Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Just past Mars
Re: Top 10 All-Time Television Shows
1. St. Elsewhere.
This one's easy. I even loved the ending. Dr. Morrison (David Morse, in the ultimate sad sack role--playing an innocent, and he seems to have been cast against this type ever since (see the recent arc on House). He's still one of my favorite character actors)and Dr. Fiscus (a surprisingly good Howie Mandel) were my favorites characters. 'course the show also featured Denzel Washington, Ed Begley, Jr., Ed Flanders, a great performance from William Daniels (who was doing the voice of KITT at the same time), the wonderful Friend-of-Hitchcock, Norman Lloyd, Mark Harmon, Alfre Woodard, Christina Pickles, Eric Laneuville (yeah, I had to look up the spelling, but he was one of my favorites, too), etc. It didn't hurt that Tom Fontana, who also appears in show number two, wrote much of the series.
Inside jokes such as Betty White being called Sue Ann Niven by a mental patient made the show surreal. Conversely, this was, along with Hill Street Views, one of the shows that pioneered realistic plots. Well, realistically absurd, at least.
An interesting sidenote: Ronny Cox's role as the man who came in, took over for a beloved character, and was universally disliked was ridiculously similar to the role he would later play on Star Trek:TNG.
I could say much more. I caught the series in repeats a few years back, and loved it as much as I did originally. Funny, Mark Tinker, who came in and took over from executive producer Bruce Paltrow, iirc, said in an interview that it didn't stand up. I disagree.
2. Homicide. Life on the Streets.
Another Tom Fontana show. I was a big fan of Pembleton, Lewis, and, for the time he was on there, Kellerman. Realism with a shaky camera. Compelling characters in a classic police procedural.
Would be higher if the quality had stayed up. Still, an excellent show. I've been watching repeats and gaining a new appreciation for it. Better than anything on TV now.
4. Fawlty Towers.
Best Comedy Ever. Period. John Cleese doing a slow burn, then erupting--brilliant. He's said he never did another sitcom because he didn't think he could ever top this. Too bad there were so few episodes. otoh, what's there is undilluted.
This might have slipped off the top ten at one time, but I think it might be back. One of the most compelling shows I've ever seen.
The absolute perfect quiz show. One of my life's goals is to be a contestant.
7. Get Smart.
The second best sitcom I've ever seen. Winner of a Nobel Prize. Would you believe, a Peabody? How 'bout two close-up boxes in TV Guide?
Sorry about that, Chief.
8. The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr.
Too short. Created by Carlton Cuse, now one of the executive producers of Lost, and starring Bruce Campbell. Great sci-fi western. Let this one stand for Wild, Wild West as well, since that should be here somewhere.
9. Ken Burns' The Civil War.
Brought the docucmentary form to the people, and made the Civil War itself seem more urgent. Deserves all it's accolades, even though it's not a complete telling. I'd love to see someone sink money into a Civil War drama series, with historians ensuring accuracy. There are so many great stories to be told.
10. (tie--I cheated)Dr. Who
The Tom Baker years. Cheesy, but fantastic.
What does it say that the smartest comedy of our time is a cartoon?
There's my list, fwiw. My biggest omissions are Northern Exposure (from St. Elsewhere creators Brand & Falsey) and Rocky & Bullwinkle.