I stopped over at Matt Gunn‘s place, and he had posted his “Top 10 Favorite TV Shows“. Since there was not one show on his list that I particularly care for, I decided to write my own. Matt, this is no reflection on you or your favorites – the differences can be accounted for mostly by our age gap, but also our gender gap. I know that your favorites are all hits.

Anyway, here’s my list:

brisco.jpg10. The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. – Cowboys and aliens. The ultimate sci fi-western-comedy. This show stars Bruce (hose me down) Campbell in the title role, backed up by Julius Carry as Lord Bowler and Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole. John Astin (of Gomez Addams fame) appears in many episodes as an absent-minded professor/inventor. Only 28 episodes were ever made, and it was canceled after one season. More’s the pity, IMHO.

grace_under_fire.jpg9. Grace Under Fire – “Never date a man whose belt buckle is bigger than his head.” This is just one of Grace’s Rules. Brett Butler stars as Grace Kelly, divorced mother of two. A tongue-in-cheek sitcom about life as a single mother during the 1990’s. Co-starring Dave Thomas, Tom Poston and Julie White.

dresden.jpg8. The Dresden Files – New original series on the SciFi channel, this show has real promise. It stars Paul Blackthorne (of 24 fame) as Chicago private-eye and wizard Harry Dresden (named after Harry Houdini). Dresden is assisted by “Bob” (Terence Mann), an old spirit who has been sentenced to spend eternity living in his own skull. Based on the novels by Jim Butcher. It airs Sunday night at 9:00 on the SciFi channel.

quantum-leap.jpg 7. Quantum Leap – I didn’t discover this series until it was out of production and being shown in syndication. Scott Bakula, in the role that made him a star, plays Sam Beckett, a scientist who’s part of a time-travel experiment that “went a little… ka-ka.” Unable to return to his own time, and aided only by Al (Dean Stockwell, whose rapport with Bakula is one of the series’ most appealing elements), his cigar-smoking, peculiar-dressing, sex-obsessed, holographic “enabler,” Sam “leaps” unpredictably from one time period and person to another, usually completely out of his element (as a pilot, a boxer, a cowboy, an English lit professor, even an elderly black man in segregated ’50s Alabama) and always in a situation that needs to be “made right” before he can leap onward.

mash-theme.jpg6. M*A*S*H – I still watch this show (It airs every day on TV Land). I know I’ve seen every episode at least 50 times, but if it’s on, I’ll watch it anyway. Despite numerous cast changes (always involving major characters), it still manages to tug at all my emotions – one episode can run the gamut between laughter and tears, and never miss a beat. The final episode, to the best of my knowledge, still holds the “most watched show of all time” title. I’ve also seen a couple of “reunion” specials. Quite a few now-famous actors got their “big break” on an episode of M*A*S*H, including Patrick Swayze and Shelly Long. Many of the characters that became so familiar were intended only to be on one episode. Most notable among these are Klinger (the cross-dressing corporal), Col. Flagg (the over-the-top C.I.D. man), and Seymour (the poker-playing psychiatrist). Just like “I Love Lucy”, an episode of M*A*S*H is always being aired somewhere in the world.

4400dvd.jpg5. The 4400 – What if all the people who had ever been abducted by aliens were suddenly returned to Earth? What would happen? Although they look exactly as they did when they left, they have no knowledge of where they were or why they were taken. Some even have special powers, like clairvoyance or telekinesis. The 4400 features a large cast of characters and a host of mysteries to be solved. If the special effects, which are kept to a minimum, can be a little cheesy at times, the concept–and the skillful execution of the concept–easily makes up for it. This show airs as a “summer replacement” on USA Network. Season 5 starts in June.

next_generation_crew.jpg4. Star Trek-The Next Generation – There’s little that can be said about this series that isn’t universally known. Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard brings class and decorum to the position previously held by the womanizing Capt. Kirk (William Shatner). This is the series that made me a Star Trek fan, and it remains my favorite of all the spawn of the original series.

arbattlestargalactica500.jpg3. Battlestar Galactica – I shied away from this series when it debuted 3 seasons ago. Being old enough to remember the original Battlestar Galactica (starring Dirk Benedict, Richard Hatch, and Lorne Greene), I expected it to be just as cheesy, and just as much a Star Wars wannabe. However, a co-worker whose opinion I respect loaned me the first two seasons on DVD, and all I can say is “Wow”. What a difference from the original series! Of course, when I finished watching the DVD’s, season 3 was well underway, so I haven’t caught up yet. I’m hoping that it will re-air over the summer, or that the DVD of season 3 will be available before the season 4 premier. If that happens, I’ll be watching season 4 as it unfolds (Sunday night at 10:00 on SciFi).

house.jpg2. House, M.D. – A patient is brought in with unusual symptoms; House challenges his trio of underlings to diagnose the problem; they treat the patient, usually incorrectly the first few tries; and then at the very last minute–through a revelation that often has little to do with the patient–House figures out what’s wrong and saves the day. It would be easy for this set up to grow old fast. But because of the smart writing, talented acting, and believability of the characters (who’re often dealing with unbelievable scenarios), the formula works. Viewers have been conditioned by the Marcus Welbys of the TV world to think of doctors as saviors. Even on ER, the most narcissistic physician was selfless at heart. But House is a different breed. When he’s at an off-track betting parlor and a woman collapses, he doesn’t miss a beat. Still eying his race on television, he asks, “Is anybody here a doctor?” He’ll mock a sick patient’s complaints with a sarcastic, “Boo hoo!” And, if there happens to be a dead body around, he has no qualms about shooting it if he believes that could help diagnose another gun-shot victim. Airs Tuesday nights at 9:00 on FOX.

gilmoregirls.jpg 1. Gilmore Girls – What’s the TV equivalent of a chick-flick? This show is written by women, for women, about women. Which is not to say that men aren’t allowed to watch it; I know a few men who do, and who enjoy it. The show stars Lauren Graham as Lorelai Gilmore, and Alexis Bledel as her daughter, Rory. The relationship between these two is the basis of the show; Lorelai was only 16 when Rory was born. Although Lorelai was brought up in the wealthy Gilmore household, she left home to have and raise her daughter under her own terms, and away from the influence of her overbearing (but well-meaning) mother, Emily (brilliantly played by Kelly Bishop). When Rory gets the chance to attend the prestigious Chilton School, Lorelai swallows her pride and approaches her parent for the financial help she needs to pay the tuition — help that comes with strings attached. The show as the potential to be a soap-opera type thing, but the superb writing, fast-paced dialog, and many topical references keep it light and funny. Alas, rumor has it that this is the last season. Then what will I watch on Tuesday nights?  Airs Tuesdays at 8:00 on The CW.