Over the years, television has provided us with some of the best ensembles, with talented acting and amazing chemistry. In fact, without a solid cast even the most intriguing of premises falls flat. From title characters to one-time guests, these are my personal top ten TV casts.
1) West Wing: One of the Emmy-winningest casts of all time: Bradley Whitford as political genius and social failure Josh Lyman, Rob Lowe as lovable but naive Sam Seaborn, Allison Janney as the amazing (to say the least) CJ Cregg, Richard Schiff as the brilliant but stubborn Toby Zeigler, and of course one of the greatest performances of all television: Martin Sheen as the President. The guests on this show were no slouch either: Tim Matheson as the sleazy but somehow adorable John Hoynes, Gary Cole as the idiotic Bingo Bob, Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda as the great choices for successor, Lily Tomlin, Oliver Platt, mark Harmon, Marlee Matlin, and so many more... and lest we forget, Lord John Marbury.
2) The Practice: Notables: Lara Flynn Boyle as DA Helen Gamble, Camryn Mannheim as the indomitable Eleanor, Marla Sokoloff as the adorable and loudmouthed Lucy, Dylan McDermott as the sticks-to-his-guns main character Bobby Donnell, and of course... James Spader as the terrible yet wonderful Alan Shore. Guests: So many amazing performances: John Larroquette, Marlee Matlin, Sharon Stone, and who can forget the amazing performance by future Ben Linus player Michael Emerson?
3) MASH: Alan Alda heads up a cast that literally defined television for a generation, with people like Jamie Farr (Klinger), McLean Steveson (Blake), Mike Farrell (BJ), Harry Morgan (Potter), Loretta Swit (Houlihan), and a host of others. A truly amazing cast.
4) Arrested Development: Possibly the best cast for a comedy ever: Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Portia di Rossi, David Cross, Alia Shakwat, Tony Hale, and Jessica Walter portrayed a dysfunctional family better than anyone else. A titanic guest list with almost 50 stars, including everyone from Charlize Theron to Amy Poehler to Judge Reinhold to Ben Stiller.
5) Friends: Here is a cast that went beyond acting and actually gave the most belivable impression of friendship ever on television: you believed that Joey, Chandler, Monica, Ross, Rachel, and Phoebe had chemistry. Not only that, but the sheer volume of A-list guests they had was amazing! Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts... so many names.
6) Lost: Notables: Terry O' Quinn as the mysterious John Locke, Michael Emerson as the most mainiacal villain of television: Ben Linus, Matthew Fox as hero Jack Shepherd, Jeremy Davies as the eccentric Daniel Faraday, Elizabeth Mitchell as the tough exterior and vulnerable interior former Other Juliet Burke, Dominic Monaghan as the rock-n-rolling Brit Charlie, and many, many more.
7) Boston Legal: This legal comedy was revolutionary in its genre, but more revolutionary in its casting. While young lawyers came and went, the popular characters on the show (William Shatner, James Spader, and Candice Bergen). Don't forget John Larroquette, Betty White, and that lovable autistic lawyer, Jerry Espenson.
8) Sports Night: A hidden gem, Sports Night didn't star a lot of well-known people (aside from Felicity Huffman), but it was one of the most believable and charming casts ever on television.
9) St. Elsewhere: Not a lot of people remember this show, but the actors and actresses that got their start here went on to do wonderful things. Ed Begley Jr., Helen Hunt, Mark Harmon, Howie Mandel, Bruce Greenwood, Christina Pickles and lest we forget... Denzel Washington.
10) ER: The cast was always changing, but at its height, ER starred George Clooney, Noah Wyle, and Julianna Marguiles. From Anthony Edwards to Angela Bassett and everyone in between, this show wowed audiences.