Finishing Strong: 9 Perfect TV Series


The end of LOST is fast approaching (sob!) and while it has been consistently one of the best, most thought-provoking, most emotional shows on television for the past six seasons, there still lies the possibility that if the show screws the pooch over the final few episodes and delivers unsatisfying answers and storylines, it could end up ruining the legacy of the show...forever.

There are very few shows whose runs have been perfect (or nearly perfect).  The Sopranos was a great show, but it dragged a bit during the final few seasons (plus it ended so ambiguously that it ruined the show for some people -- not me).  Six Feet Under ended with a terrific season finale, but the season or so leading up to that finale were a little better than tedious.  Alias and Felicity both started out with the potential for perfection, but the quality of the shows suffered when a certain creator/producer moved on to work on other projects (a-hem, JJ Abrams, a-hem).  
I've compiled a list of TV series that I feel are beyond reproach.  Some of these shows remained at the top of their creative game because they were cancelled before they were given the opportunity to fail.  Some of them were allowed to end (arguably) gracefully on their own terms.  Some of them faded away quietly, but with dignity.  All of them are worth checking out this summer while you're trying to avoid Jersey Shore and that other Hugh Hefner girlfriend show.

There are some shows on TV today that still have the potential to be perfect.  Some of them are in their first season (Treme, mostly because David Simon can do no wrong).  Some of them are still strong after several years (How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Big Love if it can wrap up the overstuffed storylines of the third season in a satisfying way during season number four).  Let's hope they all know when to say when and leave us still wanting more.

Which shows did I miss?  Which TV shows do you think are "perfect?"


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  • For classic finales you can't leave out the Bob Newhart show. Besides the fact that it was a truly clssic series with great cast members and terrific chemistry, the finale was the first "Dream" ending that I believe has since been copied and would be considered weak now but was pretty creative back then. Oh and by the way, how about mentioning "Modern Family" when you talk about great shows. I so enjoy that show every week! "Big Bang Theory" is also one of my favorites. I'd love to hear your thoughts on those two.

  • In reply to Nonie:

    There are probably a lot of older shows that I left off the list just because I haven't seen them in toto. That's while I intend to rely on the expertise of the "more mature" generations.

    "Modern Family" and "The Big Bang Theory" definitely have the potential to make this list someday. But will they end on a high note, or will they just kind of fade away like "Scrubs?" It remains to be seen.

  • In reply to Nonie:

    You are not a free man. You are a number. Hint - your number is less than six.

    But not two.

  • In reply to Nonie:

    I think you have to include Married with Children in that list.A truely ground breaking show,that FOX shafted out of a series fanally

  • In reply to TODDBERKLEY:

    I will take your word on that one. I've only seen a few episodes of MwC. That show (along with Three's Company) was forbidden in my house when I was a kid.

  • In reply to TODDBERKLEY:

    Thank you for noticing the 'perfection' of short run series. I agree with the UKOffice, and Freaks and Geeks was a ballsy pick. I thought it really nailed it, but one-season??!!
    Lost is far from 'perfect', but has quality. If they had put that arc on 3 seasons, and knocked the viewers socks off- it would have been perfection!
    What about early form sit-coms? Honeymooners comes to mind, and Beverly Hillbillies had many, many 'perfect' episodes.

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    I'm eternally saddened that Freaks and Geeks was only given one season. That show just perfectly captured every high school emotion.

    I'm going to withhold judgement on LOST until the show's over. I've thoroughly enjoyed the journey, but when I stop and think about it (especially the season where Jack, Kate, and Sawyer were caught in the abandoned zoo) I wonder if Darlton really knew where they were headed all along, story-wise. We'll have to see how it all pans out.

    I agree about a lot of the old school sitcoms (most of which I grew up watching on Nick at Nite back in the day), but I don't feel like I've seen enough of them to judge. I know I have some family members who are no doubt shaking their fists at the exclusion of The Andy Griffith Show.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    to see

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    I sincerely hope they don't butcher How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory. And with Charlie Sheen leaving the show, I'm curious to see how they're going to wrap up Two and a Half Men. The risk for screwing up LOST is high, but I'm remaining hopeful as well. I've already come to terms with the fact I'm never going to get all the answers I want.

    As far as perfect endings? I actually really, truly enjoyed how Friends ended.

  • In reply to RunningJayhawk:

    I definitely considered Friends for this list. I love that show. It's my security blanket, and I'm constantly tuned in to TBS to watch the reruns while I'm making dinner (and Seinfeld, too). My one issue with Friends was that it kind of faltered a bit after Rachel had the baby. I loved the finale, but the Joey/Rachel stuff was annoying. Oh, and the fact that they actually included a storyline where Monica thought Chandler was addicted to shark porn. That was unfortunate.

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    Good call on Arrested Development and West Wing. I would add News Radio - although it faltered after the untimely death of Phil Hartman. Two others which are not nearly as epic as the above but kept me watching are Friends and Will & Grace and Full House - yes, full house. I just went there.

  • In reply to MilkMoney:

    I thought Will & Grace got a little tired towards the end. I hated everything having to do with Harry Connick, Jr. on that show, though I did like the finale.

    Full House actually stayed true to Full House for its entire run. No more, no less.

    I considered (seriously) Just the 10 of Us for this list. It was cut down in its prime, and its presence is missed in the afternoons on USA. Come on, USA. You can cut out one NCIS episode for a little bit of the Lubbock clan.

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    If you ignore season 4, I'm adding Alias and Six Feet Under. Both had one terrible, ill-advised season, but made up for it with a great last season and powerful finale.

  • In reply to Ashby:

    I will accept Six Feet Under. That finale was brilliant. So was "Narm!" Nothing beats "Narm!"

    Alias, though. Yeesh. I just re-watched seasons 1-4, and I actually had to stop watching season 4 because it was so wretchedly bad. I have never even seen the finale of Alias.

    Seasons 1-3 are brilliant, though.

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    I think Dexter belongs on here, even though it isn't done.

  • In reply to rhoticity:

    *Hides head in shame*

    I've never watched Dexter.

  • In reply to bartagarrison1:

    I may be showing my age here, but I'm hard pressed to think of a more "perfect" series than The Dick Van Dyke Show. That was a show that started strong, only got better over the course of its 5 seasons and ended at the top of its game.

  • In reply to ophmarketing:

    There are a lot of great shows from the '60s and '70s that I know I'm missing here. The Dick Van Dyke Show is great. Also M*A*S*H and Mary Tyler Moore.

  • In reply to ophmarketing:

    Thanks for the interaction Ms. Hammerle!
    Missing the early series is good for this list. The pioneers had to make mistakes, in order to be pioneers. The art form has to go through stages of deconstruction, so that 3rd/4th gens can distill the key elements. "Night Stalker" is not nearly as good as "X-files". But it pleases.
    To other commenters: Not series that are great, entertaining, fun, nor even interesting. PERFECT. From beginning to end. That is why shorties get a leg up. M*A*S*H was dreck after 5-6 seasons. LOST has already fallen off the beam.
    Spin the bottle- "Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau"? Mesmerizing. Can't remember a bad episode.

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