The best shows on television...

by dfle3 | created - 19 Jul 2012 | updated - 17 Jun 2014 | Public

...as well as shows I've stuck with until the end. List compiled in 2012...hence more recent shows are prominent. The ranking isn't exactly solid...occasionally I may venture to say that a show in this list was the best or one of the best shows of its era.

...and I'm now adding shows that I remember as being great but I was a child when I saw them...you can file them under "Nostalgia" perhaps! Started that extension of my list this week...third week of June, 2013...think my list was about 34 items long at that time.

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1. Shameless (2004–2013)

TV-MA | 90 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

The lives and relationships of a group of siblings and their estranged father Frank Gallagher on a rough Manchester estate.

Stars: David Threlfall, Rebecca Atkinson, Alice Barry, Nicky Evans

Votes: 13,516

The best show of the past ten years. U.K. Comedy/drama/soap. It's like a novel, in some ways...the way that characters come out of the shadows and get the spotlight. The Maguire family being the best example of this. This process has been more engaging than The Simpsons have managed.

2. Carnivàle (2003–2005)

TV-MA | 55 min | Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

During the Great Depression, an Oklahoma farm boy and a charismatic minister learn that they are key players in a proxy war being fought between Heaven and Hell.

Stars: Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau, Clancy Brown, Debra Christofferson

Votes: 40,927

Really engaging fable of good and evil. A great pity that it was axed after two series.

3. Weeds (2005–2012)

TV-MA | 28 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

When a suburban mother turns to dealing marijuana in order to maintain her privileged lifestyle after her husband dies, she finds out just how addicted her entire neighborhood already is.

Stars: Mary-Louise Parker, Hunter Parrish, Alexander Gould, Kevin Nealon

Votes: 98,730

The best U.S. series of the past ten years. Comedy/drama. Probably the funniest live action series of that time too. I think that Breaking Bad owes a debt to its premise too.

4. House (2004–2012)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Mystery

An antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits.

Stars: Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Jesse Spencer

Votes: 386,231

Up there with Weeds as the best U.S. series of the past ten years. Another comedy/drama with Hugh Laurie doing a splendid impersonation of an American. Combines disease of the week hospital drama with great comedy. A few of the season finales were classics.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2003)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Drama, Fantasy

A young woman, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends.

Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan, Anthony Head

Votes: 120,625

The best U.S. television show of the previous ten years...and probably the funniest live action show too. The premise sounded lame - high school cheerleader fights supernatural monsters. It took me until the 4th series to watch an episode (the promo for "Hush" reminded me of a movie I love, "Dark City", so I took the plunge). I became hooked from that point on and hired VHS tapes to catch up to the broadcasts!

6. Through My Eyes (2004)

240 min | Biography, Drama

The true life story of Lindy Chamberlain and her recount of a dingo taking her baby.

Stars: Miranda Otto, Craig McLachlan, Peter O'Brien, Steven Vidler

Votes: 158

Remembered this Australian tv mini-series after I extended my list yesterday (17/06/2013). To my mind this is one of the great forensic analyses of a real life case...the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayers rock/Uluru. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was tried and convicted of that murder. This mini-series was based on the account of Lindy Chamberlain and is in my view the definitive treatment of that case. My review of it up on this site. A quibble with this mini-series is that the opening scenes to it - whilst necessary - were overly long. Other than that, this is a must see for fans of court room and real life dramas. Easily surpasses the movie starring Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain in "Evil angels" (a.k.a. "A cry in the dark" for the U.S. market). I'm kind of surprised that Wikipedia mentions that Streep's movie was voted #9 in the American Film Institute's poll of the greatest court room dramas. Wait 'til they get a load of "Through my eyes"!

7. The Ascent of Money (2008 TV Movie)

120 min | Documentary

Niall Ferguson takes us on a historical adventure through the ascent of money, applying fact and opinion throughout.

Director: Adrian Pennick | Stars: Gareth Armstrong, Niall Ferguson, Richard Lintern

Votes: 619

90%

The definitive account of the global financial crisis which almost destroyed capitalism in 2008.

8. Blackadder II (1986)

TV-PG | 176 min | Comedy

In the Tudor court of Elizabeth I, Lord Edmund Blackadder strives to win Her Majesty's favour while attempting to avoid a grisly fate should he offend her.

Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Tony Robinson, Tim McInnerny, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 39,976

I can't remember if I started watching this sit-com from its inception, but really it only flew once its star, Rowan Atkinson, no longer had writing duties. It was from this 2nd series, with Ben Elton now handling writing duties, that the Blackadder that we know and 'love', was born! From this point, the series was great. I even found the ending to the last series, "Blackadder goes forth" poignant...even though some weren't a fan of that more modern set series.

9. Dexter (2006–2013)

TV-MA | 53 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

By day, mild-mannered Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami police. But at night, he is a serial killer who only targets other murderers.

Stars: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas, James Remar

Votes: 609,983

The first series was a bit wooden and hammy, but it's really developed into a quality drama with a grisly theme...a serial killer (Dexter)...who works for the police department...helping to find criminals...like serial killers. Can be amusing, as our 'hero' tries to become 'normal'.

10. Desperate Housewives (2004–2012)

TV-14 | 45 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

Secrets and truths unfold through the lives of female friends in one suburban neighborhood, after the mysterious suicide of a neighbor.

Stars: Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross, Eva Longoria

Votes: 108,909

Wasn't a big fan of the first series of this night time soap...the character of Lynette was particularly unlikeable, but it developed into a very watchable show. whatever the series that people said sucked (2nd? 3rd?), that was probably my favourite. The final series was the best...since I don't remember that earlier series much. Some of the best comedy in the series in that final series and it wraps up the series nicely...with just one annoying loose end.

11. Mad Men (2007–2015)

TV-14 | 47 min | Drama

A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper.

Stars: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser, January Jones

Votes: 186,923

Like a few of the previous shows I've mentioned, this one started to warm up after the first series. For some inexplicable reason, the network showing it here in Australia (SBS) ran the last series' episodes back to back...which means an even longer wait for the next series! Hopefully there's more advertising related content coming up...I like the insight into advertising and marketing that this show provides..."The Gruen transfer" is a popular fact based show here in Australia which provides similar insight by industry professionals...in an amusing way.

12. Breaking Bad (2008–2013)

TV-MA | 49 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future.

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Betsy Brandt

Votes: 1,279,232

Similar premise to Weeds, but darker. Unfortunately the network here (ABC) was playing silly buggers with scheduling...they played the first series on the main channel and I thought the second series would screen there too...it didn't...so I had to fork out for the Blu-ray...an indication of how much I was enjoying the show. Whilst dark, this is often a funny look at the life of a domestic illegal drug supplier.

13. Arrested Development (2003– )

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy

Level-headed son Michael Bluth takes over family affairs after his father is imprisoned. But the rest of his spoiled, dysfunctional family are making his job unbearable.

Stars: Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett

Votes: 261,250

ABC over here recently screened this series from the start...I had watched it on commercial tv around the time it was made, I think...but they probably stuffed around the scheduling of this show and I lost touch with it. Also one of the funniest American sit-coms of the time...not the kind of lame US sitcom which Australian sketch shows used to satirise...you know, the ones where a character walks in and the studio audience whoops it up for five minutes...for no discernable reason...

14. Family Guy (1999– )

TV-14 | 22 min | Animation, Comedy

In a wacky Rhode Island town, a dysfunctional family strive to cope with everyday life as they are thrown from one crazy scenario to another.

Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Alex Borstein, Seth Green, Mila Kunis

Votes: 289,159

At its best, it's the funniest cartoon on tv. Think I started watching this around the time the tedious 'Stewie as evil genius' story arc was in full swing...which was tedious. It's steadily improved since then. Hopefully it hasn't peaked.

15. South Park (1997– )

TV-MA | 22 min | Animation, Comedy

Follows the misadventures of four irreverent grade-schoolers in the quiet, dysfunctional town of South Park, Colorado.

Stars: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Isaac Hayes, Mona Marshall

Votes: 310,153

Really challenging and gobsmacking at times, as far as its adult themes go. Also contends for the title of 'the funniest cartoon on tv'.

16. The IT Crowd (2006–2013)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy

The comedic misadventures of Roy, Moss and their grifting supervisor Jen, a rag-tag team of IT support workers at a large corporation headed by a hotheaded yuppie.

Stars: Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade, Katherine Parkinson, Matt Berry

Votes: 121,793

From memory, this goofy sitcom took a while to warm up, but it's a very often funny look at office life as experienced by two computer geeks. The character of Douglas Reynholm (the office boss) is also wonderfully over the top, in that eccentric British, pantomime kind of way. The last series aired here was down on the quality of the earlier series. The episode with the boys using a disabled toilet in a theatre or something was an absolute scream.

17. The Micallef Program (1998–2001)

30 min | Comedy

A skit-based comedy program, fronted by Australian comedian Shaun Micallef.

Stars: Shaun Micallef, Wayne Hope, Roz Hammond, Francis Greenslade

Votes: 303

I think I came onto this show late, but it was absolutely hilarious at its best...the true spiritual successor to Monty Python's Flying Circus. "Little Britain"'s Matt Lucas mentioned being a fan of this show when he appeared on Shaun Micallef's lesser quality game show "Talkin' 'bout your generation". Title variations throughout the entire series were: The Micallef program/The Micallef programme/The Micallef pogram.

18. Seinfeld (1989–1998)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy

The continuing misadventures of neurotic New York City stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York City friends.

Stars: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander

Votes: 232,917

I don't think that the first series was particularly good - or polished - but it developed into a classic sitcom. Some varieties of the 'sociological' humour didn't grab me, but others did. Billed as "The show about nothing". Recently I've read newspaper articles over here which said that "Hancock's half hour" was also like that...decades earlier.

That's karma.

19. Cheers (1982–1993)

TV-PG | 22 min | Comedy, Drama

The regulars of the Boston bar Cheers share their experiences and lives with each other while drinking or working at the bar where everybody knows your name.

Stars: Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger, George Wendt

Votes: 44,207

A classic sitcom. The show didn't skip a beat when Coach passed on and was replaced by Woody.

20. Father Ted (1995–1998)

TV-14 | 25 min | Comedy

Three misfit priests and their housekeeper live on Craggy Island, not the peaceful and quiet part of Ireland that it seems to be.

Stars: Dermot Morgan, Ardal O'Hanlon, Frank Kelly, Pauline McLynn

Votes: 33,864

Another new entry for me (25/09/2013). This is another series where I stumbled onto it after it had been going for a while. Definitely a series I would want to catch up on right from the beginning on Blu-ray or something. A terrific comedy about an isolated group of Catholic priests. Especially worthy of praise (geddit?) is Ardal O'Hanlon as Father Dougal McGuire...he's like a more contemporary version of Woody (or coach) in "Cheers" (which also made my list)...in otherwords infinitely dim. His look of surprise when Father Ted reveals (!) some of the tenets of Catholicism to him is priceless!

21. The D Generation (1986–1987)

30 min | Comedy

An Australian skit show based in the 80's

Stars: John Harrison, Magda Szubanski, Santo Cilauro, Michael Veitch

Votes: 68

Another Australian sketch comedy where I was a late arrival to its charms...hilarious stuff...I still remember their "Thunderbirds" parody...it was live action...but as wooden as the original!

22. The X-Files (1993–2018)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two F.B.I. Agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

Votes: 186,976

As with "Buffy the vampire slayer", it took me a while to check this series out...on account of it just sounding like another stupid American show. It's a bit of a classic. Mulder and Scully, as two F.B.I. agents investigating the paranormal are an intriguing couple. And there's more than one 'classic' episode to this series...not sure what the episode was called, but the one I call "Magic mushrooms" was a philosophical Easter egg for me! A few good 'monster of the week' episodes too. And I'll forever associate the song "Wonderful, wonderful" with something disturbing! Hmm...this song was used to different effect in the finale of Desperate Housewives.

23. Newstopia (2007–2008)

30 min | Comedy, News

A satirical news program, presented by comedian Shaun Micallef.

Stars: Shaun Micallef, Ben Anderson, Nicholas Bell, Julie Eckersley

Votes: 173

Another Shaun Micallef vehicle...a news satire on SBS. The fake ads were a highlight too...typical SBS fare...ads for documentaries such as "Hitler's poodle" and the Bunnings Warehouse ads were great too. Nice to see the fake ads return on Micallef's new news satire "Shaun Micallef's Mad as Hell". This time hokey ABC ads are the target...loved the line in that about if you find an ABC product cheaper elsewhere...you'd best buy it from there! As someone who's browsed ABC shops...Roger Wilco!

24. Battlestar Galactica (2004–2009)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurface and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protect a small civilian fleet - the last of humanity - as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.

Stars: Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Jamie Bamber, James Callis

Votes: 144,328

Had a Teutonic gravitas to it (why so serious?) which I wasn't always a fan of. But the whole story arc concerning the female commander of another battlestar was unmissable tv. Pity about the silly finale which really made no sense.

In any case, it's the definitive post 11/09/2001 tv series...arguably a meditation on those terrorist attacks...I can't imagine it being the series it was without those events having occurred.

25. CNNNN: Chaser Non-Stop News Network (2002–2003)

30 min | Comedy, News

An Australian comedy program that satirises the news of the day, and how it is presented.

Stars: Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Julian Morrow, Dominic Knight

Votes: 342

Terrific news parody by the Chaser crew. They come out with new series every other year, I think, with different titles. This was perhaps their best incarnation. I found the American woman vox popped by them (in America) about countries which start with "U" beautiful...she was surprised to be told that "United States of America" was one such place...the Americans often came up with odd answers...like "Utopia"...which isn't actually a country...or exists.

26. Nighty Night (2004–2005)

30 min | Comedy, Crime, Thriller

While telling her husband he's dying, Jill sets her sights on the next door neighbour, Don. And torments his wife, who suffers from MS.

Stars: Julia Davis, Angus Deayton, Rebecca Front, Ruth Jones

Votes: 2,064

I can't say that I really remember the first series, but boy, oh boy, was it a killer second (and final) series! A really twisted comedy which was like a live action version of South Park at times, due to its really edgy material. Definitely not for the faint of heart!

27. Lost (2004–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

The survivors of a plane crash are forced to work together in order to survive on a seemingly deserted tropical island.

Stars: Jorge Garcia, Josh Holloway, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly

Votes: 464,836

I have no idea what happened either. Never really took up the network's offer to go online and find out more about the lore...which may or may not have helped to work out what the Hell was happening!

28. Media Watch (1989– )

15 min | News

Media Watch is Australia's leading forum for media analysis and comment, screening on ABC TV.

Stars: Jonathan Holmes, Paul Barry, Monica Attard, Liz Jackson

Votes: 87

Weekly, 15 minute critique of the media...especially the news varieties. It's probably because I watched this that a parody of 'current affairs' like "Frontline" didn't really grab me...Media Watch was there first and it was funny with it. Since Stuart Littlemore left there's fortunately been no more coverage of newspaper headlines in which only a theoretical linguist could tell you why it was imgrammatical.

Very funny topical comedy panel show. Will Anderson hasn't been funnier (the shows he is in currently, with "Gruen" in the title, often have him going for the easy laugh and getting a big response from the audience). Dave Hughes was very funny too...especially when he didn't have anything funny to say! From memory, there was some kind of story about the show being axed for political reasons...just looked at the Wikipedia entry for this show and it mentions these conspiracy theories. Sorely missed.

I did think that IMDB didn't have a link to the original series, but it seems that ol' Spike was up to his usual funny tricks, by starting his series at "Q5"! Each series was followed by the next number up, I think. Until, you got to "Kuwait" (geddit!!).

Not sure if this was shown in its original form in Australia...I remember there being short episodes when they aired on ABC TV over her. IMDB has episodes running at just over 32 minutes long. Perhaps I saw them in repeat, and cut down to size?

In any case, I suspect that the "Q" series would have dated better than Monty Python's Flying Circus...I might actually try and track down DVDs of it, in fact. It was surreal, absurdist humour...as you'd expect. Think Spike eventually moved to Australia to live.

31. The 4400 (2004–2007)

TV-14 | 43 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

As the reappearance of 4,400 missing persons on a single day confounds the global community, federal agents on the case slowly discover the ways in which the victims have been changed.

Stars: Jacqueline McKenzie, Joel Gretsch, Patrick John Flueger, Conchita Campbell

Votes: 40,922

I was enjoying this lo-fi sci-fi series about people with extraordinary abilities and was looking forward to its next series. It never came. I think that may have been due to the copycat "Heroes"...which was inferior to it, despite being much more polished than it. It's homely, low key style was appealing.

32. Fast Forward (1989–1992)

46 min | Comedy

Withdrawing the bill moments before a planned vote signals a major setback for the President.

Stars: Michael Veitch, Marg Downey, Geoff Brooks, Steve Blackburn

Votes: 262

Excellent Australian sketch comedy parodying local television programmes and ads and...other stuff...that "Galaxy of dance" ad always cracks me up...funnier than Elaine's dancing 'style' in Seinfeld!

33. Yes Minister (1980–1984)

TV-PG | 60 min | Comedy

The Right Honorable James Hacker has landed the plum job of Cabinet Minister to the Department of Administration. At last he is in a position of power and can carry out some long-needed reforms, or so he thinks.

Stars: Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne, Derek Fowlds, Diana Hoddinott

Votes: 11,198

I'd include the follow up series "Yes, Prime Minister" in this spot too. I'm guessing that this was a startingly close to the bone satire on the Westminster system of government (as in it would also work as satire in countries other than the UK). Not all the elements worked for me...Woolley's wooly puns, some of Sir Humphrey Appleby's more prolix moments (...um...actually, he had heaps of those!). However, there was no more cutting comedy than at moments like when Sir Humphrey walks Hacker (probably in the series where he was the PM) through how the results of vox pops by the media can be skewed one way or another...searched for that episode, apparently it's the one called "The ministerial broadcast"...an example of "leading questions".

34. Fawlty Towers (1975–1979)

TV-PG | 30 min | Comedy

Hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance form a combination that ensures accidents and trouble are never far away.

Stars: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth

Votes: 78,465

Forgot to include this in my initial list. Has many classic episodes and moments. Watching a repeat, I was struck how funny the episode with the Australian woman in it was. Loved Basil Fawlty's "frog walk" in that too! What else? Sybil's laugh...love to see her in the same room with Eddie Murphy sharing a joke! Oh, and DON'T MENTION THE WAR! Basil mentioned it once...but he think he got away with it!

The show is also notable for it's opening credit gag concerning the sign for the hotel.

Lastly, you'd often read how the US was 'adapting' the original for the US version...these rip-offs always bombed...hmm...can't imagine why! Apparently Basil isn't very likeable (NSS!)...hence the need to have a 'nice' hotel manager in the US versions. FFS!

35. Roseanne (1988–2018)

TV-PG | 21 min | Short, Comedy, Drama

A revival of the popular 1990s sitcom "Roseanne", which centered on the everyday life of an American working-class family.

Stars: Roseanne Barr, John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman

Votes: 37,919

I was reminded of this story reading Michael Idato's own list of the 20 best-written tv shows of all time in The Age's Green Guide lift-out of 13/06/2013). Even before I read that, I'm sure that I had been meaning to include this show in any case.

Since time is an issue here, this show could quite possibly have been much higher up in my list had it been fresher in my memory. When I was watching it, it was probably the funniest sitcom on tv. As with many of the entries on my list, I missed seeing this series from the start and I doubt that I ever got to catch up on those 'lost' episodes on network tv. On the other hand, I didn't get to catch the final episodes of this series either, which were apparently quite bad. Perhaps the network here had stopped showing the series by then? So, this show may be 'lucky' to make my list in that case.

As with many US shows in this list of mine (i.e. "Buffy" and "X files"), my perceptions of this series stopped me from jumping on board at take off. I suppose that my prejudice would be that a show starring two fat people would be horribly unfunny...would have expected a lot of fart and belching jokes with maybe one of the two leads being offered a whole roast chicken on a biscuit by the other and the recipient saying something like "Ooh! Hors d'oeuvre!". Of course, the show was never this crass having a grounding in working class smarts. The two fat parents' teenage daughter, Darlene was my darling! So cynical!

36. NYPD Blue (1993–2005)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Detectives from NYPD's 15th Precinct investigate homicides within their precinct.

Stars: Dennis Franz, Jimmy Smits, Gordon Clapp, James McDaniel

Votes: 10,884

Not exactly sure when I started watching this show...probably not right from the beginning. In any case, when the network here wanted to burn through the final series by showing epioses back to back, it was a mark of the quality of the series that this was by no means an imposition on me (it's the really mediocre - but watchable - series where showing episodes back to back can call into question your desire to watch the series).

37. Countdown (1974–1987)

Music

Countdown was a long-running popular weekly Australian music television show broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from 8 November 1974 until 19 July 1987.

Stars: Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, Debra Byrne, Daryl Braithwaite, Skyhooks

Votes: 44

Old episodes of this Sunday night at 6:00 pm institution still get played on the music video programme "Rage"...usually during the summer holidays, I think. This was THE music programme in its day and now with the fragmentation of the music market I doubt its like will ever be seen again. I think that this Australian music show gave international artists like Blondie and John(ny Cougar) Mellencamp their first hits anywhere in the world...and also helped get that ABBA snowball rolling down Mt. Everest.

This was a programme that kept you in touch with what was happening musically around the world. I don't know whether they played any punk music...hmm...apart from the Ramones, but maybe watching Rage I've seen episodes where "Molly" Meldrum interviewed members of The Sex Pistols etc. So, they played a little punk music, a little heavy metal (like Iron Maiden) as well as some quirky as well as horribly kitsch stuff.

Another reason that this show was culturally significant is because it provided a national platform for local acts...I don't think that there was really any other source for band to get the kind of recognition that they could on this programme. E.g. I have heard that Daddy Cool's pre-Countdown album "Daddy who? Daddy Cool" was the biggest selling Australian album of all time to that point...with something like Gold status...i.e. 70,000 sales. With Countdown, the new wave of bands could smash those kinds of sales. E.g. Skyhook's "Living in the 70's" went on to sell over a quarter of a million albums with the kind of exposure that they got on Countdown. Perhaps with radio stations forming networks in the decades afterwards, as well as Countdown still being a force, acts like John Farnham could sell a million copies of his album "Whispering Jack".

I'd be surprised if any music programme nowadays could command the audiences that this once did (I believe about a million people a show...back in the days when Australia wasn't that populated either)...or play the diversity of music that it did...music formats are too pigeon holed today.

38. Queer as Folk (2000–2005)

TV-MA | 47 min | Drama, Romance

The lives and loves of a group of gay friends living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Stars: Gale Harold, Hal Sparks, Randy Harrison, Michelle Clunie

Votes: 17,868

A gay soap. I only watched it because a review of it in a tv guide expressed disgust at a particular scene. Can't say that I noticed what was meant to be so disgusting by it. This soap pulled me in from the start, in any case. It was based on a U.K. series of the same name, but apparently the original is too 'hot' for network television...so, maybe I might watch that 'one of these days'? This remake has an attractive cast and could be funny. I still remember lines in this series like "Do you rim?" (uttered by a handsome - in a Harry Hamlin kind of way - older male to a barely (?) legal male...presumably the young male in the original was definitely not legal?) and "Bareback"...amusing for the way that the characters had misinterpreted some acronymn and got more than they bargained for. Not sure if you have to be gay to like this show. It might help, maybe? A good show for those who like adult soaps.

39. 24 (2001–2010)

TV-14 | 44 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster.

Stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard, Dennis Haysbert

Votes: 164,868

I liked the smart-arse critic who said something to the effect that the hero of this series would torture himself to give up information like...where he did leave his keys? Who knows how many of his own fingers Jack Bauer would have broken before he gave up that information?

40. 30 Rock (2006–2013)

TV-14 | 22 min | Comedy

Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), head writer of the sketch comedy show "TGS with Tracy Jordan", must deal with an arrogant new boss and a crazy new star, all while trying to run a successful television show without losing her mind.

Stars: Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jack McBrayer

Votes: 105,948

Possibly the only sitcom where I consistently have to jot down the punchline so I can look it up and thus get the joke...not that I do that much though...now I have loads of meaningless pop cultural references to look up on my "to do" list. In other words, as an Australian, I often have to file the punchlines to these jokes under the category "Famous Americans I've never heard of".

The character of "Toofer" was conceptually an exciting character type, but like the vast majority of the cast he has very little material to deal with. I would love to have his job on the show...just turn up for work...no lines to memorise...get paid. How good is that?

41. Californication (2007–2014)

TV-MA | 28 min | Comedy, Drama

A writer tries to juggle his career, his relationship with his daughter and his ex-girlfriend, as well as his appetite for beautiful women.

Stars: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon

Votes: 165,900

Am enjoying this tale of debauchery. Absolutely hilarious at times (like the episode where a monkey throws...stuff...around). Pity that the network (10) is now playing silly buggers with its scheduling. It's disappeared from the schedule...after only being on for a short while into its new series.

42. Life's Too Short (2011–2013)

TV-MA | 30 min | Comedy

The show centers on Warwick Davis in his day-to-day life, complete with the frustrations he faces.

Stars: Warwick Davis, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant, Rosamund Hanson

Votes: 13,658

Another variation on the humour/characters found in "The office". Since Ricky Gervais' original "The office" isn't fresh in my mind, I'll say that this series is the best of his self-created genre. Basically, it's about Ricky Gervais as a young boy (played by Warwick Davis). Ricky Gervais also plays himself as an older man in the same scenes as his younger self, at times, so there is obviously some sort of time paradox aspect to this story. If there are more series of "Life's too short" I may have to re-evaluate its place in my list here...short and sweet (like Chris Lilley's mockumentaries) might be the best format for a show like this. In any case, the episode concerning young Ricky's party was perhaps the most humiliating for that character...it was literally painful to watch and I felt that the story went too far in humiliating him. However, it may also have been the funniest episode...if that's also the episode where young Ricky has his dishwasher replaced...I loved the slapstick concerning that.

43. The Sopranos (1999–2007)

TV-MA | 55 min | Crime, Drama

New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life that affect his mental state, leading him to seek professional psychiatric counseling.

Stars: James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli

Votes: 264,161

I was under the impression that this was to be a short run series (as in one season long), so I suppose I felt a little gypped when it just kept going. But I stuck with the show and it was a good ride. Still not sure what the ducks were all about though!

44. Vietnam (1987)

45 min | Drama, War

This 10-part TV mini-series follows an Australian family affected by the Vietnam War. Nicole Kidman plays a young woman who becomes an anti-war activist when she sees what is happening in ... See full summary »

Stars: Barry Otto, Nicole Kidman, Nicholas Eadie, Veronica Lang

Votes: 449

The Australian mini-series, which has an incorrect graphic at this site for some reason. The first time I watched this, I thought that the two leads - Nicole Kidman and Nicholas Eadie - were outstanding. The next time I watched it, Nicole Kidman remained the standout performer. Definite repeat viewing value here in any case.

The story concerns the effect of the Vietnam war on an Australian family where one member - played by Nicholas Eadie - is drafted to serve in the army. Nicole Kidman, playing the man's sister, gives a very moving performance in the scene when she is a guest on a radio programme. Probably her greatest performance, in my view.

45. L.A. Law (1986–1994)

TV-PG | 46 min | Drama

The lives and work of the staff of a major Los Angeles law firm.

Stars: Corbin Bernsen, Jill Eikenberry, Alan Rachins, Michael Tucker

Votes: 4,027

Terrific legal drama and actors Harry Hamlin and Susan Dey must have played the most attractive lawyers ever...in the history of everything! Actually, this series is so ancient in my memory I'm wondering if nostalgia has kicked in here...having seen some snippets of this show in recent times, the intellectually disabled character's scenes did seem a bit naff.

46. Seven Little Australians (1973)

294 min | Drama, Family

Captain Wolcott is a widower with seven children. He marries again and his new wife takes on all the trials of bringing up seven spirited children. They have many adventures, especially one... See full summary »

Stars: Barbara Llewellyn, Mark Clarke, Anna Hruby, Jennifer Cluff

Votes: 80

This could possibly be a nostalgia pick, but the ABC TV network here in Australia regularly showed this mini-series over the years decades ago. Our family would watch it every time it was on...a family viewing event in other words. No reason to think it doesn't stand the test of time...or at least would be an excellent series for children.

47. I Know My First Name Is Steven (1989)

180 min | Crime, Drama

The harrowing true account of Steven Stayner, who was kidnapped by a perverted pseudo-priest and his lackey during the 1970s. As he gets older, he realizes that he needs to try to make an escape and get back home.

Stars: Cindy Pickett, John Ashton, Corin Nemec, Luke Edwards

Votes: 2,215

I seem to remember this being a mini-series in Australia or something...a two parter, though maybe I misremembered. Anyway, I mentioned this when I updated my list yesterday (01/10/2013) for Great Foreign Films...in my entry for "The vanishing". This was quite an affecting story in any case.

48. The Walking Dead (2010– )

TV-MA | 44 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller