Friday, May 02, 2008

TV's 50 best comedies...or so they say

Heading home from Chicago. It’s a great town and the next time I’ll have to stay for more than 18 hours.

AOL just announced their list of “TV’s 50 Best Comedies”. Nice that I’ve been associated with some of them but in general the rankings in this list is absurd. Granted, these things always are. And who knows who determined these rankings? Could be a couple of staffers recently reassigned from the NASCAR desk.

If you gave this list to 100 people I’m sure you’d get a 100 different rankings. So what are your thoughts? Here are some of mine.

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW only number 33?

WILL & GRACE is higher than TAXI?

I LOVE LUCY only number 9? Say what??? And ROSEANNE number 8?

EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND is last? And LEAVE IT TO BEAVER is not even on the list? Yet GOOD TIMES is?

No mention of THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. Or THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. Or BEVERLY HILLBILLIES. Or BEWITCHED. If animated shows count, where are THE FLINTSTONES? And I’m sure I missed a few others.

What do you all think?


DougJ said...

Ken, you are well represented on that list. Great job!

There are some questionable choices. I wouldn't exactly call The Brady Bunch or Gilligan's Island funny. Maybe they should get a special award for pervasive use of laugh track.

Eric Weinstein said...

Its hard to argue the top 10, in any order, I guess. I am more a fan of the classics, so I'd like to give a bit more respect to the "Dick Van Dyke" show, and less respect to the Cosby show.

I also have a problem ranking "30 Rock" so high for a show that's only been on a season and a half. Any show that doesn't have three full seasons or more should be out. You gotta have some legs, and if the show jumps the shark in year 3, is it really one of "the best"?

But, there's always money in the banana stand. Love those Bluths!

I agree with DougJ, Ken. You are well represented. You have the magic touch. You're the Harrison Ford of sitcoms...


Anonymous said...

I think the list was compiled by a bunch of people who have only ever seen the shows that made the list in clip form on blooper shows.

And Brady Bunch not funny? When Maureen McCormick gets hit in the face with the football? When Barry Williams is trying to hide the fact that he's stoned? How Robert Reed plasters on that fake smile to hide the disgust from having to kiss Florence Henderson? and the episode where Greg loses his viriginity to Alice? ALL HILARIOUS!!!

Joe said...

Golden Girls. Mork and Mindy.
Neither belong.

Curb is too high.

Friends was long running, but...

Most of the shows have a certain something about them besides funny/ratings. There's an added significance to them. Social, breakthroughs in the format, etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but The Dick Van Dyke Show is Top 5. It was off the air before I was even born and I still watch it if I come across it on TV (which is rare these days).

There aren't many shows in the history of television that were as tightly written, each and every episode.

That said, the Top 10 is pretty solid, though I think Roseanne is a bit of a reach.

Must be nice to see your life's work so highly thought of Ken!

Chris L said...

Looks like they only included American shows, which leaves out all the best sketch comedy: Monty Python's Flying Circus, Kids in the Hall and SCTV.

30 years from now, the list will probably have Aqua Teen Hunger Force on it.

What made my mother laugh the most this year? The scene in Extras with Stephen Merchant talking to Warwick Davis ("Would I fit in your house?")

Charles Jurries said...

I agree that it's too early to put "30 Rock" on, although I think that it would rank on a list of funniest CURRENT comedies (alongside "Samantha Who?" and "The Office").

They put "The Bob Newhart Show" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" on the list, which made me very happy, as I've recently discovered those shows, via Hulu. Absolutely hilarious shows, both of them.

Anonymous said...

Samantha Who?!!!

Amnesia is a plot device barely able to be padded out for the length of a Gilligan's Island episode - not an entire series.

Let me guess how the last episode will end when it's inevitably cancelled - she'll get hit on the head by a falling something (if there is a God, it'll be a fucking piano) and suddenly will have her memory back. Meanwhile, somebody will have the brilliant idea that hitting her over the head will get her memory back, and does so... making her lose her memory again. And then everybody gathers round and laugh into the credits, even cousin Oliver and Tiger...

Fuck that show, can't Christina Applegate just go and do a Dana Plato already?

She should never have been able to work again after that whole "Jessie" fiasco.

Joe said...

So Ken,
Did you get home today or are you one of the legion who are stuck in hotels until tomorrow?

-Joe Kavanagh

Toby O'B said...

I didn't even bother looking at the list because they're always so subjective and even with a panel of experts to battle out the order, who made them the arbiters?

But it looks like you saved me the bother with just those few examples. Ranking DVD Show so low damns it. But so does ranking W&G so highly. That show will not have the longevity enjoyed by other great comedies.

Anonymous said...

I try not to look at those lists. Stupidity is bad for you.

I Love Lucy
Everybody Loves Raymond
Barney Miller
Newhart (first two)
Mary Tyler Moore Show
Dick Van Dyke Show
The Andy Grifith Show
All In The Family
WKRP In Cincinatti
The Honeymooners
The Flinstones (animated Honeymooners)
Family Dog (short run, but hilarious)
Arrested Development
Wings (Las Cruces episode)
Bewitched (Paul Lynne)
Leave It To Beaver
Father Knows Best
Rosanne (the anti-Father Knows Best)
The Texas Wheelers
Green Acres
My Name Is Earl
Sanford & Son
Hogan's Heroes
McHale's Navy
Murpey Brown
The Cosby Show
Gomer Pyle
Carol Burnett
Smothers Brothers
Steve Allen
Johnny Carson
Saturday Night Live

Ther must be more good' late.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

My top 15 non-Ken Levine TV comedies:

1. Fawlty Towers
2. The Office (English)
3. Burns & Allen
4. The Honeymooners
5. Strangers With Candy
6. The Jack Benny Show
7. Andy Griffith Show
8. Leave it to Beaver
9. Phil Silvers Show
10.Mary Tyler Moore
11.Curb Your Enthusiasm
12.Arrested Development
14.Get a Life
15.30 Rock

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

I guess since the category is generic "comedies" rather than sitcoms, I'd also have Monty Python somewhere on the list.

And maybe the Chabad Telethon.

Anonymous said...

GOOD TIMES funnier than THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW? Are they insane?

Your 30 ROCK rule (three seasons) would rule out THE HONEYMOONERS, but I agree it's probably ranked too high. I don't think it'll have the legs some of the classics do.

And it's a crime ANDY GRIFFITH isn't on the list, it's got a type of humor and charm lacking from all the listed shows.


And no FERNWOOD TONIGHT? That's just sad.

Current shows that make me laugh more than many on the list: WEEDS, RENO 911, ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (laughed so hard I almost choked to death).

WELCOME BACK KOTTER had cultural impact but, seriously? It's not that funny, even if memories of it evoke a smile.

Recent guilty pleasures: late night reruns of FRIENDS, WILL & GRACE, ROSEANNE (not the last season). They genuinely make me laugh though I disdained them when they were on.

Plus, I hate those lists that make you click through 50 slides. Just print the list.

Bitter Animator said...

I didn't see Dream On on that list. Or many other funny shows. And, of course, it's just US stuff and so misses out some absolute classics like Fawlty Towers, Open All Hours and more.

But lists are just lists.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Oh God. Darling, I have dial up. Clicking through that whole list would take HOURS! I have serious drinking to do. And you say Sgt. Bilko isn't even on the list? If he's not only ON the list, but in The Top Ten, then it was compiled by know-nothing morons. I'm sorry, but Bilko, Burns & Allen, and The Jack Benny show HAVE to be in any top ten. Frankly, I'd take them over I LOVE LUCY any day (although Lucy certainly earned her berth.)

BRADY BUNCH funnier than Phil Silvers? On what planet?

Captain First said...

For my money, the short list of best comedies looks like this.

(No particular order, I'm just listing them as they pop into my head- also, there are several classics I'm not familiar with, such as "Fawlty Towers")

"I Dream Of Jeannie"
"The Honeymooners"
"The Beverly Hillbillies"
"Green Acres"
"The Dick Van Dyke Show"
"The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
"Are You Being Served?"
"The Simpsons"
"Keeping Up Appearances"
"My Three Sons"
"Married With Children"
"Happy Days"

IMHO, shows like "Leave It To Beaver", "I Love Lucy" and several other early comedies aren't really that good. They just had the luck of being among the first, when TV was new. Just my 2 cents.

LouOCNY said...

I cant see the list, anyone like to put it here?

J Lee said...

Television has been around long enough now that the people writing this stuff often don't remember many of the shows that came before 1980 or so, unless they manage to maintain a place on TV Land or some other cable channel. So it's more a "TV's 50 Best Comedies Which We've Seen At Least Half A Dozen Episodes Of In The Past Five Years" list of shows because of that, and the fact that AOL wants to attract a young audience. No point in going over the comic attributes of Leo G. Carroll in "Topper" or Steven Franken in "Dobie Gillis" for them.

What would be a more interesting list would be "TV's 50 Best Single Seasons of TV Comedies", where, say, a Season 4, 5, 6 or 7 of M*A*S*H would be pitted against a Season 5 or some other year of "Cheers" or a Season 3 of "The Odd Couple." Most shows that survive for any length of time have some years that are inspired, and others that range from going-though-the-motions to outright train wrecks (and just to use the title image of this post -- "Bewitched" in its B&W years under Danny Arnold and Jerry Davis was inspired; "Bewitched" in its final years was Columbia/Screen Gems rehashing its formula from the 1950s Three Stooges shorts and remaking the best older episodes into insipid new ones. All that was missing was for Joe Besser to play the replacement Darrin instead of Dick Sargent).

Anonymous said...

Lists. Frakkin' lists! I'm sick of them. I blame Y2K. We had to have the end o' the century wrapup of the 100 funniest this, the 50 sexiest that, etc. And somewhere along the way somebody realized this was much easier than WRITING!

rob! said...

M*A*S*H is #1, and will always BE #1.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree MASH is #1 in my book. Was watching it and the EPD with Flagg was great. I wish we could put some Venture Caps together and fund a continuation of the series or similar TV show. I know we cannot recreate greatness, but we might come close and give a new generation something to look back on as we have with MASH.

Anonymous said...

louocny, here's the list in order, 50 through to 1.

But why should I make it easy for you?

I love descriptive puzzles, hopefully you will too.

50. My Family Hates My Wife.
49. Deadpan Comedian's New Show.
48. How To Make Markie Post Look Good.
47. An Ancient Television Concept Done Well At Last.
46. Black People In White Man's World.
45. Never Mind The Holocaust, Here's The Nazi Party.
44. Milwaukee's Most Stereotypical New Yorkers.
43. They Were Too Old For This Shit.
42. A Hard Kick In Leave It To Beaver's Balls.
41. How To Flog A Dead Horse.
40. Moonlighting In A Hospital.
39. Parallel Universe Beverly Hillbillies.
38. They Give That Boxer A Talk Show?
37. Newsradio Did It Better.
36. This Got Cancelled, But Seinfeld Didn't?
35. Only Poor Black People Are Funny.
34. Make A Show Worse, Set It In England.
33. I'm Sure The Woman Was The Real Genius.
32. What Sex And The City Wanted To Be.
31. One Groucho Marx Impersonation Too Many.
30. One Joke, Eleven Years.
29. I Guess The One Korean Killed All The Black People.
28. That Tall Guy Has A Woman's Name.
27. Robin Williams' Cocaine-Infused Comedy Hour.
26. Please Don't Let That One Guy Ever Host The Oscars.
25. Ugly Betty Gives This A Bad Name.
24. Laugh-In Meets Dragnet.
23. Stereotypes And Hyperbole.
22. They're Black, We Get It.
21. Horseface And The Fucking Obvious One-Liners.
20. Remove The Alec Baldwin And The Show Will Die.
19. The Ambiguously Gay Couple.
18. The Creator Of The Show About Nothing Makes The Show About Nothing Funny.
17. Buck Needed Mel More Than Mel Needed Buck.
16. When It's This Good It Can Be Drawn This Bad.
15. Smart People Are Only As Smart As Their Writers.
14. Why Can't America Leave Good Shows Alone?
13. Deadpan Comedian's Good Show.
12. If The Tonight Show Was Funny.
11. Spousal Abuse Is Only Funny When Implied.
10. The Spin-Off - Death For Some.
9. A Failing Marriage Makes Good Comedy.
8. Trailer Trash Makes Good.
7. The Whitest Black People You Know.
6. War Is Hell, War Comedies More So.
5. The Barman's Guide To Date Rape.
4. This Is Why Ugly Betty Happened.
3. Do Racists Dream Of Electric Comedy?
2. Three Wannabes And Their More Successful Friend.
1. The Hopelessly Grasping for Their Earlier Success Show.

You probably won't even come back to read this anyway, but it was fun coming up with this list.

ajm said...

Sorry, but any list of top sitcoms without Fawlty Towers in the top 5 is NO list at all.

webbie said...

Personally, I love Coupling. I never fail to laugh. And Wings. There are a couple of episodes of Wings that I only have to think about and I'll start spewing milk from my nose!

WKRP was one of the funniest shows ever..."As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!"

Doug Walsh said...

I actually thought the list was pretty good -- at least a lot better than some of the other lists of this sort that I've seen. I was pleased to see The Simpsons get its due, and was also glad to see Married With Children on the list. While I think 30 Rock, The Office, and Curb are among the funniest shows I've ever seen,I agree that they are a bit too new (not so much Curb) to be so high on the list.

The only one that really raised my eyebrows was Sex in the City. Not nearly funny enough to qualify as a "comedy". I don't know what you call it ... maybe drama-lite, but comedy? No chance.

Good point about Honeymooners though -- we still watch the DVDs of that show every now and then. Hysterical!

If only it were still acceptable to threaten your wife with fisticuffs...

(did I just say that out loud?)

Anonymous said...

Man, I thought "The Andy Griffith Show" had more cultural cache than this (it also missed TIME Magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME" list last year). It's better than at least 40 of the shows that made this new list, IMO. Nice to see "Green Acres" make the cut - but it does suggest that the young city folk who undoubtedly made this list need that layer of surrealism in order to tolerate anything rural.

My favorite comedy is "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," but since it never airs anymore and isn't available on DVD, I wasn't shocked by its omission. But "Mork and Mindy?" Seriously? And above Dick Van Dyke?! Yes, I agree with everyone who's been stunned by Van Dyke's comparatively low ranking. Congrats to Ken, though! 3 shows in the top 15 (and "Frasier" should've been top 10).

One more thing -- in what universe is "Family Guy's" Stewie a "Peter Lorre sound-alike?" More proof of the youth and inexperience of the listmakers? Or maybe they're really old and don't hear so well?

Anonymous said...

Dumb list. Here's my top ten:

1. All in the Family
2. Cheers
3. Mary Tyler Moore
4. M*A*S*H
5. Bob Newhart (the one with Suzanne Pleshette)
6. Frasier
7. Get Smart
8. Dick Van Dyke
9. Scrubs
10. 30 Rock

Honorable mention: Hogan's Heroes, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, The Cosby Show, The Odd Couple, Soap, The Beverly Hillbillies (where is that on this list?).

I am not a fan of comedy where people are overtly mean and bitchy to one another. That's why I don't include Everybody Loves Raymond, Will And Grace, Roseanne, Married With Children, etc... on my list.

Brian Scully said...

I'm going to pick my own Top Ten, not necessarily in this order... and I only chose ten because I'm lazy. But I think these shows have either proven themselves through the test of time, or changed the way TV was written in their time.

All In The Family
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Honeymooners
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Odd Couple
The Bob Newhart Show
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Brian Scully said...

And two personal favorites that probably don't deserve to be on the list, but they made me laugh.

Captain Nice

Anonymous said...

If cartoons are allowed, then where is Rocky & Bullwinkle? It was funnier than the Simpsons or Family Guy.

Mike McCann said...

I tried to come up with a Top 10... absolutely impossible. The Top 13 are so close in overall quality, that all belong on Mount Rushmore.

Baker's Dozen:

Honorable mention:

Police Squad's half-dozen episodes, thankfully have been released on DVD, giving those only familiar with the movie series the chance to marvel at the half-hour "prototype," for which ABC never showed the necessary patience.

One question for Ken and the rest of the readers, which shows remained great through their entire network runs -- and which should have quit (as The Dick Van Dyke Show did) after five years? Some of those honorably mentioned could have moved up had they done 50 or 75 episodes and brought down the curtain.

Anonymous said...

Here's the list from AOL:

50. Everybody Loves Raymond
49. Newhart
48. Night Court
47. Family Guy
46. The Jeffersons
45. Hogan's Heroes
44. Laverne & Shirley
43. The Golden Girls
42. Malcolm in the Middle
41. Gilligan's Island
40. Scrubs
39. Green Acres
38. Taxi
37. WKRP in Cincinnati
36. Arrested Development
35. Sanford & Son
34. Family Ties
33. The Dick Van Dyke Show
32. Will & Grace
31. Welcome Back Kotter
30. Married With Children
29. Happy Days
28. Maude
27. Mork & Mindy
26. Soap
25. Murphy Brown
24. Barney Miller
23. The Brady Bunch'
22. Good Times
21. Sex and the City
20. 30 Rock
19. The Odd Couple'
18. Curb Your Enthusiasm
17. Get Smart
16. South Park
15. Frasier
14. The Office
13. The Bob Newhart Show
12. The Larry sanders Show
11. The Honeymooners
10. Friends
9. I Love Lucy
8. Roseanne
7. The Cosby Show
6. M*A*S*H
5. Cheers
4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
3. All in the Family
2. Seinfeld
1. The Simpsons

Barking Up Trees said...

curb yer enthusiasm is a comedy... ?? i thought it was larry david just copping a squat over the gymnasium floor... >gah!<

Anonymous said...

I can't believe "After Mash" didn't make the list. What were they thinking?


Anonymous said...

How many sitcoms have done the "office" concept better than Newsradio? If you only count shows with a true white collar office atmosphere (so excluding Cheers or Night Court, for example), there's Mary Tyler Moore, The Office, and maybe Murphy Brown in contention but not much else. Obviously the aol people weren't fans.

Anonymous said...

The Creme de la Creme - in order of preference:

-Monty Python
-The Simpsons (up until Flander's wife died)
-Freaks and Geeks
-Titus (1st season)
-Yes Minister
-The Office (US version)
-The John Laroquette show (1st SEASON ONLY)
-All in the Family
-Mary Tyler Moore
-Gilmore Girls (minus last 2 seasons)
-Sex and the City
-The Dick Van Dyke Show
-Leave it to Beaver (vastly underappreciated)
-Malcolm in the Middle
-I Love Lucy (Lucy was brilliant, but the show kind of depresses me)
-Barney Miller
-Ugly Betty
-Larry Sanders

Special cases:
-"Chef" (I was only able to see a few episodes of this show, but one - in which the Chef ends up hiring an alcoholic second chef for his restaurant- was brilliant)
-Andy Griffith Show - when Don Knotts was in the cast
-Carol Burnett: Eunice sketches, some of the movie parodies and other occasional
flashes of brilliance.
- Undeclared (well, the pilot episode)
- King of the Hill (I have mixed feelings about this show, but it CAN be great)
-WKRP - so-so overall, but the thanksgiving turkey episode is CLASSIC
- Gilligan's Island - gotta give it points for being completely ridiculous

-Everybody Loves Raymond
-30 Rock (might be ok if not for the horrific cutesy soundtrack)
-Arrested Development (got old fast)
-The Odd Couple
-Fawlty Towers
-Murphy Brown
-Will and Grace
-Good Times (may have been pretty good without JJ Walker)

Why are these shows ON the AOL list at all?
- Hogan's Heroes (OMG this show was TERRIBLE)
- The Jeffersons
- Family Guy
- Green Acres
-Sanford and Son
-Welcome Back Kotter
-Happy Days
-Cosby Show
-The Brady Bunch
-Laverne & Shirley

Why AREN'T these shows on the list at all?
- Your Show of Shows
- Ernie Kovacs (never really got this show, but it was unique, inventive and I have heard very influential)
-Mad About You
- Cosby (just OK, but a lot better than the Cosby Show)
-Buffalo Bill
- Home Improvement

Anonymous said...

I know something is definitely wrong with the list from the fact that I worked on 3.

Anonymous said...

Actualy it was 4

Anonymous said...

Captain First, if you haven't seen FAWLTY TOWERS (how can you know Keeping Up Appearances and Are You Being Served and not Fawlty Towers? I enjoy those shows - John Inman was kind enough to read and like my book in his last year of life - but FAWLTY TOWERS leaves them in the dust.) rent it wand watch it. There's only 12 episodes, and they are readily available on DVD. It is THE best set of farces ever, the all-time best!

And all listers, if your top ten doesn't have Bilko, it's just plain wrong. Rent the 18 Bilkos out on DVD and laugh til you hemorrhage.

Worst season of an otherwise great show: the last season of ROSEANNE. Seldom has any great show imploded so spectacularly.

JBryant, you are so right about DOBIE GILLIS. That GILLIGAN'S ISLAND is on the list and DOBIE GILLIS is not clearly shows that the people who compiled that list don't know their own subject. Show a DOBIE GILLIS to a GILIGAN'S ISLAND viewer and they'll be amazed that Bob Denver was ACTUALLY funny, before he was LOST!

They reran the whole DOBIE series on Nick at Night back around 1990, and I watched every single one again, and they hold up. Great writing, great performing, great directing.

Bad as MORK & MINDY is, at least it had Tom Poston, and nothing with Tom Poston can be all bad, because it will be great while Tom Poston is on screen.

GET SMART would be a funny one-shot sketch, but as a series, well it's like taking an SNL sketch and making a series of it. After three, I don't need any more, ever, and I worship at the alter of Buck Henry and Mel Brooks. (But when Mel is bad, there's no one worse.)

I love that someone mentioned the series version of TOPPER, with Leo G. Carroll. When I was 5, I LOVED that show! And several episodes were written by a 23 year old Stephen Sondheim. Honest! Really! No kidding! Sondheim wrote some TOPPERs!

BTW, TOPPER was originally a novel by Thorne Smith. Smith is pretty much forgotten today, but he was Patrick Dennis before Patrick Dennis was. Several of his books are still in print, including TOPPER and it's sequel, and NIGHT LIFE OF THE GODS, and while TURNABOUT is not in print, it's worth hunting up on or in a library. Smith's novels are HILARIOUS! There is a scene in NIGHTLIFE OF THE GODS, where a group of revived Greek Gods, drunk out of their minds, get in a fight in a 1930s Manhattan fish market, fighting with dead fish as the only weapons, that may be the funniest three pages I have ever read.

LouOCNY said...

The fact Barney Miller is just behind the freaking Brady Bunch tells you something about this list...

And in the 'battle of the one seasons', I will put Season 3 of Barney up against ANY....'Hash' 'Quarantine', 'Werewolf'...all brilliantly HYSTERICAL.....

ajm said...

What would be a more interesting list would be "TV's 50 Best Single Seasons of TV Comedies"

I nominate the first season of CHEERS -- funny, touching and nimbly setting up Sam and Diane's eventual relationship.

Anonymous said...

This is more proof that I live in an alternate universe. Apparently, I’m the only one here (or at AOL) who ever saw or appreciated 3rd Rock From The Sun. On my planet, it ran for six extraordinarily funny seasons.

m. said...

I think you're old! No offense.

Cap'n Bob said...

Nice try guys, but here's the correct list:

1) Seinfeld
2) The Honeymooners
3) Leave It to Beaver
4) Amos and Andy
5-50) Fight it out among yourselves.

Anonymous said...

No offense taken, M. I am old. And I’m ugly, too, which does seem to offend some people, but that’s a different comment thread.

3rd Rock From The Sun ran from 1996-2001, pretty recently compared to some of the sitcoms being discussed here.

Seriously, am I the only one here who thought the show was better than a few of the ones that made the list?

Anonymous said...

Good Times is a great show! Hilarious.

Anonymous said...

John Inman was indeed a great comedian, and sadly, most Americans are not familiar with his work.

Personal "Lucky" 13:

Dick Van Dyke Show
Newhart (the one with Mary Frann)
As Time Goes By
Andy Griffith Show (the one with Andy Griffith)
Odd Couple
Mad About You (before the pregnancy)
Green Acres
Mary Tyler Moore
Bob Newhart Show (the one with Suzanne Pleshette)
Are You Being Served?

Your Show of Shows wasn't a sitcom but if only for the "This is your life" sketch, it deserve a place on anyone's list.
Also people forget how good Moonlighting was early on...

30 Rock, if it continues at this level, will be on that list soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Not that I'm opinionated or anything, but taking them one at a time:

50. Everybody Loves Raymond
Not me. Always left me cold, despite my holding Peter Boyle in awe.

49. Newhart
One of my all-time favorite shows. actually prefer it to Bob's other show. In retrospect, I don't much care for season 1, but with 2 it hit it's stride, and it is always a joy. And TOM POSTON!

48. Night Court
Did not like it, and never understood why they kept giving Emmys to John Larroquette. It was a channel-changer for me.

47. Family Guy
Have never seen it, and I'm not starting now.

46. The Jeffersons
Enjoyed it when it was new. I suspect I would find it insufferable now. Love the theme song.

45. Hogan's Heroes
No magic for me. Hard to put the reality of Nazi POW camps from my mind.

44. Laverne & Shirley
Hated it, despite loving David L. Lander & Michael McKean

43. The Golden Girls
Love the four stars, but hated the show. Suffered through a lot of episodes visiting my mother, who loved it.

42. Malcolm in the Middle
Have never watched it. Don't like shows about kids.

41. Gilligan's Island
Used to watch it. Was sometimes vaguely amused by it, but a stupid show. Why is it here, and not Bilko, which is roughly a TRILLION times better?

40. Scrubs
Watched season 1. Hated it so much, I've never seen it since.

39. Green Acres
Hate bucolic, rural comedies. Have maybe seen two episodes.

38. Taxi
Great show. Have seen every episode.

37. WKRP in Cincinnati
Great show. Have seen every episode.

36. Arrested Development
Never watched it. Heard good things about it.

35. Sanford & Son
Torture on tape. Geneva Convention should prevent it's broadcast.

34. Family Ties
Never found Michael Keaton's Satanically evil character funny. Hate anything with family warmth. Couldn't stand it. Have not seen more than three episodes, 25 years ago or so.

33. The Dick Van Dyke Show
Should be in the top ten, maybe even #1. One of the greatest shows of all-time. Carl Reiner is a GOD!

32. Will & Grace
Enjoyed it without admiring it. Saw every episode. Went to tapings of two episodes.

31. Welcome Back Kotter
Liked it then. Probably would not now. Met the guy who played Horshack once. A tool. Have grown to hate Travolta over the years.

30. Married With Children
I enjoyed it for a few years, but when they adopted "7" it vaulted over Jaws, and I never watched it again. Also I had sex with one of the producers, and he was such an awful person, it soured me on the show. Can't even watch reruns.

29. Happy Days
I did not like it. Too warm, too sappy. Always bored me. I have seen maybe 10 episodes total, despite a dear, dear friend of mine winning an Emmy for editing it.

28. Maude
LOVED Maude!

27. Mork & Mindy
Well, I was working with Robin onstage each week when these were being made, so I saw all of them at the time. TOM POSTON is always great, same for Jonathon Winters, but have seen a couple of these over the last two months, and viewed now, they clearly suck.

26. Soap
Watched the first season. Always found it overrated. Didn't watch it again after season 1.

25. Murphy Brown
LOVED this show. Saw every episode. Went to one taping, with guest star TOM POSTON. He as always was awesome.

24. Barney Miller
LOVED this show then. Have no idea if I'd like it now, but suspect I would, if only for Jack soo. "Mushy, mushy, mushy."

23. The Brady Bunch
This show is crap! WHY do people like this trash? I'm serious. Why? Have never made it through an entire epside. How did anyone? How can this be here and not The Jack Benny Show, or Burns & Allen?

22. Good Times
Liked it then. Would not be able to satnd it now. Too much JJ, and too much family warmth. Hate family warmth, uplift, or anything that ends in hugs.

21. Sex and the City
Good show, but people talk about it like it's the second coming of comedy. It wasn't, and I could not stand Charlotte. Am not planning to see the film.

20. 30 Rock
Love it, but it's too new to make this list.

19. The Odd Couple
Great cast, solid premise. I got very tired of it after a while though.

18. Curb Your Enthusiasm
Have never seen it. Hear good things about it.

17. Get Smart
Good, but a sketch done too many times. After three episodes, you've seen all it's tricks. Doesn't hold up. Doesn't sustain.

16. South Park
At it's best, it's great. Definitly losing steam now. They're lucky if one show in six is worth sitting through. And it's right-wing bias is showing badly. (Matt and Trey are such Republicans.) But when it's on point, WOW!

15. Frasier
One of my favorite shows. Have seen every episode. Watch the reruns every day.

14. The Office
Love it. While it also is kind of new for this list, I suspect it belongs here.

13. The Bob Newhart Show
While I preferred NEWHART, that's like preferring chocolate to vanilla. Fact is, both are great.

12. The Larry sanders Show
Much as I dislike Garry Shandling, and I dislike him personally rather a lot, (LONG story) there's no getting around how great this show is. I would like to hate it, but it's really good.

11. The Honeymooners
Yes, a classic. I prefer Bilko (by a mile) but this is unquestionably one of the all-time great shows.

10. Friends
Never got it. Have seen about 4 episodes total. Left me cold, ice cold.

9. I Love Lucy
The classic of classics. Belongs higher on the list.

8. Roseanne
Great show except for the horrifically bad last season. A rare show with kids that I liked, because the kids were real, and not treated sentimentally.

7. The Cosby Show
Could not stand this show. Have seen at most, 2 episodes. Kids, warmth, hugs. Yuck.

6. M*A*S*H
Great classic show. Have seen every episode multiple times.

5. Cheers
Great classic show. Have seen every episode multiple times.

4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Great classic show. Have seen every episode multiple times.

3. All in the Family
Great classic show. But it fell apart towards the end. Grew tiresome eventually. Archie should not have mellowed. He was a hateful evil person. When they tried to make me feel for him, they lost me.

2. Seinfeld
I know I'm almost alone on this, but I NEVER enjoyed this show, and I doubt I've seen 10 full episodes. Bored me stiff. Also, I had the misfortune to know Michael Richards before this ever went on the air, and as America knows now, to know, know, know him, is to hate, hate, hate him, so I could not enjoy anything with him in it. Also, I am sorry but WHY do people think Jason Alexander is talented? Why?

1. The Simpsons
One of my all-time favorite shows. Big poster of them on their living room couch on the wall above my lving room couch. That said, I don't think it belongs at #1. Top ten? Yes. But not #1. Maybe Bilko, or Fawlty Towers, or Mary Tyler Moore, or Dick Van Dyle, or Jack Benny, or Burns & Allen, or even I Love Lucy.

Dobie Gillis should be on the list. And while it was an I LOVE LUCY clone, I always loved I MARRIED JOAN, and where the hell is OUR MISS BROOKS, and DECEMBER BRIDE? I remember liking AMOS & ANDY when I was a kid, but it's been so many decades since the PC police have allowed me to see it, I have no idea if it would hold up to adult scrutiny. Where is THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM. It is the motherlode. Where is THE BURNS AND ALLEN PROGRAM. Forget Lucy and Roseanne, Gracie Allen was the funniest woman on TV EVER!!!

If the compilers of this list don't know the shows of the 1950s, how can they presume to pick "All-Time Best" shows?

Not that I have any opinions on the matter.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

For those who share my dismay at the cluelessness of this list, here's something that may give some insight into how it could happen: Last year, I believe Gallup polled for who Americans thought was our greatest president. The plurality choice of Democrats was Bill Clinton. For Republicans, it was Ronald Reagan. And fifth on the Republicans' list was George W. Bush.

You'd like to think it's just short memories, but Lincoln, FDR, Washington, Truman and Teddy Roosevelt did make the lists. Just not as high as Clinton or Reagan. Or in a couple of cases, George W. bush.

Nuff said?

Anonymous said...

d. - I agree with many of your takes (we even seem to have missed a lot of the same shows). But I have to point out that "Green Acres" is probably the LEAST bucolic rural-set show imaginable. It's like American Bunuel or something.

Speaking of rural, I caught a couple of episodes of "The Real McCoys" a few years back when somebody was running them, and I thought they held up rather nicely. But then I love Walter Brennan. Probably too bucolic and heartwarming for you though, d. :)

I regret to say I've never seen an episode of Bilko - I'll have to track down that DVD set, incomplete though it may be. I liked "Top Cat" as a kid - does that count?

Anonymous said...

A Gabor, a pig, as I understand it, is a major character, and wasn't Patrick Buttram on GREEN ACRES? [Shudder]To me, there was always a better choice, even if the choice was "OFF".

I watched THE REAL McCOYS in it's original run, (I was a child) but never again since. I always thought Walter Brennan's career was all downhill after his two-line role in James Whale's THE INVISIBLE MAN.

Yes, watch those BILKOs. The absolute best, and while the released colleciton is a Best Of with only 18 episodes, at least 16 of those are gems of comic perfection.

Anonymous said...

"I liked "Top Cat" as a kid - does that count?"

Only if you think THE FLINTSTONES counts for seeing THE HONEYMOONERS.

dangermandownunder said...

While these lists are always subject to debate, leaving the Hillbillies out is unforgivable. it was the right show for the right time, long running, very funny AND one of the highest rated series of all time.
Mork and Mindy jumped the shark the day Jay Thomas walked on the set.
30 Rock - don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Why isn't COPS on the list. That show continues to crack me up.

Charles Jurries said...

Burns and Allen? I LOVE them! Their comedy translated perfectly from radio to television. Their comedy is golden.

I love "3rd Rock from the Sun," I own a couple seasons on DVD, but is that show Top 50 good? I dunno.

Sephim - Samantha Who?'s amnesia actually did kind of scare me at first. I thought, "how could this possibly be any fun after episode two," but they've found this terrific formula now that has very little to do with rediscovering the past as figuring out how to live now. AND, they got my respect by writing a little in-joke into one episode: "I don't believe in amnesia. It's just a lazy plot device on television."

... I would probably switch out one or two shows on that list to put in "NewsRadio". It was a classic office comedy that had enough surrealist elements ("WNYX in Space," "Titanic") that it surely helped pave the way for "Scrubs" and "The Office." And the entire cast (S1-S4) were absolutely terrific.

Now that it's been on for a few seasons, is THE HILLS exempt from the 30 Rock rule? Because from all I've heard about that show, it could easily go on the list.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

Only if you think THE FLINTSTONES counts for seeing THE HONEYMOONERS.

Since The Flintstones obviously preceded The Honeymooners, don't you have that backwards?

Cap'n Bob said...

Sorry, doc, but The Honeymooners came first and The Flintstones was a direct steal of that show.

Anonymous said...

"The Honeymooners came first and The Flintstones was a direct steal of that show."

I'm pretty sure that the good doctor meant (and please correct me I'm misspeaking!) that the Flintstones - being a "modern stone-age family" - would "pre-date" the 20th century Ralph Cramden and company.

michael said...

I am posting here late with faint hopes anyone is still looking at this thread. The Top Ten list I most like to see Ken Levine do is "Top Ten Best TV series no one remembers but me"
These are shows that remain in my memory decades after I last saw any episode...
1. Open All Night
2. QED
3. Good Time Harry
4. Wizards & Warriors
5. Days & Nights of Molly Dodd
6. He & She
7. My World & Welcome To It
8. Jonathan Winters
9. Nicolas
10. Delphi Bureau

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

45 is the new 30,

Exactly, and thanks for getting me off the hood. There's nothing worse than explaining your own bad joke.

Anonymous said...

d. - Walter Brennan won 3 Oscars after appearing in "The Invisible Man." As "downhill" trajectories go, you must admit that's a pretty enviable one (to say nothing of "To Have and Have Not," "Red River" and "Rio Bravo," for all of which he deserved nominations, but I guess the Academy was simply tired of honoring him by then).

Anonymous said...

I was well aware of Brennan's Oscars; he even managed the rare trick of winning consecutive Oscars if memory serves, and of his more-than-200 film credits, but he was almost entirely confined to westerns, which, even the best - i.e. John Ford classics - are still westerns, which means I avoid them even more than I do shows about warm bucolic folks who hug their kids-with-precocious-vocabularies. So for me, Walter's career consists of THE INVISIBLE MAN, TOM SAWYER, and THE ONE AND ONLY, GENUINE, ORIGINAL FAMILY BAND. I never saw THE GNOME-MOBILE.

Dr. Leo Marvin said...

That should be off the "hook" not "hood".

Anonymous said...

d. - Brennan never quite won consecutive Oscars; he won in '36, '38 and '40. I just remembered that he's also impressive in "Bad Day at Black Rock," which isn't, strictly speaking, a Western.

Maybe it's because I was a small child during the Western's heyday, but I've always had an affinity for the genre. Even the lamest ones can provide some diversion, though naturally I prefer the ones that are actually good. But I know a lot of people who are allergic to them in the way others are allergic to opera, musicals or Jerry Lewis.

Anonymous said...

The Office slide is complete heresy. Michael Scott over David Brent? F*CK NO.

CarolMR said...

Leave it to Beaver should have made the list for the Eddie Haskell character alone.

Anonymous said...

nathan - I think it's safe to say that only American shows were considered for the list. But even assuming the British "Office" was snubbed, I'd be more outraged that it was beaten by "Mork and Mindy" or "Gilligan's Island" than the U.S. version of the show.

Anonymous said...

Friends was "great" for about 4 seasons. Then it was just OK.

Don't get Golden Girls, Mork & Mindy, SATC (that's a comedy?), Night Court, Green Acres, Sanford & Son, Welcome Back Kotter, Maude, or Barney Miller.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe it's because I was a small child during the Western's heyday, but I've always had an affinity for the genre."

I suspect we are of similar ages, but the western's heyday was --- wait a minute! There was no western heyday! There were periods when they were more of them to avoid than there are now.

However, I apolgize for some of my Walter Brennan comments. I just slipped my DVD of THE MAN ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE on, and there is Walter with Tammany Young burglarizing WC Fields's celler, getting drunk on applejack and singing, mid-burglary, "On the Banks of the Wabash." Fields will shortly join them.

Anyone who'll get drunk and sing with WC Fields in his basement, as Grady Sutton listens upstairs, quailing with fear, is all right with me, as long as he stays out of westerns.

Anonymous said...

d. - all I know is just about every photo of me from the ages of roughly 4 to 6 shows me in a cowboy hat, sometimes with toy six-guns, and occasionally a gee-tar. I think the TV brainwashed my impressionable little mind.

Good call on Brennan in Man on the Flying Trapeze. Fields ruled.

Bill said...

Has anyone here seen the BBC series "Only Fools and Horses"? John Sullivan, creator of Dear John, wrote every episode (which ran from 1981 to 2003) and it is a joy to watch. Well worth checking out (several eps available for viewing on youtube). Recommend "A Touch of Glass", "Who's A Pretty Boy?" and "Healthy Competition." Actually no bad episode in the bunch - fantastic lead and supporting performers.