Inside Pulse TV's Top 15 Shows of the Decade

2009 has come to a close, and by now you have probably read or heard a lot of “best of” lists. This happens at the end of every year, but 2009 was also the close of the “00” decade. Not only do you have to deal with “Best of the Year” lists, you also have the “Best of the Decade” lists. But lets face it, almost everyone loves lists. So how about a few more to feast your eyes on?

I asked all the Inside Pulse TV staff members to give me their “Top 10 Shows of the Decade”. Any show that aired new episodes during the years 2000-2009 were eligible to be on their lists. All channels and genres were eligible as well. I got close to 20 lists with each writer not knowing what shows the other writers considered to be the best. After getting these lists, I assigned each show on each writer’s lists a point value from 1-10. The #1 show on each list was given 10 points. The #2 show was given 9 points. #3 got 8 and this continued to the #10 shows each getting 1 point. Once I added up the numbers, there was clearly a major line between the “best” and the “rest”. However, the line was between the Top 10 and the rest, it was more like the Top 15. So I made an executive decision and decided to create “Inside Pulse TV’s Top 15 Shows of the Decade” list instead of a top ten list.

First, I will give you each writers’ individual lists. After that, I will post our overall “Top 15 TV Shows of the Decade “ based on the overall points system. In addition, I gave each writer a show to talk about and explain why they considered that show to be among the “Best of the Decade”. So lets get to the lists….


Joseph Henson

1. The Shield
2. The Wire
3. Brotherhood
4. Sons Of Anarchy
5. Frasier
6. Dexter
7. Breaking Bad
8. Lost
9. Burn Notice
10. South Park

Nicole Byer

1. Lost
2. 24
3. House
4. Dexter
5. Monk
6. Family Guy
7. Friends
8. The Big Bang Theory
9. Everybody Loves Raymond
10. The Colbert Report

Matt Basilo

1. Lost
2. 24
3. The Simpsons
4. Friends
5. Prison Break
6. C.S.I.
7. Curb Your Enthusiasm
8. Survivor
9. The Office
10. Arrested Development

Sharon Tharp

1. The Office
2. Friends
3. Dawson’s Creek
4. That 70’s Show
5. One Tree Hill
6. Grey’s Anatomy
7. Arrested Development
8. Lost
9. Everwood
10. The O.C.

Sobaika Mirza

1. Lost
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. The West Wing
4. Sex and the City
5. The Wire
6. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
7. Glee
8. Mad Men
9. Arrested Development
10. Entourage

Trevor MacKay

1. Arrested Development
2. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
3. The Office
4. The Colbert Report
5. Veronica Mars
6. The Simpsons
7. Battlestar Galatica
8. Dexter
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
10. Chuck

Greg Stanwood

1. The Wire
2. Arrested Development
3. Mad Men
4. House
5. 24
6. Flight of the Conchords
7. Battlestar Galactica
8. Breaking Bad
9. Survivor
10. Family Guy

Lindsay Filz

1. West Wing
2. Friends
3. Survivor
4. The Sopranos
5. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
7. Veronica Mars
8. How I Met Your Mother
9. Mad Men
10. C.S.I.

Kevin Wong

1. Battlestar Galactica
2. C.S.I.
3. 24
4. Survivor
5. House
6. Amazing Race
7. Extras
8. The Office
9. Arrested Development
10. The Colbert Report

Joe Corey

1. The Wire
2. The Sopranos
3. Battlestar Galactica
4. The Big Bang Theory
5. Mad Men
6. The Daily Show with Job Stweart
7. The Colbert Report
8. Chappelle’s Show
9. Deadwood
10. Rescue Me

Raffi Shamir

1. The West Wing
2. The Sopranos
3. Friday Night Lights 
4. The Office
5. Arrested Development
6. Lost 
7. House
8. Friends
9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
10. Survivor

Mike Trevino

1. House
2. The Office
3. Curb Your Enthusiasm
4. The Sopranos
5. 30 Rock
6. The Colbert Report
7. Dexter
8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
9. Monk
10. Breaking Bad

Craig Russell

1. The Wire
2. Friday Night Lights
3. Arrested Development
4. Gilmore Girls
5. Veronica Mars
6. Mad Men
7. Two and a Half Men
8. The Office
9. 30 Rock
10. Greek

Mary Duffy

1. Law & Order
2. Law & Order: Special Victims Unite
3. Law & Order: Criminal Intent
4. Monk
5. Mad Men
6. Friends
7. The Sopranos
8. The West Wing
9. Lost
10. Saturday Night Live

George Avacolus

1. The Simpsons
2. Desperate Housewives
3. South Park
4. Friends
5. The Sopranos
6. 30 Rock
7. Lost
8. Mad Men
9. The Office
10. Family Guy

Murtz Jaffer

1. Survivor
2. Lost
3. Friday Night Lights
4. The Sopranos
5. American Idol
6. The Amazing Race
7. 24
8. The Office
9. Prison Break
10. Dexter

Widro

1. The Sopranos
2. Survivor
3. Lost
4. The Office
5. 24
6. American Idol
7. Sex and the City
8. The Simpsons
9. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
10. South Park

Josh Clinton

1. The Wire
2. The Office
3. The Sopranos
4. Lost
5. Survivor
6. 24
7. American Idol
8. Chappelle’s Show
9. How I Met Your Mother
10. The O.C.


Inside Pulse TV’s Top 15 Shows of the Decade

#15 – Dexter

**WARNING: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for all four seasons of the show.**

Many viewers miss the point of Dexter, even recently one who took the life of his own flesh and blood because, as he put it, he felt like the titular character: no discernible emotions, the inherent need to kill to satiate a dark passenger. But Dexter is much more than a drama about a serial killer masquerading as your average blood spatter analyst. It is, essentially, a parable about one individual who suffered a childhood trauma that turned him into a sociopathic “monster” with a thirst for taking the lives of others. He feels he must fake everyday emotions and follow a strict code taught to him by his foster father to mask who he really is. Beneath that, it’s about a man who continues to lie to himself after four seasons showing that he truly does retain these emotions he claims to fake. And that brings us to the question: is he really a monster?

Dexter, the show, skirts the line between whether or not the character is sane or insane, never teetering to one conclusion. Yes, Dexter ruthlessly murders people and seems to be faking the most basest of emotions. He kills people who are guilty of heinous crimes themselves, which seemingly justifies his actions. Yet, he often lets his guard down and gives the viewer a glimpse into another pathos – that of a man who does feel happiness, sadness, despair, regret. This allows the show an interesting paradox: if he truly doesn’t have emotions, then his actions can be understood, if not condoned. If he truly does have emotions, then his actions cannot be understood, and certainly not condoned.

On top of it all, Dexter is also a morbidly-hilarious black comedy with a running inner-narrative from the title character that deals with his everyday life and situations in a darkly-humorous way. Add to this a spice of stylized, soapy dramatics, dealing with other characters who waltz in and out of his daily life: a foul-mouthed, emotionally-vulnerable sister with father issues, a girlfriend-turned-wife who questions his dedication to their marriage and his familial duties, and a slew of fellow law enforcement officers who deal with their own personal demons, one of which (during the first two seasons) let an obsessive need to prove to everyone that Dexter is a monster cost him not only his career, but his life.

Through four seasons, Dexter, the character, has tried to find the brother he never had, the soulmate he never had, the best friend he never had, and the mentor he never had, all with mixed results. I am in the camp of those who feel the first two seasons were excellently written entertainments, and that the latter two seasons, despite a few episodes of sharp wit and brilliance, began to show chinks in the armor (high profile guest appearances by Keith Carradine, Jimmy Smits, and John Lithgow added a certain joi de vivre, but could not mask the problem of increasingly poor writing). Still, even at its worst, Dexter is a superior entertainment that takes a fantastical plot structure and smothers it with daring social commentary. For that, it is one of the most important television shows of the last decade, if not the best.

– Joseph Henson


#14 – Friday Night Lights

For me, the best thing about Friday Night Lights is this: while other very good dramas of the decade sometimes relied on style and/or shock value (Mad Men, Sopranos), FNL is pretty much always rooted in two simple themes: family and friendship. And while many of us pretend to relate to Don Draper’s lecherous behavior or Tony Soprano’s mobster life, the fact is we can’t. The Taylors, on the other
hand, are probably the most realistic family on the small screen since the Chases on My So-Called Life. In particular, the dialogue between Coach Taylor and his wife Tami is so well written it’s scary.

The fact that Friday Night Lights is annually snubbed by the Emmy’s is borderline criminal, while they continue to fawn over contrived HBO dramas like True Blood, In Treatment and Big Love. Lights has more heart, and talent – than all three combined. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s real. And that’s something television simply doesn’t achieve often enough.

– Craig Russell

#13 – Battlestar Galactica

In a prior life, Ronald D. Moore was known as one of the two guys that made Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the best show in the Trek franchise (in my humble opinion). But in the mid-2000s he got the task of remaking the cult 70’s show Battlestar Galactica and, well, we ended up getting one of the best dramas of the decade.

And to be honest, it’s hard to really pin down why. All things considered, the show had things going against it. Consider:

– It’s a science fiction show, on a (nominally) science fiction station. Sure, Star Trek managed to attract a large audience, but they at least had the benefit of several movies prior to The Next Generation hitting the airwaves. Smallville has done well for itself, but that has been largely due to keeping the focus away from the superpowers. BSG is based on humans on a spaceship. No getting around the sci-fi element.

– The heavy use of religion. Religion plays a large part in the show, as both the Humans and Cylons believe in the “Gods” (an amalgamation of sorts between Christianity and Greek Mythology). I can’t recall many other successful shows that manage to incorporate religion to the extent that BSG does. Unless you’re the Lakewood Church or some other megachurch on television, that is.

It would be easy to say that “almost naked Tricia Helfer” was the main catalyst for the show overcoming these two big issues, but fans of the show know that this isn’t entirely the case. You had some powerful acting from veterans Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos, a dark theme that made you think that the protagonists might actually lose at any given time, and stories that, while Bendis-like in nature, managed to draw you in week after week.

As a fan, I will admit that the show did not end as well as I hoped it would, but all things considered, Battlestar Galactica really did stand out in a decade where we had such a variety of shows, and I am happy that BSG has placed in Inside Pulse’s Top 15 shows of the decade.

– Kevin Wong

#12 –The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

At the start of the decade, The Daily Show was an entertaining show. But it was not an important show. As the decade progressed, there was a marked decline in the quality of news coverage from the traditional media. In the years that followed 9/11 it often seemed like there was no distortion, half-truths, or outright lie for the media to call BS on the Bush administration. Jon Stewart, and The Daily Show, filled the void. They were quite happy to call attention to lies and hypocrisy.

While The Daily Show has always been something of a left-leaning show, one of the things that has makes it a great show is that it’s entirely non-partisan when it needs to be. Jon Stewart is just as willing to go after independents or democrats when they are the ones spinning lies and half-truths.

Even though it is ostensibly a “non-news” comedy show, The Daily Show was, and remains, one of the best news programs on TV. The fact that it’s also hilarious is just the icing on the cake.

– Trevor MacKay

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart was one of the more influencial TV shows of the 00s decade for its ability to combine hard hitting social and political commentary with appropriate humor mixed in. Its impact was such that despite being on Comedy Central and hosted by a noted comedian, The Daily Show was at times held as a legitimate journalistic source. The show has proven to be a breeding ground for stars as well, with both Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert getting their starts on the Daily Show before moving on to bigger and better. Throughout the decade, the Daily Show was a leading liberal media voice, calling out the government for its actions. Late in the decade Stewart and the Daily Show were able to successfully transition their tone and programming as the politcal scene changed in the US.

– Widro

#11 – The West Wing

I could have written thousands of words explaining why The West Wing is one of the best, most intelligent TV shows of all times, not just this decade. But I don’t have the space to write thousands of words. So, if I had to explain why I love that show in two words, those words would be “Two Cathedrals”. This episode, arguably the best single episode of a TV series ever, encapsulated all the good features of The West Wing in 45 minutes. Intelligent writing that doesn’t dumb itself down for the audience. The courage to tackle tough political and religious issues, perfect writing of Aaron Sorkin, combined with the perfect directing job of Tommy Shclame and perfect acting job of the entire cast, with Martin Sheen standing tall as first among equals. I remember how, even before I got the entire box-set of the show, I went out and bought a DVD that contained the last three episodes of season 2, jut because I wanted to watch this episode over and over again. Where else on network TV would you see a scene where the president of the US curses God at a cathedral and puts out a cigarette on the cathedral’s floor? Where else would you have parts of this monologue in Latin, without translation? Where else would the writer go against an increasing right-wing majority of America by presenting a liberal president who is not afraid of the word liberal? Sorkin’s other show from this decade, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which sadly did not survive its first season, featured an episode where Jordan Mcdeere tried to purchase a political drama but the creator was reluctant to sell it to a network. He felt that the show was too intelligent for network TV and wanted to go to HBO. And as strong as the following words are on the computer screen, they are far more stronger when spoken by the brilliant Martin Sheen as President Jed Bartlet:

“She bought her first new car and you hit her with a drunk driver. What, was that supposed to be funny?”

“You can’t conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God,” says Graham Greene.

Bartlet continues “I don’t know who’s ass he was kissing there ’cause I think you’re just vindictive. What was Josh Lyman? A warning shot? That was my son. What did I ever do to yours except praise his glory and praise his name?
There’s a tropical storm that gaining speed and power. They say we haven’t had a storm this bad since you took out the tender ship of mine last year in the north Atlantic last year… 68 crew. Do you know what a tender ship does? Fixes the other ships. Doesn’t even carry guns. Floats around and fixes the other ships and delivers that mail. That’s all it can do.

Gratias tibi ago, domine. Yes, I lied. It was a sin.
I’ve committed many sins. Have I displeased you, you feckless thug?

3.8 million new jobs, that wasn’t good? Bailed out Mexico, increased foreign trade, 30 million new acres for conservation, put Mendoza on the bench, we’re not fighting a war, I’ve raised three children…
That’s not enough to buy me out of the doghouse?

Haec credam a deo pio? A deo iusto? A deo scito?
Cruciatus in crucem! Tuus in terra servus nuntius fui officium perfeci. [angry]
Cruciatus in crucem. [waves dismissively] Eas in crucem!

You got Hoynes!”

– Raffi Shamir

#10 – Mad Men

Not since Orson Welles’ 1938 radio take on H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, has controversy swirled around a creation of media as Mad Men, which is about to start its 3rd season. Which for those of us who love it, can’t come soon enough. The nature of the debate is quality versus quantity. This iconoclastic television tour de force garners numbers that are great for a channel like AMC (2-3 million), but small by our usual network standards, where moronic programming that aimed right at the double digit IQ set who like to see people eat spiders to the background of ominous drum-playing as an art form, still rules the airways.

On the other hand, it is said that Mad Men has the highest financial demographics of any show on TV. As in, you need a lot of education or that blasé attitude only money brings, to follow the actual part of the plot that is not a clever recap of those funsy early 60‘s days when men still ruled the workplace and the ad industry’s so called ‘boiler room’ tension made it necessary to resort to booze, cigarettes, sordid sex, ass-pinching, girl watching, more booze and cigs and then…lunch…sometimes a long lunch, sometimes a light lunch, but always with more booze and smokes.

Women are an accessory in the Mad Men world, and young women watching Mad Men may think it is all exaggerated, but, Sweetie, it’s not! Women of a certain age may watch Mad Men, thanking their stars that “things” have improved so that men have to at least pretend to respect females at work. Men of a certain age, on the other hand, may watch in part to be reminded of the good old days when American business was done right, with expense accounts, booze, smokers and “skirts.” Even as Betty leaves Don, the gorgeous Jon Hamm, for another man, to get back at Don for all his cheating ways, one has to wonder whether he is upset about anything more than losing his ordered life, his kids- when he has time for them, and his showpiece of a Bryn Mawr, Jr. League, former model, Grace Kelly clone. Now, he will have to find some new way to impress the boys besides Mrs. Him!

At the last Emmy’s, someone pointed out that it was an honor to be working and faring well in the New Age of Television. I like to call this the Second Golden Age of TV- the day of two new wonderful forms of entertainment to move, amuse and educate us: 1. The Reality Show, which, when done well, encourages and shows off American Talent- the kids who did not spend their teen years “hanging out”, but who learned to do something and want to sing, dance, design, build or cook their way into our living rooms, and 2. The Ensemble Cast, perhaps first inspired by all three Law and Orders, the television dramas and comedies without one main star/jumbo ego, but the result of genius casting of a group of chemically cohesive talents, from whom the public picks its own favorites. Enjoy, The Simpsons, Survivor, The Office, 30 Rock– I am sure they are all on this list. For me, Mad Men is the very best of the ensemble cast, the serious actors who can really act and make us believe lines from serious writers who can really write, and I could continue this tribute to award-winning costume, set, hair and make-up and to Matthew Weiner himself. Fresh, new, daring, unique, Mad Men is simply brilliant.

– Mary Duffy

#9 – House

In a world of Grey’s Anatomy‘s and Traumas‘s, House, M.D. has both redefined the medical procedural and introduced television to a Vicodin-popping, misanthropic diagnostician who is just as flawed as the rest of us and yet manages to draw in 15 million viewers every week. While House debuted as a medical procedural that focused on outlandish medical cases (that are at least somewhat based in reality), over the course of the last 120 episodes the show has shifted to what has managed to overshadow the bizarre medicine: the characters.

Time and again, the cast and writers of House have managed to make the medicine a fleeting interest as the characters pile on the emotional trauma every week yet retain their likability. From Robert Sean Leonard’s neurotic Dr. James Wilson to Lisa Edelstein’s tough yet vulnerable Dr. Lisa Cuddy, Hugh Laurie has had his work cut out for him in maintaining his character’s appeal among a cast that has grown over the past 6 seasons. Perhaps more difficult than keeping the characters interesting for over 6 years has been keeping the guest stars just as compelling. Robin Tunney, James Earl Jones, and David Morse are just a few of the more than capable actors that have had terrific turns in their respectable episodes, sometimes managing to outshine the stars.

Whether it’s the unique format of the series’ medical mysteries, the guest stars, or the characters, it seems that the overall iconoclastic nature of the show and its protagonist are the main draw. Despite being Vicodin addicted medical genius with a mean streak, House‘s tortured emotional center has made the character relatable enough to keep us coming back for more. Over the series’ run, we’ve seen the writers put House through hell and back as he’s struggled with addiction and bitter relationships and if this season so far is any indication, we’re more than prepared for more.

– Mike Trevino

#8 – Arrested Development

Of all of the post-modern reinventions of the situational comedy during this past decade, Arrested Development may be the most risky (and ultimately successful) departure. The show became the embodiment of reflexive comedy, never enough self-awareness available to satisfy its own desires. It functioned brilliantly, not only as the saga of the dysfunctional Bluth clan, but as a window into television culture, giving its audience (however little of one there may have been) a new look at the way television was written, produced, and distributed. The struggles of the Bluth family mirrored the struggles of the program itself, as both of them tragically plunged into an untimely destruction, providing nothing but good times for all along the way. No other show this decade has had such a large percentage of its creative force, from the perfect cast (including the unsung voice of Ron Howard) to the amusing sensibilities of production designers and costumers, from top to bottom, from left to right, been in top form so regularly. Nearly every episode is now revered as a DVD classic to some degree, and the show’s creative and pop cultural legacy far exceeds any recognition it was ever allowed during its original run on FOX. For its new contributions to the situational comedy formula, and for its unbelievable success on DVD (the first of many FOX television shows that would discover a rebirth after their original broadcast period), Arrested Development takes its place among the best and most important television programs produced in the 2000s, as it prepares to transform itself into the feature film sphere in the coming years.

– Greg Stanwood

#7 – Friends

You can tell a lot about a show’s success by the way that the cast treats each other. That’s why, with six people, ten years under their belt, and not a single show missed between them, Friends sticks out as one of the top ten shows of the first decade of the 21st Century. Sure, they may have left us in 2004, but they came in as a unit, negotiated as a unit, and consistently turned out quality television that Moonlighting, with its warring leads, could only have dreamed of. Even today, they’re friends on and off camera with ABC even touting the big “Friends Reunion” on Courtney’s latest project, Cougar Town.

And the greatest thing was, even ten years in, the show was still as fresh and as funny as that day in 1994 when Jennifer Aniston burst through the door of the Central Perk wearing the wedding dress. Some thought that the show may have jumped the shark with Chandler and Monica’s wedding in 2001 and the subsequent baby-making drama that followed, but that’s life. People do turn 30, they do get married, they do have babies — some accidentally, some with a little help from Anna Faris — and sometimes, they let love conquer even the most amazing jobs in Paris.

So yes, while Friends may not have graced us with its laughs in the second half of the decade, it still deserves its spot as one of the Decade’s Greatest Shows. And in twenty years when it’s peeking at us through the veil of Nick and Night reruns, it’ll deserve its spot there, too.

– Lindsay Filz

#6 – Survivor

There is no question that Survivor is the most defining show of the decade in my opinion. It revolutionized television and turned reality television from a cable specialty to a mainstream phenomenon. It is truly amazing that 52 million people tuned in to see Richard Hatch win over Susan Hawk in the Survivor: Borneo finale. What’s even more astounding is that it happened 10 years ago. The concept of 16 people trying to outwit the elements and outlast each other was groundbreaking resulting in Survivor becoming the biggest show of the decade. Variety magazine recently declared it to be the most influential program of our time and I can’t say that I disagree. The upcoming Heroes vs. Villains edition will only serve to push the show to an even higher degree of recognition in the popular media.

– Murtz Jaffer

#5 – 24

A list of the top shows of the decade would not be complete without 24. Jack Bauer has been fighting terrorist threats since 2001 and in our time of the War against Terrorism it is not hard to see why 24 has become such a popular show. Its popularity has stemmed out into a movie special, mad tv parody, a few songs, a 24 based Simpson episode, books, a drinking game, fan made “jack facts”, a board game, and of course a slew of merchandise. Keifer Sutherland’s excellent portyalal of Jack Bauer keeps fans rooting for him no matter how questionable some of his tactics may be. He never gives up as the clock ticks away until his 24 hours are up and the day has once again been saved. Each season, perhaps even episode, is in itself an action movie. It keeps are hearts racing and wanting more as Jack races to find answers. 24 has even survived to make it into our new decade with its 8th season starting on Jan. 17. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jack will do next.

– Nicole Byer

#4 – The Wire

For 5 years, The Wire was probably the most underrated show on television. Of course, you had to have HBO to watch it, but hardcore TV fans know that most of the best shows on TV today can only be found on cable or “premium” channels like HBO and SHOWTIME. Critics everyone praised The Wire every year, but yet it never was nominated one time for an Emmy Award in the “Best Drama” category. In fact, the show only received 2 nominations throughout its entire run, and that was a couple of writing nominations. That is the definition of criminal, which is ironic since The Wire deals with all kinds of criminals.

At its heart, The Wire was a cop show. What people loved about it was the fact that it was unlike any other cop show out there. You got to see both sides of the law through the same eyes. The Wire had “good guys” and “bad guys”, but not in the traditional sense. There are good cops and bad cops, and even good criminals and bad criminals. Every character on the show had their issues. No one was perfect. Deep down, everyone could relate to this characters, because they were real.

This show was also the most accurate portrayal of life in the city. It took the city of Baltimore and dissected the weakened institutions that can be found in all major cities. Everyone knows that the criminal justice, political, educational, and even media systems are all broken and likely won’t be fixed any time soon. But The Wire made this more perfectly clear, for even non-believers. Sure, that meant the show played out a like a Greek tragedy. But you still cared about the characters and wanted to see what happened to them, even though you knew you probably wouldn’t like what you saw.

The biggest complaint about this show was that fact that you had to pay attention to it every second. In today’s world of “reality television”, there is a lot of “dumb” programming out there. Lost gets most of the credit for showing that some TV viewers what to think too. But The Wire didn’t use any mysteries to make you think. The writing on this show was in-your-face and hold-nothing-back, but it was as thought-provoking every step along the way.

There really is no in-between. If you have watched The Wire in this decade, you have loved it and proclaim it to the best show ever made. If you don’t, then it’s because you have never seen The Wire, and probably haven’t even heard of it. A list of the top shows of the ’00 decade could not be complete without The Wire. If you love smart television, you owe it to yourself to watch this show on DVD. You won’t be disappointed.

– Josh Clinton

#3 – The Office

Hands down the funniest ensemble cast and writing on television today, The Office has all the ingredients of a hit—without the comedic slump shows usually reach after six years in. This fan-favorite became a TV staple when it found its niche in the second (and in my opinion, best) season. Within 22 minutes time, the show manages to fit laughs, love and all the quirks of its 16 main cast members into the most ridiculous situations you can never imagine.

Michael Scott’s lack of self-awareness and his failed attempts at remaining politically correct are so endearing you can’t help but feel compassion towards his ill-advised sense of authority. Steve Carell perfects the character by riding the fine line between annoyingly inappropriate behavior and his desire to deliver pure comedic entertainment to his employees.

The always-loveable Jim tugs at our heartstrings via his famous facial expressions, subtle flirtation with Pam and that heartbreaking confession of love, which had us holding our breath for years until finally tying the knot in the most amazingly awkward ceremony ever.

Dwight’s strangely commendable sense of loyalty towards Michael, coupled with the confidence in his highly illogical reasoning makes him one of the best TV characters ever written. Michael’s irrational Toby-hate, Kelly’s celeb-obsessed personality, Ryan’s over-confidence, Stanley’s mundane laziness, Phyllis’ kinky comments, Andy’s falsetto voice, Angela’s holier-than-thou promiscuity, Kevin’s blah idiocracy, Meredith’s tendency to get drunk and naked, Oscar’s hilarious sensibility and Creed’s random kleptomania brings in the laughs year after year.

Are you really surprised The Office ranks among the top of the decade? Pure hilarity and comedic brilliance if you ask me.

– Sharon Tharp

#2 – 
The Sopranos

The Sopranos defined what made HBO better than any broadcast network. The pay cable channel didn’t force the bad guys to lose. Tony Soprano wasn’t vilified as an evil mafia kingpin. He was portrayed as a father struggling to keep his family business running smoothly and his family happy. He seemed a normal guy as he discussed his life with a psychiatrist. But he was far from an average guy in New Jersey. His business involved all manners of vice, theft and homicide. His friends and associates were very colorful although the predominate hue was blood red. He eliminated friends and relatives if he sensed they were conspiring against him. He worried about the families in New York City attacking his Garden State turf. He desired his son and daughter to have a better life than him without joining the criminal life. He wanted his wife to not worry about his Russian mistress. While he had lovable moments, he could turn vicious without warning. He was a complicated man that wasn’t simplified by HBO executives’ notes. He wasn’t like the numerous hoods on The Untouchables that had to pay the price for being outlaws. By allowing Tony to be a family man living the gangster life, he became a memorable TV dad on the scale of Bill Cosby. Ultimately Tony Soprano made people view HBO not merely as a movie channel, but as the cutting edge of television dramas.

– Joe Corey

#1 – Lost

What can be said of Lost that hasn’t been said already? It’s arguably one of the most clever, well thought out series any of us have seen in our lifetime, with an audience that comes from every conceivable walk of life. And whether it’s a teen drama like Melrose Place using flashbacks to fuel its central story, or a sophisticated satire about middle aged women like Desperate Housewives jumping five years in the future, Lost‘s unique style of storytelling has had an undeniable impact on the industry.

In fairness, much of the programming attributes we associate with Lost, such as the return of an episodic series as well as the process of holding off until winter to premiere the show so that you can run the season without interruption, was actually pre-dated by 24. But I honestly feel like Lost took things a step further, and really did change the way we watch television, from both a viewer and producer perspective. Sure, 24 came along and challenged their audience to not miss a single episode first, but it was Lost that brought that mentality to their entire series, not just a single season. Hell, the first three seasons of Lost amounted to about three months of time. And all of season four, if I’m not mistaken, transpired over a matter of days. And before Lost, most people probably thought a viral campaign was making people aware of the flu vaccine.

And while many producers would sacrifice their vision for financial gain, the powers that be in the Lost world actively sought after ending its series, when it was at the height of its popularity, in order to ensure that they could tell their story in the fashion they initially conceived. Now that’s devotion.

– Matt Basilo


So there you have it. What is great about lists is that there is no wrong or right answer. While some will like this list, others will disagree with it, and that is okay. All of these shows have something in common in that they appeared on top ten lists of multiple people with different viewing tastes. Lost appeared in almost 3/4 of the lists. It was #1 on 3 of those lists. There were two other shows that finished #1 on more than 1 list and that was The West Wing and The Wire. The Wire was #1 on four different lists, beating out Lost, but was on far fewer total lists, which is why Lost ultimately became #1. The same can be said of The West Wing, which was on only a few lists, but was #1 twice. The Office, The Sopranos, and 24 weren’t as high up on individual lists, but they were consistently near the top of a lot of lists, so that put them in the top 5. One surprise on the list could be Friends, since it ended in 2004. Some could argue that Friends was at its best in the lat 90s, but there were still enough IPTV staffers that thought the early 2000s Friends was just as good and led to that show landing on our list as well. It should be no surprise that Survivor is the only reality show to make it on the list.

As mentioned before, there were thousands of shows on television during the last 10 years, but these 15 got the attention from a variety of Inside Pulse TV writers. Your thoughts and comments are encouraged as always, as I am sure there will be plenty more to discuss as we close out the decade.

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