Brian Terrill’s Small-Screen 66: Introduction

Note: This introduction was written in April 2014, and the first 11 posts were written shortly thereafter. Some inconsistencies may still be present with regard to dates and season information. Additionally, I have seen quite a few more shows since I composed the list…I’ll follow-up with some up-to-date “honorable mentions” at the end of the Countdown.

Dear readers,

Roughly one year ago (last April 5th, to be precise), I began the “100 Film Favorites Countdown” to fill the void left by the traditional holiday Countdowns, and to show a bit of love to some of my favorite movies. 7 months and 141,000 words later, I wrapped the 100 Film Favorites, by far the longest thing I’ve ever written.

Now that April has rolled around again, and since people have been asking (okay, ONE person asked), I’m going to be presenting a similar Countdown based around my favorite television series. However, I decided against another “Top 100” for two reasons: First, 100 entries take a LOT of time and commitment to write. I did it once, and have no intention of doing it again any time soon, unless it entails a paycheck. Second, it’s difficult to even think of 100 great TV series…much less ones I have enough of a “grasp” on to address in a sufficiently thorough and fair way.

So, I thought, how about 25? That seemed about right for a while…but I quickly found myself with a list of 30 “essentials.” Hm. 50, then? I proceeded to fill that quota, only to think of even more series I enjoyed, and about which I “had something to say.” Finally, I cut it off at a somewhat unwieldy 66.

The “Small-Screen 66 Countdown” will hopefully feature a decent cross-section of TV throughout the decades: sitcoms, dramas, educational programs, cartoons, and even a few examples of that newfangled “reality” television that’s all the rage these days.

However, there are veritable mountains of material I WON’T be addressing. It’s highly possible many of your favorites didn’t make the cut, for one main reason:

Following a TV show requires a much greater degree of commitment than watching a movie: Not only do series run longer than a film’s “feature length” of about 90 minutes, but they are also aired in installments over time. Shows can become a part of our lives for years on end, growing and changing as we await each episode. Back before the days of Netflix, such waiting was the only way to see a show in its entirety…even if a show had ended its run, viewers had to actively work to catch certain episodes in re-runs and syndication.

So, if a given show didn’t make it to the list, it doesn’t necessarily mean that show is empirically “bad.” More probably, I simply haven’t seen enough of the show to feel confident commenting on it.

Game of Thrones? Don’t have HBO. Haven’t seen it.

True Detective? Don’t have HBO. Haven’t seen it.

The Wire? Don’t…well, you get the point.

Before the Countdown gets underway, I wanted to give a shoutout to one show I have seen enough of to say it probably merits an official entry, but not yet enough to actually write said entry.

Dan Harmon’s Community seems like a great show. I totally intended to watch it back when my roommate and I swapped account passwords – He could use my Netflix, and I could use his Hulu Plus. I had time to get caught up on another series which will be featured later in the countdown, but not enough to start in on Community. You see, the account stopped working suddenly. My roommate casually remarked that he had discontinued his Hulu Plus account. He told me this as an aside while watching through all of Star Trek on my Netflix account. Well then.

But from the handful of episodes I have managed to see, Community would appear to be right up my alley in terms of humor. The characters seem to play off one another well, and they each have distinct personalities. Even from my position on the periphery, the quirky Abed is an early frontrunner for “favorite character” status, and Donald Glover as Troy another hilarious standout.

And that’s all I really have to say about that. Come back tomorrow, as the Small-Screen 66 Countdown begins!

Brian T.

Brian T.

Brian is the host of the TV show Count Gauntly's Horrors from the Public Domain and the creator of Brian Terrill Movie Night. He joined Earn This in 2013.

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