Top Ten: Best ensemble casts of 2008

Could you imagine Cheers without Norm? Seinfeld without Newman? Twin Peaks without that dancing midget? These shows of the past were rare in that their casts were practically perfect, top to bottom. Now, strong ensembles are all over the place.

When searching for our favorite 10 ensemble casts, we were awestruck at how many we nominated and had a very tough time trimming the list. Are these the absolute best? No, but they're our personal favorites. Your comments have been great so far in our other lists, and we want to hear what you sleuths think we missed. Let's get on with it!

10. One Tree Hill

Led by Chad Michael Murray and James Lafferty, One Tree Hill boasts one of the best young casts on television. Plus, we've watched them grow up before our eyes and they haven't missed a step.

9. 30 Rock

I know, I know, 30 Rock at number nine? Like we said, the field is packed. Alec Baldwin is sublime as Jack, but what really makes this show work is the way all the zany characters pop in and out of Liz Lemon's daily routine with ease.

8. Gossip Girl

They're young. They're hot. No wonder they're all hooking up with each other offscreen. Did we mention they're hot? This guilty pleasure sits at number eight because we can't keep our eyes off them.

7. Mad Men

Almost no one knew who John Hamm was a few years ago. Now he's everywhere thanks to playing Don Draper, and he owes a lot to those who work daily with him. The men are 1960s men (Tullamore Dew on the rocks for lunch, please), and the women--oh my, the women--are 1960s women (I'm talking about you, Christina Hendricks).

6. Lost

ABC's best product helped redefine the ensemble cast thanks to its spectacular diversity. Where else can you watch an hour of television that looks like a Benetton ad? And with Michael Emerson, Ken Leung, Jeremy Davies, and Rebecca Mader joining the cast as the show progressed, it only got better.

5. Pushing Daisies

Imagine you are casting a show about a pie-maker who brings the dead back to life and solves crimes with a money-hungry P.I. Add a dead crush, a pint-sized waitress, and synchronized swimming aunts. Yeah, we couldn't do better either. This is perfection.

4. The Office

Each piece of this comedy puzzle is a perfect fit. Could Andy, Creed, Angela, or Oscar have their own show? Probably not. But then again, Michael Scott probably couldn't either (yes, Dwight could). The Office is a team effort, and the finest example of a comedy ensemble.

3. Battlestar Galactica

Producers have been circling the Battlestar cast like bloodthirsty sharks ever since an end date to this sci-fi epic was announced, and it's easy to see why. They're all moving on to big roles with no problems. The Emmys have ignored them, but we haven't.

2. The Wire

Bunk. McNulty. Stringer. Avon. Carver. Herc. Daniels. Bubbles. Michael. Dukie. Greggs. Freamon. Prez. Bodie. Carcetti. Marlo. Chris. Snoop. And of course, Omar. The best show ever on television also has one of the best casts ever. Again, the Emmys have ignored them, but we haven't.

1. Friday Night Lights

If you've never seen Kyle Chandler (can any other actor say more without speaking a word?) and Connie Britton on the screen at the same time, you've never seen a drama about everyday people. And let's not forget how far Landry has come. Each performer is their character--this is acting. Emmys? Hello?

Honorable Mention: The Simpsons, Dirty Sexy Money, Rescue Me, Brothers & Sisters, Chuck

Think your list is better?It probably is! Let's hear it below!

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