Friday, 28 June 2013

The best TV shows of all time

This week's issue of Entertainment Weekly is a double issue featuring their choices for the Top 100 in many entertainment categories; included are movies, TV series, albums and books. I am sure they expected much debate after issuing such a list, but for most of humanity, it's nearly impossible to compile such lists in any meaningful fashion. I mean, I watch a lot of TV and a lot of movies, but I am just one human being, who couldn't possibly see EVERYTHING.

SPOILER ALERT, if you are awaiting your subscription in the mail.....

Their #1 TV series of all time was The Wire, an HBO series I've barely even heard of, let alone seen. It apparently ran from 2002-08, and they obviously thought enough of it to proclaim it the Greatest Series in the History of Television.

That's a pretty big distinction, for goodness sake.

Oh, and EW, I have just one more question for you:


Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to see how my list would align with theirs. No I am not going to bore you with my Top 100 (good Lord), but I thought I'd publish my thoughts on the Top 10 TV series in history.

I am 43 years old, so the chances are that I haven't seen many of the much older series (with some exceptions, of course, for shows like I Love Lucy that ran in syndication forever).

Here goes nothing:

1. Seinfeld (#3 on EW's list) 1990-98 NBC

Has there EVER been a TV series, movie, or book, that was quoted as much as this show? I'd suggest it's almost OVER quoted.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

EW calls it a show about "the amusing, stressful, neurotic intricacies of friendship", which is bang on. I think the word "neurotic" is the quintessential description of this wonderful show.

It is, simply put, the funniest show in TV history.

2. The West Wing (#51 on EW's list) 1996-2006 NBC

This Aaron Sorkin vehicle might be the most underappreciated show in history. It is not only the best Drama series of all time, it might be the FUNNIEST "Drama" series of all time. Not sure about that? Watch CJ Cregg do "the Jackal"....or Josh Lyman make CJ say "foggy bottom" while she is numb from root canal....or:

Sam Seaborn: "Toby, can I talk to you? I accidentally slept with a prostitute".

Toby: "Accidentally???? What happened, did you fall on top of her????"

Or let's talk about "Big Block of Cheese Day", a day in which the President opens up the White House to every quack with a cause, once a year, so they feel they are being heard.

Science guy, in a meeting with Josh and Sam, talking about getting the US on solar power:

"The technology exists, right now, for us to be able to run the country on solar power, just by putting solar panels on the ground"

Josh (looking kind of bewildered): "How much land would you need???"

Science guy: "Arizona".

I could go on for hours, but this is the only series that I pop into my DVD player and watch, all 7 seasons worth, episode by episode, on a pretty regular basis. Absolutely brilliant.

3. The Wonder Years (N/R on EW's list) 1988-93 ABC

Face it, everyone around my age had a crush on Winnie Cooper, to one degree or another. There was a reason for that, more than just the obvious appeal of Danica McKeller. She represented everything we wanted at that age; and by association, so did this show.

The Wonder Years won the Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 1988, after only 6 episodes had aired. Brilliantly narrated by adult Kevin, voiced by Daniel Stern, it featured some of the best episodes of television ever produced, including (but not limited to) the pilot and the final episode. The use of high profile music from the late 60's to early 70's added to the appeal of the show; ironically, the licensing rights around that music is the reason that this wonderful series has never been released in it's entirety on DVD.

4. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (#4 on EW's list) 1970-77 CBS

EW describes this as "the greatest, most detailed portrayal of a single career woman in TV history". There isn't too much I can add to that.

Featuring a brilliant cast from top to bottom, including the criminally underappreciated Ted Knight, there isn't much to want for in this series.

5. Cheers (#15 on EW's list) 1982-93 NBC

The bar where "everybody knows your name" was must-viewing television during NBC's heyday. The lovable cast of characters (who doesn't know Sam, Diane, Norm, Cliff, Frasier and Carla??) made us all feel at home. It also featured some of the funniest episodes ever. Don't believe me? Try to find the episode where Cliff appears on Jeopardy!

I still answer "who are three people who've never been in my kitchen?" any time I'm watching the program and don't know the answer to the Final Jeopardy question.

It's unlikely there will ever be another comedy with an ensemble cast like this one.

6. The Carol Burnett show (#33 on EW's list) 1967-78 CBS

By far the best variety show in history, this show was just flat out funny, and remains so to this day.

I'm not sure who laughed harder at Tim Conway's antics; the audience, or Harvey Korman??

This show was what every variety show since has tried to imitate, and failed.

7. All in the Family (#6 on EW's list) 1971-79 CBS

A loveable bigot? Really? Talk about a show that was ahead of it's time. Producer Norman Lear and Carol O'Conner brought us Archie Bunker in such a way that we often failed to understand WHY we loved him so much, but we were always entertained.

8. I Love Lucy (#11 on EW's list) 1951-57 CBS

Everyone's favorite redhead won her way into our hearts faster than you can say Vitameatavegamin; and yes, I had to look up how to spell that. In addition to her lovable qualities, Lucille Ball might have been the best physical comedian in history.

9. ER (#30 on EW's list) 1994-2009 NBC

There have been excellent medical dramas before (St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope) and since (Grey's Anatomy), but none of them combined heart stopping (literally) action with character drama like this one did. Created by novelist Michael Crichton, it made stars of George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Noah Wylie and many more and ranks as one of the top drama series of all-time, lasting a very impressive 15 seasons.

10. Frasier (#44 on EW's list) 1993-2004 NBC

Five consecutive Emmy awards for Outstanding Comedy Series (a record) can't be wrong, and they aren't. Watching the two Crane brothers try to out-highbrow each other would have been enough right there, but when you add in the perfect casting of John Mahoney as their ex-cop blue collar father and Jane Leeves as British live-in physiotherapist Daphne Moon, you have one of the funniest, and warmest, comedy series in TV History.

Frasier won 37 Emmy awards during it's 11 year run, breaking the long-standing record of the Mary Tyler Moore Show (29).

David Hyde Pierce was nominated for an Emmy in EVERY year of the show's existence (winning four times).

Holy crap that was tough, I can't believe some of the fantastic TV series I left off the list. I'll give out some Honorable Mentions to these great shows, in no particular order:

Little House on the Prairie, Saturday Night Live, The Office, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, Arrested Development, Friends, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Maude, The Bob Newhart Show, 24, The Muppet Show, Soap, Family, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Ally McBeal, Family Ties, Good Times, The Jeffersons, and the Brady Bunch.

Disagree with my list? Of course you do, considering how many TV shows there have been in history, how could you not??

However, I'm right and you're wrong. So live with it.


What sports should always be about

To me, this is what sports is all about; or at least, SHOULD be all about.

Congratulations again to the Hawks, not only for winning the Cup, but for having the class to do this. And congratulations to the Bruins, their fans and organization, for behaving in such a manner that prompted the Hawks to take out this full page ad in the Boston Globe.


Thursday, 27 June 2013

NHL Playoffs final results

Well after being 11/12 after the first two rounds, I went o-fer after that, finishing at 11/15. Still pretty respectable but missing all the 'big' series isn't so impressive.

When we were down to the final five teams, I remarked to my wife that the only bad result would be if Chicago won. I had two of my favorite teams alive (LA, Boston), an $850 ticket on Detroit, and Pittsburgh winning would have meant a Cup for Jarome Iginla.

F****NG Blackhawks.

Seriously, they are worthy winners and deserve the Cup, they were much the best team for most of the regular season. I have no ill-will towards Chicago or their fans (not exactly crazy about that damn song they play after each goal, but whatever), they have turned into a model organization since the death of Bill Wirtz. Kind of sad to think that the only thing holding them back was their owner and once he died, they started to flourish.

Oh, and when I was growing up, my favorite goalie was Tony Esposito. I never claimed to be a Hawks fan, but I loved me some Tony-O. Never really understood why, exactly, but there it is....

Congratulations to the Hawks and their fans.

Now let's start working on next season.

Monday, 24 June 2013

New wine blog

I've set up a new blog that specifically deals with wine (and food pairings in many cases). Here:

This blog will continue to be updated as well, with any non-wine related thoughts that might work themselves into my little brain.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Stanley Cup Finals - prediction

The playoffs started well for me but last round I went 0/2, not so good, so it's time to get back on track and finish strong. This should be an excellent series; Chicago looks pretty powerful, but of course that's what everyone said about the Penguins four games ago.

The Hawks haven't played anyone who gets in your face like the Bruins; the Kings tried but were clearly too banged up to play as physical as they would have liked. For that reason, I'm taking the Bruins to win.

Bruins in 6 games

Hoping I'm right!