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They don’t make them like they used to 


There are TV shows, and then there are TV SHOWS… I’m talking the best of the best, creme de la crème. The type of television you’ve seen before, will watch again, and then again because it’s just so good. Some argue they don’t make them like they used too, and frankly they are right. So, we’ve taken a look back at some of the classics. Dust off your box sets, plug in that old DVD player you’ve not used in ages, sit back and enjoy.  


 The Wire (2002-2008) 

They say you either love it, or you’ve not seen it. The Wire focuses on the lives of those involved in criminal activity in Baltimore, United States. But this show is so much more than cops and drug dealers. It highlights education, politics, the stresses of drug dealers and police alike. Well-acted, brilliantly cast and superbly well written. The people in it are real, there are not fakes in The Wire. Many in the know feel this grim portrayal of life on the streets in the down trodden American is just about spot on. 


Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) 

Kurt Sutter’s spin on an American motorcycle gangs has it all. Drama, emotion, violence and humour all rolled into one. Mirroring Shakespeare in many aspects, the show hit the ground with a mind-blowing in your face opening two seasons. It has to be said, in my opinion, the show dipped a little in season three as the SAMCRO went to Belfast (although clearly budget constraints wouldn’t allow them to actually film in Northern Ireland). But after this slight anomaly, Sons bounced back in style with a rip-roaring season four leading to a great final three.  


The Sopranos (1999 – 2007) 

Now let’s get one thing straight. If you think this is a show about the Mafia, you’re sadly mistaken. This is about families who happen to be in the Mafia. But the main reason The Sopranos is perhaps the daddy of all TV is simple, Tony. Played by the late, great James Gandolfini, Tony is possibly the greatest ever lead in a television show, ever. As for the ending, well spoiler alert, I like it. To me it reminded me of the Italian Job as Michael Caine boldly states with the coach on the edge of the cliff…  “Hang on a minute lads, I’ve got a great idea.” Then the movie ended. What was the idea? Who cares, in mind it worked. Same with the Sopranos ending. Whatever you wanted to happen, happened. 


24 (2001 – 2010) 

I’ve always wondered who would win in a fight, Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne or James Bond (Daniel Craig, of course), and to be honest I think it would be a big draw, with maybe Bond coming out slightly on top. 24 as a series evolved and got better and better, sure it may have slightly slipped into the slightly unbelievable at times (think Jack as some sort of Robocop kidnapping the president), but that aside the idea of real time television was brilliantly original and worked a treat. The new series without Jack shouldn’t have happened. 24 without Kiefer Sutherland is like something without something really important. 


Breaking Bad (2008 – 2013) 

Bryan Cranston as a cancer stricken chemistry teacher who decides to use his expertise to cook meth is quite simply, brilliant. And let’s be honest, probably gave too many people the world over too many bad ideas to copy Walter White. As this show grew of the five years it aired on TV so too did Mr. White’s downfall from mild-mannered family man into a hardened drug lord. Great supporting cast as well with a special nod to his cop brother-in-law Hank.  Little known fact… Matthew Broderick was considered for the role of Walter White. 


Mad Men (2007 –2015) 

As TV shows go, there isn’t much cooler than Mad Men. Stylish, chic, cool and very, very sophisticated, this portrayal of the American advertising industry has to be one of the greatest period dramas ever written. When we look back at fashion from years gone by it’s often down our noses, but what Don Draper et all do is prove beyond proof how hip that era actually was. Mad Men from start to finish is pure genius and gives us an insight into the business world of days gone by. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t like a bar in your office and a scotch on the rocks before 10 a.m.  


Seinfeld (1989 – 1998) 

A show really, when it boils down to it, about absolutely nothing but Seinfeld became one of the (if not the) greatest sitcoms of modern time. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer: four friends who happen to be horrible people, in a New York full of, well horrible people. Dating, friendships, work, enemies, Seinfeld covers all bases. It also provided a springboard for Jerry Seinfeld, played by, er, Jerry Seinfeld to go on to bigger and better things. Although let’s face it, they may have been bigger, but not really better.  


Shameless (2004 – 2013) 

I’m not, repeat not, talking about the American remake, but the original U.K. version of this bottom of the breadline family from Manchester.  Frank Gallagher leads the family. Hang, scrap that, Frank Gallagher doesn’t lead the family, the kids do. You think this lifestyle is unbelievable? Think again. Go to some of the council estates in Manchester, or Liverpool, Leeds, London, anywhere in the world in fact and you’ll find a million Frank Gallaghers doing, well, absolutely as little as possible.   


The Office (2001 – 2003) 

The show that launched Ricky Gervais into a household name the world over. We all know a David Brent, we’ve all probably worked with a David Brent and we’ve all avoided a David Brent like the plague. Now I’m going to break a golden rule here and confess that I do actually like the American version. Granted it’s just more of the same, but unlike other shows that have been adapted for U.S. audiences this remains one of the better ones. That said, for all you Americans out there who’ve not sampled the original, British version, you must.  


Fawlty Towers (1975-1979) 

Now it’s hard to believe there are only 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers. Each one as brilliant as the last. John Cleese is Basil Fawlty, the bumbling hotelier who shouldn’t really be running a hotel. With its small, tight-knit cast Fawlty Towers remains, in my eyes, the single greatest comedy show ever made. Whether it’s dodgy builders, Waldorf salads, Manuel running up and down or anyone of the scenes between Basil and his wife, Sybil. Not seen it? It’s that old every episode is on YouTube. What on God’s great earth are you waiting for? 

About Paul Kennedy

During a career that spans almost three decades, Paul has covered some of the biggest stories in the world for regional and national newspapers. A multi-award winning journalist and published author, he has worked for the past six years producing television news and documentaries in Cayman. Paul is also the host of a weekly football show. His dream story is to find a dog that can play piano.

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