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The top ten HBO shows of all time:

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Mike Ness, Oct 12, 2010.

  1. Mike Ness

    Mike Ness
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    I have watched HBO loyally for the past ten years. It got to the point that I found myself watching shows I don't really like (Hung) simply because it is on HBO. However I think the cable channel has transformed TV and the television series. While many networks air reality show crap HBO continues to put strong adult themed dramas and comedy's, forcing other cable networks to compete with their own shows giving us series like Dexter and Spartacus.

    The following is my list and my list alone, I have included a couple facts here and there but this list is entirely my opinion. I had no real qualifications except that it had to be on HBO, I had at first thought to make it have to have a certain amount of Episodes but leaving Band of Brothers of the list would be blasphemy.

    FOCUS: rank the shows in your order as well as adding or removing shows from the list.

    10. Entourage: What young man (or older for that fact) does not want to be Vincent Chase? I loved this show in the beginning. I loved the nudity, I thought the inside look at how things operate in Hollywood was excellent and of course enjoyed Jeremy Piven. Watching all the things that could happen while a movie was getting produced was incredibly interesting. Sadly the show got stagnant and lost a sense of itself, very few fans cared about E's and Sloan's relationship. Poor storyline's unfortunately exposed Grenier's poor acting and the hit or miss writing of the show. It seems to be rebounding a little and will be back for an 8th season and possibly a movie. It has had 25 emmy nominations so far with a bunch of wins by Piven specifically.

    9. Deadwood "Welcome to Deadwood" Ian McShane was over the top and just fucking awesome in this series. It was only on for three seasons but made a huge impact (having The Sopranos as a lead in didn't hurt) The show combined real history with a couple fictional characters to give us a gritty dirty western series. The show won 8 emmy's in it's short run but I'm sure was responsible for a bunch of new viewers. The third season of this show was awful. I appreciated how dead on the linguistics of the show was but they got carried away in season three to the point I need sub titles. Great show, great violence and an excellent story and well as a fantastic set.

    8. Sex and the City I know I will take some heat for this one but you can't ignore a show that was on for six seasons, nominated for 50 emmy's and won around seven. I was forced to watch the show with my wife and I didn't hate it. It was for women but the nudity and sexual content made for some good episodes as well as some hilarious situations.

    7. The Pacific The biggest problem this show had was that it was not Band of Brothers. It was nominated for 23 emmy's in it's ten episodes and gave a very frank and brutal picture of the fighting in Japan during WWII. How bad can a series produced by Hanks and Speilberg be?

    6. Rome I thought this mini series was excellent. Again HBO used the real and fictional combo of characters to tell the story of Julius Ceaser. This was a mini series that I was sad to see go I would have loved for them to continue it somehow. Amazing scenes showing ancient Rome in all it's glory, sex, gluttony as well as political deception. If I did a top ten HBO characters James Purefoy's Marc Antony would be in the top five and Titus Pullo would most likely be on the list. The show had only 8 emmy nominations in it's two seasons which surprised me. The set and costume design alone should have snagged a few.

    5. Trueblood My guilty pleasure I admit it. I'm also not the only one, nielson ratings had over 5 million viewers for season three. The show is a dark, gritty, bloody story of vampires werewolves and fairies. It manages to be funny and sexy at the same time. Some great characters and A + nude scenes in this show.

    4. Band of Brothers Absolutely amazing. The story is just fantastic and it is also historically accurate. The appreciation I had for WWII vets tripled after I watched this series. It had 19 emmy nods and won six which is pretty impressive considering it was only on for ten episodes. Real life hero's such as Ronald Spiers, Capt. Richard Winters and Shifty Powers (to name a few) were quite inspiring.

    3.Six Feet Under This was HBO's first mega hit. An excellent idea for a show, why not have a series about a funeral home? This show was almost flawlessly acted, I really can not think of anyone to complain about. The show was incredibly decorated 115 emmy nod's, 46 wins, 5 golden globes and even three Grammys. This series had one of the best finales I have ever seen as well, the writing was incredible and they did such a good job at ending the story. It also paved the way for in your face homosexual sex which HBO seems to have in every series now.

    2. The Sopranos I know, I know i have it number two. The show that basically changed TV drama is number two on my list. It is my list however and I'm sticking to it. Tony Soprano is without a doubt the best HBO character of all time if not one of the best characters ever on television. The writing was amazing, how else could you be empathetic for a sociopath? The show had an incredible influence on modern culture and once again brought back the thirst for stories about the American mafia. The supporting cast was perfect, everybody loves Paulie Walnuts. The show had a monster 111 emmy nods with 21 wins over six seasons. If you have never seen it rent it or buy it don't watch it on syndicated TV.

    1. The Wire The grandaddy, the big gun, the whole fuckin show. I absolutely loved this show and thought it was flawless. Cable series love to follow a certain blueprint, starting with a main character and then having little sub plots with other lesser characters. All the stories in The Wire were relevant and interesting. No show went that deep into sociopolitical themes and made it riveting. Excellent drama, insanely cool villains (Stringer Bell, Omar Little?) and wonderfully flawed characters that you just could not get enough of. Also it never had a lame Carmella in France episodes that made you want to scream. Bar none one of the finest series finales I have ever seen. The show was so sadly unrecognized by critics that I will not even mention it. However if you have not seen it do yourself a favor buy it it's worth owning.

    ***** Honorable Mentions**** Oz, Carnival, The Corner*********
     
  2. El Tee

    El Tee
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    This is an interesting topic, though I don't know if it really has the legs for a great discussion.

    It's interesting you mention reality shows, because HBO has also impressed in this area as well with their documentaries and sports reporting shows. Not exactly the same category "Keeping Up With The Kardashians", but still.

    I think this is a bit of a sticking point, since you can easily argue that the hour-long fictions ("OZ", "The Sopranos"), the hour-long historical fictions ("Deadwood", "Rome", "Boardwalk Empire"), the half-hour comedies ("Entourage", "Sex and the City"), and their mini-series should be ranked according to category. It's hard to compare "The Wire" and "Band of Brothers", even if by distinction.

    This was one of the few instances in which an HBO show suffered from the uncertainty of renewal. Along with "Carnivale", it ended up with an unsatisfying ending due to an early cancellation. I suppose you could also include "John From Cincinatti" in that mention, but I have yet to meet anyone that has admitted to watching, much less liking, that piece of crap.

    No one should give you any heat: SATC was HBO's first true breakout original series, and it paved the way for the rest of the slate of shows on your list. It's also proved to be a cash cow, and has set itself up as one of the few gold standards new TV series are rated against (like say "Seinfeld" or "LOST"). Every network would love to recapture that lightning in a bottle.

    "Rome" was more like a maxi-series, to borrow comic book parlance. It was initially intended to be a 10-episode mini-series if I recall correctly, but it was extended out to 24 in order to better flesh out the stories. I actually like that it has more of a "Vol.1" and "Vol.2" feel to it, it gives it a better sense of theme and closure.

    Again, it's kind of an apples and oranges problem here. BoB was lifted directly from the source material, so there was nothing "original" about it; even the cinematography was derivative of Saving Private Ryan. As touching and inspiring the story of Easy Company was, it's nearly impossible to compare this to a show like "The Wire" that kept you guessing from week to week. We all knew how WWII was going to end, but that didn't make the performances any less captivating. I'm not really arguing with your pick here, except to say that I like it in a different way than I might have enjoyed the original dramas.

    No, "Sex And The City" was HBO's first huge hit and (this being a particularly pet peeve of mine) the only thing truly "groundbreaking" about SFU was their incessant use of the word "groundbreaking" to seemingly describe themselves and everything they did. Honestly, "OZ" was far more innovative and original but suffered from a bleak setting and lack of name actors.

    That said, I did think the final montage was pretty fucking cool.

    No argument here, except to say that quite a few term papers could be written discussing why one show took off with the public and the other one didn't.

    Dishonorable Mention: "Lucky Louie". Still the only show that has made me want to kick a child.
     
  3. Mike Ness

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    I was thinking maybe everyone would look at the focus as opposed to critiquing my post line item by line item. Not to be vague but it's top ten shows on HBO. You really couldn't break it into different genres because there are not enough shows to do such a thing, and I don't think it's difficult to say I like The Sopranos more than Entourage and quite frankly the length of the show had zero to do with it.

    There was a thread for almost all of the above mentioned shows, meaning they were all watched and discussed. I just figured people wouldn't mind ranking their favorites.
     
  4. lostalldoubt86

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    Does anyone else think "Bored To Death" should get a mention? It's really funny, Jason Schwartzman is pretty flawless with timing, and with the exception of "Cheers", it's some of Ted Danson's best work. I also like the banter between Zach Galifianakis, Danson, and Schwartzman.
     
  5. Kubla Kahn

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    I'd think as well that it would be hard to rank various genres together.

    Well it's still early in this thread but for shame on anyone for not mentioning Mr Show with Bob and Dave. I think on average it is much funnier than Entourage has been, they are two different formats but honestly Entourage's writing has been up and down in the gutter for a few season.

    American Undercover So many good docs I don't know where to begin. Learned everything I know about the pimp game because of this series... The episodes on meth and ecstasy will scare you to death. Nick Broomfield has a few documentaries he did in conjunction with this show. Fetishes and a couple about serial killer Aileen Wuornos. They are amazing.

    Autopsy One of my non-fiction favorites on HBO. Shows real techniques instead of the fantasy from retard shows like CSI. Yet still it amazes me how these investigators can use forensics to solve crimes. Add to that the spooky fucking atmosphere the show creates with that creepy woman narrator and the music that is just a little less terrifying than The Unsolved Mysteries theme.

    Oz- The first hour long drama series that HBO had that proved the format could work. It is probably more responsible for HBO picking up The Sopranos than SITC. There were a lot of great characters but by the last two seasons or so the writing felt like a soap opera book ended with great scenes with Augustus Hill.

    Entourage- Still a HBO staple. Though writing has been questionable for a while it can still deliver on the funny when it wants. Ari and Drama rule the show. Even a poor outing on this network is usually ten times better than regular tv.

    Six Feet Under This show started off fantastic. How the ghost of the opening scenes dead haunted the family and drove the drama was absolutely brilliant. Except by the end os the series they kind of veered off their formula. By the time Nate's baby momma went missing and wound up being eaten by sharks I lost faith in the show. The dead people would only loosely tie into the story lines. Clair's whole art school career felt like artistic masturbation without any good stinging commentary or memorable stories. Im not going to lie I didn't think the ending of the last episode was as brilliant as many people say. It fit perfectly into the series concept but really just wasn't that moving to me.

    Big Love- Another hour drama that is currently one of my favorites. It's been a while since Ive seen Six Feet Under so it is hard for me to judge which one has been better over all. The last season of this wasn't up to the series standard though. Just a great look at a strange way of life and some supremely interesting characters.

    Curb Your Enthusiasm- Larry David is a genius, this show is genius. How will they top last season? This show is known for doing that...

    Band of Brothers With out a doubt one of the best portrayals of WWII in any dramatic format.

    The Sopranos- My all time favorite. Even as much as I hated AJ and Janice they served an important meaning to the over all family dynamic message of the show. If it weren't for Tony's mob life this show could still have been representative of the trial and tribulations of every day American family life. One of the first big shows to really incorporate off beat music superbly into the tensions of the episodes. Multi layered in many aspect, the show was simply genius.


    *Deadwood- Now this show has about 50 characters and 45 of them have been great. Im only done watching season one but god damn there are some powerful performances. Without seeing the whole series I can't rank this one yet.

    *The Wire- One I have totally missed the boat on. Ill download this series at some point and report back on it.
     
  6. El Tee

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    I didn't mean to sound like a dick, but I was trying to point out how your focus is too open ended. But to play along, I'll show you how I would have done it:

    Top Ten HBO Hour Long Dramas
    1. The Wire
    2. The Sopranos
    3T. Rome
    3T. Oz
    5. True Blood
    6. Carnivale
    7. Deadwood
    8. Big Love
    9. (STARING AT A BLANK SCREEN)
    10. Six Feet Under

    DISHONORABLE MENTION: John From Cincinnati

    For the sake of convenience, I included "Rome" and "Deadwood" in the mix with the rest of the purely fictional series. "Boardwalk Empire" is too fresh to enter the discussion, and I left "Treme" off for similar reasons. However, I wouldn't be surprised if both of those shows end up higher on the list than "Carnivale", which had the rug pulled out from under it way too soon.

    Top Ten HBO Comedies
    1. Flight of the Conchords
    2. Curb Your Enthusiasm
    3. Extras
    4. Entourage
    5. Sex and the City
    6. Eastbound and Down
    7-10. Irrelevant


    HONORABLE MENTION: Da Ali G Show (not truly an HBO original)
    DISHONORABLE MENTION: Hung (barely a "comedy")
    EVEN MORE DISHONORABLE MENTION: Lucky Louie (absolute dogshit)
     
  7. Mike Ness

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    I don't think your a dick I just think when it comes to your opinion you can rank or compare whatever you want. I'm not saying the best football player of all time, I am simply stating your favorite television shows on a particular network. If I asked you which show you liked better The Sopranos or Entourage you would tell me you can't compare the two?

    Anyway I can not believe I forgot Big Love. That should most certainly be on my list, not only is an incredibly unique idea it is also superbly acted. John from Cin., that was probably the only HBO show that I immediately hated. Usually you give every show a couple tries, that one sucked in five minuets.
     
  8. Dmix3

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    I'm throwing in two shows, both of which seems to be omitted from every post thus far.


    Dream On & Tales From the Crypt
     
  9. WickedBitch

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    Thank you! HBO has had "shows" since its inception in the 80's and some of those shows were great! I loved 1st & Ten myself, as well as Dream On. That was Wendie Malick's first real role.
     
  10. El Tee

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    Yeah, that's another problem with the breadth of this topic. HBO was producing comedies like the ones you just mentioned (along with "Arli$$") starting early as early as the mid 80s (anyone remember "Brothers"?), but it wasn't until they started airing "Oz" in the late 90s and using the "It's not TV, it's HBO" slogan that people started to see all the dramatic series that this list is going to deal with. For the sake of clarity, I would use that as the starting point for discussion.
     
  11. Dmix3

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    I disagree, if anything Tales From the Crypt deserves serious consideration for discussion. That show was so popular it was almost a status symbol to have cameo'd, starred or directed an episode.

    I mean look at this list and tell me another show that can boast that kind of star power.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tales_from_the_Crypt_(TV_series)#Notable_guest_stars_and_directors
     
  12. Mike Ness

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    Again I disagree. Arliss sucked, Dream On was good but I don't think it was better than any of the previous mentioned shows. I did however like Tales from the Crypt, despite a cheezy looking crypt keeper they had some excellent, excellent episodes.

    I just don't understand why you are having so much difficulty with this, you can pick any show you want. I'm not saying "The HBO Shows that should have gotten Emmys and didn't" "Or the top ten HBO show's ranked by ratings" just your favorite shows.

    If someone asked me my favorite movie I wouldn't say Drama or comedy? I would just answer The Departed. If the next person answered Old School, I wouldn't think anything of it, it's about your personal preference.

    Kudos to everyone for bringing up these old shows I almost forgot about them. Big differences in the old vs. new, budget and main stream actors being the most noticeable. First and Ten wasn't very good although I loved the character "Dr. Death" played by Ogre from Revenge of The Nerds.

    In conclusion if you asked three people what their favorite show on HBO was and one responded "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and the other two said "The Wire" would you correct the two and say you meant comedy? I doubt it. I also think the length of the episode is irrelevant when it comes to your own personal choice.
     
  13. Crown Royal

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    1) The Sopranos
    2) Deadwood
    3) The Wire
    4) Entourage
    5) Californication
    6) True Blood
    7) Brotherhood
    8) Six Feet Under
    9) Oz
    10) Rome

    It's practically a toss-up between 1,2 and 3 since they are all in their own ways, powerhouses. Now, if you were to include Showtime, Starz and FX in the mix for me it would be:

    1) The Sopranos
    2) Deadwood
    3) The Wire
    4) Spartacus: Blood and Sand
    5) Dexter
    6) The Shield
    7) Weeds
    8) It's Always Sunny in Philidelphia
    9) Entourage
    10) Californication
     
  14. El Tee

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    Okay, here's the simplest explanation I can give:

    The Academy Awards hand out one award for Best Picture, the only qualification being that a film has to be at least 75 minutes long (I believe); they make no distinction to content. The Emmys on the other hand give out two awards, one for Best Drama and one for Best Comedy, though admittedly several shows have straddled the line ("Glee" is a current example). Opinions aside, the distinctions exist for the two mediums for good reason: TV viewers approach the two genres differently, and what makes a show in one format good (say, the hero/villian dynamics of "The Wire" or "Oz") might bear zero relation to what makes a show good in the other (the absurdity of "Flight of the Conchords"). You might see HBO as one big melting pot of indistinguishable moving pictures, but I would venture to say very few people are as open-minded as you.

    That said, I've already laid out my two favorites in each category: "The Wire" and "Flight of the Conchords". If I were to have to pick which of those two shows I couldn't live without on DVD, I'd pick the "The Wire". But I'd trade in a complete box set of any series other than "Band of Brothers" for the full run FotC.
     
  15. Aetius

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    I'm surprised at the love for Oz. It started off really strong, but not until Heroes arrived did we again see that level of "holy fuck this show drove off a cliff."
     
  16. El Tee

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    That's an interesting comparison, but the operative difference is that while the storylines in both series took a turn towards the unbelievably absurd* at least "Oz" always had characters you were invested in that you wanted to see through to the end. "Heroes" featured people like Peter Petrelli and Matt Parkman that were pretty unbearable to begin with.



    *And let's be honest: the entire premise of "Oz" was absurd to begin with. No state in their right mind would ever allow something like Em City in their prisons, much less allow a world-class idiot like Tim McManus to run it. "Oz" was as much a work of fantasy as a show about people with super powers.
     
  17. serenohills

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    1. Entourage: Ari Gold is one of the best characters of all time. I do get annoyed with the focus on E and Sloan, but the ups and downs of Vince's career are brilliantly done. Gotta love the cameo appearances, also.

    2. The Sopranos: The murders of regular characters such as Big Pussy, Adriana, Christopher, etc. had to keep you on the edge of your seat.

    3. Dream On: This show was what Californication is now.

    4. Curb Your Enthusiasm: It's gone downhill, but the first three seasons were downright hilarious. Favorite episode: Porno Gil.

    5. Arliss: This one could have been a lot better if it had been as intense as Entourage. A little silly it was, but I enjoyed watching it.

    6. Hung: I like the way the main character has responded after all the things have gone against him.

    7. Tales from the Crypt: I never really got scared watching this show, but it was entertaining.

    8. Larry Sanders Show: A little corny, but at times it was very funny.

    9. John from Cincinnati: I spent the whole time trying to figure out what the hell it was about. Too bad it lasted just one season.

    10. 1st and Ten: Remember that series Playmakers on ESPN? Well, 1st and Ten was that show in the late 80's.