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100 best TV shows of all time, according to critics

  • #50. The Returned

    - Series Metascore: 87

    The Returned,” shown on A&E, is set in a small town where dead people start coming back to life. Their return is greeted by a mix of joy, puzzlement, and fear, and the phenomenon has dire consequences. It is based on a 2012 French television series entitled “Les Revenants'' which, in turn, was based on a 2004 film, also called “Les Revenants.”

  • #49. Justified

    - Series Metascore: 87.2
    - Highest-rated season: 2

    “Justified” stars Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. marshal whose style and job performance earns him a posting back to the town where he grew up in rural eastern Kentucky. The series is based on a short story called “Fire in the Hole” by the crime writer Elmore Leonard.

  • #43. The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88

    The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” on PBS is a portrait of the nation’s historic political powerhouse family: Theodore, Franklin Delano, and Eleanor Roosevelt. It was directed by highly respected documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and Peter Coyote won an Emmy as Outstanding Narrator.

  • #43. Russian Doll (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88

    Natasha Lyonne stars in “Russian Doll,” coming on the heels of her recurring role in “Orange is the New Black.” In “Russian Doll,” on Netflix, her character is caught in a time loop, dying and reliving her 36th birthday party over and over again.

  • #43. Malcolm in the Middle (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88
    - Highest-rated season: 1

    Malcolm in the Middle” is a sitcom about a gifted teenager and his not-so-gifted family, starring Frankie Muniz as Malcolm, Bryan Cranston as his father, and Jane Kaczmarek as his mother. The series is unusual in having the character of Malcolm speak directly to viewers, shooting with a single camera, and using cold opening scenes not related to the episode to follow.

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  • #43. Freaks and Geeks (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88

    “Freaks and Geeks” is a single-season comedy about teenage life that gained a cult following. Created by Paul Feig, who would go on to direct “The Office” and “Nurse Jackie,” and with frequent collaborator Judd Apatow as executive producer, “Freaks and Geeks” helped launch the acting careers of Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, and James Franco.

  • #43. Everybody Hates Chris (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88
    - Highest-rated season: 1

    Everybody Hates Chris,” narrated by comedian Chris Rock, recounts the humorous tale of a Black teenager in Brooklyn with a complicated family life and a daily trek to a white school in an Italian neighborhood, where he has to learn to use his wits and his comic charm.

  • #43. Brooklyn Bridge (tie)

    - Series Metascore: 88
    - Highest-rated season: 1

    Brooklyn Bridge” is a nostalgia-filled series set in the 1950s in the New York City borough about a Jewish American family with immigrant roots. It was based on the real-life experiences of its creator Gary David Goldberg, whose show “Family Ties” had helped make Michael J. Fox a star. “Brooklyn Bridge” won a Golden Globe award in 1992 for Best Television Series Comedy or Musical.

  • #42. Sherlock

    - Series Metascore: 88
    - Highest-rated season: 2

    “Sherlock” sets the classic detective story in modern-day London, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, with Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson, a wounded Afghan war veteran. In the version that aired on PBS Masterpiece Mystery, selected letters in red in the closing credits would spell out a word linked to the episode.

  • #41. Breaking Bad

    - Series Metascore: 88.2
    - Highest-rated season: 5

    The enormously popular and acclaimed “Breaking Bad” tells the story of high school chemistry teacher Walter White who becomes a murderous and merciless drug lord. Set in the cinemagraphic beauty of the New Mexico desert, the tense, ruthless show offers up unforgettable characters like his partner played by Aaron Paul, his wife played by Anna Gunn, and his DEA brother-in-law played by Dean Norris. Other gripping characters are the lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks’ menacing hitman, and Giancarlo Esposito as a cunning criminal rival.

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