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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Earl's Television Checklist

Lately I've been tracking the books I read and the movies I watch, but I've never attempted to track the television shows I've seen, mainly because the project is so daunting. Some long-running series have hundreds of episodes, and there's no way that I'm going to create lists of that length.

On the other hand, I thought it might be interesting to see how many television shows I've seen in their entirety. For the shows I own on DVD or Blu-Ray, that's easy; I know which box sets I've finished and which I haven't. It's also easy enough to remember which recent first-run shows I watched from beginning to end. But it's considerably harder to recall which shows I watched in their entirety during my childhood.

Shows I've Finished 
(including shows still in production)

The Outer Limits (two seasons, science fiction anthology, 1963-65)
Gilligan's Island (three seasons, comedy, 1964-67)
Star Trek (three seasons, science fiction, 1966-69)
The Prisoner (one season, science fiction, 1967-68)
The Invaders (two seasons, science fiction, 1967-68)
UFO (one season, science fiction, 1970-71)
Star Trek (one season, animated science fiction, 1973-74)
The Six Million Dollar Man (five seasons, science fiction, 1974-78)
Space: 1999 (two seasons, science fiction, 1975-77)
The Bionic Woman (three seasons, science fiction, 1976-78)
Battlestar Galactica (one season, science fiction, 1978-79)
Galactica 1980 (one season, science fiction, 1980)
Police Squad! (one season, comedy, 1982)
Max Headroom (two seasons, science fiction, 1987-88)
Star Trek: The Next Generation (seven seasons, science fiction, 1987-94)
Twin Peaks (two seasons, supernatural mystery, 1990-91)
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (one season, western, 1993-94)
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (four seasons, superhero, 1993-97)
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (seven seasons, science fiction, 1993-99)
Babylon 5 (five seasons, science fiction, 1993-98)
Due South (four seasons, comedy, 1994-99)
ReBoot (four seasons, animated science fiction, 1994-2001)
Superman (four seasons, animated superhero, 1996-2000)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (seven seasons, supernatural drama, 1997-2003)
Crusade (one season, science fiction, 1999)
Angel (five seasons, supernatural drama, 1999-2004)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (eight seasons, comedy, 2000-present)
The Lone Gunmen (one season, science fiction, 2001)
Enterprise/Star Trek Enterprise (four seasons, science fiction, 2001-05)
Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (five seasons, superhero animated, 2001-06)
24 (eight seasons, thriller, 2001-2010)
Smallville (ten seasons, superhero, 2001-11)
Firefly (one season, science fiction, 2002)
The Wire (five seasons, drama, 2002-08)
The Shield (seven seasons, drama, 2002-08)
Battlestar Galactica (four seasons, science fiction, 2004-09)
Lost (six seasons, science fiction, 2004-10)
Carnivale (two seasons, fantasy, 2003-05)
My Name is Earl (four seasons, comedy, 2005-09)
The Office (nine seasons, comedy, 2005-13)
Heroes (four seasons, superhero, 2006-10)
Journeyman (one season, science fiction, 2007)
Masters of Science Fiction (one season, science fiction anthology, 2007)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (two seasons, science fiction, 2008-09)
FlashForward (one season, science fiction, 2009)
Dollhouse (two seasons, science fiction, 2009-10)
Rubicon (one season, drama, 2010)
No Ordinary Family (one season, superhero, 2010-11)
The Walking Dead (three seasons, horror, 2010-present)
Human Target (two seasons, adventure, 2010-2011)
Person of Interest (two seasons, drama, 2011-present)
Alcatraz (one season, science fiction, 2012)
Arrow (one season, superhero, 2012-present)

Shows I'm Still Working On
(including shows still in production)
Adventures of Superman (one of six seasons, superhero, 1952-58)
The Twilight Zone (four of five seasons, science fiction anthology, 1959-64)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (one of four seasons, spy, 1964-68)
Mission: Impossible (seven and a half of nine seasons, adventure, 1966-90)
Hawaii Five-O (seven and a half of twelve seasons, police procedural, 1968-80)
Wonder Woman (one of three seasons, superhero, 1975-79)
Moonlighting (three of five seasons, comedy, 1985-89) 
The Simpsons (five of twenty-four seasons, animated comedy, 1989-present)
The Flash (half of one season, superhero, 1990-91)
Homicide: Life on the Street (missed a few late episodes, seven seasons, drama, 1993-99)
The X-Files (six of nine seasons and parts of the final three seasons, 1993-2002)
Star Trek: Voyager (all but two episodes of seven seasons, science fiction, 1995-2001)
The West Wing (five of seven seasons, drama, 1999-2006)
Futurama (five of seven seasons, 1999-present)
Arrested Development (three of four seasons, comedy, 2003-present)
The 4400 (one of four seasons, science fiction, 2004-07)
Life on Mars (one of two seasons, drama, 2006-07)
Dexter (two and a half of seven seasons, drama, 2006-present)
Breaking Bad (three and a half of five seasons, drama, 2008-present)
Fringe (one and a half of five seasons, science fiction, 2008-2013)
Caprica (half of one season, science fiction, 2010)
New Girl (one of two seasons, comedy, 2011-present)

That looks like a long list, but keep in mind these are only the shows I'm certain I've finished (or know how much progress I've made). Like a lot of people my age, I watched an awful lot of Charlie's Angels, The A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum P.I., Simon & Simon, The Rockford Files, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, Laverne & Shirley, The Partridge Family, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Dukes of Hazzard, Quantum Leap, Seinfeld, Friends, Frasier, CHiPs, The Odd Couple, The Flintstones, Rocket Robin Hood, the animated Spider-Man series and many, many more. I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode of The Flintstones and Rocket Robin Hood, but my memories are too hazy to be sure, so I've left them off the list.

Like any art form, the quality of individual works varies widely. Even within each series, certain episodes stand out as classics while others are so dreadful it's hard to believe they belong to the same series. What I find most interesting about television is the way changes in real-world production circumstances affect the style and story lines of the shows. Actors age, quit, are replaced, pass away; writers and showrunners move on; current events alter the cultural gestalt, leaving some shows seeming dated and invigorating others with new life. So while the lists above show that I've spent hundreds of hours watching television, I don't consider that time wasted. Instead, I've been witness to fascinating reflections of modern western culture. I can't wait to delve into Rome, Lou Grant, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, the 80s Twilight Zone revival, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and so many others.


Maurice said...

Glad to see both The Wire and The Shield on your list. But seriously, Earl... you MUST add Parks and Recreation to your list. Best comedy on TV today, bar none.

Susan_rn92 said...

I see you didn't include classics like Sesame Street, The Friendly Giant or Mr Dressup.

Earl J. Woods said...

That's because I know for sure I haven't seen every single episode of those shows. I'm sure I caught a lot of them, though!

Earl J. Woods said...

With regard to Parks and Recreation, Maurice, I gave the show a shot when it premiered but it left me cold. Sylvia says it improved significantly after the first season, though, so I'll probably get to it at some point.

"Jeffo Worship" said...

Rome! After "The Wire", some of the best show the television medium has to offer. I most highly encourage viewers to turn on the "historical captioning" when watching the series. It won't detract from the viewing, and you will learn how incredibly precise the show was with the details of the time if not the actual history.

Sean said...

Jeff is correct. The "roads to Rome" feature on the DVDs is a must watch.

Ryan Gordey said...

I don't want to be another comment of WATCH THIS, but you should seriously consider "the Killing" from AMC. I haven't seen the original from Europe it was adapted from, but the first two seasons were the most gripping television I've ever watched, and I was a huge fan of Homicide and the Wire.

Earl J. Woods said...

Always happy to hear more recommendations, Ryan! I'll add it to the list.