It is my goal to include a list of every fictional TV show I’ve ever finished in this space as well as non-fiction miniseries. However I can’t say I’ve written a lot of reviews for them, so we’ll see if that actually happens.

You can find much more information about the shows I’ve given up on at that link.

30 Rock – NBC (9/10)

The show that redeemed the sitcom for me.

Read the review of 30 Rock.

Alias Grace – CBC (7/10)

Very well done for Canadian TV. Read the review of Alias Grace.

Altered Carbon – Netflix (7/10)

I liked the first season more than the second. Read my review of Altered Carbon.

The Americans – F/X (7/10)

Too hard to believe in the season finales. Read the review of The Americans.

Angels in America – HBO (9/10)

A landmark. Read the review of Angels in America.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Adult Swim (8/10)

Though not quite as convention-destroying as Space Ghost, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is still pretty balls-out convention destroying. From the opening cartoon gambit of “Dr. Weird is up to something again” to the lack of coherent plots, the random appearances of so many recurring characters, and the complete disregard of episode-to-episode continuity, I suspect it would be hard to ever watch a straight cartoon again (well, most straight cartoons).

And it’s funny, though not always consistently: some episodes are definitely way funnier than others. But I must admire the point.

Band of Brothers – HBO (9/10)

I swear I wrote a review of this somewhere but I cannot find it. I guess it’s possible I wrote it long enough ago that it was on and I lost it when the site went offline.

I think my initial rating was an 8/10 because I had some reservations about the “noble grunt” nature of the show. And it’s true, it’s a “noble grunt” war “film” in the classic tradition of the genre. But in a miniseries, the “noble grunt” thing feels more earned.

But what also helps it is its source, a reported book about what actually happened. And the decision to include the actual soldiers, though it could be an issue in terms of narrative quality, gives the whole thing a strong docudrama feel that helps with how “noble grunt” the whole thing is.

Also, “Bastogne” is one of the great episodes of TV of its era.

PS For fans of Saving Private Ryan, it’s worth watching this and thinking about how different it is. (I would say how much better it is.)

Baseball – PBS (9/10)

I have more mixed feelings about this miniseries than the rating suggests. Read my review of Baseball.

Battlestar Galactica – Sci Fi (7/10)

Read my review of the remake of Battlestar Galactica.

The Beatles: Get Back – Disney+ (8/10)

I’m not sure all non-fans actually need to watch this but it’s a necessary corrective to the Let It Be story and it is extremely well remastered. Read the review of Get Back.

Berlin Alexanderplatz – TeleCulture (10/10)

The most important TV show you’ve never heard of. Read the review of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

Better Call Saul – AMC (8/10)

A worthy prequel to Breaking Bad. Read my review of Better Call Saul.

Black Books – Channel 4 (6/10)

I can no longer remember if I actually watched every episode of this mildly amusing British sitcom, but I “reviewed” it. Read the brief review of Black Books.

Black Mirror – Channel 4/Netflix (8/10)

I unfortunately didn’t write reviews of the individual episodes as I went through it. I wish I had done so.

I am the rare person who thinks the show got better when it went to Netflix, I think.

“The National Anthem”

I liked this much less than most people. Not that I didn’t like it, but I find it weird that this is the one everyone thinks recommends the show.

“Fifteen Million Merits”

I’m pretty sure I liked this more than the first one.

“The Entire History of You”

I don’t totally remember this one.

“Be Right Back”

I really don’t remember this one.

“White Bear”

I feel like I enjoyed this one.

“The Waldo Moment”

Don’t remember it but I have a vague feeling it wasn’t my favourite.

“White Christmas”

I don’t remember this one at all, but the description seems interesting.


I liked this one, I’m pretty sure.


I don’t remember this one.

“Shut up and Dance”

I think my memory is that this is a good one.

“San Junipero”

My memory is that this is a critical favourite. Male TV critics are suckers for lesbians.

“Men Against Fire”

I think I liked this one.

“Hated in the Nation”

Don’t really remember it.

“USS Callister”

This is one I remember better than most. I enjoyed it.


Don’t remember this one.


Don’t remember this one.

“Hang the DJ”

I think I remember liking this one.


I really liked this one, I think.

“Black Museum”

I think I enjoyed this one.


I did review this one.

“Striking Vipers”

This one is great. Notably, it has one of the lowest episode scores on IMB because of the plot.


I don’t remember this one.

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”

I believe I liked this one. Low IMDB score and I’m not sure I know why.

“Joan is Awful”

I don’t know if I’ve changed or the show has changed but I feel like this starts off as one of the weakest episodes in the show’s history. It’s just not very believable. But once Salma Hayek shows up, it gets a lot funnier. And though the twist is extremely meta, it’s also pretty self-aware in how it’s mostly goofy.

“Loch Henry”

I liked how this was introduced within “Joan as Awful,” I think that’s definitely a cool way to introduce future episodes.

This feels a little different, for most of its run. It feels much more conventional and you have to get to the twist for it to get Black Mirror on you. Then it goes from seemingly a conventional horror twist to very black comedy.

“Beyond the Sea”

This one is basically a film, in terms of length. I don’t buy the technology given when it was set, but I still think it is, mostly, the best of this season. I used to love ambiguous endings but I’m not sure how I feel about this one. Still, it’s certainly more distinct than some of these recent episodes and feels a little less gimmicky even if the tech doesn’t make any sense. (Also, why does the beard grow but not the hair?)

“Mazey Day”

I don’t know why people don’t like this one. It’s a fun one.

“Demon 79”

I really liked this one to start, how it referenced old horror movies and felt like a real departure from the series. But I liked it less from the “this guy doesn’t qualify” moment. I still mostly enjoyed it, and I appreciated both the change of pace (of this episode and this season) but I did feel like it got weaker in the third act.

Blue Planet – BBC (8/10)

This is a beautiful nature documentary about the world’s oceans. Having watched the excellent Planet Earth earlier, this feels like a bit of a let down, just because I think Planet Earth is more magnificent. That isn’t the fault of The Blue Planet, but I can’t help feeling some deja vu and also, that the production values improved on the more ambitious one.

But this is still great to look at and reasonably informative.

Boardwalk Empire – HBO (6/10)

I made it to the third season, then I wrote this: “Did Boardwalk Empire Jump the Shark?” Here is my review at the end of the show’s run.

Body and Soul – BBC? (6/10)

I watched this by accident. Read the review of Body and Soul.

BoJack Horseman – Netflix (10/10)

The best American TV show of the teens? Read the review of BoJack Horseman.

Bored to Death – HBO (7/10)

This is an amusing-to-hilarious – depending on the episode – comedy that is perhaps a little too rooted in the Brooklyn of the early 21st century for its own good.

The scenario is utterly implausible but it is absurd enough so that we stop caring about that and focus more on the sort of meta-hi-jinks that ensue.

Borgen – DR1 (8/10)

Borgen is a remarkable, unique Danish television show that may have established it’s own genre. Every other TV show to focus on politics that I have ever seen has added elements of fantasy; normally these shows and movies are “political thrillers” where someone always dies; occasionally they’re comedies. Either way, there is a balance between realism (in some cases) and concessions to entertainment. Borgen is not one of those shows. Borgen is very much like the most realistic fictional TV show ever made about national government politics.

There are no murders/deaths and the scandals are real political scandals – this politician overspent, that one had an affair, that one has minor secrets in his past. It’s both a blessing and a curse, because Borgen is not exactly entertaining in the traditional sense.

And, for me, this is where its biggest flaw comes in. In order to add entertainment, we get soapy personal relationships. The balance is pretty reasonable in the first two seasons, but in season 3 things go off the rails a bit and, frankly, I had a really hard time caring about Torben’s marital woes.

But I think most of us can overlook this flaw for most if not all of the show, a show that is otherwise extremely remarkable and daring in its commitment to telling a story entirely based in a recognizable reality that matches our own.

Note: Though I have not watched the final 4th season I haven’t moved this to my list of TV shows I’ve given up on because it was released under a different name and I’m regarding it as a sequel.

The Brak Show – Adult Swim (9/10)

I was a little sceptical coming into this because I never liked Brak when he appeared in other Williams Street shows. I found him annoying and a distraction.

But I was wrong. As Space Ghost destroys talk show conventions – and pretty much everything else – and as Aqua Teen destroys so many TV drama conventions, so does Brak, only Brak takes on the sitcom. It is equally effective as the other two shows, and as funny – it might be more consistently funny than Space Ghost, if not quite as ruthless.

Another awesome cartoon.

Breaking Bad – AMC (9/10)

No, it’s not the greatest fictional TV show of all time. Calm down.

Also: Worst. Ending. Ever.

No, not really. But a really bad one.

Read my review of Breaking Bad.

Brideshead Revisited – ITV (8/10)

This is a nearly unprecedented 700 minute TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. It is about as good as it gets for these British “chamber” TV shows, and is a reminder (when you watch it) that we are seriously missing out because more classic literature isn’t adapted into TV miniseries.

I am not a Catholic and tend to think their sect is on the more ridiculous end of the Christian spectrum, so I struggled with my enjoyment of parts of this story. But it is, on the whole, affecting, even if it is very much the struggles of the idle rich (and the wannabe idle rich).

But, for me, the real value is its nearly unprecedented demonstration of the possibilities of television. I say nearly unprecedented because Fassbinder made Berlin Alexanderplatz, a longer, more ambitious TV adaptation of classic literature, a year or two prior. And this is no Berlin Alexanderplatz, it adheres too much to the cliches of British TV dramas of this ilk (or, perhaps, it helped establish them) and whoever directed it is no Fassbinder. (Who is Fassbinder’s equal, really?) But I still think there’s pretty much nothing like this in English television or film prior to its release and, as such, it’s a true landmark.

Watching it I couldn’t help but think about all the novels I wish creative people would adapt to 7000 minute TV one-off series. I wish that A Song of Ice and Fire wasn’t the only thing we’d get to watch.

For me, that’s the value of watching this – being reminded of the still yet unfulfilled possibilities of TV.

The Bridge – FX (7/10)

I finished this show a while ago but, convinced there was a third season for some reason, I didn’t write my review at the time. That’s unfortunate, because I feel like I had some things to say, most of which escapes me now.

I watched the first season of the original show and liked it for a while and then hated where it went. I had heard good things about the second season of the American remake to the point that I committed myself to watching both seasons.

For some reason, I could handle the insane plot twists of the first season more the second time around – it’s almost as if, having had the plot ruined for me by the original, my expectations were so low that this time I wasn’t offended or annoyed by where things went. And this makes me think that maybe I was a little hard on the Danish version.

But my big issue with the either version of the show remains and did not disappear in the second season of the American version: this show requires too much suspension of disbelief concerning the central mystery of the first season. I had issues along those lines in the second season as well. Alas, I did not write down notes and I’ve forgotten most of what I was annoyed about by this point.

But, for the most part, this was better than many other critically acclaimed shows on at the time, and I was willing to watch a third season that I believed existed.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The WB/UPN (10/10)

Extremely influential. Read my review of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Burning Bush [Hořící keř] – HBO Europe (8/10)

A European miniseries about a Czech student lighting himself on fire which was turned into a film for North American audiences, as per usual. Read the review of Hořící keř [Burning Bush].

Carlos – MK2 (8/10)

One of the innumerable European miniseries turned into films in the US. Read the review of Carlos.

Carnivale – HBO (7/10)

Carnivale does a good job focusing on age-old, time-tested mystical themes from religion, mythology and superstition.

But like most of the programs / works that handle these themes – and like the religions and mythologies themselves – Carnivale becomes less compelling when it gets to the specifics. When it remains obscure, it stays mysterious and intriguing. But like any religious mystery, when things are explained they are a let down.

That being said, the show is still mostly well made and definitely well acted. And unlike certain shows that try this angle – Lost would be the best example – Carnivale has actually worked out its own mythology ahead of time, so that the mythology does indeed make sense once we get down to specifics, even if those specifics are kind of disappointing. I’d rather this than the confusion of most shows and movies that tackle these types of pseudo-religious themes.

And though it is certainly the least of the major HBO dramas from HBO’s golden age – the others being Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Sopranos and The Wire – it is still worth watching and still ranks as an example of how to make good – if not great – television. Some of the more confused shows that we have gotten in the last decade could do well to follow Carnivale‘s example of pacing and a coherent mythology, and it is a shame we will never seen the third season and whatever was up with that Atomic Bomb.

Chappelle’s Show – Comedy Central (8/10)

I’m not 100% sure that I watched every single episode but I’m like 90% sure. In addition to watching it on TV, a friend bought the DVDs.

Very funny, if memory serves. And there are still sketches I think about 20 years later.

Charley Boorman: Ireland to Sydney by Any Means – BBC (7/10)

Long Way Round without Ewan McGregor and with trains, boats, trucks and cars in addition to the bikes. Read my review of By Any Means.

Charley Boorman: Sydney to Tokyo by Any Means – BBC (7/10)

The sequel or “second season” to the above. Read my review of Charley Boorman: Sydney to Tokyo by Any Means.

Chernobyl – HBO (8/10)

Pretty good. Read the review of Chernobyl.

The Civil War – PBS (9/10)

I first watched The Civil War when I was 8 or 9 and never since. On watching it this time, I am amazed I still remember some of it; it obviously had a big impression on me.

This documentary is an important landmark – kind of like the American version of Shoah – the first long-form American documentary about American history. And it’s also iconic – so much of what is contained in this film has become cliche but that’s not because it is cliche, just that Burns’ style has weaseled its way into American documentary storytelling, especially in the case of TV documentaries. Watch any PBS documentary or basically any American documentary about the past, and there will be some aspect of the style of The Civil War.

The film does have its problems; it relies too much on hearsay and on mythology. A more accurate, less poetic history of the Civil War wouldn’t give us so many anecdotes. But part of the film’s power is this mythologizing of this truly central event in American history. It may not be entirely accurate, but it is more compelling from a narrative point of view. Also, something this long and large, based on something that occurred nearly a century and a half prior, necessarily has to rely at least a little bit on legends. I don’t think the film is lesser for it.

Clone High – Teletoon (8/10)

Community – NBC (9/10)

The Corner – HBO (9/10)

Perhaps the bleakest American TV drama I have seen. Read my review of The Corner.

Country Music – PBS (7/10)

An authoritative history of country music through the mid ’70s and then things get messy. Read the review of Country Music.

The Confession Killer – Netflix (8/10)

A maddening story of a serial killer and what happens when law enforcement gets its hands on him. Read the review of The Confession of Killer.

Danger 5 – SBS One (9/10)

Danger 5 is a delightfully, deliriously absurd take on those old puppet adventure shows, only it’s live action. It’s set in a permanent WWII, where, every week, the gang have to try to stop the Nazis and kill Hitler before teaching us how all to make a cocktail. The show may take on easy targets, but its the sheer volume of those targets – and their insanely absurd interaction – that makes the show not only funny but rich. This is one of those shows where there’s too much going on to play spot the reference. The levels of ridiculousness mean that, if one of the parodies doesn’t work for you, well, at least one of them will. This is an intensely ADD comedy for our intensely ADD age.

But where the show really hits its stride is in the second season, when it expands its reach to everything ’80s and, eventually, seemingly everything the creators can think of – including science fiction films, fantasy films, sit coms, high school dramas, and video games. Nothing is safe, at least nothing within the world of low brow culture is safe.

Just wonderfully bonkers.

Deadwood – HBO (10/10)

My vote for the best western of all time.

Dekalog – Warner Bros. Poland (9/10)

Unfortunately I did not write my review for what some consider to be the finest dramatic TV show ever made.

The Dust Bowl – PBS (9/10)

This is Ken Burns’ shortest major TV documentary mini-series yet but, as with his other more recent work, it is significantly stronger than some of the longer documentaries, if only because there is so much less to pick apart.

The film is very much in the same tone as his other films – it very much bears his mark as a filmmaker/showrunner – but unlike previous films (with the exception of The War obviously), the people who lived through the events are here to tell the tale. And that gives the film a great deal more power than his films that rely solely on celebrities reading quotations with music in the background.

I didn’t know all that much about this – I only just read The Grapes of Wrath and the Joads didn’t even live in the Dust Bowl – and so I learned a lot about the era, in addition to being moved by the human tragedy.

Among Burns’ best work in my opinion.

Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist – Netflix (8/10)

More like America’s Worst Bank Heist. Am I right? Read the review of Evil Genius.

Extras – BBC (8/10)

Fawlty Towers – BBC Two (7/10)

I know I wrote a review of this when I finally sat down to watch the whole thing, but it is gone. (Perhaps due to the death of

I find Basil really, really hard to enjoy as a character.

The Final Cut – BBC (8/10)

The last of the BBC House of Cards series.

Firefly – Fox (6?/10)

I think I liked the movie more but this feels too low.

Five Came Back – Netflix (7/10)

Too uncritical about the nature of propaganda. Read the review of Five Came Back.

Flight of the Conchords – HBO (8/10)

I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this. I have it on DVD and I’ve seen it multiple times.

Fortitude – Sky (6/10)

My memory is that I mostly enjoyed the first season. Read the review of Fortitude.

Freaks and Geeks – NBC (8/10)

I did not write a review at the time and now all I really think about is Nick auditioning for a band.

Frontline – PBS

I have rated or reviewed very few of the Frontline episodes I’ve seen but I figure I should probably put the ones I’ve reviewed here.

Money, Power and Wall Street, directed by Brent E. Huffman, Katerina Monemvassitis (8/10)

This is about as thorough an explanation of what happened to the world economy in 2008 as you will find. It is a little repetitive at times and it sometimes fails to draw the biggest implications from the behaviour of the banks prior to, during and after the crisis, but on the whole it is fair and exhaustive. It is well worth finding the DVD and watching it.

League of Denial, directed by Michael Kirk (7/10)

This is a thorough, but very Frontline, overview of CTE back in 2013, right when the NFL lawsuit happened. It’s very clear it was mostly assembled beforehand, and then a few additional aspects of the story broke and they were incorporated into it before it aired.

So overall, this is a pretty good summary of the state of CTE research in 2012 ish. It’s obvious Frontline is on the side of the scientists and journalists looking into CTE, as the episode is in part based on a book about this. If you’re looking for an objective summary of the science at the time, you’ll only get a few concessions to the problems with the Boston University sample (nowhere near a random one) and the issues of causation (we really don’t know what is actually the causal factor).

But, given journalism’s role in speaking truth to power, it’s hard to quibble here. Not only because the episode is on the side of the players whose lives have been ruined but because of the NFL’s various positions over the years, most of which have been to deny it in some way or other. It’s not unlike the debate over vaccines and other public health measures during the 2020 pandemic: it’s one thing to want scientific certainty when you have time on your side, and you’re not in a crisis. But sometimes an educated guess has to suffice for the time being. In this case, if I was a parent in particular, an educated guess that CTE in football players is partially caused by football is a better bet than “I have to wait for the science.” And every time you hear a scientist say “we have to wait for the science” you kind of wonder who they are protecting. It’s not the players.

It could be a little better organized, as it feels like the last few sections were tacked on at the end but otherwise it’s worth watching if you’re interested even though it’s now out of date.

The Frozen Planet – BBC (7/10)

This is yet another pretty good Attenborough nature documentary. However, there is a strong sense of deja vu. I feel like I’ve seen these scenes before. I probably haven’t but you can always watch so many documentaries. But it’s pretty.

My favourite part was the last episode, actually, which was more interesting and unusual for one of these documentaries, given that it focuses on humans. I learned something!

Game of Thrones – HBO (8/10)

Really, very different ratings for the earlier seasons than the latter seasons. I might have gone with 10/10 if the show had ended after the first season and 9/10 had it ended after the 3rd or 4th. Read the review of Game of Thrones.

Generation Kill – HBO (8/10)

Generation Kill bears an uncanny resemblance to Jarhead. Yes, it’s a different war. And yes, these soldiers actually do get to fight. But we are still following overly intelligent but somehow still dehumanized, over-trained soldiers given inappropriate missions and placed in bizarre situations that don’t make any sense, even in the context of their mission (and outside of that context, make far less sense).

This show is obviously a little more expansive. More of an ensemble piece. A little more interest in the “why are we here” angle. But it’s it still echoes the Sam Mendes movie. And honestly I think that’s a good thing.

These people have been trained to kill. They are so good at killing they don’t really sustain casualties. And yet their operation is a model of incompetence. And when they are done they will be unbelievably fucked up. And essentially that’s what we need to convey. No matter how much you perfect this, it’s still a terrible thing to subject anyone (victim or victimizer) to.

Get Smart – NBC/CBS (?/10)

I can’t confirm I’ve seen every episode of this show, but I’ve seen most of them.

Giri/Haji – BBC Two (6/10)

At times sublime and at times so frustrating I wanted to turn it off. Read the review of Giri/Haji.

The Great Train Robbery – BBC One (7/10)

I like the conceit of this very brief miniseries (two episodes): first, tell the story of the crime, then, tell how it was solved. And the results are reasonably good, the show is well acted and reasonably well made (for TV, of course). There are a few issues with the direction – particularly in the second episode – but overall it’s entertaining and avoids the usual desire to spice things up. Whether or not this is an accurate telling, it feels accurate.

Worth your time on a lazy long weekend if you’re into true crime stuff.

Greg the Bunny – Fox (7/10)

This is pretty much the TV version of Meet the Feebles. And because it was made for American network television, it was inherently restricted from the beginning.

That being said, the show is pretty off-the-wall for a sitcom, manages some really funny moments and manages to at least somewhat critique the whole nature of TV (in a limited way). It’s pretty evident that even within the only season they were struggling for plots that fit the characters (Junction Jack’s mall buddy obsession makes no sense whatsoever) so it’s probably good for all of us that this got canceled before it got terrible.

Entertaining. Fun. But nothing extraordinary.

Hannibal – NBC (5/10)

One of the most celebrated TV shows of the 2010s – certainly among the most celebrated network TV shows of the 21st century – is, um, not very good. Read the review of Hannibal.

Hemingway – PBC (8/10)

Turns out I did need six hours on an author I haven’t read much. Read the review of Hemingway.

Himalaya with Michael Palin – BBC (8/10)

Himalaya is yet another excellent Michael Palin travel series with the usual: great scenery, fascinating places and people, and Palin’s general affability.

The only thing I can really say in criticism is that it seems a shame they were only able to get 6 hours of usable footage out of 6 month trip through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I am guessing that a longer series would have involved endless shots of him walking up or down or along a mountain. I would have been okay with that, personally.

Well worth seeing for any fan of travel documentaries, as is always the case with everything he has made in this vein.

PS That opening is hilariously bad.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (7*/10) – BBC2

I have no memory of watching this. Years later I listened to the actual radio play and definitely didn’t remember all the nitty gritty that was left off the aughts feature film, so I think there’s a really strong change I either didn’t watch this and just rated it telling myself I watched it as a teen or I “watched” it while I did something else. I think the former is more likely.

House of Cards – BBC (8/10)

In some ways its better than the remake and in some ways the remake is, initially, better than this. Read the review of the British House of Cards.


It’s dated horribly, due to norms and budget, but I, Claudius is probably an English-language TV landmark. Read my review of I·CLAVDIVS.

It – ABC (6/10)

This has a lot in common with Stand by Me, only this time it is a horror movie along with a coming of age movie. The TV budget is painfully obvious at times but for the most part it is only the cast that is a dead giveaway that this was made for TV.

Up until the climax, it mostly works as some kind of horror meets coming of age story.

But the climax is pretty brutal, and they saved the worst effects for last.

Still, as horror on TV goes, I can’t think of anything that much better circa 1990.

Jazz – PBS (4/10)

The way I feel about this Ken Burns miniseries is probably the way experts feel about whichever of his miniseries tackles their work. Read my review of Ken Burns’ Jazz.

Jekyll – BBC One (6/10)

I seem to remember mostly enjoying this modern take on it, especially once I saw some of the terrible older versions.

The Jinx – HBO (9/10)

One of the great true crime documentaries. Read my review of The Jinx.

John from Cincinnati – HBO (6*/10)

I lost my review of this show – which I know I wrote – and I finished it 15 years ago.

The Keepers – Netflix (6/10)

Way too long. Probably the epitome of the Netflix documentary series problem of not enough content for the length. Read the review of The Keepers.

The Kids in the Hall – CBC (10/10)

Killer Inside – Netflix (6/10)

Interesting but a bit of a mess. Read the review of Killer Inside.

The Knick – Cinemax (9/10)

I didn’t write a review at the end of the second season because I believed it was coming back (ostensibly with an entirely new cast, set a decade or two later).

At some point I will have to try to write something about it.

The Larry Sanders Show – HBO (10/10)

Having recently (re)watched The Larry Sanders Show:

I think The Larry Sanders Show is one of the great American television programs and one of the great comedy programs of all time. Though it was certainly not the first TV show to parody TV, nor was it the first show to be about the behind the scenes goings on of talk shows, it was the first laugh-track-less American comedy I know of – setting the stage for the numerous laugh-track-less comedies we have now – and it was about as dark and outrageous as anything then on television at the time. The acting is so good that you sort of forget it’s a comedy at times, and start thinking of these people as real people. I will forever think of Garry Shandling as Larry Sanders. Sorry Garry. It is an incredible thing and, as I mentioned, also very influential. There really isn’t anything else like it in the history of TV comedy.

It belongs with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Kids In The Hall and select few other shows (perhaps) as one of the greatest TV comedies of all-time.

The Last Dance – ESPN (7/10)

An enjoyable summary of Michael Jordan’s career with the Bulls. Read the review of The Last Dance.

The Last Movie Stars – HBO (7/10)

I never knew I wanted to watch a six-part miniseries about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Read the review of The Last Movie Stars.

London Spy – BBC Two (5/10)

The problem with the vast majority of conspiracy movies and TV shows is the reveal. It seems to be a pretty easy and common thing to create mystery, especially mystery involving secret plots. It’s another thing altogether, apparently, to create a satisfactory resolution to a mystery, especially a mystery where “the powers the be” are the villain, rather than an individual.

London Spy has a unique and original take on the conspiracy format and its deliberate pacing is a refreshing change from many modern conspiracy/spy films and shows, which throw twists at us every few minutes (it feels like). There are weird inconsistencies and some of the characterizations appeared off to me – stop going in water with your clothes on!!! – but, for the most part, it’s a compelling and well told conspiracy thriller for over 3 of its 5 episodes.

Things go to shit with the first of the big reveals in the 4th episode, and continue going to shit throughout the concluding episode, where we are given more ridiculousness, to explain the show’s various mysteries. None of these explanations are satisfactory because, as  usual, they don’t make a whole lot of sense. Nobody would do these things.

To cap it off is the ending, which is a maddening and impossible about face for a fairly major character.

A wasted opportunity.

Lonesome Dove – CBS (6/10)

An old school western that got a lot of attention because it has movies stars in it. Read the review of Lonesome Dove.

Long Way Down – BBC Two (8/10)

Just as good as the original. Read the review of Long Way Down.

Long Way Round – Sky 1 (8/10)

I don’t know if I watched it all the way through the first time because, when I re-watched it, there was so much I didn’t remember, but I did watch it like 16 or 17 years ago.

This is a classic travel documentary and the only real nitpick I have is that the extended version has 2 episodes before they leave and 2 episodes in North America, which feels like too much.

Long Way Up – Apple TV+ (7/10)

The prettiest of all the series and, in some ways, the most logistically complicated. But it also contains the most annoying subplot in the entirety of the three series. Read the review of Long Way Up.

LuLaRich – Prime (7/10)

A pretty good examination of the pyramid scheme…um, I mean, MLM, LuLaRoe. Read the review of LuLaRich.

Mad Men – AMC (9/10)

The most European American TV show ever? Read the review of Mad Men.

McMillions – HBO (7/10)

An entertaining true crime series with a bit of a serious flaw. Read the review of McMillions.

Metal Evolution – MuchMoreMusic (7/10)

Metal Evolution is an in depth examination of metal by the man most associated with covering metal on film – though I have yet to see either of his movies.

The positive side of this show is that it is a landmark: I don’t think there’s another documentary series out there which focuses on just a single genre of pop rock music. It’s an in depth look and it’s informative. It’s also enjoyable, which is important for something this long.

The negative: Despite it’s length, it somehow manages to miss a bunch of major sub-genres: There’s little acknowledgement of Black Metal, Death Metal, Stoner Rock/Metal, Grindcore, Drone Metal, Groove Metal and probably other sub-genres which I’m not even aware of. Basically there’s one episode on all of these and it doesn’t really get into much of it at all. And it also feels cursory in its examination of some major bands. I for one was annoyed about how little time was spent on Faith No More but I could understand why nobody else would care about that. Also, the script, such as it is, is awful. Sam says “But what I wanted to find out is…” and various variations of that, multiple times every episode. And there are other stock phrases.

But I think these are minor nitpicks. If you’re into metal, or if you’re into music history, you should watch this.

Mr. Show with Bob and David – HBO (9/10)

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – BBC (10/10)

Muhammad Ali – PBS (9/10)

A pretty incredible documentary about one of the most compelling athletes of the 20th century. Read the review of Muhammad Ali.

Murder Among the Mormons – BBC (7/10)

A crazy story. Read the review of Murder Among the Mormons.

Muscles & Mayhem: An Unauthorized Story of American Gladiators (6/10)

A fairly entertaining documentary about the TV show. Read the review of Muscles & Mayhem.

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea – PBS (8/10)

This is probably Burns’ most over-mythologized documentary to date, and that alone should make it kind of bad. I mean, it’s practically insufferable how over-the-top some of these interviewees are with The Meaning of the National Parks. All of Burns’ other mini-series that I have seen have done this to an extent, but this one takes the cake.

However, there are a few reasons why I am overcome by the film to stop caring about the bullshit pouring out of these people’s mouths.

  • For one thing, it is gorgeous to look at. Combining both contemporary footage and historical photography and a little painting, this is as good a glimpse of the nature of the United States as you are going to get outside of a BBC-style nature documentary.
  • The history of the parks is extremely fascinating. That alone makes the film worth watching. Whether or not the Americans really were the first people to have ‘national’ parks – and I really doubt that this is true – the history of how the parks came about is intriguing and also illustrative for our generation and future generations.
  • Finally, though I have never myself been to a US national park to my knowledge, I have been to many of Canada’s. And though I recognize much of what the park myth-makers spew out as bullshit, that bullshit has a great appeal to me, because I have had similar experiences in Canada’s parks. The difference is that I am not going to project my personal experience on the entire population of the country and claim that my experiences in these parks is somehow some kind of glue that knits my fellow 35 million Canadians together with me in the social fabric, blah blah blah. I recognize that many people, especially poor, urban populations, haven’t had these experiences.

So even though there are moments during this film that I wanted to puke because of the horseshit about Americanness, this is one of my favourite Burns documentaries. I like the rest of it that much.

The NHL: 100 Years (5/10)

Note: This is technically a TV miniseries though it is movie-length. I have zero memory of how I watched it, all at once or episodically.

This, the official documentary history of the NHL, is an adequate history of the NHL if you

  • don’t watch hockey and
  • didn’t grow up watching hockey OR
  • you like having the old hockey myths repeated to you by different people than the people who usually told you these myths.

As an actual history of the NHL, that might reveal something to us long-time fans, it is not necessarily a failure, but certainly little more than a glossy propaganda film. Read my review of The NHL: 100 Years.

2024: 5/10 feels charitable re-reading that review.

The Office – BBC (8?/10)

OJ: Made in the America – ESPN (9/10)

One of essential documentaries of the decade. Read the review of OJ: Made in America.

The Oldest View – YouTube (6/10)

Not actually TV but where else I would put this series of YouTube videos? Read my review of The Oldest View.

Only Murders in the Building – Hulu (8/10)

There’s apparently another season coming but, before that happens, I can pretend I’ve seen the entirety of this. It’s a unique mystery comedy (and attack on our love of podcasts) that feels very fresh. Read the review of Only Murders in the Building.

Over There – FX (5/10)

This is the Boston Public of War shows. Or, if you prefer, the NYPD Blue of War shows.

Remember how on Boston Public there was always an “issue” that was taken as representative of school life in America that week? Or remember how NYPD Blue tried to balance serial drama of the characters with issues that normally were resolved within the 40+ minutes allowed per episode? (Or when Law and Order fell to that in its later years and spinoffs?) That’s Over There.

Over There completely ignores most war movies that exist since the ’70s – or at least the good ones – and especially Jarhead, the film that taught us what the “first” Gulf War was really like. Or maybe it tries to condense most of these war movie plots into too short periods of time, and just figures they can pretend each one happened to the same unit.

Anyway, the squad which is the focus of this show is taken to be representative to US soldiers in the “second” Gulf War. So one day they make the news when they shoot women and children. Another time they find $5 million. Another time they have a friendly fire episode. And every episode something happens. Never mind what you see in all those documentaries out there about the Iraq War. That’s not real. This is. Even though its clear the people who wrote this have never been in the army.

And to add to it, the creator wrote the theme song. It’s one thing if this song were supposed to be composed by a soldier, as we are told in the pilot. But then we get a theme-song-driven montage at the end of every single episode. The terrible lyrics wouldn’t be so noticeable if the song’s arrangement weren’t the most cliche thing I have ever heard. Ugh. Screenwriters: you are officially not allowed to write your own theme songs and perform them. Just because you think you can write a TV show doesn’t mean you can write music or lyrics.

Watch Generation Kill instead.

The Pacific – HBO (6/10)

I swear I wrote a review of this. Just a whole different beast than Band of Brothers. Way more ambitious and way less effective.

Parks and Recreation – NBC (8/10)

I mostly quite enjoyed it. Read the review of Parks and Recreation.

Penny Dreadful – Showtime (5/10)

Two seasons of somewhat entertaining “horror” TV and one season that should be taught in classes as how not to expand a TV show’s universe. Read the review of Penny Dreadful.

Pole to Pole – BBC1 (9/10)

This remains the definitive Michael Palin travel documentary and probably the best series of its type at least until the Long Way Round. [Note: I don’t think I ever finished The Long Way Round.]

Palin seems more honest and human here than he does in later series; less like a host and more like a traveler. It’s an incredible journey that is not without its problems; he takes some pretty incredible risks by the end. And his reflections are, though hardly philosophical, at least thought-provoking and universal.

Watching this, I feel like Palin is the Paul Theroux of TV. (Well, with a much better sense of humour.)

Pride and Prejudice – BBC1 (8/10)

This is how you adapt a novel. Read the review of Pride and Prejudice.

The Prisoner – ITV (8?/10)

I was obsessed with this show when I was younger. But, despite its originality, it is extremely flawed, especially throughout the second season.

The Prisoner – AMC/ITV (3/10)

I was certainly skeptical of this but I guess I couldn’t help myself. I have a fondness for the original even though the second season was unnecessary and kind of terrible and even though the whole series has dated rather horribly.

But I don’t know what these guys were thinking; they have changed enough of the story to make it somewhat unrecognizable: the village is significantly less creepy this time around and far less sinister given that there are actually people who want to get out.

The new version is an excuse for over-directing galore and some pretty odd pacing and editing. The whole thing is significantly more confused than the original, which was already somewhat confused- but at least it was also inspired.

I really don’t know what to make of this mess – especially given the presence of McKellan – and I really think this was a missed opportunity to update a pretty classic TV premise with better technology and some more consistent storytelling.

Prohibition – PBS (9/10)

Prohibition is the shortest Burns mini-series yet, and I am tempted to say it is the best, or at least the most consistent of the mini-series he has helmed to date. It also feels the least mythological, which is refreshing coming from Burns, a man who can never avoid mythologizing or re-mythologizing his country’s history.

Though I knew a fair amount about the era, it’s safe to say there is still plenty to learn about it in such an intensive treatment – it is about 6 hours long or thereabouts – and, as always, Burns provides interesting personal stories and interesting insight from people who have thought about this a lot more than you or I.

This era stands as a lesson to pretty much anyone who wants to change behaviour and it feels particularly relevant given the moralizing of a certain portion of Americans, who are always trying to tell other Americans (and the world) how to live. The fact that they constitutionalized this moralizing and it was an abject failure should have convinced people that these kinds of moral crusades don’t work. Alas.

Anyway, it’s well worth you time.

Quark – NBC (5/10)

I certainly wish I had enjoyed this more than I did.

I like the premise and I really appreciate the Star Trek fun-poking, even if that could have been a little more consistent.

The problem for me, I think, is that I loved Get Smart as a child / tween but I doubt I could sit through it now. Same goes for this: Buck Henry’s sense of humour is from another time and those of us who have grown up with Monty Python, SCTV, Kids in the Hall etc have different – and I would say higher – standards.

Frankly it’s just not funny enough and the ’70s TV budget has dated pretty horribly. It has its moments but they are few and far between.

Rome – HBO (7/10)

The first season of Rome is some of the best historical fiction you will ever see on TV, despite some pretty strong creative license. The production values and acting are both excellent, as is the sense of place and time.

The second season is a mess: the show was canceled and they attempted to cram 2 seasons of story into 1. (Though, to me, it felt like it was really 3 seasons of story crammed into 1 season of TV.) The smarter decision, I think, would have been to just keep the story the same and end it like Deadwood, in mid story arc. Always leave them wanting more.

The Roosevelts – PBS (8/10)

This is a very detailed and in depth documentary that attempts to link Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt not so much as a political dynasty but as men bent on the same mission.

It mostly succeeds but, like much of Burns’ work, can be at times a little too complimentary. Fortunately George Will is there to occasionally remind us that these were people and that they were not necessarily perfect human beings.

There is not quite enough of Will’s contrary opinion, but it’s hard to be really critical of such a long, detailed portrait. I guess, if you are looking for a little more objectivity, read (good) biographies of these people or, better yet, histories of the eras.

Rubicon – AMC (7/10)

A deliberately paced, entertaining spy show. Read the review of Rubicon.

Sahara with Michael Palin – BBC (7/10)

This is an entertaining and fairly informative travel documentary. I do agree that sometimes Palin gets in the way of his own role when he is trying to be funny, and I feel like this is a little more apparent than in Pole to Pole. It’s still good to watch and it makes me pretty desperate to travel to Africa ASAP.

I find Palin’s latest career to be pretty much the greatest job ever and I wish I could somehow steal it from him. 3 months traveling around a single desert. Amazing.

Second City Television – Global/CBC/NBC/Superchannel/Cinemax (8*/10)

One of the greatest sketch comedy series of all time is marred by inconsistency, especially once it got to the States. I don’t know that “8/10” is at all fair. It’s a landmark and perhaps the most important Canadian TV series ever made. It’s such a shame you can’t watch it anywhere. (I have seen much of it – some episodes many times – but I haven’t seen all of it because, when I was watching it on DVD, I believe the last seasons were unavailable due to rights reasons. It doesn’t seem to be on streaming.)

Seinfeld – NBC (9/10)

The end of the sitcom.

Show Me a Hero – HBO (8/10)

My expectations were too high. Read the review of Show Me a Hero.

The Singing Detective – BBC1 (8/10)

I saw this too late in life, I suspect, and I was in the wrong mood. But it’s a landmark. Read the review of The Singing Detective.

Six Feet Under – HBO (9/10)

I did not write a review and I have not re-watched it.

Southcliffe – Channel 4 (8/10)

For most of its run, the best directed British TV mini series I’ve ever seen. Read the review of Southcliffe.

The Sopranos – HBO (10/10)

Perhaps the most important American (fictional, dramatic) TV show of the 21st century for all it wrought. Read the review of The Sopranos.

Spaced – Channel 4 (8/10)

A hyper-stylized sitcom which has no live-action precedent that I am aware of. Read the review of Spaced.

Space Ghost: Coast to Coast – Cartoon Network (9/10)

The talk show is now dead.

The Staircase – Canal+ (8/10)

The main part is an excellent depiction of how messed up the US justice system is. The sequels are less worth watching. Read the review of The Staircase.

State of Play – BBC (8/10)

For about all but a half hour of its run-time, this is a fantastic – if occasionally unbelievable – miniseries about political corruption and journalism. It’s like the British All the President’s Men – yes it’s that good – but with a little bit of soap thrown in. (Apparently they couldn’t resist.)

The one thing keeping it from being an all-timer, as mini-series go , is the ridiculous ending that does not in any way fit with the behaviour of one of the characters. It seems as though, rather than identifying a likely source of all this, the creators thought they had to “keep it in the family” by making a previously introduced character responsible. I get that from a dramatic standpoint, but it doesn’t fit with that character’s actions in the rest of the show.

And that’s too bad, because otherwise this is great stuff.

The Super Models – Apple TV+ (6/10)

I definitely learned something. It is, of course, nice to look at. Read the review of The Super Models.

Superstorm – BBC One (3*/10)

Lost my review

That’s My Bush! – Comedy Central (7/10)

That’s My Bush is no Brak Show Starring Brak but it’s still a pretty ruthless and relatively subtle satire of sitcom conventions, though the last episode is a little more obvious about it.

It’s a bit of a one-joke premise and so it is often more “oh that was a clever reference” than laugh-out-loud funny. But there are moments. Unfortunately a few too many of those laughs come from jokes from the sitcom formula – which are just more risque than they otherwise would have been – rather than the satire of the sitcom formula.

It makes sense to me that this failed. I think it’s a little too close to home for most American TV audiences.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – BBC 2 (8/10)

An extremely deliberate but seemingly complete TV adaptation of a novel. Read the review of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Toast of London – Channel 4 (7/10)

So very stupid. Read the review of Toast of London.

To Play the King – BBC (7/10)

Less good than the original House of Cards. Read the review of To Play the King.

Traffik – Channel 4 (7/10)

I lost my review.

Trainwreck [aka Clusterfuck]: Woodstock ’99 – Netflix (7/10)

This a decent, brief miniseries on what went wrong at Woodstock ’99. Read the review of Trainwreck.

Ófærð [Trapped] – RUV (6/10)

Here is my review of Trapped.

Treme – HBO (7?/10)

The Wire without subtext or plot? Read the review of Treme.

Undeclared – Fox (6?/10)

I’ve put this on my completed list but I cannot tell you now, 2020 years later, if I actually watched every episode. I rated it, so I feel like I probably did, but I cannot swear by that. I have a few memories of it being mildly amusing.

Unscripted – HBO (8/10)

If you can over the total utter Soderberghishness of this – much of it feels like it is Traffic without the drugs and cops – this is an excellent series. Don’t focus on whether or not it was improvised or semi-improvised either; I don’t really see why that matters.

This is probably as close as we will get to fully understanding how hard it is to make it in Hollywood. Now, that in itself is pretty inconsequential; I mean who really cares about actors? But the leads are all very convincing as people – whether or not they are truly playing themselves – and the whole thing is both affecting and hilarious. Langella is particularly good.

The U.S. and the Holocaust – PBS (9/10)

It’s sad that this is timely. Read my review of The U.S. and the Holocaust.

V: The Final Battle – NBC (6*/10)

Watched most of it at some point as a teen and rated it. Don’t think it can be remotely trusted and I definitely had not seen V.

The Vietnam War – PBS (9/10)

Ken Burns’ most important film, if not his best. Read the review of The Vietnam War.

The War – PBC (7/10)

Somehow I lost my review.

The West – PBS (7/10)

This is a “Ken Burns” documentary series, but unlike his most famous works, he acted only as Executive Producer. (Or, perhaps, Show Runner, as we call it now days.)

The show is, at times, incredibly Burnsian, despite Burns’ seeming relative lack of involvement. And this is the biggest problem with what is an informative and interesting, and at times, affecting, miniseries. Some episodes are more in debt to Burns’ trademark style than others. (Some feel like carbon copies of The Civil War albeit with different subject matter.)

Burns’ remaking of American myths is on full throttle here, and it feels as though the filmmakers almost tried too hard to create a mythical world around which “The West” could revolve.

That being said, the show is remarkably fair, covering the experiences of all cultures and valuing all.

But the idea that “The West” is a place and possesses an essence is a little too strong. And the decision to imitate Burns’ style – despite the direction by a different filmmaker – is at times a little much.

When the Levees Broke – HBO (9/10)

A hear-wrenching and devastating documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Karina. Read the review of When the Levees Broke.

Wild Wild Country – Netflix (7/10)

Too many loose ends to be a true classic. Read the review of Wild Wild Country.

The Wire – HBO (10/10)

Like any good white guy, my candidate for “The Greatest TV Show of All Time” (fictional, dramatic) for a very long time. Read my review of The Wire.

World’s Most Dangerous Roads – BBC Two (9/10)

My only real complaint is that there wasn’t enough show. Read my review of World’s Most Dangerous Roads.

Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men – Showtime (6/10)

It left me wanting more. Read my review of Of Mics and Men.

XIII: The Conspiracy – Showcase/NBC (4?/10)

Apparently I watched this in 2009. No memory of it.

The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling – HBO (8/10)

An extended wake for the comedian, but way more interesting than you might think. Read my review of The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.

If you don’t find a review of your favourite show here, be sure to check the TV shows I’ve given up on.