Starting ploughing your way through last week’s iconic offerings? Here are another 20 to keep you glued to that screen…
Red Dwarf (1988-Present)
Apparently this sci-fi comedy is Bill Clinton’s favourite TV show. The uninitiated can expect to enjoy a motley crew of space rejects, which include an arrogant hologram, vain human-cat creature, cyborg and curry mad, bawdy Liverpudlian. If that sounds good to you give it a go.
Archer is one of the world’s deadliest secret agents. Or at least he would be if he wasn’t more interested in drinking, womanising and dicking around with spy gadgets. A set-up of spy stereotypes, the misogynistic hero is far less dapper and smart than he’d like to believe he is, but watching him bumble his way to success is half the fun.
One Tree Hill (2003-2012)
It started as a simple teen drama about two half-brothers battling each other on and off the basketball court, but soon became something of a loveable joke thanks to countless kidnappings (that Jamie was one in demand kid), several psychotic attempted murders, plenty of boyfriend swapping and more car accidents than you could shake a stick at. Touching at times, cheesy at most, the hotter than average cast kept us hooked til the end.
Father Ted (1995-1998)
Three disgraced priests living on a tiny Irish island. The premise was funny, but the series was so much more. Vain and desperate Ted, delusional and docile Dougal and abrasive alcoholic Jack managed to run amok for three solidly sensational years.
Family Guy (1999-Present)
When Family Guy first teased audiences there were screams from all sides claiming that it was just a Simpsons rip-off. Same situation, same family unit, same, same, same. Except it wasn’t the same. Family Guy is a lightning fast, surreal and salacious collection of weird scenarios and witty one-liners. An acquired taste maybe, but a good one to indulge in.
Downton Abbey (2010-Present)
A huge success in the UK and USA, Downton Abbey is a proper period drama. Lavishly produced with a better than average cast, and killer script from the likes of Julian Fellowes, it has all the key ingredients required to be an all-time genre classic. A bit of a class war, some hot stars and a few melodramatic twists and turns all add to the flavour of this stately home hit.
The Wire (2002-2008)
Almost universally regarded as one of the finest ever TV dramas, The Wire is a slick, smart and perfectly paced slice of crime and corruption. Throwing viewers into the unrelenting cat and mouse lives of Baltimore’s lawbreakers and law enforcers, The Wire is at first wrought with delicate twists and turns which soon involve more than just the drug dealers and cops. Tight and troubling this is up there for sure.
Modern Family (2009-Present)
Expectations for Modern Family were pretty slim when the show hit ABC in 2009. First off it was another spoof documentary series, and secondly it was about not one weird family unit, but three. Reservations aside it was thrust into the deep end and swam pretty nicely, mainly due to the credible and canny way comic aspects of everyday life are framed.
Based on Jeff Lindsay’s book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, this American series gives fans of the macabre something seriously sinister to shout about – their own house trained serial killer. Protagonist Dexter Morgan doesn’t hack up screaming blondes or high school jocks though, he’s out to end bad guys only. This ‘good’ serial killer is witty, smart and always under pressure to stop more malevolent murderers from acting again. Deliciously dark.
There was something properly heart-warming about medical sitcom Scrubs. Central characters JD, Turk and Elliot all had their own unique foibles and imperfections, but were always able to overcome the troubles thrown their way. Even dark hearted Dr Cox managed to mix in laughs with a little bit of love. Despite its easy to watch nature, Scrubs was never mawkish and arguably offered up some of comedy’s cleverest set pieces.
Guns, gangsters, street wars, shoot outs, corruption, double-crossing, an amazing script and probably the best ensemble cast of any TV series ever are just some of the reasons you should check out the crime epic. There’ll be plenty of people who will tell you this is the best series ever aired and it’s hard to argue with them.
The Ren and Stimpy Show (1991-1998)
There is something seriously wrong about this made for Nickelodeon cartoon series. Both characters (a cat and dog) not only edge beyond the surreal, they also get involved in episodes which veer on the unsafe for young eyes. And for that we love them. If you’re unconvinced, check out the episode where Stimpy climbs inside his own bellybutton.
Gossip Girl (2007-Present)
This slick, stylish and sometimes sinister look at life on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper East Side has come a long way from the knee socks and headbands of its bitchy characters’ Season One school uniforms. Now on its sixth and final series, we’re hoping for all our questions to be answered: who is Gossip Girl? Will there be a happy ending for Blair and Chuck? And just how many husbands does Lily Rhodes/van der Woodsen/Bass/Humphrey/Bass need?!
Robbie Coltrane put in a career high performance in Cracker, where he played top criminal psychologist Eddie Fitzgerald. Flawed to the core, Fitzgerald mixes moments of personal madness with professional genius. Not always an easy watch, but it’s still consistently excellent.
American Gothic (1996)
Co-produced by the legendary Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead and Spiderman) American Gothic tried to take the eeriness and tension from Twin Peaks and inject it into an equally dark domain. Despite outstanding work from Gary Cole as a psychotic sheriff, American Gothic floundered after the first series. It’s still a great horror story though and worth tracking down.
Though Firefly only ever ran for one season its cult status is firmly cemented into the minds of sci-fi addicts. Half space western half intergalactic road trip, Firefly mixed things up in a way few in this genre have managed before. Joss Whedon at the helm also ensured the quirky cast were given plenty of killer lines. All looking sweet, it was obviously going to get cancelled after the first series. A film filled in the gaps shortly afterwards.
Style over substance it might have been, but this series consumed both geeks and everyday members of the public for years. It’s difficult to explain much without flagging obvious spoilers, but suffice to say if you don’t mind being taken for a ride with no clear destination this mystery is most certainly for you.
Ed is a comedy drama about small town American life and one lawyer’s attempts to resettle there and win over his old sweetheart. Despite its schmaltzy, sentimental and romantic core, it totally kicks ass due to a punchy script and a willingness to thrust the characters into uncomfortable situations.
Another recent BBC hit, this Steven Moffat created reboot of the Conan Doyle classic is probably the best thing to hit both TV and cinema in recent decades. Well cast and comfortable with its modern environment, Sherlock maintains the essence of the source material but adds a little more wit, contemporary comfort and enough sex appeal to give it an edge.
Pretty Little Liars (2010-Present)
This highly addictive slice of guilty pleasure pie is about as creepy as they come. Four former BFFs rally round in an attempt to solve the murder of their friend Alison, all the while being haunted by a mysterious “A”, who is out to get the girls and reveal their darkest secrets. Smarter than your average high school drama, Pretty Little Liars not only deals with murder, but teacher-pupil relationships, homosexuality and incest… and that’s just the first series!