Then & Now: Top 10 US TV Shows of All Time (From 15 Years Ago!)

As a UK native, I’ve been writing for entertainment journals for a very long time. Back in 2005, for the launch of ITV4, I offered my thoughts on the top 10 American shows of all time. I can’t quite believe that is was 15 years ago. Would I change anything?

 

The Larry Sanders Show 

For my money the best sitcom ever. If you were ever in the position of wanting a producer/manager, you’d want Rip Torn’s Artie in your corner.

 

 


Robin Williams: The Larry Sanders Show

 

Arrested Development

Jason Bateman -- who I last saw in Teenwolf 2 -- is shaping up as one of the great straight men in US comedy.

 

Homicide: Life on the Street

There was a sardonic undertone to everything. It was slightly off beam -- not just a straight cop show. You could view it as a black comedy if you wanted to.

 

The Rockford Files

You can’t go wrong with the Rockford Files. James Garner exuded LA charm and was set in an era when it was still permissible to have a leading man who enjoys and beer and a smoke. It’s still great Saturday afternoon viewing. If I put it on, I almost always have to stay in and watch the whole episode.

 

 


The Rockford Files - Complete Series on DVD and Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment - June 2017

 

Crank Yankers

If you don’t like juvenile humour you’re not going to go for it. It’s got US comedians like Denis Leary and Jimmy Kimmel winding up members of the public. But it’s not like Beadle’s About -- it’s really well thought out. It’s a polariser.

 

The Martian Chronicles

I remember this with fondness. Possibly Rock Hudson’s greatest role, which, with the exception of Seconds, may not be saying much.

 

Washington: Behind Closed Doors

This was a post-Watergate series, starring Jason Robards as a quasi-fictional version of Nixon -- a ranting, revenge obsessed US president, who used salty language. The last UK showing was on BBC2 in the early 90s.

 

 


Washington Behind Closed Doors trailer

 

Rome 

I’ve been lucky to have some episodes sent to me from the States and I’ve found it addictive. There’s enough sex and violence to get most viewers interested in it.

 

Entourage 
It plays more as a comedy drama rather than a sitcom and was originated partly by Larry Charles, who was involved with Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s got some of that sensibility and the sharpest writing.

 


Honest Trailers - Entourage (TV)

 

 

Salem’s Lot
Who can forget James Mason’s willingness to introduce people to Mr Barlow?: “Dying to meet you…”. Also David Soul’s crowning glory.

 

 

 

Yes, it’s true. ENTOURAGE would NOT be in that same list today, but at the time we were after the show for ITV2, hence its inclusion. However, the article did win a BAFTA for us as well.

 

Arnell Esq

Arnell Esq

Broadcast consultant - former Director/Creator of ITV3, ITV4 in the UK, producer/writer (most recently Bob Fosse for Sky Arts in May 2019), commentator/rent-a-gob for trades, broadsheets and magazines. Also occasional lecturer (University of Westminster, London). Content provider. Accept no substitute (terms & conditions apply) 'Nullum bonum amico, nullum peius hostes'

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