Monday Morning Poll

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

The Wire and The Sopranos are clearly one and two, so we’ll leave them out to generate some discussion. I’m currently re-watching the entire Six Feet Under series. That show has held up very well. But Deadwood was fantastic, too. Never got into Oz, but I’ve heard good things.

MORE: Should have added that this list is limited to drama. We’ll do comedies in another poll.

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36 Responses to “Monday Morning Poll”

  1. #1 |  texx | 

    Big Love all the way.

  2. #2 |  B | 

    Six Feet Under had some of the best character arcs outside of The Wire.

    Deadwood was a masterpiece of dialog writing.

    Big Love (at least as much of it as I’ve seen) is simply a great story.

    I don’t know that I can pick a superlative among those.

  3. #3 |  J | 

    Deadwood and Rome only really picked up steam once they were prematurely canceled. They were originally canceled because I believe the cost of producing the genre shows was too high and the audience wasn’t large enough to warrant such elaborate spending. That said, had they been allowed to continue, they would surely be higher on the list than they are now. That said, as long as True Blood continues to gain momentum and doesn’t veer off into crazytown (as if the premise wasn’t wacky enough) HBO could have its next longterm hit. Oz is/was an amazing show that perhaps got a little too far-fetched near the end of its run. Still, it had fantastic performances and was almost always captivating television. Take a look at the recurring and guest castlists on IMDB. Its a literal “who’s who” of genre actors. 6FU is was just straight-up emotional. The latter seasons got a little long in the tooth, but they always packed a solid punch in thw gut when you were least expecting it. As good as it is/was, I don’t think I have it in me to revisit such an emotional series. I will says that the final 15 minutes of of the series finale are the only 15 minutes of TV that ever actually got me to literally shed a tear. Amazing series. Just to be controversial, I’ll say that there is no way that I could ever rank these HBO shows and pick a #1 because FX’s The Shield blows them all out of the water.

  4. #4 |  MacK | 

    I was a manic viewer of Deadwood. Al Swearegen was the man!!
    I also like True Blood immensely; however I would definitely trade it for Deadwood again.

  5. #5 |  Cornellian | 

    I like True Blood and I liked Rome. Oz started out well then ran out of plot lines and started getting silly. I haven’t seen the others.

    True Blood isn’t exactly Citizen Kane but it’s fun to watch, so I’d pick that one.

    When I first looked at the list I immediately wondered why Mad Men isn’t on there, since IMO it’s better than any show on that list, but then I noticed you’re restricting it to HBO shows.

  6. #6 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    “Real Sex” was my favorite. Of course, that says a lot about me, doesn’t it?

  7. #7 |  OGRE | 

    I actually prefer Rome over the Sopranos or the Wire; I found its dramatic moments to be far more powerful than what any other HBO show had. The quality of the acting and the production values still remain unmatched. Its a shame it never got to the rest of the Julio-Claudian emperors; that would make for some intense TV.

    I’d also put Oz second, those guys knew how to tell a story and make you want to shoot yourself at the end of an episode because you had to wait to see the next one. Yeah it got a little out there at times, but it was extremely entertaining.

  8. #8 |  PeeDub | 

    AHEM!! Curb Your Enthusiasm

  9. #9 |  Loren | 

    Carnivale and Entourage are the only other HBO shows I’ve watched, but neither seem to have made the cut for the poll.

  10. #10 |  Spidergrackle | 

    Carnivale should have at leat made the list for consideration.

  11. #11 |  mark robbins | 

    I’ve already stopped watching True Blood. The last couple episodes were nearly unwatchable for me. But that’s what happens when you set up super elaborate fantasies and then have to have actual things happen in those universes.

    Deadwood followed by Rome, without a doubt. Though that was a tough choice. If Rome had gone on for a few more seasons it would be an easy number 3 and probably pass the wire and the sopranos. Rome cost 100 mil a year to produce, and the only reason it happened was because the BBC paid a part of its production costs. The sheer ambition of it gives it some huge points. I really wish more people would have followed it at the time, I think it just got lost among sopranos and the wire and curb and six feet under. What an amazing stretch of tv that was. Talk about TV’s golden age.

  12. #12 |  mark robbins | 

    And I hate Mad Men.

    Watched the first two seasons, got intensely bored, stopped watching.

    When you put the youtube of the best quotes from Mad Men up against the best quotes of the wire, it’s just ugh, who watches this crap?

    Mad Men benefits immensely from the fact that there’s no other good TV dramas on right now. Weeds and Big Love aren’t that great and I can’t think of another drama that’s worth watching. If Mad Men came out 10 years ago no one would have paid any attention to it. And if it didn’t have the crazy sexy redhead I wouldn’t have watched more than an episode.

  13. #13 |  Brandon | 

    I agree with Carnivale. It was one of my favorites.

  14. #14 |  OGRE | 

    Oh I agree Entourage is very entertaining–I’ve not missed an episode–but I still can’t put my finger on WHY its so entertaining. Certainly it has some very funny moments, particularly with Ari and Johny Drama. But I suppose a good bit of it is sheer voyeurism of the lifestyle.

    I think Bored to Death has its moments too, but I’ve not been able to get invested in it too much. Ted Danson is great in it, and so is the chubby guy with the beard, but it just doesn’t pull on me like Rome or Entourage did.

    Boardwalk Empire looks like it will be pretty amazing. I suppose you can’t go wrong with Winter and Scorsese involved in a mafioso related project. It’ll be nice to see their take on how things were in the heydey of mafia power, as opposed to the more common settings of the 70’s on. Pacific looks promising as well.

  15. #15 |  Steve Clay | 

    Carnivale’s cancellation was a damn shame.

  16. #16 |  tb | 

    Curb Your Enthusiasm doesn’t even merit a spot on the ballot?

    I write-in Curb, then.

  17. #17 |  Dog's New Clothes | 

    As a big fan of The Wire, you should search out The Corner. It was a six episode miniseries written by David Simon in 2000. It obviously doesn’t have The Wire’s scope (it just focuses on one family) but it deals with a lot of the same issues.

  18. #18 |  Andrew S. | 

    I’d put Deadwood second. I’d also put Oz and Big Love over The Sopranos.

    Loved the series, but I wouldn’t put it #2.

  19. #19 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    My vote would be for Curb or Eastbound and Down. Kenny Powers is my role model.

  20. #20 |  Robert S. Porter | 

    Can’t vote because Six Feet Under is the best television show ever, with the Wire coming in second.

  21. #21 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    MORE: Should have added that this list is limited to drama. We’ll do comedies in another poll.

    Whoops, I missed that qualifier.

  22. #22 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I like True Blood, but would consider it more of a comedy than a drama. Initially I thought Alan Ball was going to make some interesting statements with the whole thinly-veiled vampire/gay comparison, but he pretty much abandoned that for comic book thrills. That’s perfectly fine, as I still enjoy watching it, but it certainly puts it in a different class than Six Feet Under and Deadwood. Deadwood gets my vote for brilliantly combining high and low art (it’s like Shakespeare if the Bard used the word “cocksucker” once a sentence), but the final episode of Six Feet Under was the best finale of any series that I’ve ever watched.

  23. #23 |  Ex-Long Island | 

    I think “Generation Kill” merited at least a mention. I know I enjoyed it more than most of the choices that you listed.

  24. #24 |  Chris Berez | 

    Carnivale is #3 hands down, end of discussion. It was a fantastic show with a deep, rich mythos that was canceled way before it’s time. Even though they didn’t get to finish the story (which would have taken 4-5 seasons total), the two seasons that did air were phenomenal.

  25. #25 |  Rhayader | 

    I think “Generation Kill” merited at least a mention. I know I enjoyed it more than most of the choices that you listed.

    That was a miniseries though. I believe all of the listed options were full series, although maybe I’m wrong?

    Anyway, I went with Oz, although the show did decline steadily during virtually its entire run. Season 1 kicked ass though.

  26. #26 |  Nando | 

    As mentioned above, Six Feet Under was a very emotional series. It had it’s ups and downs, but it was all worth it for the final 6 minutes of the series. I don’t often cry at movies or during TV shows, but the end of the Series Finale really made me cry like a school girl with a skinned knee. Great series.

    Rome was awesome and earned my vote, if only because it was based in reality and included more violence (yes, more violence than a show about dead people).

  27. #27 |  JPB | 

    I enjoyed Rome, but as a guilty pleasure. I studied too much Roman history and knew that there was an awful lot of exaggeration and myth invented out of whole cloth in the show.

    There was enough deceit and decadence in ancient Rome that it didn’t really need the titillating tweaks the producers added, but it was a fun show. The genre is pretty much defined by BBC’s epic mini-seriesI, Claudius, and Rome would pale in direct comparison.

    Six Feet Under was great the first season, but devolved into glorified (and unwatchable) soap opera after the second season. Oz was a close 2nd (5th) to Deadwood. (which I’m sure had its own troubles with exaggeration, but as a non-Western US history buff, I could suspend disbelief enough to love the show.)

  28. #28 |  ITG | 

    Since everyone seems to be bringing up shows on other networks, I’d recommend Dexter on Showtime. As far as HBO goes, I’d say Deadwood or the Band of Brothers miniseries.

  29. #29 |  PeeDub | 


    I think “Generation Kill” merited at least a mention. I know I enjoyed it more than most of the choices that you listed.

    Yeah, as said, that was a miniseries, but if we were talking miniseries, I might have to put down Band of Brothers up there with The Wire as the best things ever done by HBO.

  30. #30 |  Rune | 

    Count me in on the Carnivale crowd, a damn shame the plug was pulled on that one.

  31. #31 |  Rhayader | 

    if we were talking miniseries, I might have to put down Band of Brothers up there with The Wire as the best things ever done by HBO.

    Yeah good call, Band of Brothers was great.

  32. #32 |  PogueMahone | 


    Hands down.

    Great acting, great dialogue, great scenery – all included with a story about all of these significant historical events all having involved two unlikely characters.

    And the lines delivered were brilliant! Ranging from comedy to just … sinister.

    After negotiating a price for a prostitute for young Octavian…

    Pullo: For that price she better fuck like Helen of Troy with her ass of fire.


    Atia to Cleopatra…

    Die screaming you pig-spawn trollop.



  33. #33 |  OGRE | 


    I agree with you that it was definitely a guilty pleasure, there was a lot of historical inaccuracies and added drama where it didn’t need to be; they could easily have gone with a more historical version and had plenty of drama. And they left out Porcia Catonis of all people! I also think they failed to explore a lot of connections between the main players. But still, it was compelling and very well written and produced, and the actors were fantastic. And for one liners I can’t think of many shows that have come close, the movie Tombstone perhaps.

  34. #34 |  cks | 

    Deadwood…hands down. A few easy to find gems:
    Francis Wolcott: I am a sinner that does not expect forgiveness. But I am not a government official.
    Ellsworth: Well’m, I’ve got myself a working gold claim.
    Joanie Stubbs: Well, sir, is that a damn fact?
    Ellsworth: A hell of a working gold claim, and if we knew each other better I’d throw “fucking” in there somewhere.
    Joanie Stubbs: If you did I’d try to catch it.
    Ellsworth: A working fucking gold claim, Joanie, and thank you for allowing me my full range of expression.
    In conclusion,
    Tom Nuttall: And those that doubt me…suck cock by choice!

  35. #35 |  kris | 

    I felt like Oz was the third best show at times as it was a really cool show, and very interesting and realistic. But that only seemed to be true during parts of the first season and maybe half the time overall. The problem was there was too much fake and outright goofy plot lines at times.

    Deadwood from what I’ve seen thus far is quality throughout. There aren’t any bad episodes of this though the plot moves slowly at times. I’d say this is the third best overall show due to its consistency. Admittedly I need to see other shows like 6 feet under, Rome, and maybe Carnival.

  36. #36 |  Bronwyn | 

    No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
    Big Love

    I can’t pick one, because they’re my top three.