Rolling Stone recently released one of their highly questionable lists, this time showcasing the supposed 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. You can check it out here, if you’re so inclined. It’s not the worst list I’ve ever seen, but there are problems, my friends. A number of problems. For instance… The Daily Show in the Top 10? I don’t think it should be on the list at all. I believe I’d rather watch the Prolapsed Anus Channel (PAC).
In any case, you guys can voice your opinions about the list itself, if you want. But I’d like to talk about the TV shows that have gotten into our bloodstreams and never really left us. I know that sounds high falutin’ but there are indeed a handful of shows that fall into that category for me. I’m reminded of them all the time, and it’s an amazing thing — because it’s so rare. There are plenty of shows that I loved (LOST, Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Wire, Get a Life, Freaks and Geeks, My So-Called Life, and many more), but only find myself regularly referencing a small number of them. Most fade with time, and I’m left with just a vague feeling of ‘oh yeah, I liked that.’ But a few never do.
I hope I’ve described that well enough… If not, just tell us what you think of the list, and what was left off, etc. There’s plenty of fodder there, I know. But I’m going to list the shows that have infected me forever (at least until the dementia takes hold), and hope you folks have something to add to that discussion, as well. Let’s do it!
I don’t think The Andy Griffith Show is even on the list. And WTF?! It’s one of the best comedies ever: great writing, great casting, great acting. I’ve seen every episode dozens of times, and still laugh. I’m talking about the black & white seasons only, with Barney Fife. The Howard Sprague years are a little too polite for my tastes. I’m always quoting from the program, and am continuously reminded of specific situations in it. It’s possibly my favorite show of all time: an ultra-rare lightning-in-a-bottle work of perfection.
Seinfeld is the other possibly my favorite show of all time. A day doesn’t go by that I’m not reminded of something from it. Literally, every day. And like with the previous program mentioned, I’ve seen every episode over and over, and am still laughing. Co-creator Larry David made the proclamation at the very beginning that there would be “no hugging, no learning” in the show. Right up my alley! The writing is on a genius level, and the acting is fantastic, as well. There’s not a bad episode. I even enjoy the much-maligned Puerto Rico Day parade installment, with H.E. Pennypacker, wealthy industrialist, philanthropist, and bicyclist.
There were several episodes of The Sopranos that were so suspenseful I thought I might have the big one, sitting right there in my living room with a sack of sour cream and onion chips on my lap. “Employee of the Month,” for instance. I don’t know how there could be a better episode of TV. Something might match it, but I don’t see how it could ever be surpassed. But the show was also hilarious. So many great lines… I’m reminded of things constantly. For instance (I’m paraphrasing): “Christ, I hate Boston. It’s just Scranton with clams.” That show has some serious staying power. It’s been years now, and it’s not fading in my mind at all.
I was fully-obsessed with Late Night with David Letterman. That is, the old NBC program that came on after Carson’s Tonight Show. There had been nothing like it before. It was silly and subversive, and utterly wild. He refused to play the game, and guest “interviews” often came completely off the rails. In fact, a lot of people wouldn’t even appear on the show, because they couldn’t be sure what might happen. There are hundreds of little moments that have remained with me (like when he asked Arnold Schwarzenegger if he needed to set up a clip from his latest movie “or is it just nothing but gunfire?”). When the show moved to CBS it was never the same, and I even grew to dislike Letterman a bit. He became political and angry, and apparently believed that coughing and clearing his throat for two minutes straight is good comedy. But there was genuine magic during the NBC years.
I almost put two other shows on this list: Beavis and Butthead, and Green Acres. I absolutely love both, but don’t really reference specific moments from them much. So, they don’t belong on this particular list. Both of them are misunderstood and get a raw deal, though. People seem to believe that if a program is about stupid people, then the show itself is stupid. Beavis and Butthead was super-smart, in my opinion. And Green Acres is one of the greatest works of absurdist humor I’ve ever seen. Whenever I watch it I find myself not only laughing my ass off, but also marveling that such a thing was ever shown on network television.
I also loved an obscure show called Fernwood 2Night, as well as Night Flight on USA Network. Monty Python was great, as well, but I refuse to quote from it. I mean, seriously. Is there anything nerdier and more cringe-worthy? And there are dozens and dozens of other shows that I loved, some listed above, which never fully worked their way into my bloodstream for whatever reason.
I’m going to turn it over to you guys now, and maybe go eat a burrito or somesuch. If you have anything to add to my questionable premise, please do so in the comments section. If not, just bitch about the Rolling Stone list. It’s all good.
Have a great day, my friends.
I’ll see you again soon.
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I was just reading some posts about Night Flight on a blog yesterday. The good old days.
South Park would be on my list, also, I Love Lucy.
This comments section is going to turn into a member berries festival, just watch 🙂
Joe T. says
The Qweezy Mark and I used to laugh our asses off at Beavis and Butthead when we were wereliving in the same apartment and we were altered.
I’m trying to think of others but Seinfeld is something I think of (and reference) it seems everyday.
And Arnold Ziffel? Tell me those writers weren’t smoking some Hooterville Hootch.
I remember in the 80s an ensemble sketch comedy show out of Atlanta on WTBS called “Tush” which featured a pre-SNL Jan Hooks. Before Cable you got these weird mega-channels like WGN from Chicago and TBS from Atlanta and every once in awhile they attempted their own shows. Production values were pretty rock-bottom, but I remember Jan Hooks always making me laugh out loud. When she turned up on SNL, I was elated. And of course she turned into one of the best performers from that era with Phil Hartman. I was always surprised that after she left SNL, she really didn’t do much work other than a few guest roles and voice talent for the Simpsons. Sad to hear she passed away a couple years back. But I still remember those early Tush skits and some of her characters on that show.
Jeff Kay says
I remember Tush. There was an episode where they interviewed a stick, or something equally absurd. Do you remember The Lorenzo and Henrietta Music Show? Same era, same channel. Weird shit.
That had something to do with Bill Tush, yes?
I read an article a while back about her last years. Pretty sad.
In agreement with The Andy Griffith Show, b/w versions. Also, M*A*S*H with McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers. Twilight Zone and The Simpsons.
The original “Twilight Zone” show with Rod Serling was on on Friday nights and I was hooked. There was an episode called “It’s a Good Life” starring that kid actor Billy Mumy (later from “Lost in Space” fame). The show was about him controlling everyone with his mind. One of his neighbors said something the little mook didn’t like and he removed her mouth just by thinking….no lips, just nose to chin. Geez! Pucker factor 9! I slept with my Boy Scout knife under my pillow for awhile after that show.
With all due respect, I agree with your other picks, especially the “Sopranos,.”.
Yes to Twilight Zone!
Miss Q says
I regularly quote from “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,” as does Mr. Q. Honorable Mention goes to “Firefly.” Maybe that makes us geeks, but who cares?
I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at Monty Python. I’ve grinned. I may have even chuckled, but I have never laughed.
I have two shows that never leave my brain. Corner Gas and Futurama.
My honorable mentions are MASH, Seinfeld, The Kids in the Hall, and G.I. Joe.
I obtained nearly 90% of all my knowledge about Canada from Corner Gas. You could have just as easily called it “The Pine Cone” after the one café in my hometown. It’s nearly a direct transplant. Gas station that rents movies, check. Liquor store that sells insurance, almost; we had a pharmacy that sold liquor. Snarky attendants and servers you went to high school with, check. Farming community, check. It’s all there. Everybody is absent to everybody else around them. Always ignoring, disregarding, or at best sarcastically responding to anything you say. I’m constantly quoting and referencing the show. It’s to the point that I don’t even realize it anymore. The only person who ever gets it is my wife because she’s watched the entire series with me three or four times now.
Favorite Character: Brent.
Favorite Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Veu-Cm7aHMw “Nothin’ else to do.”
If you were to split me up into parts, each one could be a character from Futurama. Between the Professor, Fry, Bender, and Leela you wouldn’t have any need for me. They are all my favorites. It’s so smart and constantly thinking of ways to dick around with science. Time travel is a constant presence in the show and it’s always trying not to fold itself through its own asshole. The writing is top notch and just self-referential enough to poke fun but not be all “How I Met Your Mother” about things. I re-watch it a lot when I’m writing music. It inspires me to do odd things.
Favorite episode: The Late Philip J. Fry (Season 7, Episode 7)
Favorite line: I’m so embarrassed, I wish everybody else was dead.
I just watched the whole run of Corner Gas a while back.
I would have to think about what shows not already mentioned – probably: The Prisoner, Nowhere Man, Boston Common, Northern Exposure, and Due South are a few.
Jeff Kay says
Rolling Stone listed Northern Exposure on their WORST shows of all time list. Huh??
That’s insane. I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about that show. I have never bought the dvds due to the original episode music not being used. It could be I will just have to accept that. As I wonder if the show ever get re-released with the original music. I think I still have some episodes on video. I use to tape a lot back then.
“The Sopranos” without a doubt. As funny as it was suspenseful. In the episode “Another Toothpick”, Artie is drunk and giving Christopher static because Adriana gave her notice as hostess at his restaurant. Christopher snaps and threatens to stab Artie in the eye with a fork. Tony breaks it up and slaps Artie who drunkenly “confesses” his love for Adriana but he knows she could never love him because he’s bald. Tony says, “Artie, you could have hair like f _ _ kin’ Casey Kasem, it won’t make a difference.”
Tony has two brain cells where he stores “best possible hair”. I watched the scene a dozen times the night it aired.
“Green Acres”, also agree. Eb, Mr. Haney, Alf and Ralph the Monroe ‘brothers’, but my favorite character was county agent Hank Kimball.
“Got a letter for ya Mr. Douglas.”
“Oh?…………Well where is it?”
“Where’s what? Oh, the letter!”
Far as “The Daily Show” on the Rolling Stone list, they probably let an intern sit in while they were putting it together.
Bill in WV says
“Ewwww, you mean he was catchin’ instead of pitchin'” One of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard, from The Sopranos.
Ok. Maybe because they are from my childhood. But Bugs Bunny! Every once in a while I’ll meet someone who sounds like Little Red Riding Hood from Bugs….really loud, but has no clue how loud they really are. The other rediscovered is the Little Rascals. They are now on MeTv Saturday mornings. On my goodness! My husband and I just laugh are xxxxs off!
I remember watching The Little Rascals on some channel back in the late 70s.
As far as the “gotten in your bloodstream” category, for me it’s Burn Notice. I could watch all seven seasons over and over and never tire of it.
Also, a while back, I was rather obsessed with a cheesy vampire show called Moonlight, which was promptly cancelled by CBS as soon as it won a People’s Choice Award.
Honorable mentions go to Seinfeld; Scrubs; Frasier; Malcolm in the Middle; Everybody Loves Raymond; Beavis and Butthead; South Park; Big Bang Theory (should have ended several seasons ago, though); and my current fave, Elementary.
Edited to add: Person of Interest was a fabulous show, too. One of my faves.
I wonder why CBS has buried at Elementary at 10 pm on Sunday nights?
I was a fan of Jeffery Donovan in the short lived American version of Touching Evil.
I know! 10 p.m. Sunday night is where shows go to die. What were they thinking?!
Touching Evil was excellent! Too bad it didn’t take off here.
I wonder. I watch it On Demand now. I don’t stay up that late. LOL
Jeff Kay says
A good show I just started watching on Amazon Prime: Goliath, with Billy Bob Thornton. I’ve seen two episodes and am fully-invested.
Hogan’s Heroes, for some reason.
Rocky and Bullwinkle.
I was a huge Twin Peaks fan when it was on, but it didn’t go on to influence my later life very much. Except that now and then I will say, “that’s DAMN good coffee!”
And of course Star Trek, the 1960s one. Logic is a bunch of pretty flowers that smell bad. Take d’Artagnan here to sickbay. Teach me again, James T. Kirk!
I tried to watch Twin Peaks again a while back and could not get into it. The same as when I tried to re-watch LOST. I gave five years of my life to that show. I guess that was enough.
The golden girls and Rosanne still make me laugh. And it wouldn’t be new years day without the Honeymooners marathon.
I can’t believe I woke up, read the updated and commented at 3:00 AM. Oh I’m going to be a joy at work today.
I watched the Sopranos start to finish couple month ago. Now the ending is clear, Tony makes a comment a few episodes before that makes it obvious. Loved that show.
Green Acres because I have a tendency to talk in circles like Mr. Kimball.
Late Night; I was a struggling DJ working 7-midnight. I found Late Night early on and described it as “The Far Side on television”. I think its sad that what used to be a great magazine,Rolling Stone, has turned into a glorified top 10 ten list.
Seinfeld. My friends grandson was named Drake. Got to Looove the Drake. Too bad they didn’t name their daughter Deloris.
Wisey in Ttown says
The Rockford Files was the best show ever until Breaking Bad came along.
Leave it to Beaver, Andy Griffith, Gilligan’s Island, Brady Bunch all were good.
I like The Walking Dead but the last episode made me hurl. Ash vs The Evil Dead is hilarious. Good Stuff!
Night Flight (1981-1988, USA Channel, syndication thereafter) was one of the first programs to accept rock music as a serious adult art form, and perhaps the first program to recognize that there were a couple million Americans out there who were too stoned to sleep but not too stoned to respond to commercial messages. Six pack of soda, couple bags of munchies and Night Flight would get you through the after-hours of your soul.
Does anyone recall The Blue Jean Network or Night Tracks?
All in The Family. Would be too non PC even on today’s non PC networks. Archie Bunker was the best.
6th grade (?) I had a Vote For Archie Bunker T-shirt. Hey, I was cool.
I had one too. My mom crossed out the word “beer” in the phrase “the beer party candidate”. Then I could wear it to school in fourth grade.
Oh – I have an actual quote from a show that I say sometimes:
Handle it, Roy, handle it! (Carter Country)
Wisey in Ttown says
Ha! I tell my employees that all the time. I even do the hand gesture the Mayor did and they look at me like I am a huge asshole. Handleit! Handleit!
Root 66 says
There were several series that I have always enjoyed:
-“The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It is still some of the sharpest television writing ever!
-“Newhart.” Larry, Darryl and Darryl were hilarious and the series finale was absolutely priceless, “You really should wear more sweaters.”
-“Gilligan’s Island” is like comfort food for my brain.
-“Hogan’s Heroes.” “I know NOTHING!” Sgt. Schultz was the best!
-“The Twilight Zone.” When William Shatner pulls back the curtain on that plane and sees the gremlin…code brown, y’all!
-Even though they were TV movies and not really a series, I never get tired of watching “Columbo.” Peter Falk was perfect for that role! The entire premise was backwards for a whodunit. They showed you the murderer at the beginning and went from there, but somehow it worked marvelously.
That Newhart ending was great. What left me with a bit of disbelief is the number of people that needed to be explained why the ending was perfect for the series… And they watched the original Bob Newhart show at that!
I’ll add Adam-12 to the list.
My observations from the list:
1) I’ve been around for quite some time now, and if I’ve never even heard of some of the shows, nor known anyone who talked about them, I’m very skeptical that they can make the list
2) I’ve watched several of the shows religiously but never felt like I was watching one of the 100 greatest shows ever – such as 30 something
3) I Love Lucy only 32nd??? Behind Friends??? Wow.
4) Some of my all time favorites that I found myself already jonesing for the next episode as soon as it ended: Seinfeld, LOST, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, All in the Family
Wow, almost forgot Dexter….I still miss the crap out of that show.
You bet your sweet bippy.
Don’t have time for a whole lot of TV but I agree with the Andy Griffith Show and the Sopranos too.
I would add: Dallas, Breaking Bad, the first 25 years of Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead.
Franky T says
Season 1 and 3 of Dexter. all of Breaking Bad, Except “The Fly” episode.
Sadly, some shows were best at the time they aired: Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Happy Days, Mork & Mindy … Today, there are many choices of decent programming (and lots of crap too).
There used to be a sports-quiz talk show in the early days of cable TV. The host talked about the multi-story building with all but the 1st floor being below ground. What was that show and who was the host?
The original “Fugitive” was some great tv. Yes, I’m ancient. Loved Cheers, Frasier and Seinfeld.
David Janssen, aka O’Hara (United States Treasury). Screw that one-armed man.
PS – let’s hear it for Quinn Martin.