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"I sincerely hope that no one over 5 watches TV to improve him or herself."
September 9, 2007 2:03 AM   Subscribe

The 100 Best TV Shows Of All Time, in alphabetical order, with embedded video clips of each show. Time Magazine critic James Poniewozik explains how he made his (admittedly US-centric) choices.

For easier bouncing around between entries, the complete list is here.

Time Magazine readers weigh in with their opinions here.

James Poniewozik's "Tuned In" column is here.
posted by amyms (126 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Lists are about having fun and picking fights. See if your favorite show made the list"

I always wondered. Thanks, TIME! This is going to make grocery shopping so much more exciting.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:11 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


So the original Star Trek is on there but not TNG? I always thought TNG was way, way, way better, both in terms of special effects (obviously), storytelling and issues delt with.

/biased: born in '83
posted by Avenger at 2:15 AM on September 9, 2007


...no Iron Chef?!
posted by a. at 2:26 AM on September 9, 2007


OK, as it's US-centric, I can forgive some major omissions. But where the hell is Bilko?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:34 AM on September 9, 2007


Avenger: "So the original Star Trek is on there but not TNG? I always thought TNG was way, way, way better, both in terms of special effects (obviously), storytelling and issues delt with.

/biased: born in '83
"

And DS9 kicked both their arses! [/nerd-fight]

Anyhoo, an interesting list, but as will always be the case with any and all lists that try to determine the 'best' or 'worst' of something that exists in the cultural zeitgeist, I disagree with some of their choices, as I'm sure many people following my comment will similarly do. I mean, c'mon. Oprah makes the list? Angel, which was superior in every way to the otherwise excellent Buffy tVS, does not?

I could argue the validity of their choices. I could argue why lists like this are always interesting but ultimately pointless. But I won't because I'm playing my way through Bioshock at the moment, and I have to harvest me some more sweet, succulent ADAM. No time for 'TV', y'see... wibble wibble quack quack
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:37 AM on September 9, 2007


"A - F
From Abbott and Costello to Friends"

Bzzzt. List over. Next!
posted by darksasami at 2:46 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Angel, which was superior in every way to the otherwise excellent Buffy tVS, does not?

I challenge you to a duel!
posted by liquorice at 2:52 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


A reviewer about whom you don't care either way's implied generic everyviewer's first through one hundredth favorite TV shows suck.

Except Freaks and Geeks and Gilmore Girls.
posted by No-sword at 2:54 AM on September 9, 2007


Where's Oz?
posted by tapeguy at 3:22 AM on September 9, 2007


And no Mister Rogers' Neighborhood...
posted by Poolio at 3:29 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


St. Elsewhere made it, so I don't see that there's anything else to discuss in this thread.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:30 AM on September 9, 2007


After just finishing the series and follow-up movie, I'd have to chime in with a "WTF?!! No Firefly? This list is a sham."

However, Arrested Development, Deadwood, and Battlestar Galactica made the list, so I can't complain...much. :)

PS. Just looked over the list again, and it's missing Farscape as well. It just inched a little further to up the sham-O-meter.

PSS. [Insert your favorite series] sucks.
posted by snwod at 3:45 AM on September 9, 2007


Well, at least The Wire was on the list.
posted by rpn at 4:12 AM on September 9, 2007


It's a terrible list... mainly because it is so US-centric. Some really great British shows like Fawlty Towers were missed out in favour of stuff like Felicity and Gilmore Girls? Monkeys armed with crayons could make a better list than that.

Insulting.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:16 AM on September 9, 2007


No Beverly Hillbillies? No NYPD Blue? Now I know Time blows.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 AM on September 9, 2007


Seconding chuckdarwin. Leaving out Blackadder is inexcusable.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:20 AM on September 9, 2007


One word: Futurama.
posted by birdie birdington at 4:29 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


No list of this sort is complete without 'Amazing Tales'. Some of those episodes were the best things ever aired on television.
posted by efalk at 4:31 AM on September 9, 2007


A Charlie Brown Christmas is great and all, but is a TV holiday special really considered a "TV show"? Not in my book.
posted by p3t3 at 4:36 AM on September 9, 2007


Meh, they got Arrested Development and Deadwood but ignored Rome and Northern Exposure. And Family Guy is far better than South Park, which has become preachier than Ziggy. If Ziggy loved Jebus as much as South Park loves the libertarian right, then Tom Wilson would have to draw Ziggy crucifying himself like a Filipino mortifying their flesh.

Also, he needs to replace The Sopranos with Oz. and The Wire with Carnivale.

Thirding Blackadder.
posted by bunnytricks at 4:37 AM on September 9, 2007


I love how Spongebob made the cut.

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants!
posted by cholly at 4:44 AM on September 9, 2007


The Twilight Zone is a justifiable nominee for the title of Greatest Television Show Ever, due to both its own merits and its lasting influences, so I was satisfied to see it on the list.

But then I saw that The Muppet Show was missing. BURN THE HERETIC!
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:45 AM on September 9, 2007


Charlie Rose
The Muppet Show
Pennies from Heaven
The Richard Pryor Show
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
Sunday Morning
posted by rob511 at 4:49 AM on September 9, 2007


Gunsmoke is in, but Get Smart is out?

This reviewer sucks worse than your favourite TV show.
posted by flabdablet at 5:00 AM on September 9, 2007


No Barney Miller or Get Smart? But Battlestar Galactica made it?

Feh.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 AM on September 9, 2007


I'm not looking at this bastard's list until someone assures me that Small Wonder is in the top 10.
posted by item at 5:39 AM on September 9, 2007


The 100 Best TV Shows Of All Time,

Oxymoron.
posted by mistersquid at 5:45 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I could live without seeing Blackadder here if at least Fawlty Towers had made it. Fawlty disqualified because Flying Circus is already on the list? The hell? Other than John Cleese and general British-ness, what the frig do the two have in common?


efalk, I'm assuming you mean "Amazing Stories"? A great show, but Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock easily usurp it.
posted by dgbellak at 5:52 AM on September 9, 2007


Is this something you'd have to have a tv to know... aw fuck it.

The lack of Barney Miller, Absolutely Fabulous and TNG is A FUCKING OUTRAGE.
posted by psmealey at 5:53 AM on September 9, 2007


No Profit? Bah.

And DS9 kicked both their arses!

Damn right.
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on September 9, 2007


'Friends,' 'Survivor' and 'Married With Children' are in? But not 'Absolutely Fabulous?' 'Police Squad?'

I found the mini-series' 'I, Claudius' and 'Twin Peaks.' But no 'Lonesome Dove?' No 'Civil War,' no 'Jazz?'

Here's the giveaway-- the capsulation of 'I, Claudius' includes:
"This seamily intellectual 1976 miniseries about Rome's stuttering-but-savvy fourth emperor...'

Are you fucking kidding me? This is Time?
posted by toma at 5:57 AM on September 9, 2007


I believe "seamily" is one of those elite journalist-only words. Like "natch."
posted by dgbellak at 6:00 AM on September 9, 2007


Any list that includes Survivor as even good, much less best, television is looney. By the way, where is The Uncle Floyd Show? ;)
posted by caddis at 6:05 AM on September 9, 2007


Not that I was expecting it to be on there, but if you want to watch one of the finest British TV series ever, I recommend Our Friends in the North.
posted by Abiezer at 6:08 AM on September 9, 2007


Ah, dg, now I get it.

I'm unfamiliar with it because they use it so spairily.
posted by toma at 6:08 AM on September 9, 2007


Like "natch."

Is natch a journalism only term? I always thought it was slang/shorthand from the 20s for "naturally" or "of course". /derail
posted by psmealey at 6:13 AM on September 9, 2007


Profit!

Now there was a televisual monument.
posted by Wolof at 6:18 AM on September 9, 2007


Okay, I cheated and looked. No motherfraking Small Wonder and no motherfucking Intervention.

By the way, for marathon viewing Small Wonder and Intervention are best viewed thusly: Intervention, Small Wonder, Small Wonder, Intervention, Small Wonder, Intervention, Intervention, Small Wonder, Small Wonder, Intervention, Small Wonder, Intervention, Intervention, Small Wonder, Small Wonder, Small Wonder, Intervention, Intervention, Intervention, Small Wonder, Intervention, Small Wonder, Intervention, Intervention, Small Wonder, Intervention. Make sure you mix up the Interventions so that you don't use up two meth episodes in a row.
posted by item at 6:20 AM on September 9, 2007


I really dug Wiseguy when I was a kid (with Kevin Spacey as Mel Profitt!!!), but I wonder if it would look incredibly dated and cheesy today.
posted by psmealey at 6:24 AM on September 9, 2007


Your favorite show and list suck, and all that.

But: no Barney Miller, no Northern Exposure, no Rockford Files?

C'mon.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:25 AM on September 9, 2007


And one more unforgivable omission, Oshin (1983)

297 Episodes though there is a jump of a few years after 1945.
posted by hexatron at 6:32 AM on September 9, 2007


But: no Barney Miller, no Northern Exposure, no Rockford Files?

Agreed, but MST3K made it, so its not completely wrong
posted by TedW at 6:34 AM on September 9, 2007


It's a terrible list... mainly because it is so US-centric. Some really great British shows like Fawlty Towers were missed out in favour of stuff like Felicity and Gilmore Girls? Monkeys armed with crayons could make a better list than that.

We get it, chuck. Anything American is bad and we're lucky you let us breathe the same air as you, and coversely everything British is good. Why don't you just have your teeth encrookend and brush up on your 'wot's' and 'bloody hells' and go native already?
posted by jonmc at 6:35 AM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I'll see your DS9 and raise you a B5, the show that was actually supposed to be made until Paramout decided they'd rather make crap instead. mutter
posted by Talanvor at 6:39 AM on September 9, 2007


DS9 meh. Too many ferengi.
posted by Gervais Brooke-Hamster at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2007


No Outer Limits? The scariest thing ever to grace a TV screen. This list is a joke.
posted by dbiedny at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2007


Angel, which was superior in every way to the otherwise excellent Buffy tVS, does not?

early buffy had way better dialogue than any angel episodes i've ever seen.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 6:55 AM on September 9, 2007


Anyone else catch this from his explanation?

TV should be smart, but TV should also be dumb. So while I judged each show on its merits, I also stepped back, looked at the list, and tried to give an overview of what TV is and has been

That was to justify The Price Is Right instead of, say, Jeopardy! He's not talking about the best shows of all time; he's talking about the best shows of all time that are representative of TV, which, to him, means he had to choose "dumb" shows for the list, too. Hilarious.
posted by mediareport at 6:58 AM on September 9, 2007


I think there's way too few cartoons on that list, especially when really good cartoons have to have far more effort put into them in writing, casting, and production than any live-action sitcom. I expected the obligatory South Park and Simpsons insertions, but there's nothing from Disney or the Speilberg-era WB kids. Animaniacs? Kim Possible? Freakazoid? Bruce Timm's Batman? Duck Tales- the show that essentially saved Disney's television department in the 80's?

My god, there is nothing on that list from Hanna-Barbera. That's insane.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:00 AM on September 9, 2007


No Scrubs, but at least no Family Guy. Not even really sure why there was a complaint upthread about the lack of the latter -- its schtick will be tired in ten years when nobody remembers the pop culture references that it draws reference to (and rarely actually does anything with) and its style of humor boils down to "throw everything imaginable, even if it has no basis in character or context, and hope that some of it sticks."

Scrubs is amazing though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:01 AM on September 9, 2007


Anything American is bad and we're lucky you let us breathe the same air as you, and coversely everything British is good.

That's not what he's saying at all, jonmc. For me, the absence of Upstairs, Downstairs - which won the Emmy for outstanding dramatic series three times during the 70s, for its popular U.S. run - shows just how absurd the focus on U.S.-produced shows is. It's just Time magazine being Time magazine, of course, but it still makes for a fairly stupid "best of" list.
posted by mediareport at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


[replace] The Wire with Carnivale

I loved Carnivale, but your critical judgement sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:14 AM on September 9, 2007


That's not what he's saying at all, jonmc.

Actually, he goes on and on about his Anglophilia in numerous other threads and locales. I figured he'd say something like this here and I was right.
posted by jonmc at 7:15 AM on September 9, 2007


This list has The Monkees, Twin Peaks, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the US version of The Office. I approve.
posted by Lucinda at 7:21 AM on September 9, 2007


Abiezer writes "Not that I was expecting it to be on there, but if you want to watch one of the finest British TV series ever, I recommend Our Friends in the North."

Our Friends in the North was OK, but it was no Boys from the Blackstuff or Days of Hope. And where's the Dennis Potter?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2007


I figured he'd say something like this here and I was right.

Well, at least here he's right.
posted by mediareport at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2007


"I sincerely hope that no one over 5 watches TV to improve him or herself."

Well no, not if Beavis and Butt Head is anywhere near your list of best shows of all.
posted by Zinger at 7:27 AM on September 9, 2007


Days of Hope looks excellent PeterMcDermott - I was just a bit too young to have seen that at the time.
posted by Abiezer at 7:29 AM on September 9, 2007


The 100 Best TV Shows Of All Time,

Oxymoron.


You know, I have friends who "don't read," and I have a hard time taking them any more seriously sometimes than someone who acts like there's nothing good on TV.

But, hey, there's a new John Grisham book out this month. I'm sure that would be a better use of my time than Blue Planet (which isn't on the list!!!!1)
posted by Cyrano at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I sincerely hope that no one over 5 watches TV to improve him or herself."

Well no, not if Beavis and Butt Head is anywhere near your list of best shows of all.


Beavis & Butthead was brilliantly lowbrow satire.
posted by jonmc at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2007


The only truly glaring omission I saw when first browsing it was Jeopardy!

After browsing the comments here, I'd definitely add The Muppet Show and to a lesser extent Charlie Rose. By which I mean I'm actually surprised that they were omitted from this list.

Fawlty Towers occurred to me, but I'm not surprised it wasn't included. Even though I personally think it's a much funnier and more accessible show than Monty Python's Flying Circus, the latter definitely has had an infinitely larger influence on our culture. (By "our culture," I guess I speak only for American culture, but I imagine that's true for most English-speaking places). Absolutely Fabulous, on the other hand, has definitely made a splash here, almost as much as The (British) Office, I'd say, so I wouldn't have been surprised to see it here.

I think both Sesame Street and The Muppet Show deserve places on the list, but I suppose if he could only choose one, he made the right choice. They serve very different audiences, and I love them both with all my heart, but objectively, Sesame Street was more important and even dare I say funnier, with the added bonus of its longevity. But he definitely should have had both The Price is Right and Jeopardy!

A few of my favorite shows didn't make it--Weeds, Match Game, some others--but that's no surprise. Overall, this list has MANY shows I like or love.

OH! I just thought of a couple more glaring omissions. OK, Survivor and An American Family paved the way, of course. And you can't fight the ubiquitousness of American Idol. But Project Runway and American's Next Top Model are far and away the greatest reality shows of all time.

And my final thought--Family Guy's schtick is already tired, but not because people won't remember the pop culture references. A great deal of the pop culture references on that show are from 15-30 years ago already. If we remember them now, we'll remember them in ten years. The schtick is just old because it's a schtick and they've been using it for a while.
posted by lampoil at 7:37 AM on September 9, 2007


Days of Hope looks excellent

And don't get me wrong, Our Friends in the North was excellent as well, but I can't help but feel that it couldn't not stand out because of all the dross that surrounded it, whereas in the three previous decades, the really good stuff stood out despite the abundance of riches all around.

Or perhaps that's just me being a nostalgic old bastard. But I watch virtually nothing produced in the UK today. Nothing that we do comes close to the likes of The Sopranos, Deadwood, or The Wire. We've got a couple of hundred channels, thanks to cable and satellite, but I find far less that's watchable than I did in the days when we only had two or three.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:41 AM on September 9, 2007


But Project Runway and American's Next Top Model are far and away the greatest reality shows of all time.

My current favourite reality TV show, which I religiously download each week as it isn't screened here in the UK is The Pick Up Artist.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:44 AM on September 9, 2007


No Scrubs, but at least no Family Guy. Not even really sure why there was a complaint upthread about the lack of the latter -- its schtick will be tired in ten years when nobody remembers the pop culture references that it draws reference to (and rarely actually does anything with) and its style of humor boils down to "throw everything imaginable, even if it has no basis in character or context, and hope that some of it sticks."

That's a very valid point about FG- in fact one of the more rational arguments against it in the usual online arguments about that show- but honestly, doesn't that equally apply to half the episodes of South Park, which did make the list? Topical plot lines always become irrelevant the quickest; the episodes of South Park like Towlie, the little league playoffs, and Scott Tenorman Must Die are going to be looked at as classics long after the highly-praised "Cartoon Wars" from this season will be.

Ironically, I think the exact opposite of this is why "Friends" making the list is so depressing. While it had a handful of legitimately talented actors, the show itself was the most goddamned generic and topically pointless show ever produced on television. The entire run of the series could have been filmed in a vortex devoid of space-time and all that would have had to have been changed were brand names. That a significant percentage of the American population actually spent several months legitimately discussing "is Ross going to end up with Rachel?" - as if there was some Marvel-Comics-level alteration of the cosmos that could possibly have not made that the outcome of the show- fucking scared me.

Friends was one giant reference to itself; an eight-year long "very special episode." It bothers me when people think I'm just using hyperbole when I say it's one of the worst shows ever made. It is. One of the worst shows. Ever made.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


But Lisa Kudrow's hot, which makes up for a lot.
posted by jonmc at 7:49 AM on September 9, 2007


I live abroad now, Peter, but I'd have to say my impression fits what you say. Would certainly agree can't think of anything that's a patch on The Wire. There's been a few decent comedies - I enjoyed In the Thick of It - but that's about at all bar a few decent documentaries.
posted by Abiezer at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2007


Oh, and TV rules. People who don't watch TV miss out on some of the best stuff creative people are doing and have done. The idea that TV (in and of itself) makes you stupid is the more tired schtick of all.
posted by lampoil at 7:53 AM on September 9, 2007


Ha ha, most tired schtick.
posted by lampoil at 7:55 AM on September 9, 2007


Days of Hope looks excellent

Wow, it really does. Thanks for that link, Peter.
posted by mediareport at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2007


It's cool to see so many people mentioning Northern Exposure. That is my favorite TV show ever (well, except for the disastrous final season) and I miss it! I've never found anything on television since that was able to capture even half of its qualities.
posted by amyms at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2007


Not only US-centric, but recent-centric. Around a dozen of these shows are still on the air, and another dozen-ish were on in the last 5 years.
Make of that what you will.
posted by naoko at 8:08 AM on September 9, 2007


Oh and ditto on Northern Exposure - what a great show.
posted by naoko at 8:11 AM on September 9, 2007


Two words: Benny Hill.
posted by furtive at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's cool to see so many people mentioning Northern Exposure.

Yeah, I miss it too (the real one, of course—I try to pretend the final season didn't happen).

Two more misses: Frank's Place and Almost Grown (which doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry—how forgotten is that?).
posted by languagehat at 8:25 AM on September 9, 2007


No Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau? Not only was it great television (and narrated by Rod Serling) but it popularized environmentalism, created the template for science programming in the U.S., and made us, briefly, appreciate the French.

And speaking of scientific programming, I'd throw in Walking With Dinosaurs.

I've always thought Fawlty Towers was the funniest television program ever aired—12 episodes of pure, condensed, vicious misanthrophy. So it should be on there.
posted by stargell at 8:31 AM on September 9, 2007


It is. One of the worst shows. Ever made.

What's all this 'one of' crap?
posted by item at 8:34 AM on September 9, 2007


PeterMcdermott: The Wire has a handful of great characters (Omar, Bunk, Stringer and Bubbles come to mind) and it's engaging but I don't see what really differentiates it from the billion and one other cop shows that dominate the dial.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:36 AM on September 9, 2007


I was hooked on Friends when it aired, but—unlike most of the shows on this list—it's pretty much unwatchable in rerun, which must say something. Perhaps that it wasn't really very funny at heart, and we just went along to follow that damn plot.
posted by stargell at 8:39 AM on September 9, 2007


bunnytricks - for me it's the way The Wire shows institutions and politics. Very few other shows do the same.
posted by Abiezer at 8:42 AM on September 9, 2007


I watched Friends for several years before I realized I didn't really like any of the characters. I didn't want to be friends with the guys and I didn't want to date the girls. They're all neurotic and annoying.

the most goddamned generic and topically pointless show ever produced on television

Friends, or Seinfeld, which was "a show about nothing"?
posted by kirkaracha at 8:43 AM on September 9, 2007


At first I totally approved, seeing most of my favorite shows on there.

But then it kicked in... no Andy Griffith Show? WHAT THE F-ing F?

My approval has been rescinded. No Barney Fife, no peace.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:47 AM on September 9, 2007


What, no manimal!?
posted by absalom at 8:48 AM on September 9, 2007


Abiezer writes "bunnytricks - for me it's the way The Wire shows institutions and politics. Very few other shows do the same."

And there's the quality of the writing, the lack of hackneyed plots, the in-depth research that informs the stories, the refusal to rely on old tried and tested stereotypes..

Also, it's still fairly rare for television drama to do that long-form thing, where the major narrative arc actually takes place over 13 hours as opposed to a single episode. I know that that supposedly started with shows like Hill Street Blues, but if you look back at those shows, the long narrative arc is really just a device that helps the individual episodes hang together, whereas with these modern drama series, it's the other way around. The individual episodes really serve the purpose of the larger story. It means that you get stories of a complexity hitherto unknown outside the novel. And because they're on HBO, they manage to avoid that ridiculously artificial and forced seven or nine act format that you get in most commercial US television.

Carnivale was a good story, and it has obviously learned the lessons from the best new television writing, but ultimately, I thought that the story was much weaker -- relying on cliches. Because I'm a carny buff, I was able to spot the various books that provided colour to the characters and the story in Carnivale, yet despite being a crime buff, everything in The Wire is always absolutely brand new to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:10 AM on September 9, 2007


I've always thought Fawlty Towers was the funniest television program ever aired—12 episodes of pure, condensed, vicious misanthrophy. So it should be on there.
posted by stargell at 11:31 AM on September 9
(emphasis added)

I agree.
posted by caddis at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2007


I concur with the Rome, Black Adder and Barney Miller absences make this list fairly arbitrary. All time indeed.

I piss on it.
I shit on it!
posted by Busithoth at 9:18 AM on September 9, 2007


crap, fawlty didn't get pasted in my mini list.
posted by Busithoth at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2007


no firefly... dexter...

sigh!
posted by spacediver at 9:49 AM on September 9, 2007


Make room on that list for Weeds.
posted by ColdChef at 10:05 AM on September 9, 2007


No Mr. Show?
posted by ill3 at 10:13 AM on September 9, 2007


What, no Thicke of the Night? Count me out.
posted by porn in the woods at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2007


Twitch City!
posted by muckster at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2007


My favorite news program (up until the original producer left) was CBS Sunday Morning. I hate having the TV on in the morning but I would always watch that show.
posted by effwerd at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2007


No _________?!?
posted by the other side at 11:01 AM on September 9, 2007


WKRP's inclusion almost makes up for Three's Company's omission.

No Degrassi?
*Gets a subscribtion to TIME, just so I can cancel it*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2007


Where's Mysterious Cities of Gold, Square One, and all the other PBS and Franco-Japanese technicolor candy I lapped up in my childhood? Hell, where's MacGyver?
posted by kid ichorous at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2007


No B5... sucks! ; )
posted by coust at 1:06 PM on September 9, 2007


No Simon & Simon?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:10 PM on September 9, 2007


WKRP's inclusion almost makes up for Three's Company's omission.

Seriously? Three's Company was the worst show on television when it was the most popular show on television. Stupid, misogynistic, homophobic, and the same fucking plot every show.
posted by psmealey at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2007


As others have said before...No Firefly? No Muppets?

Get a rope!
posted by Sandor Clegane at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2007


PeterMcDermott: Life on Mars?

(PS. Because I'm watching it on reruns, I haven't seen the last episode. If there are spoilers I may cry uncontrollably)
posted by athenian at 1:30 PM on September 9, 2007


Three's Company's omission

Three's Company (along with Silver Spoons) sums up everything that was wrong with the '80s.
posted by jonmc at 1:33 PM on September 9, 2007


The post title was one of the most annoying lines in the article. Did the author never see the aforementioned Jaques Cousteau specials? Or Nova, Cosmos, The Ascent of Man, much of Book TV, and on and on and on.

The idea that TV (in and of itself) makes you stupid is the more tired schtick of all.
Well said, lampoli.

Plus, if he was going to include the Super Bowl, I don't see how he could leave out Janet Jackson's breast.
posted by TedW at 1:44 PM on September 9, 2007


Stupid, misogynistic, homophobic, and the same fucking plot every show.

First of all, almost every Krazy Kat strip was about a mouse throwing a brick. Every Fawlty Towers was about Basil snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Three's Company is by no means in the same class, but repetition is only a sin if done improperly. The show did what it did well, and if there's something intrinsically wrong with goofy misunderstandings, pratfalls, or innuendo, Shakespeare's comedies are in dire need of reappraisal. If your idea of TV fun is settling down with a bowl of popcorn and watching "Maude Gets An Abortion," or "Archie Bonds With a Hooker at the Convention" that's great, but breezy populist fare has it's place, and entertainment for it's own sake isn't a sin.

Secondly, Three's Company is good clean fun. Every sleazy scheme Jack and Larry cooked up ended with them getting milk/spaghetti/wine dumped on their head, and Mr. Roper's homophobia was used to illustrate how stodgy and silly the guy was. The jerks always get their comeuppance.

Third, Three's Company is to today's far crappier sit-coms as Satchmo was to Dizzy Gillespie; its legacy may not be a positive one, but it's hugely influential and deserves Friends' spot on the list.

Fourthly, I've always loved Three's Company, and there's nothing you can do or say to change that, so nyeh. And you're what's wrong with the eighties, jonmc! You're what's wrong!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:19 PM on September 9, 2007


Alvy, compared to Three's Company, Friends is Shakespeare.

Three's Company sucks.
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on September 9, 2007


No Doctor Who. Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, or Tom Baker, all he had to do was pick second, third, or fourth doctor and he'd have been relatively safe. No "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" No "Blackadder" this list sucks. But is somewhat redeemed for including "Mystery Science Theater 3000"
posted by Grod at 3:20 PM on September 9, 2007


My god, languagehat, I thought I was the only person in the world who remembered Almost Grown. The music on that show was absolutely awesome.
posted by jrossi4r at 4:11 PM on September 9, 2007


Sorry Alvy, Three's Company is even worse than everyone says. It scrapes the bottom of the intellectual barrel, but, well it did have bouncing boobies. There is redemption though, because as bad as it was, it is light years ahead of all the so called reality TV crap that passes for entertainment these days.
posted by caddis at 4:15 PM on September 9, 2007


I'm not even going to look for it, because arbitrary lists are, well, arbitrary, but if it doesn't include Trailer Park Boys (which is, I admit, Canajun), it ought to.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on September 9, 2007


All this "Manimal" talk reminds me of...

"THEY TOOK MY SHOW AWAY" -- from Late Night with David Letterman (1983):

Dave: Jimmy, are you gonna do homework all night? Don't you think you ought to watch a little TV?

Jimmy: I will Mr. Letterman, I just want to finish in time to watch my favorite show - 'Voyagers!'

Dave: Voyagers? It's a fine program, keep your eye on the clock so you don't miss one action-packed minute. (Looks at newspaper headline - "NBC CANCELS 'VOYAGERS' TV SHOW: To be Replaced by Better Program")

Dave: Uhhhh, Jimmy, what do you say we go for a little walk, all right? (hides newspaper)

Jimmy: What about my show?

Dave: Well, we can talk about that outside. Ok? ...Do you know what it means for a show to be cancelled, Jimmy?

Jimmy: No, I don't think so..

Dave: Well, it's when a bunch of executives at a television network, decide that a TV show shouldn't be on the air anymore. And then they take it off, and replace it with something new. Sometimes that's a good idea, oh, because the show is filled with bad acting and bad writing, and sometimes it's the executives who have been bad.

Jimmy: This cancellation business, it... it could never happen to Voyagers, could it?

Dave: Yes Jimmy... and I'm afraid it has. Jimmy?...Jimmy? Hey Jimmy!! (Jimmy runs away, distraught) Jimmy! Jimmy! Aww, Jimmy, hey, I've been looking all over for you, hey hold on there! (Jimmy tears a TV Guide.) I know how you feel. It may hurt at first, but believe me you're gonna get over it.

Jimmy: You don't understand! Nobody does!

Dave: Jimmy, just because a show is cancelled, doesn't mean it goes away forever. It can live on through re-runs, syndication.

Jimmy: You mean I might see Voyagers again!?

Dave: Well, maybe in some form or another...You know Jimmy, I remembered when they cancelled the Six Million Dollar Man. Boy, I thought my world was gonna end. But then the 'Fall Guy' premiered and ...my prayers were answered. Sure, it was a different time, slightly different format, but I adjusted and you know what? I grew a little in the process too.

Jimmy: I know what you're saying Mr. Letterman, but Voyagers, it was different. It was really special. I don't think I'll ever watch TV again!

Dave: Jimmy, don't EVER say that! Not even as a joke!

Jimmy: What should I do?

Dave: I tell you what? I'll show you the NBC fall schedule. C'mon... And I have a feeling we're gonna find a new show for you that just may turn out to be as good as Voyagers.

Dave: Hmmm... oh, here's a show called 'Manimal' - this one's about a crime fighter that can turn into a snake and a bird... this one is about a chimp who lives in Washington. You know that'll be good. Jimmy, I don't think we'll have anything to be worried about.

Jimmy: And to think I was sad they canceled Voyagers! This is gonna be the best TV season ever!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:49 PM on September 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


...I always thought TNG was way, way, way better...

lol

Also, TNG wasn't a pioneer. TNG wasn't the only thing nerds could find to like on TV. TNG was more of the same (however better done).
posted by DU at 5:12 PM on September 9, 2007


I tried to make my own list of a hundred tv shows I like, and I can't. I hit one hundred somewhere in the Fs.

One hundred's just some arbitrary number. Means nothing. We use it all the time and it means jack squat. Maybe I can do a thousand best shows. But again. Arbitrary full round number. Useless really.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:29 PM on September 9, 2007


Also, what is the deal with all the love of Fawlty Towers? The lone funny person on there plays a single note, turned up to 11, for 22 minutes straight in every episode.
posted by DU at 5:29 PM on September 9, 2007


DU: "Also, what is the deal with all the love of Fawlty Towers? The lone funny person on there plays a single note, turned up to 11, for 22 minutes straight in every episode."

Manuel is funny, as is Penny. Basil's wife is there to be the straight person so she's not often funny. Plus, the physical comedy is great. How many complete episodes have you seen, DU?

And, the list is missing The Forsyte Saga. That was shown on PBS so no excuses there.
posted by who squared at 5:45 PM on September 9, 2007


If you don't think Fawlty Towers is funny, you are just not right. sorry. It's OK, I have called the authorities. You will be fine after the re-education.
posted by caddis at 6:35 PM on September 9, 2007


The Prisoner and MST3K are both on it. At least I got mine.
posted by JHarris at 6:50 PM on September 9, 2007


Sybil is funny, too. They're all funny.
posted by lampoil at 6:55 PM on September 9, 2007


Du, the entire cast of Fawlty Towers is hilarious. It's one of the best shows ever to grace televisions on either side of the Atlantic. It's a darn shame there's so few episodes. As for Basil's wife, the scene where she beats the crap out of the guy who messed up her doorway into the dining room is priceless. She oftentimes played the straight man to Basil because it was required for the script, but the actress was one heck of a comedic talent in her own right and deserves more respect.

James Poniewozik: "Where two shows with the same creators or talent had similar themes, milieus, characters or narrative styles, I generally picked one. So: Monty Python but no Fawlty Towers; Cheers but no Frasier; Seinfeld but no Curb Your Enthusiasm; The Bob Newhart Show but no Newhart; My So-Called Life but no thirtysomething. I did include both versions of The Office because they were different achievements (the American is the better series, Ricky Gervais' the better performance)..."

First off, including Monty Python but not Fawlty Towers is absurd. Monty Python is a fast-paced, sketch-driven series with slapstick vaudeville fare, oftentimes utilizing satire. Whereas, Fawlty Towers was a character-driven farce. Cleese pulled all the stops and was at the height of his game in Towers, whereas he seemed more pigeonholed and reserved during much of the Python era. In Python he acted up, like a grownup pretending to be a juvenile. In Towers he was actually acting, creating before the audience a believable bafoon who deserved what was coming to him. You can't lump those two shows in the same category and call yourself a television critic, I don't care if you work for Time magazine, or have permission from the Queen of England herself.

Likewise, Frasier and Cheers are remarkably different shows. Cheers was great when they stuck to the bar and kept the repartee light. The romantic interludes were touch and go. Frasier however was much more consistent, and the humor bore out of the character conflict. It did not seem as forced as Cheers was. The comedy was also usually of a higher caliber in Frasier, because the main character was more intelligent than Sam or anyone at the bar for that matter.

But let's for a moment accept this absurd concept. You don't have to use up more than one slot with shows made from similar cast and crews, or shows that are spinoffs of other shows. Barring the argument that Fawlty Towers is even remotely an offshoot of Monty Python, let's entertain James Poniewozik's assertion.

If you include Star Trek's original series, then it means you're also supporting the entire franchise. I can accept that. Others would not.

If you accept Friends, then you're also voting for Joey. Uncool. That I can't accept.

If you include MASH in your list, you're automatically including AfterMASH and Trapper John MD. That bites.

If you include All In The Family in your list (arguably the best sitcom ever), there's The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker's Place, and other abominations of intelligence.

Likewise, Happy Days comes with the baggage of Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joannie loves Chachi. Yuck.

What if one were to include Good Times? Do they also inadvertently include Maude by proxy? Good Times was technically a spinoff of Maude, but they were VERY different shows. I happened to like Good Times but I couldn't stand Maude.

I understand his admission that this was HIS list and so he could make such arbitrary rules if he wanted, but such an assertion means he is blatantly ignorant of television history and therefore this completely derails any legitimacy he pretended to have as a television critic. I say hanging's too good for him. I demand retribution. We should tar and feather this clown on the Town Square and then leave him in the stocks for three days as an example to the rest of Television City.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:12 PM on September 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Off the top of my head, things I'm annoyed they missed:

Futurama, Firefly, CSI.

BUT! They did have The Daily Show. So all is well with the world again.
posted by Phire at 12:33 AM on September 10, 2007


On second scanning, he included SPONGEBOB??? *shoots self*
posted by Phire at 12:34 AM on September 10, 2007


Three's Company spawned The Ropers.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:33 AM on September 10, 2007


Happy Days comes with the baggage of Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joannie loves Chachi.

Not to mention responsible for launching the career of one Theodore Martin McGinley, a man who is the living embodiment of the decline of a once great television series.
posted by psmealey at 6:40 AM on September 10, 2007


I'm obsessed by Time Magazine. I read it every week. Its cover stares at me every time I slink past the corner candystore. I read it in the basement of the Berkeley Public Library.
posted by fidelity at 8:19 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Poor Ted McGinley. So misunderstood.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:06 AM on September 10, 2007


As for Basil's wife, the scene where she beats the crap out of the guy who messed up her doorway into the dining room is priceless.

And I just realized upon a recent rewatching of the series for the first time in at least a few years, that builder was played by David Kelly, the guy from Waking Ned Devine who played Grandpa Joe in the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He was also in Stardust recently.

That was a nice catch by my handsome guy, who has seen both Fawlty Towers and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory exactly once each, compared to my approximate gazillion times each.
posted by lampoil at 10:15 AM on September 10, 2007


The 100 Best TV Shows Of All Time,

Oxymoron.


Hey, it's David Cross as mistersquid.
posted by hellbient at 12:12 PM on September 10, 2007


I agree with naoko: shows which debuted less than 10 years ago shouldnt be eligible. A dozen shows on that list debuted in the last decade.
posted by Lord Kinbote at 1:08 PM on September 10, 2007


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