I am definitely a child of the television age. I spent many of my formative years staring at a picture tube and learning about the world through sitcoms. Throughout most of my grade school years, I could recite the evening line-up for every network every night of the week. Of course, it was pretty easy because there were only 3 networks (nobody watched PBS until they started running Monty Python when I was in high school). I was literally a walking TV Guide.
I stopped trying to keep up with television many years ago. In my opinion, the quality just keeps getting worse and worse. Awful sitcoms, stupid reality shows, rehab shows…no thanks. The only time I’ll watch network TV these days is for NFL games, The Simpsons or Family Guy. Thank you, Fox Network…I can finally forgive you for giving Chevy Chase a talk show.
So I know you’re asking the question: “Gee Rick, what do YOU think are the best TV shows of all time?” Ha, you didn’t think I was listening, but I was! And lucky for you, I have just enough time to give you my Top Ten TV Shows of All Time, in no particular order! As the Great One would say, “…and a-wayyyyyyyy we go!”
1-The Honeymooners – Speaking of the Great One, Jackie Gleason was a comic visionary genius with this show, because he surrounded himself with an outstanding cast. It is really laugh-out-loud funny. And it seems REAL. Ralph and Alice Kramden are clearly in love, but fight constantly. AndAlice is always right.
2- The Jack Benny Show – Good Lord, talk about surrounding yourself with an outstanding cast! Current sitcom stars like Jerry Seinfeld and Kelsey Grammer cite Benny as a true inspiration for their shows. Benny always said that he was the least talented one of the group, but was a perfect straight man. Amen.
3-Seinfeld – Yep, I’ll admit it…it’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I can watch every episode over and over, and still laugh out loud. The reason I love this show so much? They took absolutely NOTHING seriously. Even death was a joke to them. Again, Jerry was wise to surround himself with a cast that worked wonderfully together.
4-Family Guy – Talk about taking nothing seriously. This show is pure genius. They make fun of everyone…they make fun of themselves…and the funny thing is that most of the people they make fun of will provide their own voices so they can be made fun of. Check out the credits! Sure, it may go over the top at times, but I don’t know if I have ever laughed harder watching a TV show.
5-The Rockford Files – This was a Friday night staple for NBC for several seasons, and it was probably one of the only reasons I would stay home on a Friday night. How could you not like James Garner? He was so damn likeable! And he was the first private detective who wasn’t trying to be James Bond. He was always broke, lived in a crappy-looking trailer, got into trouble a lot, and sometimes got stiffed by whoever it was that hired him. But he drove a very cool Firebird.
6-The Midnight Special – I was a Saturday Night Live fan for a few years, but never was a huge fan…I mainly watched for the musical acts. But I would usually watch SNL with my friends because Midnight Special came on right afterwards. I especially liked the shows where Wolfman Jack was the host (they used different hosts for awhile). And it was about the only time you could see your favorite artists performing live. Midnight Special turned me on to a LOT of cool music.
7-The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson – I love Letterman, but Johnny is the undisputed King of Late Night, and always will be. Watching him interact with Ed and Doc was fun enough, but when he had a good guests (and he had the best), there was no one better. One time, he walked out onto Letterman’s stage and got a 5 minute standing ovation…and didn’t utter a word. He just came out, looked around for a little bit, and walked off. True class.
8-The Andy Griffith Show – Again, a great cast with great writing. Sure, you learned a lesson every once in awhile, but always laughed at how simple these folks were. If only life could really be like that. Of course, only the black and white episodes make the top ten. The color episodes without Don Knotts wouldn’t make the cut.
9-The Bob Newhart Show – Not theVermont innkeeper version, but the original show where Newhart played Dr. Bob Hartley. Great cast surrounding one of the funniest men on the planet. And what red-blooded American male wasn’t in love with Suzanne Pleshette?
10-Green Acres – A New York attorney and his Hungarian wife escape the rat race to move to a broken down farm in Hooterville? Classic. This show would have been kind of a dud if they had not cast Eddie Albert as Oliver Wendell Douglas. The part almost went to Don Ameche, and I don’t think he could have pulled it off nearly as well. If you need proof, watch the episode where boy-genius Dilly Watkins starts the Hooterville Electronics Company…just hearing a simple dirt farmer like Fred Ziffle say about Oliver’s TV show “He’s going to have to do better than that if he expects to get any kind of a Neilson” (referring to the TV ratings service) makes me want to watch the whole episode right now.
I’m sure there are some I’ve missed, and I’m sure you’ll want to add your own…please do! Then we’ll all get together, eat pizza and have an all-night TV fest!