Here are my ten favorite TV shows of all time, not including MASH, which I’ve written about enough here.
- The Simpsons
- The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with David Letterman
- Saturday Night Live
- Monday Night Football
- Get Smart
- The Twilight Zone
- Monty Python’s Flying Circus
- The Muppet Show
- The Brady Bunch
Can you believe that this show was considered dangerous just a few years ago? Every generation has its Bart Simpson, and I keep trying to convince people that it’s the job of every generation to come up with something shocking and offensive to the generation that came before. We look back on Elvis and laugh at ourselves. We look back at Bart and laugh at ourselves. “But the songs on the radio now have just gone too far!” even my liberal friends say, but they don’t get that that’s exactly what our parents said about Ozzy Osbourne, and what their parents said about Elvis, blue jeans, and guys with pierced ears. It doesn’t mean our society is in decline (which is not to say that it’s not in decline–this just doesn’t mean that). It only means that each generation improves on some things and degrades some things, and that’s how it should be.
Nothing makes me laugh as much at one time or as often as this show. That, by itself, is enough.
When it’s lame, there’s little on TV that’s lamer, but when it’s spot-on, there’s nothing edgier, more daring, and more socially significant than a great SNL sketch. Will Ferrell’s impression of James Lipton has replaced in people’s consciousnesses their own memory of James Lipton as he actually is (he’s from New Jersey–he doesn’t have anything remotely resembling the faux-European accent his SNL character has). Dana Carvey did the same thing with his George Bush Sr.
My favorite SNL moment of alll time wasn’t even during a sketch. It was during one of Norm MacDonald’s “Weekend Update” segments, the Saturday after the O.J. Simpson verdict came down: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s official. Murder is now legal in the state of California!”
The games have been mostly lame lately, but in the eighties, it seemed that every game was thrilling and dramatic. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t yet jaded by the NFL and its ridiculous posturing and egos, but I loved just about every play of every game, no matter who was playing. The games with the Raiders, Chargers, and Steelers, though, were awesome. Howard Cosell’s Halftime Highlights was the most dramatic thing in the world.
I jumped on this show at the very beginning, with episode 1. There was a time when networks would have some confidence in their shows and give them time to find their grooves and their audiences. Cheers was one of television’s least-watched shows, but it was also one of its most-praised, so NBC stuck with it, and a couple of years after it debuted, it was in the top ten, and now we all know why. This is the kind of thing that will never happen again.
My sister loved reruns of this show before I ever gave it a try, but soon we were howling together. We didn’t agree on a lot of shows (she really likes Leave it to Beaver, for example–a show I despise), but I’m sure we’d both list this in our top tens. Why the heck isn’t this on DVD yet?
The kind of show that could never make it nowadays, as shows like Gun have proved. You need a regular cast and established setting, which The Twilight Zone didn’t have. Plus, you don’t really need great writing and acting, which The Twilight Zone most certainly did have. Favorite episode: “Time Enough at Last,” with Burgess Meredith.
“This is an EX parrot!”
Clever, charming, witty, hilarious, and sweet, this was a mind-blowingly elaborate show with great sketches and awesome musical performances. Best musical number: Paul Simon and what seemed like the entire cast doing “Scarborough Fair,” with Miss Piggy singing the “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” parts. Little-known trivia: Kermit had a crush on one of the other characters, and it wasn’t Miss Piggy! Check out who he always dances with in the “At the Dance” sketches.
I admit it. I love The Brady Bunch. I know it’s stupid. I can’t help it.
Bonus List: Shows I Loved That Weren’t (or haven’t been) On TV Long Enough to Make the List
*(or were only good for a very short time before sucking)
- 21 Jump Street
- *Beverly Hills 90210
- The Greatest American Hero
- *The John Larroquette Show
- *Ally McBeal
- Anything but Love
- Good Eats
- Later with Bob Costas
- Square Pegs