Saturday, September 15, 2007


Messrs. Tosy and Cosh hold forth on a list of 100 Best TV shows, so I'll do a similar thing -- but instead of color-coding shows I like, I'll just bold shows about which I have an opinion, one way or the other. Unaltered titles are shows I'm not familiar with. Occasional commentary, of course.

And now, the list!


60 Minutes (I don't much watch this anymore at all, but it was a staple in our home as a kid.)

The Abbott and Costello Show (I've always liked what I've seen of Abbott and Costello, but their show was before my time.)

ABC's Wide World of Sports (I miss this! I remember once watching with keen interest a log-rolling competition on WWoS.)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

All in the Family (Brilliant show, obviously. I didn't get the social comment aspects at the time, since I was a kid.)

An American Family

American Idol (I'm totally hooked, even if I thought Melinda was robbed.)

Arrested Development

Battlestar Galactica (Wait a minute -- which one? The new one, or the original? I liked the original, but I've only seen the pilot of the new one. I was favorably impressed by that, I admit. I also watched several episodes of the original a couple of years back on DVD, and I was surprised that I didn't find the show to be the campy crap most people believe it to be.)

The Beavis and Butt-Head Show (I loved this! It was clever and funny, not just juvenilia. There's an episode where the guys participate in the school fundraising candy sale, and instead of selling all of their candy bars to other people for two bucks apiece, they just keep selling their candy bars back and forth to each other, just exchanging the same two bucks over and over again. That was hilarious. Plus, the commentary on music videos which in its way presaged MST3K. And you know what? After a very late night closing a Pizza Hut, there's nothing better than Beavis and Butthead at two in the morning.)

The Bob Newhart Show (Hi Bob!)

Brideshead Revisited
Buffalo Bill

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (A special case. I always figured I'd like it, and I watched a couple of episodes during its run and was always impressed. But its timeslot didn't work for me, and I never felt driven to invest myself in getting up to speed on the show's backstory.)

The Carol Burnett Show (You know, I miss the old sketch and variety shows!)

The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite

A Charlie Brown Christmas (We will watch this yearly until we die, and probably after that, even.)

Cheers (What can I say? Just an amazing show, with a greater track record for consistent laughs than just about any American show ever produced, in my opinion.)

The Cosby Show

The Daily Show (But not until Jon Stewart took over. I never cared for Craig Kilborne.)

Dallas (Loved it, and I'm not afraid to admit it! I know they're doing a movie version of it, with John Travolta as JR, and I'm ambivalent about that; I wonder if they're doing something like the Brady Bunch movies where it's more spoof than anything else. Personally, I think a fairly compelling movie could be made out of the Dallas backstory, where John Ross Ewing and Digger Barnes meet, wildcat for oil together, and fall for Miss Ellie. CBS did a TV movie of this, years ago, but I think it would make a neat story for a feature film.)

The Day After
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Ed Sullivan Show
The Ernie Kovacs Show

Felicity (Meh. My general antipathy toward JJ Abrams starts here. Never got the fuss. Keri Russell is really cute, though.)

Freaks and Geeks (I saw one episode of this. And I loved that episode. So why have I never come round to watching the rest of it? Because I'm lazy and slothful, that's why.)

The French Chef

Friends (One of my most beloved of shows, even if now I re-watch the first season and notice some of the creaks and growing pains and generic sit-com stuff. I didn't dislike the last season, but the show did noticeably run low on steam, and probably should have ended a season earlier than it did. But I loved it just the same, and I almost think that in its whole "representative show of Generation X" persona or whatever, it's almost become underrated as just a good comedy show. There were some inspiringly funny things that happened in its episodes, and many of them were ingeniously character-driven moments. For my money, the greatest punchline to a sitcom episode ever comes in the episode where Ross finally learns of Chandler and Monica's relationship.)

General Hospital (Huge fan when I was a kid! How fun it was, watching Robert Skorpio and friends struggle to thwart the plans of the evil DVX! And I still remember how mad I'd get when they'd do their once-a-week episode that caught up all of the other storylines, the boring ones about which doctor is in love with which nurse or the latest fight between Alan and Monica Quartermaine or the current doings of the people living in "the Brownstone". I never thought Laura was all that beautiful, though; Finola Hughes as Anna Devane was more my speed.)

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Gilmore Girls (I should watch some of this sometime -- I've heard lots of good things about it.)

Hill Street Blues
Homicide: Life on the Street

The Honeymooners (One of the NYC TV stations we received when we finally got cable -- either WOR or WPIX -- used to run this, late at night. And it was always hysterical.)

I, Claudius

I Love Lucy (I was never that big a fan, for some reason. I've seen lots of re-runs, and while I don't dislike it, I've never quite understood all the fuss.)

King of the Hill (I haven't seen this in a long time, but it was a favorite for a while. I still cannot drive by a place that sells propane and not think things like "I sell propane and propane accessories" and "Lady propane is a clean-burning fuel, I tell you what!")

The Larry Sanders Show

Late Night with David Letterman (NBC) (Why not the CBS years, as well? He's done inspired stuff on both incarnations. I love Dave!)

Leave It to Beaver

Lost (Awesome production values. Extremely well-made show, with more craftsmanship than you'll find on lots of feature movies. Sadly, though, a story and characters that completely leave me cold. My antipathy toward JJ Abrams continues.)

Married... With Children
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
The Mary Tyler Moore Show

M*A*S*H (Either side-splittingly funny, or self-important windbaggery. Still, the series's last half hour never fails to move me, when I see it.)

The Monkees

Monty Python's Flying Circus (I could spend an entire series of posts waxing poetic about my love-affair with Monty Python. Maybe I will someday. Suffice it to say, "wink wink nudge nudge know-what-I-mean!")

Moonlighting (Mildly amusing show that I found wildly overrated. I actually put off seeing Die Hard because I generally hated Bruce Willis's character on this show.)

MTV 1981-1992 (If only I'd channeled those hours into something useful!)

My So-Called Life (Ahhh yes, and it's being re-issued on DVD this fall. Gotta pick it up. It's brilliant. I watched every episode in its initial run.)

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Who doesn't love this?)

The Odd Couple (I used to watch it in re-runs when I was a kid, and I thought it very funny. I haven't seen it in years, though.)

The Office [American] (Often brilliant, but there are times -- more frequently last season -- where my credulity is strained such that I can't see how Michael could possibly keep his job doing some of the things he does, no matter how good his sales record is.)

The Office [British]
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Pee Wee's Playhouse
Playhouse 90

The Price Is Right (Sure!)

Prime Suspect
The Prisoner

The Real World (I only watched the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London incarnations, and I enjoyed each. The London season annoyed me a bit, because of that lazy kid from Portland who spent three months living in London and basically never left the flat.)

Rocky and His Friends

Roseanne (Hated it. Unfunny, loud, boorish. Ugh.)

Sanford and Son (I used to watch this in re-runs with my father. Good times, those!)

Saturday Night Live (It comes and goes, doesn't it? BTW, the guy they have who does George W. Bush right now is awful.)

Second City Television
See It Now

Seinfeld (The first couple of seasons are tough to watch now, but everything else after is gold, Jerry! Gold! Even the much-derided Season Nine.)

Sesame Street (Yup. Nothing else to say, really. Although nowadays...Elmo makes me want to hit the bottle.)

Sex and the City
The Shield

The Simpsons (I think this may be the reason television was invented in the first place. And animation.)

The Singing Detective
Six Feet Under

The Sopranos (I have no interest in this show.)

South Park (I haven't seen it in seven or eight years, but I often found it quite funny back then.)

SpongeBob SquarePants (This makes me laugh a bit...but I'm never quite sure why. I suspect this show is designed to be watched while drunk.)

SportsCenter (I was watching the day Charlie Steiner lost it after they played the clip of someone singing the "Star Spangled Banner" very badly. That's it, really.)

Star Trek (See the "Star Trek Redux" posts, linked in the sidebar.)

St. Elsewhere

The Super Bowl (and the Ads) (I watch it for the games, and use the commercials for blogging, grabbing food, going to the bathroom, etc. Usually the next morning I haven't even seen all of the ads.)

Survivor (I don't like it much, although we did watch two seasons because for a time The Daughter liked the games they'd do on the beach. But the constant footage of people whispering to one another about who they're voting off gets boring very quickly, and I find that it's hard to root "for" these people, because it seems that the kinds of personality traits that enable one to win Survivor are traits that would make one a complete jerk in real life. Really, who on Earth would want to spend quality time with Richard Hatch?)

Taxi (I remember liking it a lot. I don't remember much of why. It's been a very long time since I saw it at all.)

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (Johnny Carson was always class.)

The Twilight Zone
Twin Peaks

The West Wing (First two-and-a-half seasons were amazing; Aaron Sorkin started to peter out a bit for a while. The election episodes in Season Four were pretty dull. The fifth season, the first without Sorkin, was a mixed bag, with some very good stuff scattered into some very boring stuff. But the sixth and seventh seasons were excellent again, I thought.)

What's My Line?

WKRP in Cincinnati (I loved this show. Another favorite from re-runs as a kid.)

The Wire

The X-Files (I've discussed it before in this space. I hung in there a lot longer than most fans, but it did go on two years longer than it should have.)

Your Show of Shows

---end of list---

OK, that's all the shows on the list. There are some, of course, that seem to be missing, as is always the case with lists like this. ER should be there, I think; its quick-fire storytelling was quite the thunderbolt when it first arrived in 1994, and no matter how bad it has become in the last few years, it was very good for most of its run before that, and often brilliant. (And it's the only show I can think of to have not one, but two, "jump the shark" moments. That's pretty notable.) I'm always bummed out that Barney Miller doesn't get enough love, and ditto NYPDBlue. Recognizing the Super Bowl is well and good, but in terms of remaking the TV landscape, it seems to me that Monday Night Football is more significant.

Anyway, there it is. I watch too much teevee.


Anonymous said...

Clearly, the eighties got no love from the listmaker. L.A. Law and thirtysomething, for starters. And I agree 100% with e.r.. Surely that is better than several game shows at the very least.

Roger Owen Green said...

Well, anon, ya gotta read the instructions on the list. It's not that The Price is Right is better than thirtysomething, it's that he was trying to hit as many genres as possible. So, he ignores, e.g., frasier because he picked Cheers.

Jaq- You are SO right about Barney Miller. Probably MNF as well; in fact, a much better choice than the Super Bowl. I'd concede ER, though I stopped watching years ago.

Anonymous said...

You HAVE in your sweaty hands a number of DVDs that contain the BEST of the first three seasons of Gilmore Girls, you poop head.

Why don't you watch them?

You'll be very surprised at how SMART and funny this show 'was'.