23. 'The Thick of It'
Any discussion of this British political satire's greatness must begin with Peter Capaldi's performance as the volcanic U.K. spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, whose brimstone-laced tirades strike fear into the most stalwart of M.P.s. The underlying gag of Armando Iannucci's caustic satire, which used the same improv-friendly techniques he'd later employ in the movie In the Loop and his HBO show Veep, is that nothing the show's characters — not the Parliamentary officials or department heads or scheming low-level functionaries — makes a bit of a difference, which only increases the hostility that pervades every interaction. (As has been said of academia, bureaucratic politics is so vicious because the stakes are so small.) The show's characters were either scheming or stupid or, most often, both, which made them almost deserving of the scorching profanity Malcolm periodically heaved their way. ("Today, you have laid your first big fat egg of solid fuck" is one of the kinder ones.) Even now, nearly 10 years after its start and two after Iannucci shut DoSAC's doors for good, nothing has come along to rival Tucker's firehose spew.—SAM ADAMS