Binge Watch: Network Dramas

This year I’m taking a look at some of my favorite series of all time. That will begin with a Top 10 in four different groups—Network Sitcoms, Network Dramas, Cable Series and Streaming Series. Ultimately, it will end in an overall Top 10. Periodically throughout 2022, I’ll be sharing these lists. Today, it’s a look at my Top 10 Network Dramas. If you want to catch weekly installments, visit here on Saturdays.

10. The X-Files (1993-2018)
This series is one I found early on, and sort of by accident. But I was quickly hooked by the characters and the premise, particularly the creepy cases. My love for the series lasted throughout its original run and even some of the fun episodes of the re-boot seasons. It’s a fun one to check out.

9. Everwood (2002-2006)
: I love series that are serial relationship dramas, especially when some teen romance is involved. This had that, but also served as a rich family drama set in a small Colorado Mountain Town. It was an enjoyable watch throughout its four-season run.

8. Veronica Mars (2004-2019)
: Another series that featured family drama and romance, this time including some mystery. Kristen Bell is great in the lead role, and I enjoyed the on-going mysteries. Some weren’t pleased by the long-awaited fourth season, particularly how it ended, but I thought it still fit. I loved the show then and still do.

7. LOST (2004-2010)
A plane crashes on a mysterious island and the survivors have to fight to hang on. I loved the casting and the mystery. It didn’t always land its plot, but it remained an enjoyable journey that was unlike anything I’d seen.

6. Hannibal (2013-2015)
: I’m a big fan of the films based on Thomas Harris’ novels. This series is an expansion of that story, at some points covering the book. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are exceptional in it. This was also a series that, while covering horrifying material, was incredibly beautiful in its design.

5. Firefly (2002-2003)
How can a series that lasted only one season and 13 episodes make this list? Well, that’s the power of Firefly, which had great characters, an exceptional cast and a great story to follow. It worked its way into my heart and has never let go. It’s a space western, but even that description hardly does it justice.

4. Fringe (2008-2013)
: If The X-Files and LOST had a baby, it might well have been Fringe. Since both those series are on this list, you’re likely not surprised that this series made the list. I loved the fusion of these ideas and the acting and cast here. Fringe separated itself by being a deeply emotional journey, tackling the idea of the multi-verse before it was cool!

3. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
Based on the film, and the book before it, I wasn’t sure about Friday Night Lights when it was announced. The pilot was a masterpiece, and from the closing moments forward I was all in. Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler are beautiful as the leads here in a series that features football but is really about life and love in Texas.

2. ER (1994-2009)
I was in middle school when I saw the pilot for this series, which comes from Michael Crichton, based on his memoir about his time as a young doctor. This was part of the epic Must-See TV era on NBC, a staple on Thursday nights for a decade and a half. It was a phenomenal and fascinating series, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

1. The West Wing (1999-2006)
An idealized vision of what the government could be, and arguably should be. That’s what Aaron Sorkin gave us with The West Wing, which took us inside the Bartlett administration. We stayed with them, through good times and bad, over the course of seven memorable seasons. It’s a series I love. During the pandemic I re-watched it with my wife and felt my love for the characters and story swell all over again. This is the pinnacle of network dramas for me.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.

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