Sunday, September 28, 2014

Top 20 TV Series (That Had Already Concluded)

This, of course, is not a listing of all my favorite TV series.  As what the title says, it’s a list on TV series that had already concluded; a large chunk of my favorite TV series are still ongoing.  Also take note that it says “TV series” – serialized shows of an ongoing set of characters and story – and not just “TV shows”, which is a term that can have a broader scope of including every form of TV program (example, the comedy show Whose Line is It Anyway? is one of most favorite TV shows ever, but it’s not qualified for this list).      

As a TV fan ever since I was a child, I’ve seen a lot of TV series (especially this latter part of my life), so I’ve limited the pool of shows to be considered for this list.  First, the aforementioned detail that they already had wrapped-up (or were already cancelled).  Second, it should be a live-action TV series; I’ve watched and loved a lot of cartoons and a lot of the spots will surely go to animated TV series and anime if they were considered.  Third, the series should have run during my lifetime (1989-present); shows that had their tenures prior my birth but I was able to get fond of after watching the re-runs are disqualified for this list (but I will be tackling them in a separate, follow-up list in the near future, hopefully).  

Let’s get the ball rolling…

20.) NIKITA (2010-2013)

This series tells the story of the titular character, Nikita (amazingly played by Maggie Q), and her crusade to bring down “Division” – a clandestine government-funded black ops organization that has become corrupt – which she used to work as an assassin for. 

Back when it first came out in 2010, I was an avid follower of each episode.  But it kind of lost me after season two.  I occasionally watched some episodes afterwards, but I was not that much hooked as its initial season.  Nonetheless, Nikita still gets a spot since I was so into this show during its first season.  I appreciated its fast pacing, the great characters, and the superb action.  I was really excitedly following it in an episode-to-episode basis.

19.) NUMB3RS (2005-2010)

Though this series failed to be consistently exciting for me, it has one of the most intriguing premises for a TV series.  It follows the crime-solving adventures of FBI Special Agent Don Eppes and his brother, Prof. Charlie Eppes.  As a mathematical genius, Charlie helps his brother in his cases by providing mathematical insight, models, or applications that are conveniently relevant in solving the crime at hand.  It’s kind of a bit ridiculous how each of Don’s cases happens to always have elements that Charlie’s mathematical talents can come invaluable to, but, hey, with suspension of disbelief and all, using math to solve crime from time and time again is very fascinating.     

18.) ALMOST HUMAN (2013-2014)

This was one of my most favorite shows last year, and it crushed me when announcement of its cancellation came this year after just a season of 13 episodes.  It’s not exactly the smartest example of science fiction, but it did provide a high level of entertainment.  It established a futuristic setting that I can get fascinated about, and the duo of John Kennex and Dorian – which heavily reminds me of another favorite sci-fi detective duo of mine, the Robot novels’ Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel Olivaw – had enjoyable “buddy-cops” chemistry.


I can’t remember the degree of sophistication that this show had since I’ve watched this series when I was just a child (and I haven’t seen any re-runs of it since then).    But I definitely remember enjoying this show a lot.  From what I gather, Lois and Clark was a romantic comedy TV series that uses the Superman mythos as material.  Again, I can’t remember much to really assess if that premise was silly or clever (but considering the fact that I’ve always found the “love triangle” between Clark, Lois, and Superman a lot of fun, it was likely the latter).  Being a 4 to 8 year-old boy, the only thing that mattered to me was it was a show about Superman – one of my favorite comic book characters – and that was good enough for me.    

16.) MR. BEAN (1990-1995)

Having watched Mr. Bean’s 14 episodes many times over at this point already, it can’t get anything more out of me but a mere amused chuckle once in a while.  But at one time, watching the series’ episodes for the first time back in the 90’s, the antics, absurdity, and misadventures of this Rowan Atkinson character induced a lot of belly-aching laughter from me.  For me, at one time, Mr. Bean was one of the most hilarious things I’ve ever encountered.  Thus, it’s easily one of the most memorable TV experiences I’ve had and is therefore deserving of a spot in this list.    

15.) HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES (1992-1998)

Despite of its messy and incoherent continuity, I am charmed greatly of the premise of the Highlander franchise (it also helps that its theme, Queen’s “Princes of the Universe”, is very catchy) – about Immortals roaming the earth for centuries, dueling among themselves until there can “only be one” (as its iconic tagline goes).  I enjoyed some of the movies, and I greatly like both MacLeods/Highlanders, but most of my fondness for the Highlander franchise comes from its TV series.  I just felt that there had been better swordfights, “Quickening” scenes, and overall storytelling done on the TV series than on the movies.          

14.) GOKUSEN LIVE! (2002)

Gokusen Live! was a live-action adaptation of manga/anime, Gokusen.  The story focuses on Kumiko “Yankumi” Yamaguchi, an enthusiastically dedicated teacher of a class full of delinquent students, who is secretly a Yakuza clan heiress.  Yukie Nakama’s charming portrayal of the main character made her one of my most favorite fictional female characters ever.  I understand that there were two more follow-up series after the first live-action Gokusen TV series, but this was the only series that matters to me (I found the next two lacking, and it’s really not the same without Shin Sawada).


As a kid in the 90’s, this had been at one time my favorite live-action TV series.  It was a wonderfully distinctive take on the story of the legendary fictional character, Hercules/Heracles.  Ever since, I have always considered Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules as one of the best pop culture reinventions of the mythological character. 

And Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was a delightful reinvention of Greek mythology in general.  I appreciate much how the world that Hercules and his sidekick, Iolaus, were traveling in during the series’ run was not confined in an ancient Greece setting, but also had other facets, scenarios, and characteristics that are found in other ancient cultures and historical periods (Egyptian, Oriental, Medieval, Norse, etc.).      

12.) FARSCAPE (1999-2003)

The series focuses on a colorful band of characters of different alien species that are on the run from “Peacekeepers” (a corrupt and harsh Spartanic organization) and a human astronaut named John Crichton (who got sucked in a wormhole during an experimental space flight and was picked up by the others) that are wandering through space in a bio-mechanical ship called “Moya.”  Farscape engrossed me a lot during its run due to its wonderful collection of characters, remarkable adventure narrative, gorgeous production value, and by just being an overall exciting space saga.   
11.) STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (1993-1999)

My love for Star Trek is mostly due to the movies.  I’ve never got into the original TV series or The Next Generation TV series.  I was able to see some episodes from re-runs, but I was never really hooked (I was even bored at times).  However, Deep Space Nine (or DS9) easily caught my fancy.  In my humble opinion, it was significantly better-written, more exciting, and thematically richer than any Star Trek show has ever been.    

I love its setting; instead of mostly taking place in a starship as other Star Trek shows, this series took place in a space station named “Deep Space Nine”, which was located near a newly discovered wormhole that permits easy admission to a very distant and uncharted part of the galaxy called “Gamma Quadrant.”  Hence, this station was extremely valuable for political, economic, and exploratory reasons.  This gave the series a kind of a-station-in-the-borders-of-space feel, which I find extremely appealing.  A lot of fascinating story conflicts and plots resulted from this unique Star Trek setting. 

10.) XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (1995-2001)

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was the first, but its off-shoot, Xena: Warrior Princess, eventually overtook it in my heart.  The awesome Xena would emerge as one of my most favorite heroines ever, and I would find her adventures more entertaining than Hercules’.  The general sentiment was probably like mine since Xena would end up outlasting Hercules for 18 episodes. 
9.) SMALLVILLE (2001-2011)

Among the shows in this list, Smallville lasted the longest.  It ran for ten seasons, but I was probably only a fan of half of these.  I closely followed the show’s first four seasons, since the concept of a TV series that retells Clark Kent’s high school years in his hometown, Smallville, as he develops his powers and characteristics that would eventually lead him to become Superman, mightily appealed to me. 

Tom Welling’s deadpan, bad acting actually worked perfectly in making Clark Kent a charming “simple small town boy” character.  Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of Lex Luthor was electrifying and captivating – definitely my most favorite depiction of the character on screen.  I also find it extremely refreshing and intriguing that, in this universe, the younger versions of two eventual archenemies would initially be best friends. 

This series also have my most favorite versions of Lana Lang and Lois Lane in all depictions of the characters ever as Kristin Kreuk and Erica Durance did magnificent jobs in playing their respective characters.  It also introduced Chloe Sullivan, a character that had never been part of the Superman mythos prior this series; between her, Lana Lang, and Lois Lane, this series had an ensemble of interestingly strong female characters.       

The middle seasons kind of lost my excitement for the show for it became mostly set on Metropolis and Clark Kent was thrown into more of an “adult situation.”  And in spite of these factors being already provided, the series still hadn’t Clark Kent learn to fly or become Superman.  And it bugged me.  Other DC heroes and many iconic Superman villains were being introduced already, and Clark Kent still hasn’t figured out how to become Superman?!  It was really frustrating.   Moreover, the show’s weakest storylines, in my opinion, were also during these middle seasons.  I was still watching Smallville occasionally, but no longer in episode-to-episode basis.   

Then it started getting more fun again when Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s romance was starting to develop.  It totally reminded me of Lois and Clark (see number 17).  And that’s when Smallville made me care again.  Since then, I saw the show through until its end. However, I was rewarded by an unsatisfying, awful finale.     

Still, despite of half of Smallville’s run being a disappointment, it was still a show that I was greatly fond of.  During its best seasons, the series had provided me some of the most delightful, relatable, and absorbing TV watching experiences I’ve ever had.  Thus, it made the number 9 spot of this list.   

8.) PSYCH (2006-2014)

The recently ended Psych has been one of the most amusing and humorous TV series around. I was drawn to it initially because of the uniqueness of its lead character, Shawn Spencer, but my interest and affection for this show were sustained because of the consistent presence of fun, tension, wit, quirkiness, and a lovable cast throughout its seasons. 

Psych centers on “psychic detective” Shawn Spencer and his partner/best bud Burton Guster, as they serve as consultants for the Santa Barbara police department.  The enjoyable catch, however, is Shaw isn’t really a psychic but can effectively maintain the charade because of possessing an extremely potent eidetic memory and deductive prowess. Fun!   


This brilliant Nickelodeon show, situated in a small town setting, tells the day-to-day occurrences and interactions in the lives of two brothers both named Pete Wrigley.  This was easily my most favorite live-action TV series during my childhood.  Its eccentric and clever narrative made it massively charming and entertaining.   With no exaggeration, I haven’t encountered any show yet that has the same kind of delightful, unique storytelling style that this show had.  

6.) VERONICA MARS (2004-2007)

I’ve already repeated the story of how I got into Veronica Mars too many times already.  Let me just do it again briefly here.  I first got wind of it through its spectacular Kickstarter campaign for a movie.  I was intrigued.  I checked out the show, marathoned all of its episodes.  I loved it.  I became a Mars-mallow.  Veronica Mars became a favorite heroineI loved the movie when it came.  Veronica Mars is awesome.  There.    

5.) LEVERAGE (2008-2012)

Leverage is basically Ocean’s 11 in TV.  Which means it’s a smart heist tale that has plenty of twists, charm, humor, and energy.  Though the series wasn’t perfect – e.g. it had an underwhelming conclusion, a few weak episodes, and there were no new members introduced to the team – it was still terrific and immensely enjoyable overall.   

The series follows the exploits of the “Leverage Consulting & Associates” crew, a team consisting of a grifter, a hacker, a thief, and a retrieval specialist, and is masterminded by Nathan Ford – one of the cleverest, most ingenious strategists I’ve encountered in fiction.  The team members – with the exception of Ford (who was an insurance investigator prior to leading the team) – are made up of very proficient criminals who decided to reform (to an extent), and instead use their skills and talents to con and steal from the rich, greedy, and powerful people that have done injustice to ordinary citizens who haven’t the means to fight for themselves. 

4.) ANGEL (1999-2004)

This spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was grittier but just as appealing at its parent show.  It explores the struggles and adventures of Buffy’s ex-boyfriend, Angel, the vampire with a soul, as he runs a private detective agency based in Los Angeles that fights the evils – primarily supernatural in nature – of the city.  This had a delicious “noir” mood effect on the series, with Angel representing the tortured, unenthusiastic, sharp detective that had to deal with the urban underworld in his cases, but this time, the “underworld” is a literal one, with demons and all.  The finish product was excellent and captivating. 

Angel has always been a favorite Buffy character of mine (next to Buffy), and I was so glad that there was this entire show made to centrally explore and develop the character.  Which this show fantastically did.    

3.) FIREFLY (2002)

Firefly is considered by many as the perfect example of an awesome TV series cancelled too early.  Ever since I first checked this show out back in 2011 after being intrigued of its cult status, I’ve re-watched this TV series (along with its spinoff movie, Serenity) almost once a year.  There are only 14 episodes so it’s pretty easy.  And it’s something really worth to re-watch annually.   

The series tells the adventures of the ragtag crew of “Serenity”, a Firefly-class spaceship (hence, the title), led by cowboy-esque Captain Malcolm Reynolds, as they take on various transporting/smuggling/stealing jobs across the “Wild West” outskirts of the galaxy.  Its “space Western” premise, setting, and production value are extremely charming; the writing is clever, has plenty of heart, and possesses a delicious balance of humor, drama, and action (what you’ll expect from a Joss Whedon project); and the “Serenity” crew are easily lovable.   


And that’s three straight Whedon TV series getting into the top 4 spots, with this one being the best among them.  I enjoyed Angel a lot, and it was more engaging sometimes.  But Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still the greatest – it had the  Buffy Summers, one of the greatest vampire hunters and female characters in fiction ever; lots of humor; many strong, memorable characters and character developments; exciting action; consistently clever, well-written, and genuinely inspired plots and dialogues; absorbing story arcs; and themes that were easily relatable. 

For years, Buffy the Vampire Slayer had been my most favorite TV series ever.  Then I encountered…

1.) HOUSE M.D. (2004-2012)

Out of its 177 episodes during its 8-season run, I only encountered one weak, unsatisfying episode: its finale.  I’m not saying it was bad.  It’s just felt lacking, that’s all.  The writers did their best to make an appropriate conclusion.  But it was not at all the resounding exclamation point that such great show deserves.  It was a mere period.             

Finale regardless, House was a first-rate, intelligent drama series.  I was not only fascinated in its overall storylines, but I was also made invested in almost every single detail, subplot, and character of the show.  It has a lot of strong points: a stellar cast, outstanding acting and writing, engaging conflicts, thrilling plots, and the smart utility of medical scenarios.   

Of course, much of the credit of this show’s awesomeness has to go to the main character himself, the flawed and brilliant Dr. Greggory House.  He’s the greatest character I’ve ever seen in TV, and he’s definitely – hands down – one of the most fascinating characters there are in fiction of any medium.  He has a lot of depth, and is extremely interesting.  Kudos to Hugh Laurie – who definitely brought plenty of his own personality and talents into the character – for doing an amazing job on bringing this amazing character to life. 

It’s probable that a day will come when another show will overtake House M.D. as my most favorite TV series, but I think it’ll be a long time before it happens.  

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