!

Top 5 shows that would be the next top 5 all-time:

  1. China Beach — Dana Delaney, y’all. Seriously, everything about this show is awesome, but Dana Delaney will rip your heart out about a dozen times before you get to the end, and then in the finale, she will kill you dead.
  2. Terriers — best single season show ever. I hope “Gotham” finally makes Donal Logue the TV star he deserves to be.
  3. Boston Legal — I hated the first season of this show. And then David E. Kelley got rid of everything I didn’t like and by the final episode of the series, I felt like someone was taking away part of my family.
  4. West Wing — Till Sam Seaborn leaves anyway. That’s where I pretend the show stopped; It just was never the same for me without Rob Lowe’s Sam around.
  5. The Closer — Start to finish, one of the best and most complete lead character arcs this side of Andy Sipowicz. Loved. Every. Minute.

Top 5 shows my parents made me watch in reruns:

  1. The Big Valley — Victoria Barkley was the shit, y’all. Watch her get ready to kick some ass anytime anyone threatens those kids. Especially Heath. Pretty, pretty Heath.
  2. The Rockford Files — Jim Rockford was just awesome. Cool, loyal, wry and smart.
  3. Marcus Welby M.D. — Dr. Steven Kiley can out handsome and out doctor McDreamy.
  4. McMillan and Wife — When you question my “Castle” love, look here and blame my parents. Fun banter and crime solving with cute coupleness.
  5. I Love Lucy — because for real, FOR REAL, I know it’s not a drama, but Lucy is everything.

Top 5 current shows:

  1. Masters of Sex — I think Allison Janey is going to kill me before this show ends. If she doesn’t, Beau Bridges will.
  2. Person of Interest — This show is so much more than it looked like it would be when it started. The investment I have in this crew not losing another beloved member (it still hurts!) and getting out of their current situation alive could not be bigger.
  3. Elementary — Jonny Lee Miller is just amazing. His ability to convey Sherlock’s growth and struggles without dialogue is just… wow. For that alone, it’s worth it. But the rest of the show is awesome, too.
  4. The Americans — The way Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell have built that relationship on screen paired with the consistently great writing makes it can’t miss TV. Heart-attack inducing, but can’t miss.
  5. Sons of Anarchy — I can barely watch it, it’s so brutal. But also brilliant. And seriously, show… DO NOT KILL NERO! (I know you will, but I’m not giving up hope till you do!)
  6. House of Cards — Look, I can’t trim this one. I love Frank and Claire without remorse. They are the Macbeths if things go their way, and I find it fascinating as hell.

The other 5 shows I never miss:

  1. Suits — Harvey and Jessica and Louis are the masters of the universe.
  2. Major Crimes — I loved “The Closer” and was worried about the spinoff, but I am so in, it’s not even funny. Such humanity on display every episode.
  3. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — I admit I was totally in the “This show is boring” camp the first few episodes. Then a few insistent friends lured me back about week 15, and now I am beyond escape from the love.
  4. Castle — My love for this show is well-known and oft-ridiculed. But Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion and the rest of the cast make the rough weeks worth it.
  5. Dallas — This sequel to the classic nighttime soap did everything right… they used original characters, built out of the story we knew, and the handling of Larry Hagman’s death was fantastic.
  6. (Honorable mention — Luther, though I fear we’ve seen the last of the TV version. Luther himself is awesome, but also because his relationships with Justin and Alice are things of beauty).

Top 5 Favorite Female Characters:

  1. Miss Parker/The Pretender — I wanted Miss Parker to get a happy ending way more than I needed one for Jarod. Smart, tortured, and badass — which is apparently a type for me. See below.
  2. Kate Beckett/Castle — Smart, tortured, badass — also fun, and a great cop, and well, Castle’s muse. And all my friends who remember I didn’t like her in season one never let me forget it now. 😉
  3. Melinda May/Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — Smart, tortured, badass… diverse, not 20-something, and still badass.
  4. Brenda Leigh Johnson/The Closer — Smart, badass, and by the final season, definitely tortured. When Brenda Leigh walks out of Major Crimes for the last time, the journey we’ve been on with her is so complete and so emotional that you were willing to let her go if it meant she was gonna have a real shot at being happy.
  5. Tami Taylor/Friday Night Lights — Tami was kind of everything I’d ever want to be… without being tortured. And even though we never saw her have to be a physical badass, she was definitely a spiritual one.
  6. (Honorable mention — Joss Carter/Person of Interest — I just can’t talk about it much because it still hurts. But Joss pretty much became the soul of another human being. If that isn’t powerful, I don’t know what is.)

Top 5 Favorite Male Characters:

  1. Andy Sipowicz/NYPD Blue — The end of this series is exactly the ending you wanted for Andy even if you didn’t know it. You ever want to see a man go to hell and back, watch this show start to finish.
  2. Eric Taylor — Coach was everything. Every single kid in the world should have a Coach Taylor in their life.
  3. Tim Riggins — Yes, FNL gets two, because Riggins… RIGGINS! Tim Riggins was every guy who wants to live a better life and isn’t sure he can.
  4. Frank Pembelton/Homicide — A good man, a great detective, and the moral compass in a city struggling to hold on to its humanity.
  5. DCI John Luther — a true gray hat who struggles with himself and the monsters of the world all while being smokin’ hot.

Predictions for my next 5 favorite shows:

  1. Allegiance — that’s pretty much a given, right? Since it’s my new job. 🙂
  2. Murder in the First — Bochco, people! Bochco and Taye Diggs.
  3. Empire — because I’m gonna want to love it.
  4. Scorpion — because I’m gonna want to love it.
  5. Marvel’s Agent Carter — because the Disney/Marvel-verse has stolen my brain.

Got some Top 5’s of your own? What are they? Always curious to know what other folks love!

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One Response to “Yes, Mom, I am gonna plan my whole life around my TV shows”


  1. Like your list(s). Glaring omission is St. Elsewhere, much better than Hill Street Blues from the same time period. In fact, I’d rank it near the top all time. Rockford in reruns? You must be young. Loved, loved Rockfish, great show – your parents raised you right. Person of Interest is currently the best TV has to offer, Elementary is good as well. I admit having a severe crush on Amy Acker, she’s not in-your-face sexy, demure and understated. She oozes talent, her on screen presence captivating, and how she’s absent from your fave female list continues to confound me? Root rocks! Jonny as Sherlock is insanely incredible. Is that all writing, or does he ad-lib? Whatever the case, his delivery of the lines is off the fecking charts. I stop and playback during the episodes at times trying to figure out his brilliance. I love watching Castle whenever I’m able to catch it, just not on my to watch list. I like it for its light heartedness. Easy, comfort viewing. Till Beckett was kidnapped and Castle snapped and turned into a pseudo type A former special forces dude. Story line was weird. Seemed like desperation – attempting to compete with the plethora of hardcore badass dramas on the dial. Bring back the innocence. Please. I digress, apologies.

    Loved the read, great job. Thank you, was very insightful. Oh, and before I go – Riggins was cool.


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