GO FORTH AND ENJOY.
Meanwhile, here are some answers from that top 5 meme.
fauxkaren asked for my Top 5 TV Shows of All Time.
Honourable Mention: Community
Community may not always be perfect (and Dan Harmon may be a dick), but when it's good, it's really good. It's one of my favourite shows on TV right now, and the only reason it doesn't break into the top 5 is because it hasn't yet had to withstand the test of time and its two seasons can't compare with the others' several seasons. I know a lot of people can't deal with the show's self-aware, meta humour and theme episodes, but that's what I'm there for, tbh. It's populated by stock television characters who, for the most part, are written to straddle that line between sympathetic/entertaining and totally exaggerated caricatures. It's sort of a TV show about TV shows, and the use and lampshading and subversion of tropes complements the zany shenanigans of the Greendale students just the right way. The genre episodes are inventive and entertaining, and the characters are (almost all) enjoyable.
Unfortunately for Community, though, it's a comedy based mostly on pop-culture humour and theme episodes, which means that it a) will age poorly and b) doesn't have legs beyond, I think, a third season, before it will begin to turn into the precise type of show it spends most of its time mocking. And Jeff/Annie needs to go.
#5. The Office (US)
I debated the order between this and Community, and the Office's long-running seasons and subsequent descent into mediocrity worked against it. However, since this list is "of all time", and there was a time when The Office was one of my favourite shows, I decided its seniority edges out Community. Sorry, Community. ILU.
The Office was one of the first TV shows I got into when I started watching TV again. (There was a long period of several years where I did not.) I remember my friend showing me an episode -- I think it was "Office Olympics" -- and explaining things on the side, like, "that's Jim and Pam and they obviously like each other but she's engaged but they're so cute". The Office has what I describe as the 3-episode hump, which is to say I spent the first three episodes going "..." and every subsequent episode beign utterly delighted. I watched a lot of random clips on YouTube before I finally gave in and went back to watch every episode. Jim and Pam were my first tv ship!
#4. Arrested Development
Arrested Development is brilliant. Everyone complains about its early cancellation and lots of people are holding out for the movie-that-will-ever-be, but I think if we're honest we all know the reason Arrested Development is so good is that it only had 3 seasons, so it never had time to collapse into itself the way successful American sitcoms usually do. The cancellation gave it enough time to wrap up before it got stale.
But this show is hilarious. Legitimately hilarious, used lots of word play ("they don't allow you to have bees in here!") and clever and subtle in a way a lot of television isn't. Unlike most comedies it has the feel of actually being planned out in advance, with the happy result that you can rewatch episodse and catch jokes you couldn't have caught the first time around -- like the hand-shaped chair in Buster's room. This was the TV show that broke my multi-year flounce from television, and in that sense it's the reason I had enough faith in the medium to go check out the rest of the shows on this list.
#3. The Simpsons
IDGAF, I love The Simpsons. Of course, when I say "the Simpsons" I mean the first 9-ish seasons, because like any sensible person I have turned away in shame from the recent stuff. But at its peak, the Simpsons was flawless. No joke I wrote this entire list and then suddenly thought "OMG I FORGOT THE SIMPSONS" and re-arranged everything to make room.
I grew up with the Simpsons. It's so ingrained in my brain and pop-culture life that sometimes I quote the Simpsons without realizing I'm quoting the Simpsons. I cannot even count the number of times I have learned something say, in class, and suddenly a Simpsons joke has made 100x more sense. The Hamlet episode! The Lord of the Flies episode! "See My Vest"! I will always love late-90s Simpsons. If there is a Sideshow Bob episode on TV I will stop what I am doing to watch it. ("It's German for 'the Bart, the'!") It probably makes a lot of sense that (as Liz has informed me) many of my current shows (The Office, Parks & Rec) are written by people who used to work on that era of Simpsons that I love.
Oh, Scrubs. I love Scrubs. I didn't love every character all the time, and yes, towards the end everyone was popping out babies, and yes, JD/Elliot was tedious and tiresome, and yes, it got stale and began to feel like a rehash and yes, most of the characters experienced cases of Flanderization due to the show running so long, and no, I will never acknowledge the existence of "Med School".
But Scrubs in its prime was A+. I watch a lot of comedies (COULD YOU TELL?) and Scrubs balances genuine drama and emotion with comedy better than any other comedy I've seen. The writing is at times very solid, and despite the often surreal jokes the emotion always feels very grounded and realistic. I can never and will never watch any other hospital show -- specifically House or Grey's Anatomy -- because any episode I have seen of these leaves me thinking "Scrubs did it first and better". And it is always true. Also, Scrubs has managed to make me cry more than any other show, even...
#1. Doctor Who
Ah, the cracky sci-fi show in which a 900-year-old alien bundles pretty young girls into a wooden box to show them the wonders of the universe and the various virtues and pitfalls of humanity while sometimes punching viewers in the grief bone. SURPRISE. I BET YOU ARE ALL SO SURPRISED.
If we're being technical, really this space should be reserved specifically for the RTD era of Doctor Who, which was everything I never knew I wanted in a TV show. I've said it a billion times before but RTD struck this magical balance in his writing where absolutely everything clicked with me. It was my ideal balance of whacky plot and humour with heart and emotion and character development, and I guess I was probably RTD's ideal audience, because I was unbothered by things like Tinkerbell Jesus and totally in love with things like Waters of Mars and the whole ~last of the Time Lords~ business that other people grew weary of. I can and have waxed poetic about it for ages. The show rarely disappointed me, and even when it did it was never in any big way. It made me ship like I have never shipped before. Ten, Rose, Martha and Donna are basically my very favourite television characters and it is really hard to imagine them ever being usurped from their throne. RTD's version of Doctor Who resonated with me unlike any other tv before or since, and I suspect for that reason it will always ~have a place in my heart, much the way Harry Potter does.
It's probably no secret that I don't feel quite the same about the show under Moffat (or, lol, that I laugh at Classic Who at every opportunity). But I'm a loyal viewer (ask me about my HIMYM flounce!) and there are still things in almost every episode for me to enjoy, even if the number of things I don't enjoy has increased. Besides, with a format like Doctor Who, I think it's easy to see how some viewers get kind of ~hooked~ for life even through periods of the show they enjoy less; you may not like this Doctor or companion or showrunner, but there's always another one around the corner. And, well, I'm curious, and a hoper of far-flung hopes, etc.
bluetooth16 asked for Top 5 Torchwood Fuck-Ups
#5. Everything in Cyberwoman
Ianto Jones, you hid your half-converted Cyberman girlfriend in the basement and then angsted a lot when your hot future boyfriend shot her. Look at your life, look at your choices.
#4. The top-secret Torchwood SUV gets stolen by a bunch of teenagers in Children of Earth
I assume they threw this bit into COE to remind us that we are indeed watching Torchwood, and that despite how deceptively-competent the people on screen might seem, they are still the characters we know and/or love from s1 and s2.
"Triple deadlock sealed" LOL Jack.
#3. Torchwood gets bested by faeries
Everything about this episode is hilarious. Secret fairies! Secret fairies who steal children to join their fairy cult! Secret fairies who kill pedophiles and stuff! SECRET FAIRIES WHO... are more competent than Torchwood. If I recall this episode correctly, basically this poor woman loses her child, and then the fairies kill the woman's abusive husband, and then while the woman is all "SAVE MY BABY!!!" Jack is like "welllll I dunno man, have you seen those fairies? They're pretty badass" and in the end Torchwood calls it a day, letting the little girl become a pasteded-on fairy in an ancient hoax picture.
This is almost new levels of accomplishment, even for Torchwood. However, this is only item number 3, for Torchwood is also responsible for...
#2. Opening the Rift and therefore wreaking holy terror on the innocent citizens of Cardiff
After being taunted by a dude in a cravat and some hallucinations of their past ...lovers... and such..., all of Torchwood except Jack decides it's a good idea to open the Rift. I assume this follows the same basic logic as the Doctor sticking his hand into the s5 crack. Jack objects, but due to his superior leadership the team says "FUCK YOU, JACK" and Gwen punches him in possibly Gwen's bossest moment in s1. So they open the Rift, and unsurprisingly, all hell breaks loose.
Meanwhile, somewhere in London, Harold Saxon is laughing his fucking ass off watching this. Which leads me to...
#1. Allowing sinister aliens to become elected officials not once, but twice
For an organization established to protect Her Majesty's kingdom from ~terror from beyond the stars~, Torchwood kind of drops the ball when it comes to ensuring that evil aliens do not get elected to public office. Specifically, they drop this ball twice, first with Margaret the Slitheen and second with Harold fucking Saxon. I am not sure which is worse -- that they allowed a lady who was previously established to be an alien, on a mission Tosh was part of to become mayor of Cardiff, or that they failed to notice the Master slowly hypnotizing all of humanity for several months. I mean, I imagine in Torchwood's mandate, "don't let an alien become Prime Minister" is PRETTY HIGH UP THERE. Just saying.