The 40 Best TV Shows of Past 20 Years (Part 4)

Posted 10/08/2017 2926 0

A list made by Rotten Tomatoes readers.

 

10. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy is a Slayer, one in a long line of young women chosen for a specific mission: to seek out and destroy vampires, demons and other forces of darkness. Unlike her predecessors, Buffy establishes a group of supportive friends who aids her in her battles with evil, including Willow, Xander and Cordelia. Her battles with evil are frequent, since Sunnydale, where Buffy and friends live, sits atop a gateway to the realm of the demons.

 

9. Doctor Who

An eccentric yet compassionate extraterrestrial Time Lord zips through time and space to solve problems and battle injustice across the universe, traveling via the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimensions in Space), which is his old and occasionally unreliable spaceship that resembles a blue police phone box (but changes its appearance depending on its surroundings) and is much, much larger inside than outside.

 

8. The West Wing

Cutthroat presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled up with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running a country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms that include countless scandals, threats and political scuffles, as well as the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world.

 

7. Downton Abbey

This British drama series follows the lives of the Crawley family and its servants in the family's classic Georgian country house. The series begins with the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, which leaves Downton Abbey's future in jeopardy, since the presumptive heirs of Robert, Earl of Grantham -- his cousin James, and James' son, Patrick, die in the catastrophe, leaving the family without a male offspring to take over Downton when the current lord dies. The point is important since Lord Grantham's children are daughters, Ladies Mary, Edith and Sybil, but the facets of their lives and of those of the below-stairs staff, also a highly regimented world, have fascinating story lines.

 

6. Law & Order

Filmed on location in New York, the drama showcases the sometimes-complex process of determining guilt or innocence, while lives hang in the balance. Often inspired by the latest headlines, the plots highlight legal, ethical or personal dilemmas to which people can relate.

 

5. Seinfeld

Four single friends, comic Jerry Seinfeld, bungling George Costanza, frustrated working gal Elaine Benes and eccentric neighbor Cosmo Kramer, deal with the absurdities of everyday life in New York City.

 

4. Friends

Three young men and three young women, of the BFF kind, live in the same apartment complex and face life and love in New York. They're not above sticking their noses into one another's businesses and swapping romantic partners, which always leads to the kind of hilarity average people will never experience, especially during breakups.

 

3. The Big Bang Theory

Mensa-fied best friends and roommates Leonard and Sheldon, physicists who work at the California Institute of Technology, may be able to tell everybody more than they want to know about quantum physics, but getting through most basic social situations, especially ones involving women, totally baffles them. How lucky, then, that babe-alicious waitress/aspiring actress Penny moves in next door. Frequently seen hanging out with Leonard and Sheldon are friends and fellow Caltech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. Will worlds collide? Does Einstein theorize in the woods?

 

2. Breaking Bad

Mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher Walter White thinks his life can't get much worse. His salary barely makes ends meet, a situation not likely to improve once his pregnant wife gives birth, and their teenage son is battling cerebral palsy. But Walter is dumbstruck when he learns he has terminal cancer. Realizing that his illness probably will ruin his family financially, Walter makes a desperate bid to earn as much money as he can in the time he has left by turning an old RV into a meth lab on wheels.

 

1. Game of Thrones

George R.R. Martin's best-selling book series "A Song of Ice and Fire" is brought to the screen as HBO sinks its considerable storytelling teeth into the medieval fantasy epic. It's the depiction of two powerful families, kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and honest men, playing a deadly game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and to sit atop the Iron Throne.

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