My Top 100 Televisions Shows.

50755963-amazed-couple-watching-tv-program-sitting-on-a-couch-at-home Over the last few months, the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s top 100 shows of all time and I became so incensed.  There were shows that were totally ignored.  The Honeymooners and Andy Griffith to name two.  Oh well,  lists can be subjective. I created my own.   My rule was pretty simple, I had to see it.  So if I haven’t seen your show and it’s not on the list, don’t get mad at me.  I had another rule.  I’ve lived in two countries.  I put British and American shows on this list.  So if you complain to me that British Television doesn’t count, then remember it’s my list.  As you read the list, I have put a small comment about each show and it’s relevance. I start off with a show that changed how women are viewed on television.  A show that goes back to the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

100: THAT GIRL.

That Girl.A groundbreaking show featuring Marlo Thomas, who plays Anne Marie, trying to break into the acting business, while working odd jobs. A very funny show that my mother got me hooked on after school.

99: WINGS:

Wings imagesOne of Must See TV’s most underrated shows.  It starred Tim Daley(Tyne Daley’s brother) and Steven Weber, they played brothers who run a small Airport off the coast of Massachusetts.  Jim Burrows wrote this one.  This was the show that brought us Tony Shaolub and a curmudgeon named Roy.

98: NCIS

ncis imageI never watched all those other CSI shows.  I am not sure why, but they just never intrigued me.  This one does, because Mark Harmon(Former UCLA Football star and husband of Pam Dauber) has been a favorite since St. Elsewhere.  When he was killed off, I was very upset, because his character was very good.  Years later Harmon had the last laugh with this show.  It’s a quirky CSI show.  Harmon plays a curmudgeon like boss named Gibbs.  There’s a whole host of interesting characters in this.  Abby, who is the DNA computer expert, Dinozo, who thinks he’s the ladies man and rubs Harmon the wrong way and last, but not least, some guy named David McCallum, plays an oddball British Coroner.  You wouldn’t know this man is in his eighties because he doesn’t look it.  A fun show, with plenty of intrigue.

97: JUST SHOOT ME:

JUST Shoot me. I think David Spade was supposed to be the breakout star , but he already did that with SNL.  Spade’s funny, don’t get me wrong, but George Siegal and Wendy Mallock steal this show.  It’s a show about a fashion magazine and how the owner(Seigel,)struggles to find a way of working with his daughter.(Laura San Giancomo)

96.  Night Court.  NBC tried putting this show on in about 17 different time slots and it never seem to find it’s audience.  I am amazed it lasted nine seasons, but it always was removed at some point or another and tweaked with.  I am not sure why.  They should have stuck it on Thursday nights with Seinfeld.  It was worthy of it.  Reinhold Weege created this show out his fascination with a New York City Night Court, that he used to attend for kicks.  Harry Anderson played the fun loving Judge Harry T. Stone, while Markie Post and John Larroquette played the lawyers.  Richard Moll, played the Baliff Bull.  Larroquette and Moll were the breakout stars, while Anderson showed us cool magic tricks in court.

95: THIRD ROCK FROM THER SUN.

.Third RockDuring the 90’s everything that came to NBC struck gold. So why not a show about aliens who are fascinated with earthlings and want to know more about them. John Lithgow was a complete scatter brain in this.  French Smith was just off his rocker and Joseph Gordon Leavitt was a 100 year old alien trapped inside a teenagers body.  Poor Jane Curtain, she was the one who had to deal with these people the most as she and Lithgoe worked at the same University together.

94:  THE SHADOW OF THE TOWER:

TheShadowOfTheTowerThe first  British show on the list and I believe it was the first one I watched too.  A  historical series on the life and times of Henry VII.  He was a stingy curmudgeon who united the white rose of York with the Red rose of Lancaster, by marrying Elizabeth of York.  He trusted no one and there was always some sort of conspiracy to return the throne to the House of York.  It dealt with some real historical periods of his reign, like the Perkin Warbeck rebellion. One episode gave me nightmares.  One prisoner was tortured by having his toenails removed.  They didn’t show it, but  we did see the result of the torture which was all bloody and gruesome.

93: THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW:

thedickvandykeshowcastroblaurabuddysallymelCarl Reiner created this great show about a TV writer, played by Dick Van Dyke.  Garry Marshall wrote 18 episodes for this and we were introduced Mary Tyler Moore. She and Dick Van Dyke are brilliant together.  It shows up on TV land once in awhile and it still holds up.

92. Mad About You.  Another must see TV favorite from NBC.  Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt play a married couple, but as you watch this show, you begin to realize, they’re more like best friends in a marriage.  However, they still have their marriage issues.  I remember a specific teaser for one.  Helen Hunt goes into the bathroom before bed, she comes out seconds later angry as a hornet.  In her hand, the toilet paper spool and some toilet paper.  She demonstrates to Reiser the proper way of putting the toilet paper on the spool.  It was little moments like that, you loved.  This show, helped me create a play of my own, called “Pigeons On The Charles.”

91: HAPPY DAYS:

 Henry Winkler“Ayyyy!  and “Sit on it.” Or “Bucko”, all 1950’s jargon that became part of 1970’s American culture.  A show poised to be a huge hit once they brought on the Fonz.  I learned how to catch fifty quarters off my elbow from this show.  Was there ever a more popular show on television. Garry Marshall(RIP) was a genius.  Well it did get a little strange with the jump the shark episode, but it did introduce us to a lovable alien from Orc too.

90: MORK AND MINDY:

 Mork and MindyI wouldn’t say it was a precursor to Third Rock From The Sun, but it was the first time we saw an alien on television.  It was a spin off from Happy Days.  Some odd alien comes to Milwaukee and shows up in Richie Cunningham’s dream.  It was this odd free form comedian named Robin Williams.  He was so good, they gave him his own show.  The show was odd, but you couldn’t help laughing, because Robin Williams could make anything funny.  Now can you pick out the episodes where he and Jonathan Winters break?  I can.  Some of the funniest moments on TV.

89: STAR TREK:

Star TrekMy sister made me watch it, I swear.  Seriously I didn’t watch until England.  My parents would go to the pub and my sister and I would sit down and watch re-runs on BBC 1.  I loved it.  Sure it was campy, the acting wasn’t the greatest, but that was one of the many fascinations about the show.  Plus the stories were interesting.  It was revolutionary and way way ahead of it’s time.  Your were always given a hint as to which member of the Enterprise was going to die, just by the red uniform the character was wearing. It’s interesting to note that some of the devices on the show, are now part of everyday life.  The cell phone for instance was the communicator and the big huge video screen, that could be wide screen televisions or even from Satellite technology.

88: RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASED:

RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASEDThere have been many shows done about the after life, but never like this one.  This is the second Brit show on the list and it definitely was a good one.  Think The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, only far far better.  It had suspense, intrigue, mystery and a ghost.  The Premise was pretty simple.  Two friends, Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk start a detective agency.  Marty is married while Jeff is single and Marty’s wife Jeannie works in the office.  When Marty is killed in a mysterious hit and run, it’s up to Jeff to try and find the person responsible, which is the arc of the entire show.  Marty comes back from the dead to help him solve his own murder and other cases along the way.  Marty’s problem is his wife Jeannie has taken solice in the arms of his best friend.  Marty the ghost isn’t too happy about this and he constantly puts a monkey wrench into their relationship.

87: THE ROCKFORD FILES:

 James-Garner-The-Rockford-FilesI remember the first time I saw this show.  No music, just titles and the shot of this answering machine playing message after message, all looking for Private Eye Jim Rockford.  He never answered those calls.   For a PI drama, is was smart, funny and suspenseful.  Rockford was a cranky private eye and he wasn’t very good.  He was always looking for that next case, so he could pay the bills, most of them seemed mundane at first, until the other shoe dropped.  Sometimes the client became the villain.   James Garner was perfect.   And Noah Berry was perfect as his meddling Dad.

86:  THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW:

Carol Burnett ShowA total classic comedy sketch show from probably the best female comedian ever.  Watch Carol and Harvey Corman do their version of “Gone With The Wind”  This is the show, that created Mama’s Family starring Vicki Lawrence, Rue McClanahan, Ken Berry and Carol.  The sketch was so popular it became it’s own series.

85: KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

Keeping-Up-AppearancesIf you watch PBS, then you may have seen this gem, about Hyacinth Bucket.(She pronounces the name Bouquet)  Hyacinth is constantly trying to break into upper class society.  However, Hyacinth Bucket’s family is two notches down the social ladder.  Her family constantly shows up at the most inopportune times and she constantly tries to hide them from sight.  While the lower half of the family barges in on her, driving her mad, Hyacinth returns the favor to her poor husband Richard, with an equally amusing turn of events.  A very, very funny show.

84: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:

MISSION_IMPOSSIBLE_TV_SERIESThe first of four spy shows on this list.  It always started with Jim Phelps(Peter Graves) picking up some envelope with pictures and some sort of tape inside.  He would put the tape into a cassette and here’s what happened.

“Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is…then he gives him the mission which correspond with the pictures and then this would happen.

“As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”  I always wondered what was in those fumes and why they didn’t kill Jim Phelps.  This show also starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.

83: TAXI

TaxiLouis De Palma Who can forget him.  He was disgusting, rude and the worst boss to work for.  He constantly hit on Elaine Nardo(Mary Lou Henner) and insulted half his staff.  This show made Danny Devito a household name.  Another Jim Burrows classic.  So many crazy episodes and so many wacky characters worked for the Sunshine cab company.  Jim Ignitkowski became Doc Brown to Michael J Fox’s Marty McFly. Tony Danza went off to do Whose The Boss and Judd Hirsch did a number of things, one particularly good show called Dear John.  Oh I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy Kauffman, the Robin Williams of his time.

82: STEPTOE AND SON:

Steptoe-and-Son-starring-Harry-H-Corbett-Wilfred-BrambleRemember Sanford and Son?  Of course you do.  This was the British version and far far better by a long shot.  The old man makes this show.  He’s crass, disgusting and makes life miserable for his son, particularly when it concerns his love life.   Here’s a series of clips and you tell me whether this show is better than Sanford and Son. Steptoe and Son

81: THE BOB NEWHART SHOW:

The Bob Newhart Show“This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.”  It took place in Vermont and at the end we found out it was just one of Newhart’s dreams.  I watched this a lot in re-run and was always amused by the Vermont humor.

80: MY FAMILY:

My FamilyA show I found on BBC America and it never let me down.  Robert Lindsey a dentist, and his wife is Zoey Wannamaker(Related to the famed Hollywood family of the same name.) play a well to do married couple with three kids that drive them crazy.  A young son who is a nerd dealing with his hormones, a politically charged daughter who gets pregnant, drops out of college and moves back home, and then there’s…NICK.(Kris Marshall)  Nick is a bit daft and well…different. He has no inclination to strive to be anything, so he lives in the house off his parents.  He never seems to want to work and when he does, he usually has some hairball scheme to make money, that never works. Marshall was my break out star from this show.  He was just plain wacky and he heightened Lindsey’s frustration.    Watch the British version of “Death At A Funeral,” Marshall plays a drug dealing brother and when his future brother in law is all nerved up about meeting his future father in law, he gives him a drug to calm him down, except the brother in law takes the whole bottle and ends up on the roof of the house naked in front of everyone.  Kris Marshall made this show what it was and Lindsey played off his antics beautifully.  Here’s a perfect example of that.  My Family

79: SESAME STREET:

Sesame Street.jpg Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, all taught me a thing or two.  I learned my alphabet and my numbers from this show.  Now if only they had taught me Algebra, I would have been fine.  Kermit the Frog got his start here, but he went on to a much bigger show and that’s later on my list.

78: HOMICIDE LIFE ON THE STREET:

Homicide Life On The StreetBarry Levinson created this fantastic, gritty, dark cop show, set in his home town of Baltimore.  The crimes were cutting edge, the cops were equally cutting edge, with dark and imaginative characterization.  The crimes they investigated were dark and imaginative.  It starred Ned Beatty, (Brilliant in this.) Yaphit Koto and Andre Brauer, comedian Richard Belzar,(Munch, the only actor to play the same character in three different shows, when he turned up in Law And Order SVU and an episode of the X-Files) My two favorites were Kyle Secor.  Secor and Brauer forced to be partners and they didn’t get along at all.  The combination created some combustible moments.   The writing for Homicide was phenomenal.

77: THE WEST WING:

TheWestWing-AboutImage-1920x1080-KOA show about the White House and all that goes on there.  This was the show that kind of kick started a whole lot of other shows, using the President or the White House as a backdrop.  Martin Sheen was brilliant, but Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford stole the show.

76 GUNSMOKE:

Gunsmoke_thumbI was a tot when this show was on.  However, I was a teenager when I saw it in re-reruns.  Matt Dillon, Kitty, the Doc and Festus provided the humor.  The best Western I ever saw.

75: ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH IN:

Laugh inNo list would be complete without this show  My parents felt it was so important I see it, they would wake me up to watch.  So many great characters and comedians came out of this show.  Lilly Tomlin(Edith Ann and Ernestine),  Ruth Buzzie, the old lady to Arte Johnson’s dirty old man, Joanne Worley, Goldie Hawn and many more. If this show hadn’t been on, Saturday Night Live would not have existed.   Many of these comedians would have fit seamlessly within the SNL show. A definite trailblazer and it still holds up as this clip attests.  Laugh in

74: PORRIDGE:

PORRIDGEHere we call it doing time.  In Britain, it’s called doing Porridge.  I think it had something to do with the poor food or something.  This is a British Comedy that thought life in Prison would be interesting to poke fun at.  They were right.  Ronnie Barker, plays Norman Stanley Fletcher.  He’s been sent back to prison,  presumably to get away from his wife.  He thinks he can fool the guards(Well maybe Barroclough, the gullible Guard, who Fletcher can manipulate into anything.) but not the Scotsman McKay. McKay makes Fletcher’s life miserable.  There’a s gem of a mob character in this show named Grouty, he always manages to get Norman to do some dirty work for him, which if caught could add another ten years onto his porridge.  This show was so good, I couldn’t resist but add a clip.  Porridge

73:  THE DAVE ALLEN SHOW.  

Dave AllenNow you’ve probably never heard of Dave Allen.  He’s an Irish comedian who would start each segment of his show sitting in a chair with a large tumbler of whiskey next to him.  I am not sure how he got away with that.  It was a prop, but a valuable prop.  He would then tell a series of jokes about Religion(The Catholic Church, Dave WAS Catholic), Sex, Religion, drinking, religion, more drinking, his childhood, more sex,  sometimes war and lots and lots of Religion.  After each segment he would play a series of sketches on the topic at hand.  Did I mention that he told jokes about the Catholic church and sex.  No one was quite as bold about telling religious jokes in Britain, but Dave was.  I think PBS had him briefly, but if you’ve never seen this show, you must youtube it. Brits began to loosen up when Dave was on.  Here’s an example of how funny this show was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt7h3CghJEg

72: 30 ROCK

30 rockA show about a television variety show.  A key show for Tina Fey after she left SNL and the perfect foyle was Alec Baldwin.  Now Alec has always been a good actor, but until he guest hosted SNL about a dozen or so times, we never knew he was comic genius as well. (TNE NPR sketch comes to mind.)He’s brilliant as the head of the network and plays off Tina Fey like a charm.

71: LAW AND ORDER SVU

law-and-order-svu-castI never imagined putting these shows on the list, because I think the formula has become tired.  This one is about the special Victim’s Unit and it’s the only one that is still on.  The show is pretty formulaic, but the story lines are definitely riveting and you are always left with a bombshell.   Mariska Hargitty(The daughter of Jayne Mansfield.) stars in this one.  The writing on any of these shows is top notch.

70:  ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.

All_Creatures_Great_and_Small_tv_series_castBased on the books by James Herriott.  It’s a show about family and the life of a Vet, named James Herriott.  British animal husbandry in Yorkshire in the 1930’s has never been more interesting and more amusing.  Add an eccentric boss named Sigfried and a bumbling playboy of a brother named Tristan and you have a recipe of fun.  It was a ton of fun.

69: MY NAME IS EARL.

My-Name-is-EarlThis show was such a creative idea, I just had to watch it.  Take a guy named Earl who had done all these rotten things in life and give him a conscience.  What he decides is to make a list of all the people he’s ever hurt and do something good for them so KARMA(as he calls it) doesn’t comeback at him.  It was quirky, fun and sometimes poignant.

68: THE MAN FROM UNCLE.

the-man-from-uncle-1A show that was popular during the Mission Impossible days.  In my mind it was the better of the two.  Robert Vaughan made it really cool to be a spy and  Stephanie Powers also made it cool to be a female spy.

67:  THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES.

 Sean_Patrick_Flanery,_The_Young_Indiana_Jones_ChroniclesIn the 1990’s Stephen Spielberg decided it would be really cool to bring young  Indiana Jones to television.  He was right, it was cool. Very cool.  Snakes. Jaque I hate snakes.The show starred Sean Patrick Flannery,(Later played the evil politician in The Dead Zone series.)and he played him with Wimsey, charm and a whole lot of innocence.  It’s interesting to note that along the way, young Indy, meets some rather famous historical figures through his wild adventures.  If you ever find this show on DVD, it is a must and you won’t be disappointed.  I wasn’t ever.

66: FAMILY TIES:

Family TiesMichael J. Fox became an instant star from this show, which of course led to…”Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”  It was a unique concept by Gary David Goldberg.  Two liberal parents, bring up a smart Republican child.  It’s a liberal parents worst nightmare.  The lessons that Alex P Keaton and his parents learn from each other are often poignant and very funny. Sprinkle in some siblings, Mallory(Justine Bateman) a sort of lost girl in her own world, obsessed with boys, Nick her boyfriend, who is not so bright and the nerdy guy next door named Skippy(He had a thing for Mallory) and what you had was a lot of laughs.

65: MIKE HAMMER:

  Stacy Keach-Mike HammerThis poor show only lasted three seasons, actually four if you count the series in the fifties.  The version in the early 80’s starred Stacy Keach and he was terrific and this show hearkened back to those days of the 1940’s private eye, but was set in current times.  He was equally brash, cool and had an eye for the ladies.  I was hooked.  So much so, that I decided that Drake Darrow’s favorite Private Eye growing up, was Mike Hammer.

64:  COUPLING:

The British version lasted longer than two weeks, which is how long the American version lasted.  Why?  We couldn’t recreate anything as funny as the British version.  It is probably one of the most hysterical, edgy British comedies I’ve seen.  Essentially it’s about couples who get together, but it’s about far more than that.  It’s about the funniest aspects of relationships.  It stars Jack Davenport(Pirates of the Caribbean) and Gina Bellman(Leverage) Bellman is one of the funniest characters in the show, but my favorite character is Jack Davenport’s best friend Jeff, who constantly has sex on the brain.  Some of these episodes were way over the top, with wild titles, like The Melty Man Cometh.  I won’t get into what that one’s about, this is a PG blog, but for adults, it’s a hoot.  Here’s an example.  Coupling

63: MURPHY BROWN:

 Dan_Quayle-crop No, no, no, please don’t leave the blog.  There is a perfectly good reason why Dan Quayle has a picture on show 63.  You see this show had a huge hand in effecting Dan’s political career.  Not for the better.  It seems Dan was this family values candidate running for Pres and he thought that the character Murphy Brown wasn’t a very good role model.  You see Murphy Brown was  god forbid and unwed working mother by choice.   One of the reasons this show is on this list is because it was smart, edgy, funny and tackled issues that were relevant, like working mothers who weren’t married, by choice.

62: WKRP IN CINCINNATI:

WKRPCASTI work part time in radio, so of course I have watched this show many times.  I didn’t get all the inside jokes until I got into the business, but that didn’t stop me from thinking this was one of the best TV shows around.  By the way I never worked with a news guy like Les Nessman.  Although the one I worked with did like to collect newspapers.  In fact his office was filled with them.  However he was probably one of the best news people I ever worked with, but this guy was not Les Nessman.    Les Nessman was just plain, neurotic.  The rest of the characters were just as nuts.  How did Gary Sandy deal with all these nutcases?  Who knows?  Gordon Jump played the boss, scared of his Mother and his own shadow.  His Mother put him in charge.  She really ran the station.

61: CPO SHARKEY:

CPO SharkeyEver wonder what it would be like to have Don Rickles as your Commanding Officer.  So did NBC and what followed was hilarity and a lot of crass insults, the way Don Rickles would do them.  Many a Saturday Night were spent laughing at Mr. Rickles as we watched him froth at the mouth and insult everyone the only way Rickles knew how.

60: BARNEY MILLER:

c-barneymillerA crazy show about a crazy New York Precinct.  Let’s see we had a cop who was a budding writer, one who dabbled in Psychology and liked to get inside your head, and a bitter height challenged cop who was passed over as detective.  Leavitt made sure everyone upstairs knew about his height difference.  These are just the cops.  The criminals were even crazier.  One episode dealt with a guy who insisted he was going to turn into a werewolf and he managed to frighten Sergeant Yamana(Jack Soo) out of his skin.  I can still hear him, calling out for Barney when the crook starts to howl at the moon.  Oh and all these cooks, usually were sent off to Bellview.  Here’s that werewolf episode I was talking about.  BARNEY MILLER WEREWOLF

59: ALL MY CHILDREN.

All My Children A soap Opera?????  Yes a Soap Opera.  A campy Soap Opera about little old Pine Valley.  Sometimes I called this “The Perils of Erica Kane.” The reason this show is on the list, is because it was a ground breaking show that dealt with topics that no one would touch.  Agnes Nixon created this gem and she didn’t shy away from any tough topic, which usually gave prime time the okay to start tackling such subjects.  I learned a lot from this show as it enhanced my writing.  If you want to learn how to write character, google some clips of this show and you will see probably the most unique and interesting characters that were ever on television.  Take the two in this picture, or a pimp named Billy Clyde Tuggle, Tad the Cad, who eventually didn’t become quite the cad.  This is not the last of the Soaps. I have three more.  Technically, one is a horror show, that claimed it was a soap and one is the longest running Soap of all time and still on today and no it’s not American and no Soap is not one of them.  I couldn’t get that show on the list and along the way many famous actors were discovered like Chris Bruno(The Dead Zone series Steven King)  and one talk show host, named Kelly Rippa.

58: SCTV:

SCTV_6197While Saturday Night Live was still top of the heap, a sketch comedy full of Canadian comics decided to challenge.  SCTV brought us the likes of John Candy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Katherine O’Hara.  It was a hoot to watch.  My favorite  skit was that campy soap sketch, The Days of The Week.  Occasionally I still see re-runs and I have to watch.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dKYxkYYXM

57: ROBIN HOOD:

Robin HoodI am talking about the most recent BBC America version.  It was intense.  Jonas Armstrong played him far differently than Kevin Costner.  The show was darker and far edgier.  Although Keith Allen who played the Sheriff of Nottingham was no Alan Rickman.  I liked the writers take on Guy of Gisborn played by Richard Armitage.  Gisborn discovers he’s Robin Hood’s brother.  They also killed off Marian, which was indeed different.  Oh and Marian was far different than any Marian I have ever seen.  Definitely a Marian for todays world.

56: THAT 70’S SHOW:

That_70s_Show_CastA show created in the 90’s about the seventies.  How would that work?  Humor my friend.  A lot of humor.  This show was brilliant. Red(Kurtwood Smith) was always ready to put a foot up Eric’s ass.  Topher Grace, played Eric as a bumbling stumbling geek, which he was.  My favorite scenes, were the pot smoking scenes.  They were very realistic.  THAT 70’S SHOW Probably the most realistic I have ever seen.  Oh and didn’t we all know someone like Hyde in high school?

55: CRIME STORY:

Crime StoryA show set in Chicago during the Kennedy era.  A real Untouchables for the 1960s.  It involved a small task force led by Mike Tortello(Denis Farina), trying to stop an up and coming mob wise guy named Ray Luca, played by Tony Denison.  If you like classic American cars and great music from the 1960’s, this show had that.  However, it lasted two and a half seasons.  It could have lasted far longer and I wish if it had, it would have made Denis Farina a huge star and believe me, I’ve been a huge Denis Farina fan for many years since this show.  Denis Farina’s, portrayal of Mike Tortello was very realistic, mainly because he had been a cop before he became an actor.  He knew these types of criminals and he knew these types of cops. Tony Denison was equally as good as the young wise guy Ray Luca.  You didn’t want to cross this guy.   One of the most haunting episodes, someone crossed Ray, so he took him up in a plane and threw him out.  The only problem I had with this show, was the slight steal from Godfather two.  Ray latches himself onto this Jewish mobster, kind of like Hyman Roth and I felt like I was watching a re-run there.   It’s unfortunate that this show died a slow death.  Even my father liked it and he’s not one for cop shows.

54:  THE TUDORS:

 The TudorsI made the mistake of picking this show up mid run.  I think season four.  As I am watching it, I become a little ticked off about the historical inaccuracies.  First of all they gave Henry an extra sister, who he pawns off to the elderly King of Portugal.  This woman never existed.  However, I decided to start from the beginning.  I wasn’t sorry I did. I ignored the inaccuracies.  I even liked the extra sister, Margaret, played magnificently by Gabriel Anwar. This must have been one of her side projects while she was in Burn Notice.  She was very funny and eventually she ends up sleeping with one of Henry’s chief counsel.  It was one of those sexual tension things, that magically worked.  Henry was played by  Johnathan Rhys Meyers.  He was just as arrogant as you would imagine and just as avarice with his women, but at times, we saw a softer side to Henry, which I liked.  My one problem with Henry was when he had the accident with his leg.  I think, his leg infection(Later he got gout) caused him to gain quite a bit of weight, because he simply couldn’t exercise and he loved to ride horses.   I am not sure if that is true, but Henry became plump way before  Katherine Parr and they kept Jonathan Rhys Meyers svelt and toned.  It was interesting to note the relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry was not as contentious as I remember reading.  They toned it way down and Henry actually did love her a great deal.  It was beautifully crafted.     It was a show filled with high intrigue and awesome acting.  Look for James Frain(24,  Audrey’s Ex) who plays Cromwell.  For a while you really loathe Cromwell, but when his whole world crumbles around him, Frain manages to make you empathize with him.  I also liked the idea that Anne Bolelyn wasn’t as power hungry as most portrayals I’ve seen.  This was a true event when you watched it and deserves to be in my top 100, not just for the writing but the acting.

53: MOONLIGHTING:

 moonlightingBefore Bruce Willis had a movie career he had television.  Before Cybil Shepherd had television, she had movies.  The two came together to create this awesome chemistry together.  The show revolved around Maddy Hayes who hires David Addison to help her run a private detective agency.  From the git go, the two didn’t not get along at all, which made the scenes electric, with crackling dialogue.  Check this out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nU3AIvfK04 The two actors may not have gotten along and when rumors hit that the show was in trouble, the creators did something totally brilliant, they wrote it into the actor tension into the script.  However that only lasted so long before Bruce Willis had enough and bailed for a movie career.  And that my friends is how it all began for Bruce Willis.

52: HOGAN’S HEROES:

HOGANS HEROES“I know nothing.  Nothing.”  How can you keep off a show that stands the test of time.  It’s still as funny today as it was when it came on the air.  I have often wondered whether this show was somehow based slightly on The Great Escape.

51: LAW AND ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT:

Law & Order: Criminal IntentWhen the third in the Law in Order franchise came on, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  However what came out, was this detective played by Vincent D’Onofrio who had this way of Psychologically manipulating a suspect into a confession.  He was riveting to watch and it was then that I realized he was an incredibly underrated actor.  Although if you watch the Movie Full Metal Jacket, the seeds were there. The show became very engaging to watch and I watched it to see him act and see where he would take the character.  Of the three it remains my favorite.  Unfortunately of the three it had the shortest run.

50: MIAMI VICE:

MIAMI VICEI was very late coming to the party, but once I did,(late 80’s re-runs), I found it extremely gripping.  The writing was awesome and the characters were very well developed.  The show had a cool soundtrack and it helped moved the scenes seamlessly.  Watch for Phil Collins in at least two episodes and he is quite good.

49: MAD MEN:

MAD MENI always like shows that are set in the late 50’s to early 60’s.  A show about ad men.  Donald Draper is definitely no saint.  He has demons, he drinks and he’s a womanizer, but he’s just plain fun to watch.  It’s a compelling show about power and who wants to be on top.

48: THE INBETWEENERS:

 The InbetweenersI’ve seen lots of shows about what it’s like to grow up as a teenager; However I’ve never quite seen a show about the stupid things we do as adolescents. The British took this show and put it on Channel 4.  The fourth channel and there’s a reason why, it’s bold and extremely edgy.  Channel 4 in England is like HBO, it allows for a series to take some risks.  This show took a ton of them and when it ran out, it found more.  This show is about four British Nerds.  There’s Will, the new boy trying to fit in.  Simon who can’t think of anything other than his neighbor Carly.  Jay who talks a big game, but has never really done anything with any girl and Neil.  Neil is well…different and the kid you really thought might be this side of nuts. It’s a show that’s pretty mature for it’s age and at times a bit graphic, but believe me if you can get by those moments, this is a show that definitely will make you laugh.  Here’s an example.  The Inbetweeners

47.  GENERAL HOSPITAL:

ABC's To hook in the male audience, a soap opera must create a show, that’s like a spy show.  You know lots of caboom, bad guys trying to take over the world, that sort of thing.  That’s exactly what General Hospital did in the 1980’s and soon every soap was doing it. Why? because General Hospital had introduced this really cool character named Luke Spencer.  Sure he started out as kind of a slimy guy, working for the mob, but that’s definitely not what happened once he met Laura Webber. He fell in love with Laura and he wanted out of the mob.  So he turns on them and hijacks Laura from Scotty Baldwin’s wedding, that pretty much started a series of interesting plot lines for these two. It also changed Scotty Baldwin from a hero to a cad.  Luke and Laura were on more interesting adventures than Indiana Jones and because General Hospital wanted to keep you tuned in, they brought in a whole team for Luke to play off of, like this strange Australian James Bond guy named Robert Scorpio, his former boss Sean Donnolly and his ex wife Anna Devane(A really cool Emma Peel type.)  I put General Hospital here, because it changed the face of daytime television forever and brought in a whole new idea of what to do with a soap.  I also think it actually had a hand in helping prime time start telling better stories.

46: REMINGTON STEELE:

Remington SteeleThe idea was simple. A con man named Remington Steele(Pierce Brosnan, pre James Bond) and put him with this gorgeous woman(Stephanie Zimbalist) and you have the makings of a really cool detective show.  You did, it killed.  It was smart, cutting edge and different.  Brosnan was more than suave and Zimabalist played off that suave cool demeanor well.

45: NEWS RADIO:

 news radioNews Radio was definitely a show that I related to. I knew who many of these misfits were. I’d worked with people like them. From the Owner to the Chief Engineer. It was set in New York City and revolved around WNYX.  It starred Phil Hartmann, who was “BILL MCNEIL,” the most arrogant self centered news announcer you would ever meet.  He made Rush Limbaugh look tame.  Believe me some of the antics that happened on this show, are believable, I know, I been through some of the same situations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JpwjnMFlJI

44: SHOGUN:

shogun

There a few mini series on this list.  James Clavelle’s Shogun is the first.  Richard Chamberlain starred and was brilliant.  I still remember it vividly and I was hooked every night of the run.  Far better than The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.

43: I LOVE LUCY:

.Lucille Ball.Way before your time, you say.  You’ve never heard of the wacky Lucille Ball, you say.  Go to TV land.  I’m sure they still have re-runs running. She’s the reason Carol Burnett came along and any other female comedian after.  This show was gold.  If you happen to stumble upon this episode watch it, it’s a classic. Here’s the classic chocolate factory episode.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQ58I53mjk

42: CORONATION STREET:

Coronation-StreetIn the 1970’s, my parents would go down to their local pub and would come back and regale my sister and I of colorful tales of colorful pub characters named Skinner, Tup and Duffy.   What my parents didn’t know is that my sister and I were also at our local pub.  It was called The Rovers and it was the favorite watering hole for all the locals of Coronation Street set just outside Manchester England.  A unique and different English Soap Opera, that is still going strong.  In fact it is the longest running soap EVER! Sorry Days Of Our Lives this show has you beat by a mile.  If you happen to get Canadian television, you can catch it.  It’s a show that always has interesting characters, plenty of intrigue and most important, it doesn’t take itself seriously.  In fact it can be a laugh riot and here’s an example from one of my favorite characters, Steve McDonald.  Coronation Street

41:  HOLOCAUST:

Holocaust_(TV_miniseries)_dvdMERLY STREEP before we knew who she was.

In the 1970’s and into the 80’s the mini series was all the rage.  And a lot of them were simply spectacular.  Holocaust was by far one of the best.  I was becoming curious about the topic.  This show was the perfect teaching tool.  It starred two people, you might have heard of, James Woods and Meryl Streep.  The acting and the writing were incredible.  Meryl Streep became a huge star after this and James Woods revamped his fledgling movie career.  Both won Emmy’s if I am not mistaken.

40: THE HONEYMOONERS:

  Gleason_honeymooners_1965A classic among classics.  Jackie Gleason could simply do it all.  In this show, he was brilliant. I saw re-runs in England and here.  The English loved it so much they copied it and created their own show called “On The Buses.” Funny, but not like this.  I always saw Alice(Audrey Meadows) as the key to the whole show.  She was definitely a strong female character and had Ralph Cramdon wrapped around her finger. Alice Cramdon was ahead of her time and in a lot of ways, so was this show.  Here’s and example.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBa-bvJeqk

39:  THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW:

Barney FifeWhen the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s list of it’s top 100 television shows, this show was nowhere to be found.  Uh hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ll give them a little slack because the people that came up with that list were probably born yesterday.  This show  was comic gold.  Here’s an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8m4zM9kfY4 Barney alone was the worth the price of admission .  Oh sure there were other colorful characters, Otis the town drunk, Floyd the Barber, Gomer Pyle and Goober, and who can forget Ernest T Bass and the Darlings.  I put the show in bold, because I believe it was the first time we caught a glimpse of a single dad on television.

38:  THE PACIFIC:

A recent mini series.  While National networks tried to revive this type of show without success, cable found a way of recreating it and turning it back into gold.  Particularly HBO.  This is the partner series to the very highly acclaimed “Band Of Brothers” that Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created.  I’ve seen movies on the theater in the Pacific, but never one that dealt with it more realistically than this.  The Pacific was different than “Band Of Brothers”, you had a chance to get to know these characters away from the war.  You saw them at home as well as in the theater.  It was a brutal mini series.  In fact if you decide to watch this, don’t take it all in one gulp.  You’ll be drained emotionally.  You have to take it in bits and pieces.  PacificRami Malik was already starting his rise to stardom.  In this show he starts to solidify it.  He’s equally as good in this as he is in Mr. Robot.  Also look for James Badge Dale.  If you watched 24 he was in season 3 and was Kim’s boyfriend(Jack Bauer’s daughter.)  He’s brilliant in this.  The episode where he catches a peeing disease in the jungle is his best.

37: FRASIER:

FRASIERWhat does James Burrows do after he creates one of the most iconic comedies of all time.  He takes a character from that bar, moves him to Seattle and he becomes a radio talk show host.  What a brilliant move and what a brilliant funny, funny show. Frasier, moves in with his Dad(John Mahoney) an ex cop with a bad leg.  So bad he needs Daphne(Jane Leeves a former Benny Hill girl.) to take care of him.  Put a little dog in the mix named Eddie and  Frasier’s equally pompous brother Niles(Also a Psychiatrist.)  and Burrows had himself another huge hit.   Of course my favorite parts were always Frasier’s radio show scenes.  He took calls from  people with strange Psychological hangups.  The callers were often famous actors dying to get on the show.  

36:  THE OFFICE:   

The OfficeThe most successful comedies deal with something new or deal with an office setting.  Office settings are always gold.  The Office was the only American show, stolen from the British, that hit gold. The original was done by Ricky Gervais and some hobbit guy named Martin Freeman.  Steve Carrel made this show what it was. Mr. Carrel is the most underrated funny men in this country.  He doesn’t over do, he underplays a lot.  As my father and my Godfather would say, less is better, not more.  He was insensitive without meaning to be.  He was silly with intentions to change moral and it never worked.  The show was a laugh riot and you could relate to any of these characters if you have ever worked in an office setting.  A great show, and here are examples of both the American version and the British.  American version.  The Office.  The British. The Office

35: MAGNUM PI.

 magnum-piI watched this show in re-run form and I never realized how good it was.  Tom Sellick was perfect.  What I liked about Thomas Magnum, was he wasn’t that PI that tried to impress you.  He was just an average Joe on the surface, but inside he was a man with his Vietnam past and fighting those demons.  He had a good life, but he didn’t boast about it.  He lived in a nice mansion owned by some wealthy guy named Robin Masters, who we didn’t meet until far later, but of course he was there all along.  Higgins(John Hillerman.)

34: ROSEANNE:

 Roseanne-Dan-roseanne-11819784-1024-768This show grew on me and once I was hooked I realized it was another groundbreaking show.  It dealt with middle class America like no other show. It didn’t matter whether you were middle class or on the upper crust, you could relate to any topic.   Rosanne Barr dealt with tough issues that had never been tackled. The show dealt with domestic abuse, child abuse, mental illness and family dysfunction, and LGBT issues, but it dealt with the issues in a mature manner, while still hitting your funny bone. The chemistry between Roseanne Barr and  John Goodman was incredible and the acting top notch and so many people that came out of this show went on to have very healthy acting careers.  Laurie Metcalf(Small part JFK and Big Bang Theory.)   Johnny Galicki(Leonard Big Bang Theory) and some guy named George Clooney, plus many more.  A show I never seem to get tired of, even today while in re-runs.  Here’s an example.  Roseanne

33: THE MUPPET SHOW:

kERMIT THE FROG AND MS PIGGY.Jim Henson was a genius.  He took a character from Sesame Street and turned him into a star.  However the Muppet show was much more than just Kermit.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCmKw-Zqbj0 He had a great cast of characters around him, like Ms. Piggy(Pigs in Space.) Fozzy The Bear, Dr Bunson Honeydoo and his capable sidekick Beaker, the two guys in the balcony, Stadler and Waldorff(A former co-worker and I have been referred to them on more than one occasion.) and who can forget, that wild Swedish Chef.  You never knew what he was saying, but it didn’t matter, because in the first minute of any skit, he was throwing vegetables behind his back and acting like a madman with his knife.  The most amazing thing about this show were the guest stars and there were a plethora of them.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for the likes of Liza Minelli to act with Puppets. It wasn’t just a kids show, it was definitely for adults.  Ask my Dad, he insisted we watch it.

32: LAW AND ORDER:

LAW AND ORDERDick Wolfe didn’t realize it at the time, Law and Order brought franchise television to the world. The original Law and Order was something fresh. The first two acts dealt with some crime. Once the perp was caught, you were treated to the second half of the process, the prosecution. It was unique, no one had ever done this before.  Therefore it was groundbreaking.  My favorite character was Lenny, (Jerry Orbach) never without some sort of joke and always willing to debate his partner about the crime.

31: EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND:

Everybody-Loves-Raymond_1024-768When Everybody Loves Raymond doesn’t crack my top twenty, then you know there must be some great shows ahead.  Here’s a clip to give you an idea, of why I liked this show so much. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9bca0Kjpo Essentially, Ray Romano created a show based on his stand-up.  His stand-up must have been about his wacky dysfunctional family.  The wonderful thing about this show, is it always had a message and that message always came from some guilt trip his wife put on him or Ray’s mom.   Brad Garrett, was the break out star, he played Rays brother Robert, the cop. He also played the lead in Till Death as the lead, not as funny, but he also played Jackie Gleason in a biopic and  was brilliant. Doris Roberts played Ray’s meddling mother(Always pulling a guilt trip on someone and she drove Deborah crazy.) Patricia Heaton played Deborah, who was Ray’s wife.  Ray was damn scared of her. Patricia knew how to keep this sportswriter in his place.  Peter Boyle played his father, who was grouchy a lot.  A show that will live on as one of the best from the turn of the century.

30 DARK SHADOWS:

Dark Shadows BarnabusMy grandmother’s favorite show was “The Edge Of Night.”  She was always insulted if you called it a soap.  “It’s not a soap opera”, she would say, “it’s a detective show.”  She was right.  I read the show history, it was a detective show.   So if The Edge of Night was not a soap opera, either was Dark Shadows.  Dark Shadows was a campy horror serial damn it.  Dark Shadows never took itself seriously, which is what was brilliant about it.  My mother was obsessed with it.  Not me, once that eerie music came on and I saw those waves crash against the rocks, I was out the door in a flash.  The show gave me nightmares. It wasn’t until I was in college that I truly appreciated how good this show was.   My local NBC station decided it would be cool to bring it back in re-run form, but of course there was a reason.  They were going to come out with a new series on prime time and it would star Benjamin Cross.  I watched a few.  Ben Cross was terrifying and the woman that played Angelique was just as scary.  It survived two seasons before getting the ax. The interesting thing is the Barnabus didn’t show up until the third year and that was because ratings were sagging and it was on the verge of getting the network boot.  Once Jonathan Frid came on board, that changed the shows fortunes forever.  The show soon became much more than ghosts and Vampires, it also had witches and werewolves(Quentin Collins, David Selby)  Definitely a show to watch.

29:  ENTOURAGE:

EntourageJohn Cusak has a team of actors he likes to work with, one includes his sister Joan Cusak and this guy, Jeremy Piven.  You might have seen him in “Say Anything” and a little spy movie with Dan Ackroyd called “Grosse Point Blank.”  He was not well known until HBO came knocking and decided to do this interesting show about Hollywood. It’s a show about the ups and downs of a Hollywood movie star named Vincent Chase and how it tests his friendship with his Manager and best friend Eric Murphy, who everyone calls E.  Piven plays Vinnie’s agent and even though, he’s a condescending sleazy son of bitch, you would definitely want this guy fighting for your career.  Since it was on cable, it was a show that was allowed to take a few more risks than a show should be allowed to take and that’s what makes it so brilliant.  There are many guest spots from many Hollywood types playing themselves, from Actors, to Producers to Directors.  My two favorite characters, Johnny Drama(Kevin Dillon) a neurotic mess.  And of course Arry Gold(Jeremy Piven).  Piven just eats up the screen in every scene he is in.  Rather adult content to follow from this brilliant montage of this fantastic show.  Entourage

28:  THE GOODIES:

GOODIESThe who?  The Goodies, a show about three friends who start a company that provides a service to do good in the world.  If you want the Australian Singer Rolf Harris caught and captured, these guys do it.(Because there were apparently many Rolf Harris’s wandering all across Britain.)  Sounds like a British Comedy doesn’t it.  It was and one of funniest I have ever seen in my life. It stars,  occasional Monty Python cast member Tim Brook Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graham Garden.  Whenever these do gooders took a job, it always ended in some disaster or some hilarious confusing result.  This show was so funny a man died of a heart attack, laughing so hard.  During one episode my mother was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks.  The Episode?  The Ecky Thump, a black pudding(Or pud as they called it.) that dates back to the Lancashire martial arts period. When used the Ecky thump is a deadly weapon.   I know, absurd.  It’s British humor, it’s supposed to be absurd.  Here’s Ecky thump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuP1eycaA6c

27: UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS:

upstairs-downstairs-1970s-castEveryone take note, Downton Abbey is not an original. I’ve watched it and all I can think of is another show with a different title that came upon the scene of British television in the seventies, (Also showed on Masterpiece theater) called Upstairs Downstairs.  It starred Gordon Jackson(The Great Escape), Jean Marsh, Pauline Collins(Shirley Valentine and Quartet) and her husband John Alderton.  A totally phenomenal show about the same thing, only this family is called the Bellamys.  It dealt with all kinds on interesting topics.  A maid gets pregnant, by one of the Bellamys, The Stock Market crash and suicide.  So before you go ahead and think Downton Abbey is an original, think again.  This was the original and this was a Masterpiece.

26: GET SMART:

Maxwell Smart and Agent 99.“99 I need you come here.”  Sorry about that Chief.”  “Chief is this top secret?”  “Why yes Max it is.”  “Don’t you think we should use the Cone of Silence”  “Would you believe that this was the funniest show on television in the 1960’s?”  I can recite thousands of catch phrases from this show.  People seem to forget that before Mel Brooks became famous with Blazing Saddles, he created this quirky half hour comedy about a spy agency called Control fighting their evil nemesis KAOS.  Their number 1 agent, the bumbling stumbling Maxwell Smart secret agent 86.  Of course KAOS had their own bumbling agent, named Sigfried.(Bernie Koppel)At the time there was Mission Impossible and The Man From Uncle, why not find some humor in the spy business.  Don Adams played Maxwell Smart and Barbara Feldon played his partner Agent 99. Smart was probably the most inept spy you would ever meet, but somehow in one half hour, he would always seem to get the job done.  Here’s some of the best of this funny, funny show. Get Smart

25:  THE COSBY SHOW:

The Cosby showYou may have your current opinions about Bill Cosby, and I am not putting this show on this list to debate that.   Bill Cosby is one funny guy and during the 80’s and somewhat the 90’s this show was one of the best shows going.  It was relevant.  If you’re African American, it was very relevant and more relevant than any other show about the African American experience.  There had never been an upper class African American Family on television until the Cosby show.  It was also revolutionary because Claire was a lawyer and a woman, and that had never happened before either.  It spawned a spin off called “A Different World.” which was also a good show and if it weren’t for Cosby, no network would have taken a chance on the second upper class black family show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Will Smith.  Also a very fine show.  Here’s a classic episode.  Lamont the Goldfish and his funeral.  The Cosby Show

24: ST. ELSEWHERE:

st_elsewhereBasically Hill Street Blues,  only in a hospital, but if you sat down and watched this show, it was a different hospital show.  Once again it was about character.  Many fine actors came out of this show.  Steven Furst(Well we already knew him as Flounder from Animal House.) Ed Begley Jr.  William Daniels the hard nosed Chief Surgeon,(Later voiced Kit the car for some Hasselhoff show called the Knight Rider.). Mark Harmon, Howie Mandell and the biggest of them all, Denzel.

23: THE AVENGERS:

 john-steed-and-emma-peel-thumbYou had to know that this show was going to be on the list.  I wrote a whole blog on how it inspired me to write strong female characters.  It had everything, a strong female character, a cool hip gentlemen spy and best of all it’s British.  Some of the villains were also bizarre and interesting, the only way British Villains would be.  Diana Rigg is still the best partner for Steed and there were a few before and after her.(Although the character names changed) Steed(Patrick McNee)  was cooler than cool with that cain and bowler and those old British sports cars they drove, awesome.

22:  THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW:

Mary Tyler Moore“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”  Chuckles The Clown remains my favorite episode to this day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92I04DkMEps Seltzer  and wild stuff happened all the time at that little television station located in Minneapolis Minnesota.  “That Girl” started the trend, Mary Tyler Moore, took it and kicked it up to another level.  A strong woman working in a man’s world.  She knew how to put Lou Grant in his place.   The two had sort of a strange romantic attraction, which, thankfully the writers never acted on.  Once Mary blazed the way, Murphy Brown took it a step further. Then of course there was Ted Knight, the arrogant bumbling news anchor and who can forget Betty White as that happy cooker, Suzanne Niven.  A definite classic.

21: LA LAW:

LA LAWThe eighties saw a whole new world of television.  Like Hill Street Blues did for cop shows, LA LAW did for law the genre.  Now this wasn’t your prosecute the crook law show.  This show dealt with civil law cases and the characters who took them on.  It was a show that dealt with character.  Particularly Arnie Becker(Corbin Bernsen), probably the most loathsome lawyer on the pay role, because Arnie was always on the prowl.   A great show, one worthy of being on a list.

20:  ER:

 ERThe top twenty is here and it starts with ER.  Hospital shows have been around since television was invented, but never has their been a show quite like this.   I believe it was the longest hospital show(Until Grey’s Anatomy surpasses it) that ever aired.  It was nothing I had ever seen before.  Fast paced, gritty, hard edged and it dealt with subjects never seen on Television. You had a chief of staff who not only had a disability, she was a lesbian. You had one of the Chief doctors develop cancer. You had a nurse attempt to commit suicide in the first season.(Julianna Marguiles) because George Clooney just dumped her. Then there was a character who developed AIDS after a needle stab.  It was awesome.  The reason ER worked, is that it was high octane and fast paced, just like an ER.  Each seen was quick, sharp and intense.  Here’s why this was the best most intense hospital show ever.  ER

19: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:

 snl the original.It’s still on, it won’t go away, please for the love of God make it stop because it’s still pretty damn funny!  Here’s why my tears ducks, ribs and my bladder can’t take it anymore.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ufj5P3W7Jw SNL simply took Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, and made it edgier. It was the first show to have celebrity guest hosts.  It was the first show to make sure you got to see the latest hot musical act and there were many.  It was the show that gave you John Belushi’s Samurai sketch and you fell off your chair laughing.  It was the show that gave you new comedic names like Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain and Bill Murray.  All of these comedians became huge stars and left to go on and forge very successful careers.  How does this show stay on top?  SNL lets it’s stars out of their contracts and hires new cast members.  It was the first show, that dared to make fun of the White House and attack Politics in a mature and funny way.  It is still the show to watch on Saturday Nights, maybe not as funny as the original, but if I’m home and I am up at the SNL hour, I watch.

18:  HILL STREET BLUES:

hill-street-blues_wide-8f94a0b0d3d404e8d705d04b59a99434e38dba7b-s900-c85 Sergeant Phil Esterhouse(Michael Conrad)would stand before the precinct each morning and have a briefing.  It was usually about what was going on and the  latest case or the latest perps to be on the lookout for.  After Esterhouse ended his brief , each officer would get up and file out and begin their day out on the street, but he would holler at them as they went out the door.   “Hey, Hey, Hey” then a wag of the finger.  “Lets be careful out there.”  Conrad was a genius.  Any other actor would have played it the same way every time.  Not Conrad, he had fun with it.  It was one of my favorite classic moments and I had to see it.  Hill Street Blues was a different cop show.  It dealt with the character’s lives on and off duty.  After each episode,  you had a sense that you knew who these people were and you cared about what happened to them.  They were just like you and I.  It’s what made Hill Street such a classic.  This show changed television, not just the cop genre, all genres.

17: THE WONDER YEARS:

The Wonder YearsWhat were the Wonder Years?  I’ll tell you, because this was one of the best shows on television in the 1980’s.  The Wonder Years where a time when growing up, meant you got on your bike with your best bud Paul Pfeiffer and went for a ride.  The Wonder Years were when you played Football with your friends and if you came home with a bruise on your face, your mother was worried.  The Wonder Years were a time, when girls suddenly became alive to you, particularly the girl next door.  The Wonder Years were when you got cold feet trying to ask that girl to the dance.  The Wonder years were also a time when you grew up, you learned about Vietnam, got your license and just spent your time being a kid in an innocent time with your friends.  It was where you learned how to love and finally got the girl you always knew you loved.  It was where you accepted your brother as maybe, not so bad a guy after all.  It was where you went to work with your Dad and understood what his world was like and you began to understand why he had ulcers and how hard he worked to put food on the table. The Wonder Years were wonderful and it was one of my favorite shows of all time and I could relate.  The Wonder Years the Phone call

16: THE BIG BANG THEORY:

BIG BANG THEORYA show that dares to be what it wants to be.  A show about nerds and there is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  Nerds are funny, but these four nerds are hysterical.  First you have Howard a Jewish Nerd who can’t get away from his mother.  Then there’s Raj a nerd from India, who can’t talk to beautiful women unless he is drinking. Sheldon who is obsessed with Physics and String Theory and then there is Leonard.  All Leonard is hoping for is a shot at the hot blond next door named Penny.  This is a show about nerds and all that is goofy and fun about them.  You’ll learn about video games, comic books and Sheldon’t latest project involving string theory.  Most of all you’ll laugh your socks off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIp77PUvLTE

15: FRIENDS:

Friends  Okay, I admit it, I was wrong.  Way wrong.  When I first heard about this show,  I thought, oh come a show  about 30 somethings who hang out all day, how on earth can that be funny.  Then one night, I was getting ready for work and I saw the trailer.  Joey was telling the latest story of how he botched an audition.  Chandler made fun of him.  It caught my attention because it was a very funny bit involving a Pinocchio joke. Now I wanted to see this show and I wanted the show to prove me wrong.   It did, from jump street and I was a faithful fan.  Chandler had to be my favorite character(Matthew Perry), although Phoebe was a strong second.  Who else can sing a song about a smelly cat off key and make you laugh. I have many favorite episodes, whether it be an episode involving Ross’ monkey, or any audition Joey shows up at.  The one where Joey shows up at an audition Hernia was a laugh riot.  It was a show that had style, class and humor and many stars begged to be on this show.  Brad Pitt was dating Jennifer Anniston during the infamous I hate Rachel episode.  Susan Sarandon shows up as a washed up actress who hits on Joey. Giovanni Ribisi(Saving Private Ryan, The Wonder Years and the X-Files) is brilliant as Phoebe’s not so bright brother.  It’s a show that will stand the test of time for many, many years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e7bf3hW6lE

14: THE ODD COUPLE:

The odd couple.I will not watch the new Odd Couple, it doesn’t matter if the very talented Matthew Perry is in it or not. It doesn’t matter if they decide to make a female version with Rita Moreno.  There are only two Oscar  Madisons and Felix Ungers.  The original movie actors, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman for television.  It may seem snobby or ridiculous but that is the way my brain is wired.  Klugman and Randall made this show click.  The timing between the two was impeccable.  It was just brilliant to watch.  Here’s why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axgw04CD–s 

12: BAND OF BROTHERS:

 lIEBGOT Towards the end of this mini series, a German commandant gives up his pistol to Major Winters and asks to address his captured men. He recites Henry V.  Specifically the speech of St. Crispin.  It tells you all you need to know about what it is like to battle with brothers in arms.  I have never been a fan of war.  I feel that it should be avoided at all costs.  However, it is necessary in certain circumstances.  World War II being one of those circumstances.  Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created what is probably one of the most important mini series of our lifetime.  Yes it’s gruesome, real and bloody, but it had to be told, so we would not forget what we were fighting for.  In fact that is the Title of one of the episodes, “What Are we Fighting For?”  It’s a story about Easy Company run by a fair minded man named Lieutenant Dick Winters, who manages to run this company the best way he knows how, by example.  I have three episodes that stick out in my mind.  The two on Bastogne and the other is the concentration camp episode.  This episode is the most poignant and earth shattering of all.  This clip tells you why we fought.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHcJtU9dr6I I have always been a history buff.  I like to know the where, why and how of history, so I can understand.  I am not Jewish, but this particular topic has always been a fascination to me.  I think because I wanted to know why a monster like Hitler was allowed to do what he did.  This is one of the many reasons this show is in my top twenty.  We should not forget.  We should learn from our mistakes, so that it does not occur again.

12: ROOTS:

 lAVAR bURTONI was never more captivated by a television mini series as Roots.  My father recently gave me Alex Haley’s tome, because I wanted to refresh my memory.  I don’t think there’s a bad bit of dialogue or action in this show, or a bad bit of acting.  I know the remake is out, but nothing is like the original.  Lavar Burton as young Kunta Kinte, John Amos as the older, Ben Vereen as Chicken George and Chuck Conners as his evil master. Roots was a mini series that taught us about our past, the present and at the time hope for the future.  It was a show that not only got us in touch with history, but our own genealogy.

11:  THE SOPRANOS

 The Sopranos Some actors are known by small parts while others make their own magic.  James Gandolfini was one of those guys.  James came to my attention in the 90’s with a small movie called “Get Shorty.”  He was the muscle for Delroy Lindo, the bad guy. His name was Bear, who works for Lindo’s character because if he doesn’t, Lindo will kill his 5 year old daughter.  Once John Travolta(Chili Palmer) bests him in two fights, Bear begins to realize, “hey this guy could help me out.”  The next movie I saw Gandolfini in was Quentin Tarantino’s “True Romance.”  Once again he was the muscle and he was sadistic.  Some of the things he did to Patricia Arquette are beyond description.  This certainly must have caught the attention of David Chase.  Mr. Chase had this idea about a Mob boss in New Jersey who is told to go see a shrink (Loraine Braco) after an anxiety attack.  In his sessions, he opens up and talks about his home life problems and his mob family problems.   A brilliant idea was born and took off.  Gandolfini’s character is loosely based on Decavalcante mob boss Vincent Palermo, or as his associates knew him Vinnie Ocean, because he ran a fish market.  This show was gritty, gruesome at times, funny and very realistic. The show finale is awesome because it left you wondering whether Tony got whacked, arrested or went into the Federal witness protection program. The Sopranos

10:  BURN NOTICE:

  New Burn notice image

The series started out every week, with this opening narrative, which came from the pilot.  Burn Notice had one of the best show opens I’ve ever seen and intrigued me to watch, if you haven’t seen this show, it’s in reruns and it’s a must.  Here’s how the opening sounded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gRdQeuZ9Tw

The title Burn Notice essentially is the CIA’S term for fired.  So what do you do if your burned?  The only thing you can do, fight back and find the persons responsible.  The problem for Michael Westen is that the CIA can do anything they want to a burned spy.  They dump him in Miami, with no cash, no identity and no sense of self.  They can even kill him if they want.  However, Michael is lucky, he has his meddling mom(Sharon Gless, quite frankly brilliant.) his no good brother, a former CIA agent(Bruce Campbell, equally brilliant.) who snitches on him to the FBI and….wait for it.  wait for it, the most frightening woman to ever grace a television set, his ex girlfriend an ex IRA terrorist named Fiona Glenanne who sells weapons to terrorists for a living.  This forms his team and to make a little cash on the side, he helps people as a sort of vigilante.  A brilliant show with edge, humor and a how to on how to be a spy.  Every action packed scene is set up for you by Jerry Donovan’s character Michael Westen.  The best parts are his narratives on how to operate in a situation as a spy.  He talks to you in the third person and each week I came back for more.  A show in the top ten deserves more than one clip.  One for FI to show you how badass this woman really is Burn Notice FI in action and one of the show. Burn Notice explosions

9:  THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON:

Johnny CarsonI remember Johnny’s farewell show.  My Dad came up for a weekend and we went to see an Expos game.  We stayed the night in Keesville New York and watched an hour tribute to Johnny and then his final show, which was essentially his  tribute to the fans.  He  showed his most iconic moments.  I knew right then and there, that late night television was never going to be the same.  I grew up on Johnny.  He was an Uncle to me and as much as I liked Jay Leno, it certainly wouldn’t be the same.  What made Johnny great was that he was humble.  He was a brilliant interviewer.  He let the guest take over the segment.  It didn’t matter whether you were Burt Reynolds or Tina the Lizard Eating woman.  He was always captivated by your story and that helped draw the guest out.  Johnny was simply the best and if a joke didn’t work, he made fun of it.  My favorite part were the segments with animals and kids.

8: CHEERS:

Cheers_cast_1991You were wondering weren’t you?  You thought this show wasn’t going to be on my list.   Sure it may not be as high as you would like, but it makes the top ten.  A bar where everyone knows your name almost was cut loose by NBC and it would have been a mistake.  However, NBC had nothing to lose.  They believed in this little show and stuck with it.  It starred Ted Danson as washed up Red Sox Pitcher Sam Malone, who runs a bar in Boston.  It was a show that always kept you laughing, whether it was a quip after Norm entered, or whether it was some useless piece of information from Cliff Claven.  Remember the Jeopardy episode?  I do.  Sam was always on the prowl too and he didn’t always succeed getting his lady.  All in all, he was a lovable guy and so were the many characters in this bar.  Here’s one of those ladies Sam let go.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1kbn-LOpes 

7: FAWLTY TOWERS:

 fAWLTY TOWERSThis Christmas my sister gave me a gift to remind me of England.  Not specifically England itself, but a television show.  It was a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream.  She asked me, “You do remember right.”  Oh I did.  A whole whacky scene about salad cream, came from a Fawlty Towers episode.  It was a show that lasted all of three years, but oh what a three years it was.  John Cleese played a pompous, obnoxious self centered ass, who thinks he knows how to run a hotel.  The guests soon find out he doesn’t and that’s where the friction begins.  It usually takes his wife Sybil and his best waitress Polly to get him out of his scrapes.  The scene my sister was referring to involved a young obnoxious brat eating with his family.  Basil, trying to be a good host asks them how their meal is.  The young lad speaks up and complains that it tastes revolting, like a dogs dinner.  He then complains that the salad cream is awful. Here’s the rest of the scene.

Mrs Heath: May I ask why you don’t have proper salad cream? I mean, most restaurants…

Basil: Well, the chef only buys it on special occasions, you know, gourmet nights and so on, but… when he’s got a bottle – ah! – he’s a genius with it. He can unscrew the cap like Robert Carrier. It’s a treat to watch him. (he mimes) And then… right on the plate! None on the walls! Magic! He’s a wizard with a tin-opener too. He got a Pulitzer Prize for that. He can have the stuff in a saucepan before you can say “haute cuisine”. You name it, he’ll heat it up and scrape it off the pan for you. Mind you, skill like that isn’t picked up overnight. Still, I’ll tell him to get some salad cream in, you never know when Henry Kissinger is going to drop in, do you?

The show was constantly filled with moments like this.  My favorite is a site gag. This is where Basil thrashes his car when it stalls on the curb.  Here, let John Cleese tell you.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeEHQzyUdC0 This gives you an idea of this brilliant British show.

6: MASH:

 MashDirector Robert Altman probably never realized that a small comedy movie about the conflict in Korea was going to be a massive hit on the small screen, but it was and it lasted 11 seasons.  Never before has a military medical unit ever been shown on television before and this show, brought some very graphic and realistic moments to television.   Frank was always my favorite character, because we all know someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

5: MONTY PYTHON:

 MONT015ACCOf all sketch comedy shows, this is the master.  It’s better than SNL, Laugh In, Carol Burnett and any others.  It is the king. The one that has stood the test of time and still holds up today. Monty Python was silly, it poked fun at Hitler, the Queen or anything else it deemed worthy of a slap on the fanny.  Most of the sketches were nonsense, whether it be the Parrot sketch, the sketch about Cheese, or Dennis Moore the Highwayman.  The master of the troupe was of course John Cleese.  A man who still has it today as I witnessed from an episode of Entourage.  He played himself and was quite funny.  Probably Michael Palin follows, then Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, followed by the token American Terry Gilliam with his masterful animated sketches.  If you’re a millennial and you’ve never seen this show, you must be versed in the ways of Python.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE

4: ALL IN THE FAMILY:

 All In the FamilyWhen Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) arrived on the scene it was a totally different world.  Vietnam was still going on, feminism was taking root and the civil rights movement had come and gone.  Archie Bunker  didn’t like it and he provided his own commentary on the situation.  This was a show was about a bigot, male chauvinism and some one whose right wing politics got under his families skin.  A character like that dealing with a whole host of issues, had never been seen on television before.  He opened up the box and allowed Hollywood to go a bit further.  A true Norman Lear Masterpiece.  Of all the television writers that changed TV for the good, it was Lear and of course no top ten or top five list is complete without All In The Family.

3: SEINFELD:

  SeinfeldIn the late 80’s Larry David’s little show about nothing, became a show about everything.  What Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were thinking was what we were thinking.  What were they thinking?  They were thinking we lived in a shallow, shallow world, with shallow people and they were going to peel it all back and show us how ugly we had become and if you laughed, then you were laughing at yourself.  There were plenty of laughs, whether it was about George’s shrinkage issue, getting lost in a parking garage and then being peeing in public, or re-gifting a Christmas gift.  It was the show we turned on Thursday nights, which became must see TV and this was a must to see.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A66ierfTCUQ

2: THE X-FILES:

.I-want-to-believe-X-Files-UFOA little show in the 1980’s called Project Bluebook had this perfect opportunity to make us believe in aliens and conspiracies, but it dropped the ball.  Fox must have taken note and gave Chris Carter a wonderful opportunity to give us our beliefs back.  Beliefs about aliens, conspiracies and the paranormal.  The X-Files was by far one of the most fascinating and interesting shows ever on television.  It’s recent reboot, proved we can still believe.  It was a show that was suspenseful, intriguing and kept you up at night wondering what is really being hidden from us and if aliens are out there.  We wanted to believe but Carter wanted us to watch and we did every week and still do when it’s in re-runs.  Why would’t you like a show with chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny like this.  The X-Files.

1. TWENTY FOUR.  24.And my number 1 show is……YES the adventures of Jack Bauer, the man who will stop at nothing to bring down terrorists even if they are the President of the United States.  I cannot say enough about this show.  It has definitely changed the face of television, making the drama more serialized.   A wild concept, one day out of the life of Jack Bauer in an entire season.  Each episode a different hour with a different set of circumstances and a different game changer.  I often think if you were to remake this show(And they are toying with idea), whether anyone else could play Jack.  Nope, Kiefer is the man and 24 is my favorite show.  Through the years it will be interesting to see if it remains on the top of my list.  There are certainly a few contenders.  Blacklist and Mr. Robot come to mind.  These two are not on the list because they are infants in the process and Homeland stumbled around season four, but somehow managed to get it back around season 5.  For now though, 24 is the show.  Here’s a clip to prove it.  24

That’s my top 100.

11.22.63 This Generation’s Quantum Leap.

sking-head-shotOkay, I admit this.  I haven’t read one Stephen King novel.  Never read Carrie, never read the Shining, never read Dead Zone.  It’s not that I am a King snob, or think his writing is bad.  How can I?   I have not read the man and this is something that certainly needs to change.

Even though I have never read King, this does not mean, that I am not a fan, because the man has certainly written enough books, that have made millions for him, through Hollywood, whether it be a movie or a television series.  Mostly, movies.  I have watched a lot of his books turned into movies, The Original Dead Zone, The Green Mile,  Shawshank Redemption, and the Shining are are fine examples.  All of which had made me realize that King’s stuff, when put into the correct hands is gold.  He’s an interesting writer, because King’s material is a little horror, a little Sci Fi and a whole lot of thriller and mystery.  He definitely knows how to weave a plot and come up with something that will keep you wanting more.

All this talk of Stephen King, leads me to a series that came out last February called 11.22.63.  A few weeks back I stumbled upon the trailer and  filed it away for the future.  Today, I decided to watch some Seinfeld on Hulu and I saw the trailer again.  I was curious and found myself sucked into the first two episodes.  I found it a very intriguing, interesting idea.

The title for 11.22.63 is significant to the story, because it is the day before JFK was assassinated.  As you can tell the story revolves around that time period.  The story takes place in Lisbon Maine  and stars James Franco James Francoand Chris Cooper.  Franco plays English Teacher Jake Epping, who is friends with Al Templeton(Chris Cooper), who runs the local diner.  The Premise is simple.  Templeton develops cancer and when Franco confronts him about it, Templeton reveals a deep dark secret in the diner, which may or may not have caused his cancer.  In a closet at the back of the diner is a  rabbit hole(Time Portal)which takes Epping back to October 1960, the year Kennedy is elected.  Templeton realizes he hasn’t much time left and talks Epping into finishing his work, which is to prevent the JFK assassination.

I’ve watched two episodes so far, but the story is compelling enough to assure me that I want to go further and see what happens.  The acting in 11.22.63 is very solid.  The writing and storyline well crafted.  James Franco, doesn’t do too much and he doesn’t need to.  He keeps Epping fairly cerebral.  Chris Cooper is great as his mentor and friend Al Templeton.  If you haven’t checked this nugget out, it’s worth a look.   I’d be curious to see what others think.

 

Homeland Returns.

Episode 401If you’re a fan of television you might have asked yourself where did Homeland go to.  Did they cancel it?  No it took a year away from the public. I am not sure why it disappeared, perhaps it was trying to figure out where to go after the season five cliffhanger that left us with an explosive ending and tons of questions.  One being what happened to Peter Quinn(Rupert Friend), one of my favorite characters.

Last season was definitely a revelation for me as I had lost hope after season four that Homeland had lost it’s way from what made it such an intriguing show.  Season five brought my belief back in one of television’s most important and best shows.  Season six will be a relevant season for Homeland as it takes Carrie Mathison(Clare Danes) into the world of Politics, law and terrorism and puts it right in the smack of New York City.  In season 6 Homeland tackles what’s current, a President Elect between the election and inauguration day.  Here’s a look at what is to come.

Mr. Robot

mr-robotIf you haven’t seen Mr. Robot, then you really must.  It is a relevant show and it is relevant to the times we live in.  If you are concerned about freedom of speech, then this is definitely a show you must put on your viewing calendar.  It is a show about computer hackers.  Think Anonymous and then you have a pretty good idea as to what this show is about.  I have just finished watching season two(Or in the old days of tv viewing the first half of season two), and I have found it to be very riveting.  It takes a while for season two to get going, but if you stick with it, you will find some of the most spine tingling, riveting television you are ever to watch.  Ramie Malik(The Pacific) plays Elliott the computer hacker whose sole purpose is to use his hacking skills to take down the biggest bank corporation called E-Corp.  His challenges are many, first he’s not all there.  He’s a bit schizophrenic as he sees his dead father(Brilliantly played by Christian Slater) tries to help him take down, the biggest one percent.  Second he starts to get a conscience in season two as his plans have been taken over by another entity from China and he’s a little suspicious of their purpose.  The second season is not only full of surprises, but it is much darker than the first, although there is one episode that decides to lighten it up,  with the first half hour being played as a 1950’s sitcom.  I found myself in hysterics, just by Malik’s reaction to some laugh tracks in the background.  I truly enjoyed that.  Rami Malik is phenomenal in this.  He acts a lot more with his eyes than with his emotions and that makes him that much more magnetic to watch. There are other co-stars who are just as brilliant.  Carly Chaikin plays his sister and fellow member of the hacker group F-Society, Portia Doubleday(caught into this web of intrigue, just because she grew up with Elliot), is equally intense to watch.  This is my latest it show, because it’s about now and what’s going on in our turbulent world.  I am pretty sure you can find this on USA Network, if not try Xfinity on Demand.  The acting is intense, the storylines are well crafted, the dialogue crisp and sharp and it’s a gamer changer right now as far as television is concerned.  If I were to give this show a five star rating, five big stars.

My Top 100 Televisions Shows.

 

50755963-amazed-couple-watching-tv-program-sitting-on-a-couch-at-home Over the last few months, the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s top 100 shows of all time and I became so incensed.  There were shows that were totally ignored.  The Honeymooners and Andy Griffith to name two.  Oh well,  lists can be subjective. I created my own.   My rule was pretty simple, I had to see it.  So if I haven’t seen your show and it’s not on the list, don’t get mad at me.  I had another rule.  I’ve lived in two countries.  I put British and American shows on this list.  So if you complain to me that British Television doesn’t count, then remember it’s my list.  As you read the list, I have put a small comment about each show and it’s relevance. I start off with a show that changed how women are viewed on television.  A show that goes back to the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

100: THAT GIRL.

That Girl.A groundbreaking show featuring Marlo Thomas, who plays Anne Marie, trying to break into the acting business, while working odd jobs. A very funny show that my mother got me hooked on after school.

99: WINGS:

Wings imagesOne of Must See TV’s most underrated shows.  It starred Tim Daley(Tyne Daley’s brother) and Steven Weber, they played brothers who run a small Airport off the coast of Massachusetts.  Jim Burrows wrote this one.  This was the show that brought us Tony Shaolub and a curmudgeon named Roy.

98: NCIS

ncis imageI never watched all those other CSI shows.  I am not sure why, but they just never intrigued me.  This one does, because Mark Harmon(Former UCLA Football star and husband of Pam Dauber) has been a favorite since St. Elsewhere.  When he was killed off, I was very upset, because his character was very good.  Years later Harmon had the last laugh with this show.  It’s a quirky CSI show.  Harmon plays a curmudgeon like boss named Gibbs.  There’s a whole host of interesting characters in this.  Abby, who is the DNA computer expert, Dinozo, who thinks he’s the ladies man and rubs Harmon the wrong way and last, but not least, some guy named David McCallum, plays an oddball British Coroner.  You wouldn’t know this man is in his eighties because he doesn’t look it.  A fun show, with plenty of intrigue.

97: JUST SHOOT ME:

JUST Shoot me. I think David Spade was supposed to be the breakout star , but he already did that with SNL.  Spade’s funny, don’t get me wrong, but George Siegal and Wendy Mallock steal this show.  It’s a show about a fashion magazine and how the owner(Seigel,)struggles to find a way of working with his daughter.(Laura San Giancomo)

96.  Night Court.  NBC tried putting this show on in about 17 different time slots and it never seem to find it’s audience.  I am amazed it lasted nine seasons, but it always was removed at some point or another and tweaked with.  I am not sure why.  They should have stuck it on Thursday nights with Seinfeld.  It was worthy of it.  Reinhold Weege created this show out his fascination with a New York City Night Court, that he used to attend for kicks.  Harry Anderson played the fun loving Judge Harry T. Stone, while Markie Post and John Larroquette played the lawyers.  Richard Moll, played the Baliff Bull.  Larroquette and Moll were the breakout stars, while Anderson showed us cool magic tricks in court.

95: THIRD ROCK FROM THER SUN.

.Third RockDuring the 90’s everything that came to NBC struck gold. So why not a show about aliens who are fascinated with earthlings and want to know more about them. John Lithgow was a complete scatter brain in this.  French Smith was just off his rocker and Joseph Gordon Leavitt was a 100 year old alien trapped inside a teenagers body.  Poor Jane Curtain, she was the one who had to deal with these people the most as she and Lithgoe worked at the same University together.

94:  THE SHADOW OF THE TOWER:

TheShadowOfTheTowerThe first  British show on the list and I believe it was the first one I watched too.  A  historical series on the life and times of Henry VII.  He was a stingy curmudgeon who united the white rose of York with the Red rose of Lancaster, by marrying Elizabeth of York.  He trusted no one and there was always some sort of conspiracy to return the throne to the House of York.  It dealt with some real historical periods of his reign, like the Perkin Warbeck rebellion. One episode gave me nightmares.  One prisoner was tortured by having his toenails removed.  They didn’t show it, but  we did see the result of the torture which was all bloody and gruesome.

93: THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW:

thedickvandykeshowcastroblaurabuddysallymelCarl Reiner created this great show about a TV writer, played by Dick Van Dyke.  Garry Marshall wrote 18 episodes for this and we were introduced Mary Tyler Moore. She and Dick Van Dyke are brilliant together.  It shows up on TV land once in awhile and it still holds up.

92. Mad About You.  Another must see TV favorite from NBC.  Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt play a married couple, but as you watch this show, you begin to realize, they’re more like best friends in a marriage.  However, they still have their marriage issues.  I remember a specific teaser for one.  Helen Hunt goes into the bathroom before bed, she comes out seconds later angry as a hornet.  In her hand, the toilet paper spool and some toilet paper.  She demonstrates to Reiser the proper way of putting the toilet paper on the spool.  It was little moments like that, you loved.  This show, helped me create a play of my own, called “Pigeons On The Charles.”

91: HAPPY DAYS:

 Henry Winkler“Ayyyy!  and “Sit on it.” Or “Bucko”, all 1950’s jargon that became part of 1970’s American culture.  A show poised to be a huge hit once they brought on the Fonz.  I learned how to catch fifty quarters off my elbow from this show.  Was there ever a more popular show on television. Garry Marshall(RIP) was a genius.  Well it did get a little strange with the jump the shark episode, but it did introduce us to a lovable alien from Orc too.

90: MORK AND MINDY:

 Mork and MindyI wouldn’t say it was a precursor to Third Rock From The Sun, but it was the first time we saw an alien on television.  It was a spin off from Happy Days.  Some odd alien comes to Milwaukee and shows up in Richie Cunningham’s dream.  It was this odd free form comedian named Robin Williams.  He was so good, they gave him his own show.  The show was odd, but you couldn’t help laughing, because Robin Williams could make anything funny.  Now can you pick out the episodes where he and Jonathan Winters break?  I can.  Some of the funniest moments on TV.

89: STAR TREK:

Star TrekMy sister made me watch it, I swear.  Seriously I didn’t watch until England.  My parents would go to the pub and my sister and I would sit down and watch re-runs on BBC 1.  I loved it.  Sure it was campy, the acting wasn’t the greatest, but that was one of the many fascinations about the show.  Plus the stories were interesting.  It was revolutionary and way way ahead of it’s time.  Your were always given a hint as to which member of the Enterprise was going to die, just by the red uniform the character was wearing. It’s interesting to note that some of the devices on the show, are now part of everyday life.  The cell phone for instance was the communicator and the big huge video screen, that could be wide screen televisions or even from Satellite technology.

88: RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASED:

RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASEDThere have been many shows done about the after life, but never like this one.  This is the second Brit show on the list and it definitely was a good one.  Think The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, only far far better.  It had suspense, intrigue, mystery and a ghost.  The Premise was pretty simple.  Two friends, Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk start a detective agency.  Marty is married while Jeff is single and Marty’s wife Jeannie works in the office.  When Marty is killed in a mysterious hit and run, it’s up to Jeff to try and find the person responsible, which is the arc of the entire show.  Marty comes back from the dead to help him solve his own murder and other cases along the way.  Marty’s problem is his wife Jeannie has taken solice in the arms of his best friend.  Marty the ghost isn’t too happy about this and he constantly puts a monkey wrench into their relationship.

87: THE ROCKFORD FILES:

 James-Garner-The-Rockford-FilesI remember the first time I saw this show.  No music, just titles and the shot of this answering machine playing message after message, all looking for Private Eye Jim Rockford.  He never answered those calls.   For a PI drama, is was smart, funny and suspenseful.  Rockford was a cranky private eye and he wasn’t very good.  He was always looking for that next case, so he could pay the bills, most of them seemed mundane at first, until the other shoe dropped.  Sometimes the client became the villain.   James Garner was perfect.   And Noah Berry was perfect as his meddling Dad.

86:  THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW:

Carol Burnett ShowA total classic comedy sketch show from probably the best female comedian ever.  Watch Carol and Harvey Corman do their version of “Gone With The Wind”  This is the show, that created Mama’s Family starring Vicki Lawrence, Rue McClanahan, Ken Berry and Carol.  The sketch was so popular it became it’s own series.

85: KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

Keeping-Up-AppearancesIf you watch PBS, then you may have seen this gem, about Hyacinth Bucket.(She pronounces the name Bouquet)  Hyacinth is constantly trying to break into upper class society.  However, Hyacinth Bucket’s family is two notches down the social ladder.  Her family constantly shows up at the most inopportune times and she constantly tries to hide them from sight.  While the lower half of the family barges in on her, driving her mad, Hyacinth returns the favor to her poor husband Richard, with an equally amusing turn of events.  A very, very funny show.

84: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:

MISSION_IMPOSSIBLE_TV_SERIESThe first of four spy shows on this list.  It always started with Jim Phelps(Peter Graves) picking up some envelope with pictures and some sort of tape inside.  He would put the tape into a cassette and here’s what happened.

“Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is…then he gives him the mission which correspond with the pictures and then this would happen.

“As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”  I always wondered what was in those fumes and why they didn’t kill Jim Phelps.  This show also starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.

83: TAXI

TaxiLouis De Palma Who can forget him.  He was disgusting, rude and the worst boss to work for.  He constantly hit on Elaine Nardo(Mary Lou Henner) and insulted half his staff.  This show made Danny Devito a household name.  Another Jim Burrows classic.  So many crazy episodes and so many wacky characters worked for the Sunshine cab company.  Jim Ignitkowski became Doc Brown to Michael J Fox’s Marty McFly. Tony Danza went off to do Whose The Boss and Judd Hirsch did a number of things, one particularly good show called Dear John.  Oh I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy Kauffman, the Robin Williams of his time.

82: STEPTOE AND SON:

Steptoe-and-Son-starring-Harry-H-Corbett-Wilfred-BrambleRemember Sanford and Son?  Of course you do.  This was the British version and far far better by a long shot.  The old man makes this show.  He’s crass, disgusting and makes life miserable for his son, particularly when it concerns his love life.   Here’s a series of clips and you tell me whether this show is better than Sanford and Son. Steptoe and Son

81: THE BOB NEWHART SHOW:

The Bob Newhart Show“This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.”  It took place in Vermont and at the end we found out it was just one of Newhart’s dreams.  I watched this a lot in re-run and was always amused by the Vermont humor.

80: MY FAMILY:

My FamilyA show I found on BBC America and it never let me down.  Robert Lindsey a dentist, and his wife is Zoey Wannamaker(Related to the famed Hollywood family of the same name.) play a well to do married couple with three kids that drive them crazy.  A young son who is a nerd dealing with his hormones, a politically charged daughter who gets pregnant, drops out of college and moves back home, and then there’s…NICK.(Kris Marshall)  Nick is a bit daft and well…different. He has no inclination to strive to be anything, so he lives in the house off his parents.  He never seems to want to work and when he does, he usually has some hairball scheme to make money, that never works. Marshall was my break out star from this show.  He was just plain wacky and he heightened Lindsey’s frustration.    Watch the British version of “Death At A Funeral,” Marshall plays a drug dealing brother and when his future brother in law is all nerved up about meeting his future father in law, he gives him a drug to calm him down, except the brother in law takes the whole bottle and ends up on the roof of the house naked in front of everyone.  Kris Marshall made this show what it was and Lindsey played off his antics beautifully.

79: SESAME STREET:

Sesame Street.jpg Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, all taught me a thing or two.  I learned my alphabet and my numbers from this show.  Now if only they had taught me Algebra, I would have been fine.  Kermit the Frog got his start here, but he went on to a much bigger show and that’s later on my list.

78: HOMICIDE LIFE ON THE STREET:

Homicide Life On The StreetBarry Levinson created this fantastic, gritty, dark cop show, set in his home town of Baltimore.  The crimes were cutting edge, the cops were equally cutting edge, with dark and imaginative characterization.  The crimes they investigated were dark and imaginative.  It starred Ned Beatty, (Brilliant in this.) Yaphit Koto and Andre Brauer, comedian Richard Belzar,(Munch, the only actor to play the same character in three different shows, when he turned up in Law And Order SVU and an episode of the X-Files) My two favorites were Kyle Secor.  Secor and Brauer forced to be partners and they didn’t get along at all.  The combination created some combustible moments.   The writing for Homicide was phenomenal.

77: THE WEST WING:

TheWestWing-AboutImage-1920x1080-KOA show about the White House and all that goes on there.  This was the show that kind of kick started a whole lot of other shows, using the President or the White House as a backdrop.  Martin Sheen was brilliant, but Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford stole the show.

76 GUNSMOKE:

Gunsmoke_thumbI was a tot when this show was on.  However, I was a teenager when I saw it in re-reruns.  Matt Dillon, Kitty, the Doc and Festus provided the humor.  The best Western I ever saw.

75: ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH IN:

Laugh inNo list would be complete without this show  My parents felt it was so important I see it, they would wake me up to watch.  So many great characters and comedians came out of this show.  Lilly Tomlin(Edith Ann and Ernestine),  Ruth Buzzie, the old lady to Arte Johnson’s dirty old man, Joanne Worley, Goldie Hawn and many more. If this show hadn’t been on, Saturday Night Live would not have existed.   Many of these comedians would have fit seamlessly within the SNL show. A definite trailblazer and it still holds up as this clip attests.  Laugh in

74: PORRIDGE:

PORRIDGEHere we call it doing time.  In Britain, it’s called doing Porridge.  I think it had something to do with the poor food or something.  This is a British Comedy that thought life in Prison would be interesting to poke fun at.  They were right.  Ronnie Barker, plays Norman Stanley Fletcher.  He’s been sent back to prison,  presumably to get away from his wife.  He thinks he can fool the guards(Well maybe Barroclough, the gullible Guard, who Fletcher can manipulate into anything.) but not the Scotsman McKay. McKay makes Fletcher’s life miserable.  There’a s gem of a mob character in this show named Grouty, he always manages to get Norman to do some dirty work for him, which if caught could add another ten years onto his porridge.  This show was so good, I couldn’t resist but add a clip.  Porridge

73:  THE DAVE ALLEN SHOW.  

Dave AllenNow you’ve probably never heard of Dave Allen.  He’s an Irish comedian who would start each segment of his show sitting in a chair with a large tumbler of whiskey next to him.  I am not sure how he got away with that.  It was a prop, but a valuable prop.  He would then tell a series of jokes about Religion(The Catholic Church, Dave WAS Catholic), Sex, Religion, drinking, religion, more drinking, his childhood, more sex,  sometimes war and lots and lots of Religion.  After each segment he would play a series of sketches on the topic at hand.  Did I mention that he told jokes about the Catholic church and sex.  No one was quite as bold about telling religious jokes in Britain, but Dave was.  I think PBS had him briefly, but if you’ve never seen this show, you must youtube it. Brits began to loosen up when Dave was on.  Here’s an example of how funny this show was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt7h3CghJEg

72: 30 ROCK

30 rockA show about a television variety show.  A key show for Tina Fey after she left SNL and the perfect foyle was Alec Baldwin.  Now Alec has always been a good actor, but until he guest hosted SNL about a dozen or so times, we never knew he was comic genius as well. (TNE NPR sketch comes to mind.)He’s brilliant as the head of the network and plays off Tina Fey like a charm.

71: LAW AND ORDER SVU

law-and-order-svu-castI never imagined putting these shows on the list, because I think the formula has become tired.  This one is about the special Victim’s Unit and it’s the only one that is still on.  The show is pretty formulaic, but the story lines are definitely riveting and you are always left with a bombshell.   Mariska Hargitty(The daughter of Jayne Mansfield.) stars in this one.  The writing on any of these shows is top notch.

70:  ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.

All_Creatures_Great_and_Small_tv_series_castBased on the books by James Herriott.  It’s a show about family and the life of a Vet, named James Herriott.  British animal husbandry in Yorkshire in the 1930’s has never been more interesting and more amusing.  Add an eccentric boss named Sigfried and a bumbling playboy of a brother named Tristan and you have a recipe of fun.  It was a ton of fun.

69: MY NAME IS EARL.

My-Name-is-EarlThis show was such a creative idea, I just had to watch it.  Take a guy named Earl who had done all these rotten things in life and give him a conscience.  What he decides is to make a list of all the people he’s ever hurt and do something good for them so KARMA(as he calls it) doesn’t comeback at him.  It was quirky, fun and sometimes poignant.

68: THE MAN FROM UNCLE.

the-man-from-uncle-1A show that was popular during the Mission Impossible days.  In my mind it was the better of the two.  Robert Vaughan made it really cool to be a spy and  Stephanie Powers also made it cool to be a female spy.

67:  THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES.

 Sean_Patrick_Flanery,_The_Young_Indiana_Jones_ChroniclesIn the 1990’s Stephen Spielberg decided it would be really cool to bring young  Indiana Jones to television.  He was right, it was cool. Very cool.  Snakes. Jaque I hate snakes.The show starred Sean Patrick Flannery,(Later played the evil politician in The Dead Zone series.)and he played him with Wimsey, charm and a whole lot of innocence.  It’s interesting to note that along the way, young Indy, meets some rather famous historical figures through his wild adventures.  If you ever find this show on DVD, it is a must and you won’t be disappointed.  I wasn’t ever.

66: FAMILY TIES:

Family TiesMichael J. Fox became an instant star from this show, which of course led to…”Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”  It was a unique concept by Gary David Goldberg.  Two liberal parents, bring up a smart Republican child.  It’s a liberal parents worst nightmare.  The lessons that Alex P Keaton and his parents learn from each other are often poignant and very funny. Sprinkle in some siblings, Mallory(Justine Bateman) a sort of lost girl in her own world, obsessed with boys, Nick her boyfriend, who is not so bright and the nerdy guy next door named Skippy(He had a thing for Mallory) and what you had was a lot of laughs.

65: MIKE HAMMER:

  Stacy Keach-Mike HammerThis poor show only lasted three seasons, actually four if you count the series in the fifties.  The version in the early 80’s starred Stacy Keach and he was terrific and this show hearkened back to those days of the 1940’s private eye, but was set in current times.  He was equally brash, cool and had an eye for the ladies.  I was hooked.  So much so, that I decided that Drake Darrow’s favorite Private Eye growing up, was Mike Hammer.

64:  COUPLING:

The British version lasted longer than two weeks, which is how long the American version lasted.  Why?  We couldn’t recreate anything as funny as the British version.  It is probably one of the most hysterical, edgy British comedies I’ve seen.  Essentially it’s about couples who get together, but it’s about far more than that.  It’s about the funniest aspects of relationships.  It stars Jack Davenport(Pirates of the Caribbean) and Gina Bellman(Leverage) Bellman is one of the funniest characters in the show, but my favorite character is Jack Davenport’s best friend Jeff, who constantly has sex on the brain.  Some of these episodes were way over the top, with wild titles, like The Melty Man Cometh.  I won’t get into what that one’s about, this is a PG blog, but for adults, it’s a hoot.  Here’s an example.  Coupling

63: MURPHY BROWN:

 Dan_Quayle-crop No, no, no, please don’t leave the blog.  There is a perfectly good reason why Dan Quayle has a picture on show 63.  You see this show had a huge hand in effecting Dan’s political career.  Not for the better.  It seems Dan was this family values candidate running for Pres and he thought that the character Murphy Brown wasn’t a very good role model.  You see Murphy Brown was  god forbid and unwed working mother by choice.   One of the reasons this show is on this list is because it was smart, edgy, funny and tackled issues that were relevant, like working mothers who weren’t married, by choice.

62: WKRP IN CINCINNATI:

WKRPCASTI work part time in radio, so of course I have watched this show many times.  I didn’t get all the inside jokes until I got into the business, but that didn’t stop me from thinking this was one of the best TV shows around.  By the way I never worked with a news guy like Les Nessman.  Although the one I worked with did like to collect newspapers.  In fact his office was filled with them.  However he was probably one of the best news people I ever worked with, but this guy was not Les Nessman.    Les Nessman was just plain, neurotic.  The rest of the characters were just as nuts.  How did Gary Sandy deal with all these nutcases?  Who knows?  Gordon Jump played the boss, scared of his Mother and his own shadow.  His Mother put him in charge.  She really ran the station.

61: CPO SHARKEY:

CPO SharkeyEver wonder what it would be like to have Don Rickles as your Commanding Officer.  So did NBC and what followed was hilarity and a lot of crass insults, the way Don Rickles would do them.  Many a Saturday Night were spent laughing at Mr. Rickles as we watched him froth at the mouth and insult everyone the only way Rickles knew how.

60: BARNEY MILLER:

c-barneymillerA crazy show about a crazy New York Precinct.  Let’s see we had a cop who was a budding writer, one who dabbled in Psychology and liked to get inside your head, and a bitter height challenged cop who was passed over as detective.  Leavitt made sure everyone upstairs knew about his height difference.  These are just the cops.  The criminals were even crazier.  One episode dealt with a guy who insisted he was going to turn into a werewolf and he managed to frighten Sergeant Yamana(Jack Soo) out of his skin.  I can still hear him, calling out for Barney when the crook starts to howl at the moon.  Oh and all these cooks, usually were sent off to Bellview.  Here’s that werewolf episode I was talking about.  BARNEY MILLER WEREWOLF

59: ALL MY CHILDREN.

All My Children A soap Opera?????  Yes a Soap Opera.  A campy Soap Opera about little old Pine Valley.  Sometimes I called this “The Perils of Erica Kane.” The reason this show is on the list, is because it was a ground breaking show that dealt with topics that no one would touch.  Agnes Nixon created this gem and she didn’t shy away from any tough topic, which usually gave prime time the okay to start tackling such subjects.  I learned a lot from this show as it enhanced my writing.  If you want to learn how to write character, google some clips of this show and you will see probably the most unique and interesting characters that were ever on television.  Take the two in this picture, or a pimp named Billy Clyde Tuggle, Tad the Cad, who eventually didn’t become quite the cad.  This is not the last of the Soaps. I have three more.  Technically, one is a horror show, that claimed it was a soap and one is the longest running Soap of all time and still on today and no it’s not American and no Soap is not one of them.  I couldn’t get that show on the list and along the way many famous actors were discovered like Chris Bruno(The Dead Zone series Steven King)  and one talk show host, named Kelly Rippa.

58: SCTV:

SCTV_6197While Saturday Night Live was still top of the heap, a sketch comedy full of Canadian comics decided to challenge.  SCTV brought us the likes of John Candy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Katherine O’Hara.  It was a hoot to watch.  My favorite  skit was that campy soap sketch, The Days of The Week.  Occasionally I still see re-runs and I have to watch.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dKYxkYYXM

57: ROBIN HOOD:

Robin HoodI am talking about the most recent BBC America version.  It was intense.  Jonas Armstrong played him far differently than Kevin Costner.  The show was darker and far edgier.  Although Keith Allen who played the Sheriff of Nottingham was no Alan Rickman.  I liked the writers take on Guy of Gisborn played by Richard Armitage.  Gisborn discovers he’s Robin Hood’s brother.  They also killed off Marian, which was indeed different.  Oh and Marian was far different than any Marian I have ever seen.  Definitely a Marian for todays world.

56: THAT 70’S SHOW:

That_70s_Show_CastA show created in the 90’s about the seventies.  How would that work?  Humor my friend.  A lot of humor.  This show was brilliant. Red(Kurtwood Smith) was always ready to put a foot up Eric’s ass.  Topher Grace, played Eric as a bumbling stumbling geek, which he was.  My favorite scenes, were the pot smoking scenes.  They were very realistic.  THAT 70’S SHOW Probably the most realistic I have ever seen.  Oh and didn’t we all know someone like Hyde in high school?

55: CRIME STORY:

Crime StoryA show set in Chicago during the Kennedy era.  A real Untouchables for the 1960s.  It involved a small task force led by Mike Tortello(Denis Farina), trying to stop an up and coming mob wise guy named Ray Luca, played by Tony Denison.  If you like classic American cars and great music from the 1960’s, this show had that.  However, it lasted two and a half seasons.  It could have lasted far longer and I wish if it had, it would have made Denis Farina a huge star and believe me, I’ve been a huge Denis Farina fan for many years since this show.  Denis Farina’s, portrayal of Mike Tortello was very realistic, mainly because he had been a cop before he became an actor.  He knew these types of criminals and he knew these types of cops. Tony Denison was equally as good as the young wise guy Ray Luca.  You didn’t want to cross this guy.   One of the most haunting episodes, someone crossed Ray, so he took him up in a plane and threw him out.  The only problem I had with this show, was the slight steal from Godfather two.  Ray latches himself onto this Jewish mobster, kind of like Hyman Roth and I felt like I was watching a re-run there.   It’s unfortunate that this show died a slow death.  Even my father liked it and he’s not one for cop shows.

54:  THE TUDORS:

 The TudorsI made the mistake of picking this show up mid run.  I think season four.  As I am watching it, I become a little ticked off about the historical inaccuracies.  First of all they gave Henry an extra sister, who he pawns off to the elderly King of Portugal.  This woman never existed.  However, I decided to start from the beginning.  I wasn’t sorry I did. I ignored the inaccuracies.  I even liked the extra sister, Margaret, played magnificently by Gabriel Anwar. This must have been one of her side projects while she was in Burn Notice.  She was very funny and eventually she ends up sleeping with one of Henry’s chief counsel.  It was one of those sexual tension things, that magically worked.  Henry was played by  Johnathan Rhys Meyers.  He was just as arrogant as you would imagine and just as avarice with his women, but at times, we saw a softer side to Henry, which I liked.  My one problem with Henry was when he had the accident with his leg.  I think, his leg infection(Later he got gout) caused him to gain quite a bit of weight, because he simply couldn’t exercise and he loved to ride horses.   I am not sure if that is true, but Henry became plump way before  Katherine Parr and they kept Jonathan Rhys Meyers svelt and toned.  It was interesting to note the relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry was not as contentious as I remember reading.  They toned it way down and Henry actually did love her a great deal.  It was beautifully crafted.     It was a show filled with high intrigue and awesome acting.  Look for James Frain(24,  Audrey’s Ex) who plays Cromwell.  For a while you really loathe Cromwell, but when his whole world crumbles around him, Frain manages to make you empathize with him.  I also liked the idea that Anne Bolelyn wasn’t as power hungry as most portrayals I’ve seen.  This was a true event when you watched it and deserves to be in my top 100, not just for the writing but the acting.

53: MOONLIGHTING:

 moonlightingBefore Bruce Willis had a movie career he had television.  Before Cybil Shepherd had television, she had movies.  The two came together to create this awesome chemistry together.  The show revolved around Maddy Hayes who hires David Addison to help her run a private detective agency.  From the git go, the two didn’t not get along at all, which made the scenes electric, with crackling dialogue.  Check this out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nU3AIvfK04 The two actors may not have gotten along and when rumors hit that the show was in trouble, the creators did something totally brilliant, they wrote it into the actor tension into the script.  However that only lasted so long before Bruce Willis had enough and bailed for a movie career.  And that my friends is how it all began for Bruce Willis.

52: HOGAN’S HEROES:

HOGANS HEROES“I know nothing.  Nothing.”  How can you keep off a show that stands the test of time.  It’s still as funny today as it was when it came on the air.  I have often wondered whether this show was somehow based slightly on The Great Escape.

51: LAW AND ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT:

Law & Order: Criminal IntentWhen the third in the Law in Order franchise came on, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  However what came out, was this detective played by Vincent D’Onofrio who had this way of Psychologically manipulating a suspect into a confession.  He was riveting to watch and it was then that I realized he was an incredibly underrated actor.  Although if you watch the Movie Full Metal Jacket, the seeds were there. The show became very engaging to watch and I watched it to see him act and see where he would take the character.  Of the three it remains my favorite.  Unfortunately of the three it had the shortest run.

50: MIAMI VICE:

MIAMI VICEI was very late coming to the party, but once I did,(late 80’s re-runs), I found it extremely gripping.  The writing was awesome and the characters were very well developed.  The show had a cool soundtrack and it helped moved the scenes seamlessly.  Watch for Phil Collins in at least two episodes and he is quite good.

49: MAD MEN:

MAD MENI always like shows that are set in the late 50’s to early 60’s.  A show about ad men.  Donald Draper is definitely no saint.  He has demons, he drinks and he’s a womanizer, but he’s just plain fun to watch.  It’s a compelling show about power and who wants to be on top.

48: THE INBETWEENERS:

 The InbetweenersI’ve seen lots of shows about what it’s like to grow up as a teenager; However I’ve never quite seen a show about the stupid things we do as adolescents. The British took this show and put it on Channel 4.  The fourth channel and there’s a reason why, it’s bold and extremely edgy.  Channel 4 in England is like HBO, it allows for a series to take some risks.  This show took a ton of them and when it ran out, it found more.  This show is about four British Nerds.  There’s Will, the new boy trying to fit in.  Simon who can’t think of anything other than his neighbor Carly.  Jay who talks a big game, but has never really done anything with any girl and Neil.  Neil is well…different and the kid you really thought might be this side of nuts. It’s a show that’s pretty mature for it’s age and at times a bit graphic, but believe me if you can get by those moments, this is a show that definitely will make you laugh.  Here’s an example.  The Inbetweeners

47.  GENERAL HOSPITAL:

ABC's To hook in the male audience, a soap opera must create a show, that’s like a spy show.  You know lots of caboom, bad guys trying to take over the world, that sort of thing.  That’s exactly what General Hospital did in the 1980’s and soon every soap was doing it. Why? because General Hospital had introduced this really cool character named Luke Spencer.  Sure he started out as kind of a slimy guy, working for the mob, but that’s definitely not what happened once he met Laura Webber. He fell in love with Laura and he wanted out of the mob.  So he turns on them and hijacks Laura from Scotty Baldwin’s wedding, that pretty much started a series of interesting plot lines for these two. It also changed Scotty Baldwin from a hero to a cad.  Luke and Laura were on more interesting adventures than Indiana Jones and because General Hospital wanted to keep you tuned in, they brought in a whole team for Luke to play off of, like this strange Australian James Bond guy named Robert Scorpio, his former boss Sean Donnolly and his ex wife Anna Devane(A really cool Emma Peel type.)  I put General Hospital here, because it changed the face of daytime television forever and brought in a whole new idea of what to do with a soap.  I also think it actually had a hand in helping prime time start telling better stories.

46: REMINGTON STEELE:

Remington SteeleThe idea was simple. A con man named Remington Steele(Pierce Brosnan, pre James Bond) and put him with this gorgeous woman(Stephanie Zimbalist) and you have the makings of a really cool detective show.  You did, it killed.  It was smart, cutting edge and different.  Brosnan was more than suave and Zimabalist played off that suave cool demeanor well.

45: NEWS RADIO:

 news radioNews Radio was definitely a show that I related to. I knew who many of these misfits were. I’d worked with people like them. From the Owner to the Chief Engineer. It was set in New York City and revolved around WNYX.  It starred Phil Hartmann, who was “BILL MCNEIL,” the most arrogant self centered news announcer you would ever meet.  He made Rush Limbaugh look tame.  Believe me some of the antics that happened on this show, are believable, I know, I been through some of the same situations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JpwjnMFlJI

44: SHOGUN:

shogun

There a few mini series on this list.  James Clavelle’s Shogun is the first.  Richard Chamberlain starred and was brilliant.  I still remember it vividly and I was hooked every night of the run.  Far better than The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.

43: I LOVE LUCY:

.Lucille Ball.Way before your time, you say.  You’ve never heard of the wacky Lucille Ball, you say.  Go to TV land.  I’m sure they still have re-runs running. She’s the reason Carol Burnett came along and any other female comedian after.  This show was gold.  If you happen to stumble upon this episode watch it, it’s a classic. Here’s the classic chocolate factory episode.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQ58I53mjk

42: CORONATION STREET:

Coronation-StreetIn the 1970’s, my parents would go down to their local pub and would come back and regale my sister and I of colorful tales of colorful pub characters named Skinner, Tup and Duffy.   What my parents didn’t know is that my sister and I were also at our local pub.  It was called The Rovers and it was the favorite watering hole for all the locals of Coronation Street set just outside Manchester England.  A unique and different English Soap Opera, that is still going strong.  In fact it is the longest running soap EVER! Sorry Days Of Our Lives this show has you beat by a mile.  If you happen to get Canadian television, you can catch it.  It’s a show that always has interesting characters, plenty of intrigue and most important, it doesn’t take itself seriously.  In fact it can be a laugh riot and here’s an example from one of my favorite characters, Steve McDonald.  Coronation Street

41:  HOLOCAUST:

Holocaust_(TV_miniseries)_dvdMERLY STREEP before we knew who she was.

In the 1970’s and into the 80’s the mini series was all the rage.  And a lot of them were simply spectacular.  Holocaust was by far one of the best.  I was becoming curious about the topic.  This show was the perfect teaching tool.  It starred two people, you might have heard of, James Woods and Meryl Streep.  The acting and the writing were incredible.  Meryl Streep became a huge star after this and James Woods revamped his fledgling movie career.  Both won Emmy’s if I am not mistaken.

40: THE HONEYMOONERS:

  Gleason_honeymooners_1965A classic among classics.  Jackie Gleason could simply do it all.  In this show, he was brilliant. I saw re-runs in England and here.  The English loved it so much they copied it and created their own show called “On The Buses.” Funny, but not like this.  I always saw Alice(Audrey Meadows) as the key to the whole show.  She was definitely a strong female character and had Ralph Cramdon wrapped around her finger. Alice Cramdon was ahead of her time and in a lot of ways, so was this show.  Here’s and example.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBa-bvJeqk

39:  THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW:

Barney FifeWhen the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s list of it’s top 100 television shows, this show was nowhere to be found.  Uh hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ll give them a little slack because the people that came up with that list were probably born yesterday.  This show  was comic gold.  Here’s an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8m4zM9kfY4 Barney alone was the worth the price of admission .  Oh sure there were other colorful characters, Otis the town drunk, Floyd the Barber, Gomer Pyle and Goober, and who can forget Ernest T Bass and the Darlings.  I put the show in bold, because I believe it was the first time we caught a glimpse of a single dad on television.

38:  THE PACIFIC:

A recent mini series.  While National networks tried to revive this type of show without success, cable found a way of recreating it and turning it back into gold.  Particularly HBO.  This is the partner series to the very highly acclaimed “Band Of Brothers” that Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created.  I’ve seen movies on the theater in the Pacific, but never one that dealt with it more realistically than this.  The Pacific was different than “Band Of Brothers”, you had a chance to get to know these characters away from the war.  You saw them at home as well as in the theater.  It was a brutal mini series.  In fact if you decide to watch this, don’t take it all in one gulp.  You’ll be drained emotionally.  You have to take it in bits and pieces.  PacificRami Malik was already starting his rise to stardom.  In this show he starts to solidify it.  He’s equally as good in this as he is in Mr. Robot.  Also look for James Badge Dale.  If you watched 24 he was in season 3 and was Kim’s boyfriend(Jack Bauer’s daughter.)  He’s brilliant in this.  The episode where he catches a peeing disease in the jungle is his best.

37: FRASIER:

FRASIERWhat does James Burrows do after he creates one of the most iconic comedies of all time.  He takes a character from that bar, moves him to Seattle and he becomes a radio talk show host.  What a brilliant move and what a brilliant funny, funny show. Frasier, moves in with his Dad(John Mahoney) an ex cop with a bad leg.  So bad he needs Daphne(Jane Leeves a former Benny Hill girl.) to take care of him.  Put a little dog in the mix named Eddie and  Frasier’s equally pompous brother Niles(Also a Psychiatrist.)  and Burrows had himself another huge hit.   Of course my favorite parts were always Frasier’s radio show scenes.  He took calls from  people with strange Psychological hangups.  The callers were often famous actors dying to get on the show.  

36:  THE OFFICE:   

The OfficeThe most successful comedies deal with something new or deal with an office setting.  Office settings are always gold.  The Office was the only American show, stolen from the British, that hit gold. The original was done by Ricky Gervais and some hobbit guy named Martin Freeman.  Steve Carrel made this show what it was. Mr. Carrel is the most underrated funny men in this country.  He doesn’t over do, he underplays a lot.  As my father and my Godfather would say, less is better, not more.  He was insensitive without meaning to be.  He was silly with intentions to change moral and it never worked.  The show was a laugh riot and you could relate to any of these characters if you have ever worked in an office setting.  A great show, and here are examples of both the American version and the British.  American version.  The Office.  The British. The Office

35: MAGNUM PI.

 magnum-piI watched this show in re-run form and I never realized how good it was.  Tom Sellick was perfect.  What I liked about Thomas Magnum, was he wasn’t that PI that tried to impress you.  He was just an average Joe on the surface, but inside he was a man with his Vietnam past and fighting those demons.  He had a good life, but he didn’t boast about it.  He lived in a nice mansion owned by some wealthy guy named Robin Masters, who we didn’t meet until far later, but of course he was there all along.  Higgins(John Hillerman.)

34: ROSEANNE:

 Roseanne-Dan-roseanne-11819784-1024-768This show grew on me and once I was hooked I realized it was another groundbreaking show.  It dealt with middle class America like no other show. It didn’t matter whether you were middle class or on the upper crust, you could relate to any topic.   Rosanne Barr dealt with tough issues that had never been tackled. The show dealt with domestic abuse, child abuse, mental illness and family dysfunction, and LGBT issues, but it dealt with the issues in a mature manner, while still hitting your funny bone. The chemistry between Roseanne Barr and  John Goodman was incredible and the acting top notch and so many people that came out of this show went on to have very healthy acting careers.  Laurie Metcalf(Small part JFK and Big Bang Theory.)   Johnny Galicki(Leonard Big Bang Theory) and some guy named George Clooney, plus many more.  A show I never seem to get tired of, even today while in re-runs.  Here’s an example.  Roseanne

33: THE MUPPET SHOW:

kERMIT THE FROG AND MS PIGGY.Jim Henson was a genius.  He took a character from Sesame Street and turned him into a star.  However the Muppet show was much more than just Kermit.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCmKw-Zqbj0 He had a great cast of characters around him, like Ms. Piggy(Pigs in Space.) Fozzy The Bear, Dr Bunson Honeydoo and his capable sidekick Beaker, the two guys in the balcony, Stadler and Waldorff(A former co-worker and I have been referred to them on more than one occasion.) and who can forget, that wild Swedish Chef.  You never knew what he was saying, but it didn’t matter, because in the first minute of any skit, he was throwing vegetables behind his back and acting like a madman with his knife.  The most amazing thing about this show were the guest stars and there were a plethora of them.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for the likes of Liza Minelli to act with Puppets. It wasn’t just a kids show, it was definitely for adults.  Ask my Dad, he insisted we watch it.

32: LAW AND ORDER:

LAW AND ORDERDick Wolfe didn’t realize it at the time, Law and Order brought franchise television to the world. The original Law and Order was something fresh. The first two acts dealt with some crime. Once the perp was caught, you were treated to the second half of the process, the prosecution. It was unique, no one had ever done this before.  Therefore it was groundbreaking.  My favorite character was Lenny, (Jerry Orbach) never without some sort of joke and always willing to debate his partner about the crime.

31: EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND:

Everybody-Loves-Raymond_1024-768When Everybody Loves Raymond doesn’t crack my top twenty, then you know there must be some great shows ahead.  Here’s a clip to give you an idea, of why I liked this show so much. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9bca0Kjpo Essentially, Ray Romano created a show based on his stand-up.  His stand-up must have been about his wacky dysfunctional family.  The wonderful thing about this show, is it always had a message and that message always came from some guilt trip his wife put on him or Ray’s mom.   Brad Garrett, was the break out star, he played Rays brother Robert, the cop. He also played the lead in Till Death as the lead, not as funny, but he also played Jackie Gleason in a biopic and  was brilliant. Doris Roberts played Ray’s meddling mother(Always pulling a guilt trip on someone and she drove Deborah crazy.) Patricia Heaton played Deborah, who was Ray’s wife.  Ray was damn scared of her. Patricia knew how to keep this sportswriter in his place.  Peter Boyle played his father, who was grouchy a lot.  A show that will live on as one of the best from the turn of the century.

30 DARK SHADOWS:

Dark Shadows BarnabusMy grandmother’s favorite show was “The Edge Of Night.”  She was always insulted if you called it a soap.  “It’s not a soap opera”, she would say, “it’s a detective show.”  She was right.  I read the show history, it was a detective show.   So if The Edge of Night was not a soap opera, either was Dark Shadows.  Dark Shadows was a campy horror serial damn it.  Dark Shadows never took itself seriously, which is what was brilliant about it.  My mother was obsessed with it.  Not me, once that eerie music came on and I saw those waves crash against the rocks, I was out the door in a flash.  The show gave me nightmares. It wasn’t until I was in college that I truly appreciated how good this show was.   My local NBC station decided it would be cool to bring it back in re-run form, but of course there was a reason.  They were going to come out with a new series on prime time and it would star Benjamin Cross.  I watched a few.  Ben Cross was terrifying and the woman that played Angelique was just as scary.  It survived two seasons before getting the ax. The interesting thing is the Barnabus didn’t show up until the third year and that was because ratings were sagging and it was on the verge of getting the network boot.  Once Jonathan Frid came on board, that changed the shows fortunes forever.  The show soon became much more than ghosts and Vampires, it also had witches and werewolves(Quentin Collins, David Selby)  Definitely a show to watch.

29:  ENTOURAGE:

EntourageJohn Cusak has a team of actors he likes to work with, one includes his sister Joan Cusak and this guy, Jeremy Piven.  You might have seen him in “Say Anything” and a little spy movie with Dan Ackroyd called “Grosse Point Blank.”  He was not well known until HBO came knocking and decided to do this interesting show about Hollywood. It’s a show about the ups and downs of a Hollywood movie star named Vincent Chase and how it tests his friendship with his Manager and best friend Eric Murphy, who everyone calls E.  Piven plays Vinnie’s agent and even though, he’s a condescending sleazy son of bitch, you would definitely want this guy fighting for your career.  Since it was on cable, it was a show that was allowed to take a few more risks than a show should be allowed to take and that’s what makes it so brilliant.  There are many guest spots from many Hollywood types playing themselves, from Actors, to Producers to Directors.  My two favorite characters, Johnny Drama(Kevin Dillon) a neurotic mess.  And of course Arry Gold(Jeremy Piven).  Piven just eats up the screen in every scene he is in.  Rather adult content to follow from this brilliant montage of this fantastic show.  Entourage

28:  THE GOODIES:

GOODIESThe who?  The Goodies, a show about three friends who start a company that provides a service to do good in the world.  If you want the Australian Singer Rolf Harris caught and captured, these guys do it.(Because there were apparently many Rolf Harris’s wandering all across Britain.)  Sounds like a British Comedy doesn’t it.  It was and one of funniest I have ever seen in my life. It stars,  occasional Monty Python cast member Tim Brook Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graham Garden.  Whenever these do gooders took a job, it always ended in some disaster or some hilarious confusing result.  This show was so funny a man died of a heart attack, laughing so hard.  During one episode my mother was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks.  The Episode?  The Ecky Thump, a black pudding(Or pud as they called it.) that dates back to the Lancashire martial arts period. When used the Ecky thump is a deadly weapon.   I know, absurd.  It’s British humor, it’s supposed to be absurd.  Here’s Ecky thump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuP1eycaA6c

27: UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS:

upstairs-downstairs-1970s-castEveryone take note, Downton Abbey is not an original. I’ve watched it and all I can think of is another show with a different title that came upon the scene of British television in the seventies, (Also showed on Masterpiece theater) called Upstairs Downstairs.  It starred Gordon Jackson(The Great Escape), Jean Marsh, Pauline Collins(Shirley Valentine and Quartet) and her husband John Alderton.  A totally phenomenal show about the same thing, only this family is called the Bellamys.  It dealt with all kinds on interesting topics.  A maid gets pregnant, by one of the Bellamys, The Stock Market crash and suicide.  So before you go ahead and think Downton Abbey is an original, think again.  This was the original and this was a Masterpiece.

26: GET SMART:

Maxwell Smart and Agent 99.“99 I need you come here.”  Sorry about that Chief.”  “Chief is this top secret?”  “Why yes Max it is.”  “Don’t you think we should use the Cone of Silence”  “Would you believe that this was the funniest show on television in the 1960’s?”  I can recite thousands of catch phrases from this show.  People seem to forget that before Mel Brooks became famous with Blazing Saddles, he created this quirky half hour comedy about a spy agency called Control fighting their evil nemesis KAOS.  Their number 1 agent, the bumbling stumbling Maxwell Smart secret agent 86.  Of course KAOS had their own bumbling agent, named Sigfried.(Bernie Koppel)At the time there was Mission Impossible and The Man From Uncle, why not find some humor in the spy business.  Don Adams played Maxwell Smart and Barbara Feldon played his partner Agent 99. Smart was probably the most inept spy you would ever meet, but somehow in one half hour, he would always seem to get the job done.  Here’s some of the best of this funny, funny show. Get Smart

25:  THE COSBY SHOW:

The Cosby showYou may have your current opinions about Bill Cosby, and I am not putting this show on this list to debate that.   Bill Cosby is one funny guy and during the 80’s and somewhat the 90’s this show was one of the best shows going.  It was relevant.  If you’re African American, it was very relevant and more relevant than any other show about the African American experience.  There had never been an upper class African American Family on television until the Cosby show.  It was also revolutionary because Claire was a lawyer and a woman, and that had never happened before either.  It spawned a spin off called “A Different World.” which was also a good show and if it weren’t for Cosby, no network would have taken a chance on the second upper class black family show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Will Smith.  Also a very fine show.  Here’s a classic episode.  Lamont the Goldfish and his funeral.  The Cosby Show

24: ST. ELSEWHERE:

st_elsewhereBasically Hill Street Blues,  only in a hospital, but if you sat down and watched this show, it was a different hospital show.  Once again it was about character.  Many fine actors came out of this show.  Steven Furst(Well we already knew him as Flounder from Animal House.) Ed Begley Jr.  William Daniels the hard nosed Chief Surgeon,(Later voiced Kit the car for some Hasselhoff show called the Knight Rider.). Mark Harmon, Howie Mandell and the biggest of them all, Denzel.

23: THE AVENGERS:

 john-steed-and-emma-peel-thumbYou had to know that this show was going to be on the list.  I wrote a whole blog on how it inspired me to write strong female characters.  It had everything, a strong female character, a cool hip gentlemen spy and best of all it’s British.  Some of the villains were also bizarre and interesting, the only way British Villains would be.  Diana Rigg is still the best partner for Steed and there were a few before and after her.(Although the character names changed) Steed(Patrick McNee)  was cooler than cool with that cain and bowler and those old British sports cars they drove, awesome.

22:  THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW:

Mary Tyler Moore“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”  Chuckles The Clown remains my favorite episode to this day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92I04DkMEps Seltzer  and wild stuff happened all the time at that little television station located in Minneapolis Minnesota.  “That Girl” started the trend, Mary Tyler Moore, took it and kicked it up to another level.  A strong woman working in a man’s world.  She knew how to put Lou Grant in his place.   The two had sort of a strange romantic attraction, which, thankfully the writers never acted on.  Once Mary blazed the way, Murphy Brown took it a step further. Then of course there was Ted Knight, the arrogant bumbling news anchor and who can forget Betty White as that happy cooker, Suzanne Niven.  A definite classic.

21: LA LAW:

LA LAWThe eighties saw a whole new world of television.  Like Hill Street Blues did for cop shows, LA LAW did for law the genre.  Now this wasn’t your prosecute the crook law show.  This show dealt with civil law cases and the characters who took them on.  It was a show that dealt with character.  Particularly Arnie Becker(Corbin Bernsen), probably the most loathsome lawyer on the pay role, because Arnie was always on the prowl.   A great show, one worthy of being on a list.

20:  ER:

 ERThe top twenty is here and it starts with ER.  Hospital shows have been around since television was invented, but never has their been a show quite like this.   I believe it was the longest hospital show(Until Grey’s Anatomy surpasses it) that ever aired.  It was nothing I had ever seen before.  Fast paced, gritty, hard edged and it dealt with subjects never seen on Television. You had a chief of staff who not only had a disability, she was a lesbian. You had one of the Chief doctors develop cancer. You had a nurse attempt to commit suicide in the first season.(Julianna Marguiles) because George Clooney just dumped her. Then there was a character who developed AIDS after a needle stab.  It was awesome.  The reason ER worked, is that it was high octane and fast paced, just like an ER.  Each seen was quick, sharp and intense.  Here’s why this was the best most intense hospital show ever.  ER

19: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:

 snl the original.It’s still on, it won’t go away, please for the love of God make it stop because it’s still pretty damn funny!  Here’s why my tears ducks, ribs and my bladder can’t take it anymore.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ufj5P3W7Jw SNL simply took Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, and made it edgier. It was the first show to have celebrity guest hosts.  It was the first show to make sure you got to see the latest hot musical act and there were many.  It was the show that gave you John Belushi’s Samurai sketch and you fell off your chair laughing.  It was the show that gave you new comedic names like Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain and Bill Murray.  All of these comedians became huge stars and left to go on and forge very successful careers.  How does this show stay on top?  SNL lets it’s stars out of their contracts and hires new cast members.  It was the first show, that dared to make fun of the White House and attack Politics in a mature and funny way.  It is still the show to watch on Saturday Nights, maybe not as funny as the original, but if I’m home and I am up at the SNL hour, I watch.

18:  HILL STREET BLUES:

hill-street-blues_wide-8f94a0b0d3d404e8d705d04b59a99434e38dba7b-s900-c85 Sergeant Phil Esterhouse(Michael Conrad)would stand before the precinct each morning and have a briefing.  It was usually about what was going on and the  latest case or the latest perps to be on the lookout for.  After Esterhouse ended his brief , each officer would get up and file out and begin their day out on the street, but he would holler at them as they went out the door.   “Hey, Hey, Hey” then a wag of the finger.  “Lets be careful out there.”  Conrad was a genius.  Any other actor would have played it the same way every time.  Not Conrad, he had fun with it.  It was one of my favorite classic moments and I had to see it.  Hill Street Blues was a different cop show.  It dealt with the character’s lives on and off duty.  After each episode,  you had a sense that you knew who these people were and you cared about what happened to them.  They were just like you and I.  It’s what made Hill Street such a classic.  This show changed television, not just the cop genre, all genres.

17: THE WONDER YEARS:

The Wonder YearsWhat were the Wonder Years?  I’ll tell you, because this was one of the best shows on television in the 1980’s.  The Wonder Years where a time when growing up, meant you got on your bike with your best bud Paul Pfeiffer and went for a ride.  The Wonder Years were when you played Football with your friends and if you came home with a bruise on your face, your mother was worried.  The Wonder Years were a time, when girls suddenly became alive to you, particularly the girl next door.  The Wonder Years were when you got cold feet trying to ask that girl to the dance.  The Wonder years were also a time when you grew up, you learned about Vietnam, got your license and just spent your time being a kid in an innocent time with your friends.  It was where you learned how to love and finally got the girl you always knew you loved.  It was where you accepted your brother as maybe, not so bad a guy after all.  It was where you went to work with your Dad and understood what his world was like and you began to understand why he had ulcers and how hard he worked to put food on the table. The Wonder Years were wonderful and it was one of my favorite shows of all time and I could relate.  The Wonder Years the Phone call

16: THE BIG BANG THEORY:

BIG BANG THEORYA show that dares to be what it wants to be.  A show about nerds and there is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  Nerds are funny, but these four nerds are hysterical.  First you have Howard a Jewish Nerd who can’t get away from his mother.  Then there’s Raj a nerd from India, who can’t talk to beautiful women unless he is drinking. Sheldon who is obsessed with Physics and String Theory and then there is Leonard.  All Leonard is hoping for is a shot at the hot blond next door named Penny.  This is a show about nerds and all that is goofy and fun about them.  You’ll learn about video games, comic books and Sheldon’t latest project involving string theory.  Most of all you’ll laugh your socks off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIp77PUvLTE

15: FRIENDS:

Friends  Okay, I admit it, I was wrong.  Way wrong.  When I first heard about this show,  I thought, oh come a show  about 30 somethings who hang out all day, how on earth can that be funny.  Then one night, I was getting ready for work and I saw the trailer.  Joey was telling the latest story of how he botched an audition.  Chandler made fun of him.  It caught my attention because it was a very funny bit involving a Pinocchio joke. Now I wanted to see this show and I wanted the show to prove me wrong.   It did, from jump street and I was a faithful fan.  Chandler had to be my favorite character(Matthew Perry), although Phoebe was a strong second.  Who else can sing a song about a smelly cat off key and make you laugh. I have many favorite episodes, whether it be an episode involving Ross’ monkey, or any audition Joey shows up at.  The one where Joey shows up at an audition Hernia was a laugh riot.  It was a show that had style, class and humor and many stars begged to be on this show.  Brad Pitt was dating Jennifer Anniston during the infamous I hate Rachel episode.  Susan Sarandon shows up as a washed up actress who hits on Joey. Giovanni Ribisi(Saving Private Ryan, The Wonder Years and the X-Files) is brilliant as Phoebe’s not so bright brother.  It’s a show that will stand the test of time for many, many years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e7bf3hW6lE

14: THE ODD COUPLE:

The odd couple.I will not watch the new Odd Couple, it doesn’t matter if the very talented Matthew Perry is in it or not. It doesn’t matter if they decide to make a female version with Rita Moreno.  There are only two Oscar  Madisons and Felix Ungers.  The original movie actors, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman for television.  It may seem snobby or ridiculous but that is the way my brain is wired.  Klugman and Randall made this show click.  The timing between the two was impeccable.  It was just brilliant to watch.  Here’s why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axgw04CD–s 

12: BAND OF BROTHERS:

 lIEBGOT Towards the end of this mini series, a German commandant gives up his pistol to Major Winters and asks to address his captured men. He recites Henry V.  Specifically the speech of St. Crispin.  It tells you all you need to know about what it is like to battle with brothers in arms.  I have never been a fan of war.  I feel that it should be avoided at all costs.  However, it is necessary in certain circumstances.  World War II being one of those circumstances.  Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created what is probably one of the most important mini series of our lifetime.  Yes it’s gruesome, real and bloody, but it had to be told, so we would not forget what we were fighting for.  In fact that is the Title of one of the episodes, “What Are we Fighting For?”  It’s a story about Easy Company run by a fair minded man named Lieutenant Dick Winters, who manages to run this company the best way he knows how, by example.  I have three episodes that stick out in my mind.  The two on Bastogne and the other is the concentration camp episode.  This episode is the most poignant and earth shattering of all.  This clip tells you why we fought.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHcJtU9dr6I I have always been a history buff.  I like to know the where, why and how of history, so I can understand.  I am not Jewish, but this particular topic has always been a fascination to me.  I think because I wanted to know why a monster like Hitler was allowed to do what he did.  This is one of the many reasons this show is in my top twenty.  We should not forget.  We should learn from our mistakes, so that it does not occur again.

12: ROOTS:

 lAVAR bURTONI was never more captivated by a television mini series as Roots.  My father recently gave me Alex Haley’s tome, because I wanted to refresh my memory.  I don’t think there’s a bad bit of dialogue or action in this show, or a bad bit of acting.  I know the remake is out, but nothing is like the original.  Lavar Burton as young Kunta Kinte, John Amos as the older, Ben Vereen as Chicken George and Chuck Conners as his evil master. Roots was a mini series that taught us about our past, the present and at the time hope for the future.  It was a show that not only got us in touch with history, but our own genealogy.

11:  THE SOPRANOS

 The Sopranos Some actors are known by small parts while others make their own magic.  James Gandolfini was one of those guys.  James came to my attention in the 90’s with a small movie called “Get Shorty.”  He was the muscle for Delroy Lindo, the bad guy. His name was Bear, who works for Lindo’s character because if he doesn’t, Lindo will kill his 5 year old daughter.  Once John Travolta(Chili Palmer) bests him in two fights, Bear begins to realize, “hey this guy could help me out.”  The next movie I saw Gandolfini in was Quentin Tarantino’s “True Romance.”  Once again he was the muscle and he was sadistic.  Some of the things he did to Patricia Arquette are beyond description.  This certainly must have caught the attention of David Chase.  Mr. Chase had this idea about a Mob boss in New Jersey who is told to go see a shrink (Loraine Braco) after an anxiety attack.  In his sessions, he opens up and talks about his home life problems and his mob family problems.   A brilliant idea was born and took off.  Gandolfini’s character is loosely based on Decavalcante mob boss Vincent Palermo, or as his associates knew him Vinnie Ocean, because he ran a fish market.  This show was gritty, gruesome at times, funny and very realistic. The show finale is awesome because it left you wondering whether Tony got whacked, arrested or went into the Federal witness protection program. The Sopranos

10:  BURN NOTICE:

  New Burn notice image

The series started out every week, with this opening narrative, which came from the pilot.  Burn Notice had one of the best show opens I’ve ever seen and intrigued me to watch, if you haven’t seen this show, it’s in reruns and it’s a must.  Here’s how the opening sounded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gRdQeuZ9Tw

The title Burn Notice essentially is the CIA’S term for fired.  So what do you do if your burned?  The only thing you can do, fight back and find the persons responsible.  The problem for Michael Westen is that the CIA can do anything they want to a burned spy.  They dump him in Miami, with no cash, no identity and no sense of self.  They can even kill him if they want.  However, Michael is lucky, he has his meddling mom(Sharon Gless, quite frankly brilliant.) his no good brother, a former CIA agent(Bruce Campbell, equally brilliant.) who snitches on him to the FBI and….wait for it.  wait for it, the most frightening woman to ever grace a television set, his ex girlfriend an ex IRA terrorist named Fiona Glenanne who sells weapons to terrorists for a living.  This forms his team and to make a little cash on the side, he helps people as a sort of vigilante.  A brilliant show with edge, humor and a how to on how to be a spy.  Every action packed scene is set up for you by Jerry Donovan’s character Michael Westen.  The best parts are his narratives on how to operate in a situation as a spy.  He talks to you in the third person and each week I came back for more.  A show in the top ten deserves more than one clip.  One for FI to show you how badass this woman really is Burn Notice FI in action and one of the show. Burn Notice explosions

9:  THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON:

Johnny CarsonI remember Johnny’s farewell show.  My Dad came up for a weekend and we went to see an Expos game.  We stayed the night in Keesville New York and watched an hour tribute to Johnny and then his final show, which was essentially his  tribute to the fans.  He  showed his most iconic moments.  I knew right then and there, that late night television was never going to be the same.  I grew up on Johnny.  He was an Uncle to me and as much as I liked Jay Leno, it certainly wouldn’t be the same.  What made Johnny great was that he was humble.  He was a brilliant interviewer.  He let the guest take over the segment.  It didn’t matter whether you were Burt Reynolds or Tina the Lizard Eating woman.  He was always captivated by your story and that helped draw the guest out.  Johnny was simply the best and if a joke didn’t work, he made fun of it.  My favorite part were the segments with animals and kids.

8: CHEERS:

Cheers_cast_1991You were wondering weren’t you?  You thought this show wasn’t going to be on my list.   Sure it may not be as high as you would like, but it makes the top ten.  A bar where everyone knows your name almost was cut loose by NBC and it would have been a mistake.  However, NBC had nothing to lose.  They believed in this little show and stuck with it.  It starred Ted Danson as washed up Red Sox Pitcher Sam Malone, who runs a bar in Boston.  It was a show that always kept you laughing, whether it was a quip after Norm entered, or whether it was some useless piece of information from Cliff Claven.  Remember the Jeopardy episode?  I do.  Sam was always on the prowl too and he didn’t always succeed getting his lady.  All in all, he was a lovable guy and so were the many characters in this bar.  Here’s one of those ladies Sam let go.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1kbn-LOpes 

7: FAWLTY TOWERS:

 fAWLTY TOWERSThis Christmas my sister gave me a gift to remind me of England.  Not specifically England itself, but a television show.  It was a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream.  She asked me, “You do remember right.”  Oh I did.  A whole whacky scene about salad cream, came from a Fawlty Towers episode.  It was a show that lasted all of three years, but oh what a three years it was.  John Cleese played a pompous, obnoxious self centered ass, who thinks he knows how to run a hotel.  The guests soon find out he doesn’t and that’s where the friction begins.  It usually takes his wife Sybil and his best waitress Polly to get him out of his scrapes.  The scene my sister was referring to involved a young obnoxious brat eating with his family.  Basil, trying to be a good host asks them how their meal is.  The young lad speaks up and complains that it tastes revolting, like a dogs dinner.  He then complains that the salad cream is awful. Here’s the rest of the scene.

Mrs Heath: May I ask why you don’t have proper salad cream? I mean, most restaurants…

Basil: Well, the chef only buys it on special occasions, you know, gourmet nights and so on, but… when he’s got a bottle – ah! – he’s a genius with it. He can unscrew the cap like Robert Carrier. It’s a treat to watch him. (he mimes) And then… right on the plate! None on the walls! Magic! He’s a wizard with a tin-opener too. He got a Pulitzer Prize for that. He can have the stuff in a saucepan before you can say “haute cuisine”. You name it, he’ll heat it up and scrape it off the pan for you. Mind you, skill like that isn’t picked up overnight. Still, I’ll tell him to get some salad cream in, you never know when Henry Kissinger is going to drop in, do you?

The show was constantly filled with moments like this.  My favorite is a site gag. This is where Basil thrashes his car when it stalls on the curb.  Here, let John Cleese tell you.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeEHQzyUdC0 This gives you an idea of this brilliant British show.

6: MASH:

 MashDirector Robert Altman probably never realized that a small comedy movie about the conflict in Korea was going to be a massive hit on the small screen, but it was and it lasted 11 seasons.  Never before has a military medical unit ever been shown on television before and this show, brought some very graphic and realistic moments to television.   Frank was always my favorite character, because we all know someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

5: MONTY PYTHON:

 MONT015ACCOf all sketch comedy shows, this is the master.  It’s better than SNL, Laugh In, Carol Burnett and any others.  It is the king. The one that has stood the test of time and still holds up today. Monty Python was silly, it poked fun at Hitler, the Queen or anything else it deemed worthy of a slap on the fanny.  Most of the sketches were nonsense, whether it be the Parrot sketch, the sketch about Cheese, or Dennis Moore the Highwayman.  The master of the troupe was of course John Cleese.  A man who still has it today as I witnessed from an episode of Entourage.  He played himself and was quite funny.  Probably Michael Palin follows, then Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, followed by the token American Terry Gilliam with his masterful animated sketches.  If you’re a millennial and you’ve never seen this show, you must be versed in the ways of Python.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE

4: ALL IN THE FAMILY:

 All In the FamilyWhen Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) arrived on the scene it was a totally different world.  Vietnam was still going on, feminism was taking root and the civil rights movement had come and gone.  Archie Bunker  didn’t like it and he provided his own commentary on the situation.  This was a show was about a bigot, male chauvinism and some one whose right wing politics got under his families skin.  A character like that dealing with a whole host of issues, had never been seen on television before.  He opened up the box and allowed Hollywood to go a bit further.  A true Norman Lear Masterpiece.  Of all the television writers that changed TV for the good, it was Lear and of course no top ten or top five list is complete without All In The Family.

3: SEINFELD:

  SeinfeldIn the late 80’s Larry David’s little show about nothing, became a show about everything.  What Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were thinking was what we were thinking.  What were they thinking?  They were thinking we lived in a shallow, shallow world, with shallow people and they were going to peel it all back and show us how ugly we had become and if you laughed, then you were laughing at yourself.  There were plenty of laughs, whether it was about George’s shrinkage issue, getting lost in a parking garage and then being peeing in public, or re-gifting a Christmas gift.  It was the show we turned on Thursday nights, which became must see TV and this was a must to see.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A66ierfTCUQ

2: THE X-FILES:

.I-want-to-believe-X-Files-UFOA little show in the 1980’s called Project Bluebook had this perfect opportunity to make us believe in aliens and conspiracies, but it dropped the ball.  Fox must have taken note and gave Chris Carter a wonderful opportunity to give us our beliefs back.  Beliefs about aliens, conspiracies and the paranormal.  The X-Files was by far one of the most fascinating and interesting shows ever on television.  It’s recent reboot, proved we can still believe.  It was a show that was suspenseful, intriguing and kept you up at night wondering what is really being hidden from us and if aliens are out there.  We wanted to believe but Carter wanted us to watch and we did every week and still do when it’s in re-runs.  Why would’t you like a show with chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny like this.  The X-Files.

1. TWENTY FOUR.  24.And my number 1 show is……YES the adventures of Jack Bauer, the man who will stop at nothing to bring down terrorists even if they are the President of the United States.  I cannot say enough about this show.  It has definitely changed the face of television, making the drama more serialized.   A wild concept, one day out of the life of Jack Bauer in an entire season.  Each episode a different hour with a different set of circumstances and a different game changer.  I often think if you were to remake this show(And they are toying with idea), whether anyone else could play Jack.  Nope, Kiefer is the man and 24 is my favorite show.  Through the years it will be interesting to see if it remains on the top of my list.  There are certainly a few contenders.  Blacklist and Mr. Robot come to mind.  These two are not on the list because they are infants in the process and Homeland stumbled around season four, but somehow managed to get it back around season 5.  For now though, 24 is the show.  Here’s a clip to prove it.  24

That’s my top 100.

TV Is Where It’s At.

July 31 2016.

                                                               TV IS WHERE IT’S AT.

I watch the Oscars and the Emmy’s every year and after each are over, I come away
feeling as if Television blows the big screen away.  Not that Hollywood has given up on movies, but it’s become a stale background full of franchise movies and the same tired stories.  The big movie studios don’t seem to challenge themselves as much and come up with original ideas.  Television on the other hand; has grown in huge leaps and bounds. Unlike radio, the advantage with television is a fragmented market.  What I mean is that no longer does a writer feel they have  to worry about work being too safe for television.  You can write edgy original ideas for cable or Netflix or Hulu without having to worry about middle America or censors like you would on CBS, NBC or ABC(Fox would be the lone exception of the four.)
This section of my blog is about what I  have watched recently that I think is hot.   Here are some shows I would recommend.  Some are recent hits and some are current.

                                                     THE SOPRANOS.
The Sopranos
I know what your saying.  This show is old, it came out in the late 90s and into the 2000’s and your telling me shows on the mob are pretty much history now. However; if you want a show with gritty story lines this is the show for you.  It’s interesting to note the movie “Analyze This” came out about the same time as the Sopranos.  I’ve seen both and have liked both.  The idea of a mob boss going to a shrink for anxiety attacks was definitely different, but Tony Soprano didn’t just talk about his problems within his own family, he talked about his problems within his own mob family.  When the show came out, it was definitely groundbreaking.  It made a huge star of James Gandolfini.  It didn’t shy away from what Mob life is like.  It was a show that utilized many famous actors from TV and the movies in guest star roles.   One of my favorite episodes involves Chris Maltasanti, Tony’s nephew who wants out of the mob to follow his dream to be a big Hollywood player.  He meets up with Ben Kingsley as he and a partner are trying to pitch him a script.  Ben is at some sort of before Oscars party checking out the swag.  Chris is blow away, that everyone in Hollywood gets all this expensive stuff for free.  So of course he manages to steal it and brings some back for Tony.

Some of my favorite characters were Chris Maltisanti. The disgruntled newly made man that Tony has great plans for, but he always manages getting crapped on, so he resorts to drugs.  Michael Impieroli plays his angst and frustration very well. Janice Soprano(Aida Tuturro), Tony’s scheming sister and Ralph Cifaretto, played by Joe Pantiliano(Guido the killer pimp from “Risky Business”), Pauli Walnuts(Tony Sirico) and Bruce Springsteins’s East Street Band member Steve Van Zandt as Tony’s Consgiliari Silvio Dante.  After the Sopranos left the air, HBO replaced it with an interesting quirky half hour dramady set in Hollywood called…

                                                                 ENTOURAGE.
Entourage-H-1920x1080
A show loosely based on some friends that Marc Walberg grew up with in Boston.  Doug Ellen and Walberg shared stories of their child hood and he merged the stories into this great concept for a show about Hollywood, the games that are played there and the hearts that are broken.   The show revolves around Vinnie Chase who follows his brother Johnny Chase, (known as Drama to his friends) to Hollywood and he becomes to next it star in Ari Gold’s stable of gold.  I heard about the show from my boss while we were running movie quotes from Gross Point Blanc. He told me that Jeremy Piven ripped up the furniture in as Hollywood agent Ari Gold.

Ari Gold
Jeremy Piven(The foul mouthed despicable Hollywood Agent Ari Gold)

     My friend John was right.  Piven didn’t just rip up the furniture, he rebuilt it and redefined it.  Piven was the break out star of this show.  His character was everything you thought a Hollywood agent was, a lying, scheming, conniving dirty rascal, who took his enemies down and destroyed them.  According to Doug Ellen and cast members he was based on a real Hollywood Agent.  However, there are some redeeming qualities about Ari, he’s loyal to his number one client (Vinnie) and he loves his wife and family very much.
If you’ve never watched this brilliant show and you are interested in getting into the business, you may want to think twice, because this show doesn’t pull any punches about the people that run Hollywood.  I found it to be very realistic and a bit unnerving.(Not a bad thing.)  It was also an extremely funny show with some interesting characters.  It’s a show that allowed for many actors to come on the show and play themselves.  Jamie Lynn Sigler(Meadow Soprano), plays herself and dates one of Johnny’s friends, Turtle(Jerry Ferrara.) Gary Bussey, Bob Saget, John Stamos, Eric Roberts and some famous Hollywood Directors also make cameos.  The biggest was Martin Scorsese.  My favorite character was a recurring character named Billy Walsh, (Rhys Coiro) a quirky Independent Film Director.
E!!!!!Although the show is about Vinnie Chase and his quest for Hollywood’s A list, I found it was more the bond between these childhood friends.  And although Vincent Chase is the main focus, I found his Manager and best friend Eric Murphy(Or as he is known in the series as E)to be more the focal point.
What I loved about this show was the realism of the entourage.  There was never an episode that went by when Eric and his friends didn’t bust each other’s chops, or boast about their latest conquest and they always had each other’s back even in the darkest times.
The humor in this show was mostly provided by Kevin Dillon(Johnny Drama, (Vinnie’s brother.)and Vinnie Chase’s driver Turtle(Jerry Ferrara).  These two were the misfits of the show.  johnny-drama-512x512Johnny had been trying to make it in Hollywood for years and had one successful show called “Viking Quest”, which lasted a brief time before it was cancelled.  Drama, a neurotic mess before every audition manages to always get himself into some sort of mess.  For instance before one important audition he doesn’t like this calves and decides to get them augmented.
TurtleTurtle is a little different, he’s from the streets, has a whole closet full of sneakers and is a true fan of rap.  He has his own dreams during the show, but he isn’t always sure what they are.  He tries a variety of different things to get out from under Vince’s money.  He tries managing a rapper to no success, then gets involved in limousine company involving hot looking female drivers and later he sells a new kind of vodka from Mexico with Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban’s help.  Eventually Turtle ends up doing pretty well for himself.  Someone else who had done well for herself is Clare Danes in…

                                                                         HOMELAND.

homeland-season-5
Clare Danes as Carrie Mathison

HBO isn’t the only movie channel that decided to develop a television division.  Showtime decided to jump in the fray and when Homeland came out on the heels of “24,” I don’t think anyone was disappointed.
The show came out in 2011 and each and every year, it kept taking away Emmy after Emmy award for it’s writing and it’s acting.  Particularly it’s acting and particularly Clare Danes, who is riveting to watch.  The show revolves around Carrie Mathison who works for Homeland Security fighting terrorism in the Middle East.  Now Carrie’s got a big problem, she’s bipolar and she doesn’t want her boss to know anything about that.  The fact that Carrie was bipolar and a Homeland Security agent is what drew me to the show.  A bipolar Homeland Security Agent, now that is different.  Very different.  I had to watch.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The writing on this show is phenomenal and it keeps you on the edge of your seat all hour.
When Carrie’s on her meds, she feels less confident in cracking the case, when she’s off, she feels she functions better and a sense of clarity comes to her, but then she is also at her most destructive, not only to herself, but to others around her.  The first two seasons she was involved tracking down a United States Marine named Nicolas Brody

Damiel Lewis Homeland
Damien Lewis as terrorist Nicolas Brody

(Damien Lewis, Band of Brothers.)who she makes the mistake of falling in love with.  The third season lost some edge but halfway through season four, it got it’s juice back and ended with a bang on season five.  The acting in this show is tour de force.  Mandy Patinkin plays Carrie’s boss Saul Berenson and he’s brilliant.  The other actor to pay attention to is British actor Ruppert Friend who plays Carrie’s latest love interest Peter Quinn.  I am eagerly awaiting Homeland’s return in 2017, but in the meantime I have stumbled on the latest hot show.

                                                             MR. ROBOT.

Rami Malik 2
Elliott Alderson(Rami Malik)


All writers do research and since I am writing a show if you’re writing a show where one of my supporting characters is a computer hacker, I needed to watch Mr. Robot.
I have watched five episodes of the first season and I definitely have not been disappointed.  The show revolves around Elliot Alderson an IT Tech working for a security firm called “All Safe.”  By night Elliott hacks into people’s computers and steals valuable bits of information from the seedier people of life.  The opening scene of this show blew my mind.  We meet Elliot wearing a hoodie.  He has a file with him and he walks into a restaurant of some kind to meet the owner, who he exposes as a child pornographer and if he doesn’t stop, he’ll expose him.
During the first five minutes we find out some interesting things about Elliott, he’s verging on schizophrenia.  He hears a voice in his head.  After his contact with this man, we discover he’s not only a bit schizophrenic, but he’s a morphine junkie.
His job with “All Safe” involves keeping their number one client E corp,(Short for Evil Corp)safe from computer hackers.  He despises E Corp because they are run by the richest 1%.  You can probably see where this is going at this point.  After E Corp are hacked, Elliott is eventually approached by the man responisble, Christian Slater.  He heads  Fsociety a secret hacker organization(Think Anonymous and this is who these guys are.)
This show is intense from the first frame to the last.  The first scene had me on the edge of my seat.  I have always found Rami Malik to be an intriguing actor.  I thought he was incredible in The “Pacific”.  He plays everything so low key.  He plays Elliott like a robot.  When he speaks it’s monotone and robotic.  All Malik’s acting comes from his eyes.  He has this interesting look which makes him all that more intriguing to play this character.  I just finished watching an episode in which he goes through Morphine withdrawal.  It was an intense scene where he had these intense hallucinations.  His acting was riveting.
Slater Mr. RobotI grew up a movie watcher of the late eighties and nineties, so I knew Mr. Slater’s acting well.  Some of my favorite movies were “Murder In The First,” “True Romance” “Heathers” and my personal favorite, “Pump Up The Volume.”(One of the best movies about teenage angst I’ve ever seen)  As Mr Robot, Slater reminds me much like an older version the character Mark from “Pump Up The Volume.”  He’s always been an interesting actor to watch and he always plays quirky characters and he seems to revel in the layers he finds.  As Mr. Robot he doesn’t disappoint and you won’t be disappointed watching this show as it is riveting and fascinating to watch.  These are just some of the shows I have watched and I am watching at the moment.  Some time in the future I will have a post about a character named Ray Reddington.

Emma Peel, Mom and Sis Saved me.

 

john-steed-and-emma-peel-thumb
Patrick Macnee as Jonathan Steed and Dame Diana Rigg as Emma Peale in the Avengers.

I was about 5 or 6 when this really cool British woman walked into my life.  Her name was Emma Peel.  My mother introduced her to me.  She was on PBS one weekday evening.  It was a new show or at least new to me.  It was called the “Avengers.”  A really quirky British spy show with this Proper British Gentleman named Jonathan Steed.  He carried this gentleman’s cane and wore this proper British bowler.  He was just as cool as Emma.  However, Emma was far different than I expected.  The world was changing in the late 60’s and women were changing with them.  British television was the first to reflect this with a strong dominant female character such as Emma Peel.  Steed was like  James Bond, but he had  a partner and she happened to be a woman.  Steed didn’t mind at all.  In fact Jonathan Steed welcomed it.  Emma epitomized cool.  She was clever, witty and she knew martial arts.  No one wanted to mess with Emma.

EMMA7-mrs-emma-peel-30735807-372-349

 

Emma and Steed had the coolest relationship, built on honesty and respect.  Steed didn’t think of her as a woman sidekick and neither did the writers.  She was every bit Steed’s equal.  I became mini obsessed with this show, because of the gadgets they used, the adventures they were thrown into and Ms. Peel’s charm and wit.  She had some of the best lines in the show.  Years later, I found re-runs of the Avengers on BBC America and found that it still held up.  In a sense it’s Ms. Peel I have to thank for finally being able to conquer my biggest writing obstacle, a believable strong independent female character, who isn’t just the love interest or eye candy.
At the time I rediscovered Emma, I was having trouble writing my own female British spy, named Elizabeth Manning.  I was writing a soccer move called Derby Double(See previous post, Research, Research, Research.) and my Protagonist Seamus O’Brien has to come out of retirement to bring down this IRA thug named Albert Renneville.  He manages to pass a trial with a Yorkshire club, called Sheffield United.  Like Seamus, the owner of the club, Elizabeth Manning is an Interpol agent intent on taking down Albert Renneville after he had poisoned her father.   My problem with Elizabeth was that I couldn’t get her right. I wasn’t sure what I wanted her to be and she had no spine.  I had no composite to go by.  Then Emma popped up on BBC America and that changed everything.  I had my  composite.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, my characters usually talk to me while I am writing them.  Elizabeth wasn’t talking.  She was screaming at me, because I didn’t understand who she was at all.  She was telling me, that she didn’t want to be arm candy or part of the furniture.  She was a spy and she needed and craved the action.  “Oh bloody hell, you foolish writer, can’t you tell.  I don’t want to be saved by Seamus, I want to save him.  That’s what I do.”  I listened to Elizabeth.  In fact she saves Seamus three times in the movie and he doesn’t save her once.  Since Elizabeth Manning, my female characters have improved vastly.  In the past,  writing a female character became a real struggle for me and it wasn’t much fun.  Since Emma Peel inspired reappeared, I have written a lot of strong female characters.
Many years ago, I finished writing the sequel to Derby Double and I had created this wonderful love interest for another character.  Her name was Audrey and she was a famous Snooker player and I was looking at her character and I began to ask myself where did she come from?  How was I able to write this incredibly strong amusing character.  I thought of Emma Peel a moment and realized it wasn’t Emma Peel.  It was the woman that introduced me to Emma Peel.  My mother.  I thank her for that.  Of course it didn’t hurt to grow up with a strong independently minded sister either.  So now when I sit down to create a female character I think of my mom and my sister and draw inspiration from them.

Three Shows That Inspired Me.

As a writer, I am always looking for something to watch, something that inspires me to write, whether it be a good movie, a good play or a good television series.  Television has been my latest obsession.  The three shows that have had the biggest influence on my writing have been the X-Files, Burn Notice and 24.  All these shows had long runs on television because they had strong action packed story lines, they kept the viewer on the edge of their seat, the acting  was impeccable,  and all three of these shows revolutionized television in some way.   They brought a fresh look to the TV Drama and a fresh look to Television as a whole.  The change in the television drama began with…

THE X-FILES

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“I want to Believe.”

 



The X-Files is the 90’s version of “The Twilight Zone”.   The show revolved around aliens and the paranormal.  It was the type of show that “Project Blue Book,” should have been.  Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are two FBI agents assigned to a department called the X-Files.  The X-files are unsolved cases of a paranormal nature.  Some of the cases involve extra terrestrial activities, some of the show revolves around some strange monster of the week and others revolve around  Government cover ups.  The stories, are crisp and sharp.  The characters well-developed and the suspense kept me coming back for more.  And best of all, the show had a villain you loved to hate, “The Smoking Man,” played splendidly by William B. Davis.

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I always find some of the best villains, don’t say anything.  They are just observing what’s going on, trying to determine how much the other character knows and if they are threat or not.    It makes you wonder who the character is and what is going through their mind.    After the Pilot, that’s exactly what I did wonder about this mysterious Smoking man, and why he was so interested in Fox Mulder.  Toward the end of the pilot, Mulder and Scully come back from a case on ET abductions.  Mulder wants to continue.  The FBI doesn’t.  Orders came from up top.  Orders that perhaps the Smoking Man knows about.  The last shot in the Pilot, we see the Smoking Man, with a lit cigarette in his mouth, carrying a box of evidence, that Mulder and Scully have retrieved from their investigation.  He calmly walks down this long warehouse hall, we hear the sounds of his perfectly polished shoes, along the asphalt floor.  He has the evidence in the box and enters a room, where he files it, never to be seen again.  Now the Smoking man, never utters an entire line in the pilot, but you know, just by the way William B. Daniels plays the part, he is pivotal and you know you’re not going to like him.

Most episodes were stand alone episodes and you might think there wasn’t an arc, but Chris Carter never intended for the X-Files not to have an Arc.  He brought it in at the beginning of a season and at least two to three episodes towards the end of a season.  Usually it appeared in the last three episodes of the season with a giant cliffhanger.  If you’ve never seen the X-files, here are some of my favorite episodes.

Blood, a monster of the week.  The story is ingeniously crafted about a Pizza boy, who is suspected of being a blood sucking vampire.  The episode doesn’t take itself seriously and each character has a different perspective on the story.  The guest star in this is Chris Wilson, Owen Wilson’s brother.

Drive, about a guy, who hears some electronic sound wave in his head, which cause incredible migraines.  In order to get any sort of relief, he and his wife(Suffering from the same affliction) must drive fast or he’ll die. Some guy named Bryan Cranston stars in this episode.  Yeah that guy from Breaking Bad and Seinfeld.  His acting in this is incredible.  It’s almost as if this was an audition for breaking bad, because Vince Gilligan had a hand in this episode.

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.  This tells the tale of the Smoking Man and how it all began for him.  Watch the episode and you will see Chris Owens as a young Smoking Man.  Chris later plays the Smoking Man’s son in the series.  It’s an episode that humanizes our villain and you almost might find yourself feeling sorry for our chain-smoking nut. You’ll also feel sorry for our next protagonist in….

                     BURN NOTICE

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The series started out every week, with this opening narrative, which came from the pilot.

Michael Westen: [voice-over] My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy. Until…

voice on phone: [phone rings] We got a burn notice on you. You’re blacklisted.

Michael Westen: [voice-over] When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.

In this case, he was dumped in Miami Florida, not a bad place to be dumped, unless you happen to wake up with some c4 strapped to your chest, by your ex-girlfriend.  Yes meet Michael’s ex, the lovely Fiona Glenanne an ex IRA terrorist with a love of c4.  The previous scenario didn’t actually happen in the pilot.  I just used it to illustrate one of the best female characters I’ve seen on television, Played by Gabrielle Anwar.

I caught this gem by accident.   I was working on a play and I was flipping channels.  I ended up on USA and I let it run.  I was unsure what season or what episode it was.  I wasn’t paying attention.  I lost my train of thought and my attention turned to Burn Notice.  Michael Westen’s narrative caught my attention. It lead into a segment on how to divert your enemies with a road block.  I was fascinated and thought to myself, “Hey wait a minute, this is a how to on how to be a spy,” or in Michael Westen’s case, a spy turned Vigilante.  It was something I’d never seen before and it worked.  What set these narrative’s apart from any other’s I had seen, was when something went wrong, Westen had a quip.  It broke the tension.

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BURN NOTICE — “Things Unseen” Episode 710 –Pictured: (l-r) Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne, Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen — (Photo by: Glenn Watson/USA Network)

Throughout the series, Michael’s main goal is to find out why the CIA burned him and who was responsible.  To make ends meet, he takes on clients.  These aren’t your ordinary clients in trouble.  These are clients threatened, by the mob, drug smugglers, terrorist groups and loan sharks.   So in this series, Michael is pretty much dealing with the worst of the worst, but he’s dealt with them before in his CIA work.  This is precisely why, Michael can help them.  Many of these situations involve blackmail or the client is worried if the police find out what they are doing, they will be thrown in jail.  Most of these cases are brought to him, by his team, his meddling Mother(Played with a great touch of humor by Sharon Gless) , or his brother Nate.  Michael solves these problems vigilante style, using his spy tools.   He’s lucky he has his former CIA friend Sam Ax (Played by Bruce Campbell) on the team, so he can run an idea by him.

It was a unique idea. I never looked to see if where the show stood in the Nielsen’s, but I liked it.

The format for each episode was interesting.  The teaser, dealt with some intel Michael picked up or he was going to meet someone who had some intel that would lead to the person who burned him.  Something bad usually went down at this point, or something unexpected.  At the beginning of Act One they either solve the issue, retreat and come back to it, or Fi, or Sam bring him a client.  As soon as the case is solved, Michael returns to his own obsession and some climax happens at the end, no one expected.   Something not expected is the perfect explanation for….

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24 on FOX, was created by Robert Cochrane and Joel Surnow.  This show broke the ground rules for television, tossed them in the trash and then…re-wrote them.  I had heard about this show and the phenomenon, but was never able to watch it.  Then I found time and believe me I was glad I did.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching.  The concept was brilliant. Take one hour out of a government agent’s day and see what happens.  What happened was nothing short of mind-blowing.  Kiefer Sutherland plays Jack Bauer an agent for CTU, the Counter Terrorist Unit.  In the Pilot we find Jack at home having a quiet evening with his wife and rebellious daughter.  Nina Myers, the second in command at CTU calls him back to work.  Terrorists are planning to assassinate President Palmer.  The clock is ticking.  They must find out who these terrorists are and stop them.  What started out as a quiet evening at home, becomes increasingly worse.  The same terrorists planning to assassinate the President, kill Jack’s boss and kidnap his wife and daughter.  That just gives you an idea of what this show is about.  A whole day lasted a season.  Most of what unfolded for Jack Bauer, was not good.  He always ended up bringing the terrorists to justice, but it costs him his family, his own sense of self and even his sanity at times.  By the time we get to the last season, Jack is filled with rage and the only person he can trust is a former CTU Commander, named Chloe, who has become a computer hacker.  During the run of the show, Jack loses two wives, three girlfriends and he is betrayed by another.   While trying to get deep undercover with a group of terrorists, he develops a heroin habit and becomes addicted.  His relationship with his daughter is constantly tested, till he decides it’s safer to stay away from her all together.

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Each week, you never knew what was going to happen.  The CTU organization usually had a mole in it, or some power-hungry, inept guy took over.  Jack was usually taken out of play.

Out of play became a very common catch phrase.  It perfectly describes the show in a nutshell.  It was as if you were watching a highly tactical chess match, not ever being able to figure out what Jack’s next move was, or the terrorists.  Jack was in the center, with very little wiggle room.  In some cases, he was a pawn.  Each act was tense and had its own cliffhanger.  You always second guessed yourself.  If you thought you knew who the mole was, forget it, you didn’t.   Just when you thought Jack, had stopped some terrorist attack, he didn’t.  Just when you thought Jack had caught the terrorist, you found out that the person he really caught was a small fish in a larger governmental conspiracy.  Just as you became close to one of the characters, they were killed off.  I think Game of Thrones took a few ques from this show.  

Intrigue, suspicion and action was not limited to CTU.  Each season, Cochrane and Surnow, found a way to bring the White house into play.  There was always something going on in the White House, that affected the story line and the country.  The President was either threatened with assassination, trusted people who would try to usurp his power, or in some cases, the President was a villain.  President Logan comes to mind.    

This is the perfect show for a writer to watch.  The writing was hard, crisp and quick.  The character development is some of the best I’ve ever seen on TV.  The pace of this show, moves at an electrifying pace and you’re never bored.  I watched the entire series on the edge of my seat and didn’t even know I was doing it.  One rainy weekend day, I watched ten episodes.  Careful though, this show can be emotionally draining.  It can also be extremely addicting.  24 goes down in my top ten list of greatest Television shows of all time.  

I feel with these three shows, you can’t go wrong as an aspiring writer.  Watch them and see if you can’t learn a thing or two from them.  I know I took away some valuable lessons from these shows.  If the Third Eye can meet the standard of these three shows, then I know I am moving in the right direction.  I see a bright future for television.  As more and more fresh shows are being created, more and more gifted writers are turning to television.  That means the competition is going to be fierce, but I see that as a win for everyone in the end.