Maybe you don’t want to watch every episode of all of these. I certainly haven’t. But they are all worth an hour or a half hour of your time to check them out. You might end up laughing, or crying, your way through the entire series.
Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I love Dame Agatha’s novels and stories, and I love David Suchet as Poirot.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents. If you like The Twilight Zone or if you’ve been captivated by Rear Window or Vertigo, you’ll also enjoy Hitchcock’s TV series. Spooky and riveting.
Alias Smith and Jones. A Western comedy/drama about a couple of outlaws who want to earn their pardon by going straight. Unfortunately, the odds are not in their favor. I used to love this show when I was a young teenager.
The Andy Griffith Show. Andy Griffith stars as Sheriff Andy Taylor, and Don Knots plays his hapless deputy, Barney Fife. Good clean fun in Mayberry, North Carolina.
Anne of Green Gables. Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst and especially Richard Farnsworth as Matthew make this classic story come to life.
Band of Brothers. This Steven Spielberg-Tom Hanks production tells the true story of Easy Company (E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) from D-Day to the end of the war in Europe.
Baseball by Ken Burns. Mr Burns is just a good historian and filmmaker. I don’t even like basebal or sports in general, and yet I still found this series entertaining and educational.
Bleak House. BBC mini-series by Andrew Davies based on the novel by Charles Dickens.
Burn Notice. My most recent TV show. I watched all the way through five seasons. There are lots of explosions and shooting and general mayhem, but underneath all the fancy fireworks this spy show has heart as it depicts the relationships between old friends and between a mother and son.
Brideshead Revisited. 1981 British TV serial based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel. This mini-series is much better than the 2008 movie in my opinion.
Cadfael. A medieval detective, monk, herbalist, and gardener played by Derek Jacobi. I like almost anything Mr. Jacobi plays in.
Christy. The book is better, but actress Kellie Martin made a beautiful Christy, and Tyne Daly was convincing as Miss Alice. Based on the book by Catherine Marshall.
The Civil War by Ken Burns. Absolutely mesmerizing documentary history of America’s defining war.
The Cosby Show. Bill Cosby is so funny, and the supporting cast of this justly popular comedy was the perfect TV family.
Cranford. Based on Mrs. Gaskell’s series of stories about the spinsters who live in the small town of Cranford, this series stars Dame Judy Dench and Eileen Atkins as the Smith sisters.
The Dick Van Dyke Show. Another funny guy, and another great TV family. My urchins have enjoyed this show a lot.
Doc Martin A British surgeon with impaired social skills develops a fear of blood and becomes a family practice doctor in a small town.
Downton Abbey. The first season of this British period drama began in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and ended with the outbreak of World War I, and it was a great ride. I laughed, I cried. The second season, which takes places during World War I, was just as good, if not better. I’m really
looking forward to enjoying the third season this year. (Addendum 2/18/2013: The last episode of the third season was too, too much.)
Gillgan’s Island. Sitcom about “a fateful trip” in which five passengers, the first mate and the skipper of small boat are marooned on a desert island, featuring Bob Denver as Gilligan. Here’s the theme song intro that gives the basic premise.
Green Acres. A parody of a parody of a parody of country life, Green Acres is the place to be. Not to be taken seriously ever.
Hogan’s Heroes. A sitcom set in a Nazi prisoner of war camp? It sounds a little non-PC nowadays, but back in the late 60′s it was ridiculously farcical. American Colonel Hogan would routinely manipulate the incompetent Commander Klink and get Sergeant Schultz to look the other way while Hogan’s men conducted secret spy and underground missions. The signature line is from Sergeant Schultz, one of the camp guards who ignores the hijinks going on the prisoners’ barracks: “I see nothink. I hear nothink. I know nothink.”
How It’s Made. A documentary showing how common, everyday items are manufactured. Z-baby enjoys this show.
I, Claudius. 1976 British mini-series based on the novel by Robert Graves, starring Derek Jacobi as Claudius the accidental and seemingly mad emperor of Rome.
I Love Lucy. Classic television. Classic comedy.
The Jack Benny Show. Also classic. My grandmother and I used to watch Jack Benny together on Friday nights when I spent the night at her house. Good memories.
Jane Eyre. Based on the book by Charlotte Bronte, this 1983 BBC production starred Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester, and it was quite well done and true to the book.
John Adams. Based on the biography by David McCullough.
Larkrise to Candleford. Inhabitants of small English village in the late 1800′s are seen through the eyes of the postmistress and her assistant.
Little House on the Prairie. The earliest episodes and seasons of this long-running dramatic series based on the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder are the best, but it’s mostly worth watching.
LOST. The best TV drama series ever. Start at the beginning and go until you hit the ending. Be somewhat disappointed, either that it’s over or that it ends the way it does. Love it anyway.
Magic School Bus. Science and magical fun for kids.
M*A*S*H* Vietnam-era sensibilities hilariously transported to the Korean War.
Mission Impossible. This spies and gadgets series premiered on September 17, 1966, and it went through eight seasons. “Your mission, should you decide to accept it” and “this recording will self-destruct in five seconds” quickly became popular catch-phrases, and the movies with Tom Cruise are only more enjoyable after you’ve seen some of the original.
Monk. A detective with OCD. What will they think of next?
Mork and Mindy. Robin Williams plays alien space creature Mork from the planet Ork. This silly TV show about a girl who befriends a space alien was where Robin Williams got his start in acting. “Nanoo, nanoo!”
Mythbusters. Two Hollywood special effects experts attempt to debunk urban legends by directly testing them.
North and South. Based on the novel by Mrs. Gaskell, nothing to do with the American Civil War, and featuring the same actor who plays Mr. Bates on Downton Abbey, the talented Brendan Coyle.
Numb3ers. A detective with obsessive-compulsive, amazing genius math skills.
Once Upon a Time. This is a new show (two seasons so far) from the producers of LOST, and our family enjoyed the first season very much. It’s about fairytale characters trapped in our world by an evil curse. The characters have no memory of who they really are, and it’s up to Snow White’s and Prince Charming’s daughter, Emma, to free them from the curse.
Perry Mason. Raymond Burr is the suave, intelligent defense lawyer who almost never loses a case.
Pride and Prejudice. Starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Yes, I too love Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy.
Psych. A detective who claims to to have psychic abilities, but actually has hyperactive intelligence and lots of boy-charm.
Reading Rainbow. LeVar Burton and books. This kids’ series is fun for adults, too, and it features books, book, and more books! Yeah for books!
The Red Skelton Hour. If you can’t watch the whole show, watch a little Red Skelton on youtube. Such a great clown.
The Rockford Files. James Garner as Jim Rockford, an ex-con, seedy detective with lots of heart and not much money. Lots of car chases, beautiful femmes fatales, and mob violence set on/near the beach in sunny California.
Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends It’s the only animated series on this list because it’s the only one I would care to revisit. I mean who could resist “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “Peabody’s Improbable Adventures” and “Dudley Doright”, not mention the stars of the show, Bullwinkle Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel? Intelligent and hilarious cartoons.
Route 66. Martin Milner and George Maharis drive their Corvette down Route 66, looking for adventure.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII. This series of six episodes about the infamous Henry and his serial wives was one of my favorites when I was a young, impressionable girl. I learned a lot about British history, and I learned never to marry a king.
Star Trek. The original series created by Gene Roddenberry with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and all the other iconic characters. Free full-length Star Trek episodes at CBS.com. Also available for free with Amazon Prime.
The Twilight Zone. These episodes of quiet nightmare and horror are mostly memorable and iconic.
The Waltons. A 1970′s family drama set during the Great Depression. It features a large, country family who share the values of hard work and family support to get them through hard times. Richard Thomas stars as John-Boy Walton, narrator of the story and the oldest son of the Walton clan.
Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years, 1929-1939. This series takes place before Churchill became Prime Minister of Britain during WW II, and it shows what made him the man he was. Actor Robert Hardy IS Winston Churchill in the realm of my imagination.
White Collar. I’m enjoying this series now. It’s about a con man and an FBI agent who become unlikely, sometimes uneasy, allies and friends.