Wednesday, September 19, 2012

5 Best TV shows in history

Last night 20/20 did a segment on the five best television series of all-time (as compiled by ABC News and People Magazine).  Was hoping BIG WAVE DAVE'S would squeak in but alas it must've just missed the cut.   Still, I'm very proud (and astounded) to have been part of two of the five.  Even having an association with one would be remarkable enough, but two?  Wow!   Now I feel guilty that I never watch 20/20.

Anyway, here are the top five:

I LOVE LUCY
SEINFELD
MASH
ALL IN THE FAMILY
CHEERS

The nominees were determined by an all-star panel of television writers, producers, actors, directors, and you.   Americans registered more than one million online votes earlier this summer (although 47% of them are victims who just feel they're entitled to good television so who gives a shit?).

Interesting that all five are comedies, no?

My sincere thanks to ABC, People Magazine, and those independent voters who were willing to take responsibility for their own remotes.  

BY THE WAY...

(now that I have your attention)  I will be holding another SITCOM ROOM seminar the weekend of November 10 & 11 in Los Angeles.  I do these once every year or every two years only.  I'll announce when registration is open shortly.  For more info check out the SITCOM ROOM website.  You can also sign up there to be notified by email about registration before I make it public.

50 comments:

Rock Golf said...

So of the 5 all-time best TV series, none were from the network that showed the special.

I would have thought Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea or Land of the Giants would have snuck in.

HCarvalho said...

No The Wire? No Breaking Bad? This list is worthless

LA Nuts book (Joe Dungan) said...

Interesting also that ABC News did the story, and none of the 5 shows were on ABC. I guess "Step by Step" and "Going Places" just don't hold up.

Bob Gassel said...

No "West Wing"? Gimme a break (not the show, the expression)...

James said...

I lost interest in Seinfeld when I realized how unlikeable the characters are. I do realize that's part of the point of the show, but something about it still killed my enjoyment of it. For the most part.

benson said...

A little disappointed with the glaring omission of "Me and the Chimp" and "My Mother, the Car".

James said...

I lost interest in Seinfeld when I realized how unlikeable the characters are. I do realize that's part of the point of the show, but something about it still killed my enjoyment of it. For the most part.

NamJock said...

No "ER" no "St. Elsewhere" no "NYPD Blue" no "NCIS"? Feh! But congrats, Ken.

Thomas said...

Possible Friday question: Are you writing for any TV shows at the moment? And would you like to write on more in the future?

NamJock said...

My Bad, not NYPD Blue, I meant "Hill St Blues"
Be careful out there.

Pamela Jaye said...

I was curious whether there was more than one decade missing and ended up on I Love Lucy's wikipedia page, where a side trip took me to Laugh Tracks. I remember someone once asking whether the laugh tracks on shows that still use them (if any) are made of laughs from people long dead. So I'm curious.

Also a couple seasons ago someone said there was only one current sitcom that was not filmed before a studio audience and I wondered which one and is that still true.

If you are looking for questions - I'd love to know the answers to those last three.

Dana King said...

Congratulations, Ken. As my English and Irish friends would say, you must be chuffed. As well you should be.

Jill Pinnella Corso said...

Good choices. Personally, I never got All In The Family but I was a little young for it. Replace it with The Cosby Show and I'm sold.

Gary said...

I consider it a crime that neither The Dick Van Dyke Show or Mary Tyler Moore Show were mentioned in any of the sitcom categories. And how about The Fugitive as one of the best dramas!

cadavra said...

Holy crap, what a coincidence. I just got back from having lunch with long-time "Cheers" writer Phoef Sutton. I imagine he's pretty chuffed as well.

Iain Coleman said...

Both MASH and Cheers are certainly worthy of inclusion on the list, but as other commenters have indicated the list as a whole lacks any recognition of the fact that US TV drama has recently been through something of a golden age.

It's maybe not so surprising, though. To get into the top 5, a show has to be warmly regarded by a large number of people. Good comedies have something of an advantage in the "warm regard" factor, which may explain their domination of the list, but it's the "large number of people" factor that most likely explains the overlooking of recent quality drama.

TV viewership has fragmented, and even the best recent shows don't have the mass viewership that older shows such as these five enjoyed. That's clearly true of The Wire, as an HBO show, whose lack of inclusion is otherwise inexplicable, but even shows on more mainstream channels don't get the same mass audiences that older shows used to get.

That's not to denigrate the shows that did make the top five: a show has to have something good going for it to be remembered fondly by a huge number of people decades after it was aired. It's just to say that the apparent lack of recognition of recent drama is an artefact of the voting system and changes in TV consumption, rather than a reflection on the relative quality of the shows.

Alan Duke said...

Other than you and David, is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group. Congrats Ken.

J. Allison said...

All great series, but The Wire is the best TV series of all time. If you want 5 best comedies I'd swap out Cheers for Arrested Development (sorry Ken, but you still get one on there).

Brian said...

I liked them all except for All In the Family. I wasn't a big fan of it. The rest are shows that if you are flipping channels and encounter one, you can always stop and watch for awhile.

Max Clarke said...

Four of the five should be on that list.

That includes Cheers and MASH, which hold up better as the years roll on.

Good work, Ken.

Cap'n Bob said...

I'd have The Honeymooners and Leave It to Beaver on my list.

Breadbaker said...

Four of the five (the exception being All in the Family) have pretty much been in heavy rotation syndication forever. It's not an unreasonable list.

And, Ken, when something you did is in a conversation that includes "all-time best" you have every reason to be proud.

Roger Owen Green said...

NO dramas? Odd. I'd take the Dick van Dyke Show over Seinfeld every time.

Bally Wunker said...

West Wing was voted the 3rd or 4th best drama of all time...and I think Hill Street Blues was also on that list. Google Barbara Walters 20 best and you'll likely find the complete breakdown.

Jim, Cheers Fan said...

When the topic of I Love Lucy comes up in these sorts of discussions, I try to make allowances for the fact that Lucy was breaking new ground, and there are scenes and lines and plots throughout her various versions of the Lucy show that there was a lot more to her than mugging and crying, but ILL as the best TV show of all time? No way.

I'm guessing fans of The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, St Elsewhere, ER, Hill Street, Deadwood and a few others cancelled each other out and put comedies up top.

Tom Quigley said...

I think that sitcoms more easily hold the attention of viewers and therefore would be easier to recall in any such survey than dramas. Also, sitcoms probably over the years have offered more memorable moments than dramas. Who can forget some of the great moments such as the "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode of Mary Tyler Moore -- or the NEWHART finale? -- or Sammy Davis Jr. kissing Archie Bunker just as their picture together is snapped... Or "The Contest" episode of Seinfeld... Or "Vitameatavegamin" on I LOVE LUCY?... Or "Turkeys Away!" on WKRP.... There are quite a few others, but I think these make the point. The ONLY two moments of drama I can really recall that stand out in the past 50 years are "Who shot JR?' and the ending of THE SOPRANOS. When most dramas tend to be formulaic and plot driven rather than character driven, there really isn't much opportunity for creating a moment that will live forever in people's memories.

Anyway, Congrats to Ken, David and Phoef!

Carol said...

Ken, my cousin posted this on her Facebook yesterday. I thought it might make you laugh:

M-R (7): Can we start to watch shows that are for older kids. Our shows are a little babyish.
Us: (eyes widening) How about Star Wars??????!
M-R: Noooooo!!! I was thinking about that show Grandmom always watches. Frasier. It's like the Lion King when I watch it. I love that show.

Alan said...

The Larry Sanders Show beats them all, in my opinion, but they are generally good choices.

billmac said...

A list of the five greatest ABC-NBC-CBS comedies that excludes the Dick Van Dyke Show and Barney Miller?

Sorry, can't take such a list seriously.

Anyone else think that, while one of dozens of funny comedies, Seinfeld was probably the most overpraised comedy in TV history?

All In The Family? Again, a well-done show but the characters were too dumb. Jean Stapleton once said her acting challenge in "Family" was to play a character even dumber than Archie.

Mike Barer said...

Did "My Mother The Car" even get a mention?

Mr. First Nighter said...

I never found MASH or Seinfeld to be funny. Coach and Mad About You were superior comedies, as was Frasier

Ben Kubelsky said...

Except for Lucy, notice that all of these shows were out-of-the-box FLOPS. They'd have been cancelled in 2 minutes today. AITF: took 3 years and 2 pilots to get on the air, and season 1 had middling ratings. CHEERS: DEAD LAST in season 1. Ken has recounted that the suits wanted to switch to VIDEOTAPE to bring down costs. SEINFELD: a "rejected" pilot and then a measly 4 episode order, and it took 3 years to inch up to "middling" ratings. MASH: critics were too busy saying the film was better while audiences ignored the show. It took a while for all of these to get noticed! (Same for the often mentioned Dick Van Dyke). Even Lucy had to go out and make her own pilot, and then fight for a 3-cam setup. Are you noticing, genius execs?

Rob said...

I'd put AITF on top and replace Seinfeld with Taxi, otherwise great choices. Congrats, Ken.

Terrence Moss said...

I honestly don't get the hype around SEINFELD. I watched it regularly for a couple of years and that was enough for me.

I remember TV Guide doing an article making a case for it being the all-time best comedy.

I almost hurled.

I would definitely replace SEINFELD with THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

Matt said...

I can't argue with the list...save for one. I'd replace "Seinfeld" with "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

I'm not saying it's not a good show, but I can't see "Seinfeld" as being better than "MTMS."

Kirk said...

I'm surprised MARY TYLER MOORE didn't make the list. I'd put that before I LOVE LUCY.

Donald said...

Ken:

Just for clarification. These were chosen as the best five COMEDIES of all time; and not the best shows.

Michael said...

Any time somebody tries to pick the "greatest," there will be a debate. Take baseball--who's the greatest player of all time, or the greatest pitcher?

That said, I'll agree with the others. Seinfeld ahead of Dick Van Dyke or Mary Tyler Moore? Please.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

For anyone who's considering going to The Sitcom Room and wonders what it's like, here's my write-up of the 2011 edition: http://www.pelicancrossing.net/netwars/2011/11/the_write_stuff.html

wg

RCP said...

You have reason to be proud, Ken!

tb said...

All in the Family does not hold up at all, to me. Re-runs are painful to watch, it's just not very funny. Yes, we all watched it back then but, ugh.

Mike said...

The Wire is overrated. I'd take 24 over that.

gogiggs said...

I know recent seasons haven't been up to the early standards, but I'm amazed that people already seem to have forgotten that The Simpsons was the greatest TV show ever. Ken, you should have had a hand in three of the five. (as I'd bounce Lucy or AITF to make room)

VP81955 said...

Someone said "All In The Family" doesn't hold up well, and that's probably because most of the episodes were very much of their time, either directly or indirectly dealing with the events of the day. In contrast, if you ignore the fashions and focus on the characters and writing, its contemporary, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," doesn't have that problem. You can watch it in 2012 without needing to have any knowledge of American life in 1972.

I have no qualm with "Seinfeld" being on the list. Once that show hit its stride, it was a dynamo -- four characters, often in as many subplots for each, and they'd all come together at the end. Loved it.

I'm simply glad "Friends" didn't make that list; it's arguably the most overrated sitcom of the past 20 years.

VincentS said...

Congratulations, Ken. Well deserved.

Johnny Walker said...

THE WIRE is the greatest TV show ever made, but I'll happily take that list for sitcoms. Congrats, Ken!

Looking forward to reading your account, Wendy!

jbryant said...

Donald: Not so. The shows Ken listed were the finalists for Best TV Show. The finalists for Best TV Comedy were the same, except The Cosby Show replaced Cheers.

Dale said...

5 best AMERICAN sitcoms. Falwty towers kills them all.

Love your work Ken. I own all seasons of Mash Cheers and Frasier. :-)

Kartik Arora said...

i like all five best tv shows and these all tv shows are very interested.

Etienne Michel said...

I'd trade "I Love Lucy" for "The Dick Van Dyke Show" any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.