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Sopranos tops list of best written TV series

Sopranos, the TV mob drama, beat out Seinfeld for the top spot on the Writers Guild of America's list of best TV shows.

By Chris MichaudReuters / June 3, 2013

James Gandolfini, left, Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico, right star in the HBO cable television mob drama. This 2007 photo, supplied by HBO, shows James Gandolfini, left, Steven Van Zandt and Tony Sirico, right, members of the cast of the HBO cable television mob drama during their final season.

Craig Blankenhorn/AP/HBO

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The New Jersey mob saga "The Sopranos" was listed as the best-written U.S. TV series above comedy show "Seinfeld" in a list compiled by the Writers Guild of America.

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The guild, which represents writers in the motion picture, broadcast, cable and new media industries, released its ranking of the 101 best-written TV shows based on a poll of its members, with comedies and dramatic series evenly represented in the top 10.

The guild favored recently-produced shows. Only one top 10 entry, third-placed "The Twilight Zone," pre-dated the 1970s and nearly half the entire list aired in the past decade.

In releasing the list on Sunday with "The Sopranos" at the top, the guild's Paul Brownfield said: "No show has been more responsible for TV's storytelling renaissance." In the HBO hit, mobster Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, struggles with domestic life even as he orders mob hits and confides in his psychiatrist.

Comedies joining "Seinfeld" high in the poll included 1970s-era hits as "All in the Family," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "M*A*S*H," along with bar-room comedy "Cheers."

"The West Wing," "The Wire" and "Mad Men," the only currently airing show, rounded out the top 10.

Long-running animated show "The Simpsons" was ranked 11th, followed by the 1950s hit "I Love Lucy." "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" at 17 placed highest among series outside the scripted comedy or drama format.

Coming in 43rd, PBS' "Downton Abbey" was the highest-ranked non-U.S. series, followed by the BBC's "The Office" in 50th place.

While most of the series on the list were hits in their day or at least enjoyed a steady run, the short-lived "Twin Peaks" (35), "Friday Night Lights" (22) and the cult series "Arrested Development" (16) also fared well.

And while NBC, CBS and HBO were all represented in the top 10 with multiple entries, the list's highest-ranked ABC series was the comedy "Taxi" in 19th, followed by "Lost" in 27th place. 

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