Monday, December 17, 2007

SDD's Top 100 Series of All Time: Places 50-41

50) Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show
CBS, produced 1948-1971

What: One of the few primetime shows to last more than 20 years in the same time slot on the same network, The Ed Sullivan Show was the variety show writ large, combining everything from rock bands to ventriloquists to scenes from popular Broadway plays. The series still feels slightly frantic today, so the fast pace of the whole thing must have been oddly mind-popping back in the day. Sullivan was the consummate square, but he had a great eye for talent, and he broke lots of popular artists and others in the U.S., including, famously, the Beatles, who were big before Sullivan and rock gods after. But it's easy to forget that the first rock and roll performance on network television period -- one by Bill Haley and the Comets -- was on Sullivan's show as well, as was one of the first TV performances by Elvis. In his later years, Sullivan's conservative nature collided with the counterculture movement of the time, leading to a world where he was censoring Doors and Rolling Stones lyrics. But at his height, Sullivan was an American essential and one country's first look at a host of talented performers.

Why: Sullivan's hard to find on regular television now -- even on TV Land, which occasionally will show the more famous reruns (most of them featuring The Beatles) of his show. The show, however, is one of the few that has moved past classic television show to become something approaching quintessential Americana. Sullivan's odd mannerisms and strange personality have become the sorts of things that impressionists everywhere have added to their arsenal, even though the man's central place in pop culture is at least 40 years old, if not older. While Ed Sullivan didn't invent the rock and roll era in the U.S., he certainly ushered it in -- he made it sort of all right for teens to like the artists they did, even if their parents raised eyebrows at how he shot Elvis from the waist up (to obscure those undulating hips). What's more, Ed Sullivan Show is one of the few classic variety shows that's still fun to watch, if only because the variety of guests (designed to keep the whole family watching) was so odd and varied. The Ed Sullivan Show is like a little microcosm of how America was keeping itself from thinking too hard about everything that was going insane in the '50s and '60s. It may seem slightly strange to modern eyes, but the music is still awesome.

Best season: This isn't really horribly applicable.

Best episode: I actually prefer the second appearance by the Beatles to the first.

Did you know?: Oddly, the Ed Sullivan Show was instrumental in beginning to foster modern attitudes about mental illness and its treatment. Director Joshua Logan appeared on the show and talked about his time in a mental institution. That such a famous figure would admit to having such a problem was a monumental event in American culture.

Available on DVD?: A few best-of DVDs are out there, as expected.

49) Buffalo Bill
NBC, produced 1983-1984

What: In 1983, NBC was the network of acclaimed sitcoms that no one watched. It had just picked up the horribly low-rated Cheers for a second season (and we all know how that one turned out), and it was doing the same with Family Ties and about to do the same with Night Court. So when Buffalo Bill, a deeply dark sitcom about miserable people from Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett debuted to horrible ratings but tons of critical acclaim, the network shrugged and brought it back for a second season. In season two, though, the series couldn't hang on and improve its ratings, despite Emmy love, and the network canceled the show (a decision Brandon Tartikoff called the worst decision he made). So why is this show on the list? Because it broke all of the sitcom rules at a time when doing so wasn't exactly in vogue. The main character, played by Dabney Coleman, was a real bastard, based largely on creator Jay Tarses, who was enduring a painful professional breakup with longtime writing partner and co-creator Tom Patchett throughout the run of the show (Tarses would go on to create experimental shows like Days and Nights of Molly Dodd; Patchett went on to co-create ALF). The series exudes Tarses' sheer bitterness, and while Bill almost never won in the end, the sheer lengths he would go to to get what he wanted were unprecedented in TV.

Why: Television's supposed to be about people we like. That's one of the oldest rules of the medium. In the early days, especially, we loved Lucy, and we thought Dick Van Dyke was pretty swell. The spiteful characters or the blowhards were confined to the sides of the series, and they were always the sorts of people we felt comfortable laughing at because their pomposity would be punctured at every turn. Even though Bill regularly lost out on what it was he wanted, he WAS the main character, and it was hard not to sympathize with him just a little. Buffalo Bill, which commanded critical respect and a rabid cult audience that memorized every line of every show, was sort of the Arrested Development of its day, though its cast was probably weaker. Still, Tarses' bleakly misanthropic view of the world was the original show with the "character you love to hate," and the darkness of the series overall has made it more influential than most other two-season shows.

Best season: I think I slightly prefer season two, but both seasons are very good and short enough to get through in a few days.

Best episode: "Hit the Road, Jack" is a terrific tweaking of Bill's racist tendencies, even if the version on DVD doesn't have the most famous scene, a dream sequence where he was surrounded by Zulu warriors and other stereotypes to the tune of the title song.

Did you know?: The series was rebroadcast just once, on A&E, but enough fans caught all of the broadcasts to create tapes that circulated around in the early days of the Internet.

Available on DVD?: The full run of the series, minus the scene described above, is available on DVD.

48) Mystery Science Theater 3000
Comedy Central/Sci Fi Channel, produced 1989-1999

What: One of the first of the "random references" shows, Mystery Science Theater 3000 remains the best, largely because the very looseness of the concept (a guy and his robots watch terrible movies in deep space) allows the show to make references that range across most of human history, focusing on the 20th century, of course, but also finding facets of that century not usually exploited by television. Really, a show like this is only as good as its references, and MST3K wandered perhaps the farthest afield from what you would expect a series like this to do. The series also resurrected some of the worst movies of all time, and reinstated an important era in independent American film to prominence, however dubiously. There's a joy and a zen to watching bad movies from the 60s and 70s, and MST3K was the introduction for most of its viewers to this concept.

Why: MST3K is another show where I can see why some people hate it. Its effect on the culture as a whole (normalizing the idea of talking at the movies with an effect that slowly expanded outward from its cult) was fairly dubious, and at its worst, the show really focused on the worst aspects of criticism -- just tearing down the hard work of others with no real constructive ideas offered. But the show at its best was as much a celebration of terrible movies as it was a criticism of them, sending Joel, Mike and the 'bots on a long journey through the history of pop culture. What's more, the show never got too mean, thanks largely to the fact that its creative forces were all Midwestern, hailing from the Twin Cities. The characters were also pretty set in stone, which helped it stand out from some of the random reference shows that followed in its wake, where the characters were little more than joke machines. It's not as though Servo would never make a Crow joke, but the two had distinct personalities for fans to latch on to. It took the series a while to find its groove, but once it did, it was one of the funniest things on -- a simultaneous celebration and desecration of our cultural detritus.

Best season: Season five features both Joel AND Mike and boasted the show's best writing staff, meaning that nearly every episode has become an all-time classic with fans.

Best episode: "Manos the Hands of Fate" is every bit the television epic you've heard, where the Satellite of Love crew does battle with what might be the worst, most incomprehensible movie of all time and nearly loses (one early sequence of driving forces Crow and Servo to just say the name of the movie over and over). But the crew pulls it out in the end, and it makes the episode a true television classic.

Did you know?: The series was developed for KTMA, a network in Minneapolis. These early episodes have all been preserved, but quite a few of the movies screened never made it over to the Comedy Central series, thanks to rights issues. This is also why many episodes have never made it to VHS or DVD, including the all-time classic, Attack of the 50-Foot Man, which was on VHS for a few months before rights issues forced it to be pulled. Copies of the video sell for up to $500 now.

Available on DVD?: Many, many, many episodes, but not all of them, are available on DVD.

47) Michael Mann's Crime Trilogy
Miami Vice, Crime Story and Robbery Homicide Division
NBC, NBC and CBS, produced 1984-1989, 1986-1988 and 2002-2003

What: Television tends to be the most writerly branch of the group of arts called cinema. Because of how quickly the beast needs to be fed, there's rarely any time for directorial flourish outside of cable series, with their longer shooting schedules. This is slowly changing, thanks to the cinematic twists and turns of certain series, but Miami Vice remains largely the only television drama series to launch the career of an important American DIRECTOR. While the idea for the show (MTV Cops) was famously conceived by Brandon Tartikoff in a meeting, Michael Mann took that idea and ran with it, creating a glitzy yet seedy world that pulsed with energy, music and danger. He followed that up with a period piece that felt more vibrant and real than most other television period pieces up to that point, Crime Story. And the concluding work of his ad hoc trilogy (the crime trilogy appellation was coined by Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker, and I think it fits, what with all three shows' similar themes) was a revolution in digital filmmaking for television that paved the way for Mann's experiments with the same on the big screen.

Why: Almost frighteningly uneven, Miami Vice was good when Mann was involved and pretty cheesy when he wasn't. So many of the episodes didn't hold up that I couldn't justify just putting it on the list as a celebration of Mann (who has yet to attain the status among the gods of directors his supporters feel he should), so I expanded the entry to also contain his two other series, both of which were far from hits. Crime Story was a critical smash that lost viewers every week, even though its visual flair was very Miami Vice-esque, while RHD was one of the best series no one watched this decade (and you can catch it fairly often on Universal's HD channel). Miami Vice is excellent for its first two seasons, and then slowly slides downhill after Mann leaves and Dick Wolf takes over. Its plotting could often be silly, but the visual flair, the feel of apocalypse being just around the corner (perhaps never better expressed than in the clip linked to above), was second to none. Mann's crazy cinematic episodes raised the bar for TV, and some shows would rise up to try to meet it (though the true cinematic bar was set by a series that would begin just one year after Vice left the air). Mann's TV work is inconsistent, to be sure, but it's revolutionary, and television was never the same after.

Best season: The first season of Vice is just great television for the most part. The show is unfairly derided now as being "so 80s," but that's more to do with the clothes than the episodes themselves, which are surprisingly dark at times -- the complaints that the movie wasn't as "fun" as the series are largely dead wrong.

Best episode: "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" is a stylish update of Poe's The Telltale Heart by Mann himself, and it helps that the soundtrack for the episode is uniformly excellent (as it was for the whole series).

Did you know?: Mann frequently picked up the camera and ran it for the filming of Robbery Homicide Division, working out the techniques he would use to make the films Collateral and Miami Vice.

Available on DVD?: Vice and Crime Story are on DVD. RHD is not.

46) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report
Comedy Central, produced 1999-present, 2005-present

What: The Daily Show (originally hosted by a SportsCenter personality, after all) took the news and gave it that snarky SportsCenter twist. Only, somehow, in the process, it became one of the most relevant political shows on the dial, one of the few necessary responses to the weird wildness of Bush's America. The series had started out as a simple "The news can be so weird!" show with some truly inspired investigative reports, but Jon Stewart stepped in and, with the help of former Onion writer Ben Karlin, turned the show into a frank satire just when the U.S. needed such a thing most. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Daily Show team spun off a show that started out as a mocking of conservative talk shows and evolved into a combination of that, a weird sitcom about a blowhard cable host, something very much like a cult initiation and a soap opera. It was called The Colbert Report, and while it wasn't as essential as The Daily Show, it was still terrific.

Why: The idea that there are tons of people who get their news solely from the Daily Show is a bit of a misnomer (since most of the jokes don't work as well if you don't already have a working knowledge OF the news), but it's out there regardless. In an age when the media feels more and more corporate-controlled, The Daily Show is a necessary way for its partisans to let off a little steam. The show doesn't skewer all sides evenly (though, to be fair, the side in power for most of its run racked up so much stupidity that the series simply had to lay into them the most), but it acts as a necessary corrective to so much of the "he said/she said" reporting that passes for political news nowadays. The Colbert Report is the necessary after-mint. After The Daily Show gets you a little depressed about just how nuts the world has gotten, The Colbert Report will make you laugh at some of the ways the world got to just that point. Stephen Colbert has also figured out how to get more mileage out of a one-joke premise than ever thought possible, largely by introducing continuing storylines to his show, of all things (from relatively simple things, like when he sponsored a sea turtle, to complex things like his run for president). The two shows are out of commission for the strike right now, and they're sorely missed.

Best season: The Daily Show was at its height from roughly mid-2002 to the 2004 election, when it was covering the buildup to Iraq, the Iraq war itself and the 2004 campaign. The Colbert Report is probably at its best right now.

Best episode:
Oh, come on. Like I could pick one.

Did you know?: When Stewart took over for Craig Kilborn, there was considerable concern that the loss of Kilborn's signature segment, Five Questions, would irreparably harm the show. Instead, Kilborn brought the segment over to his CBS talker with him. That show died a quick death. The Daily Show lives on.

Available on DVD?: A handful of best-of sets for both shows.

45) The Andy Griffith Show
CBS, produced 1960-1968

What: One of TV's sweetest shows with one of its most expansive ensembles, The Andy Griffith Show is the small-town sitcom all other small-town sitcoms are measured by, largely because of its big heart and generosity of spirit. It didn't revolutionize the world (though its single-camera filming was pretty spiffy at the time), and its small-scale storytelling mostly went against the grain of the time, but the series remains one of the most beloved of all time to this day precisely because it didn't try to reinvent the wheel. The characters are well-drawn, and the idea of a father raising his boy alone was one that seemed oddly progressive at the time (even if Opie's mom was dead, not separated from Andy). It also boasts one of the great television comedy performances of all time in Don Knott's mug-a-riffic work as Barney Fife.

Why: I like small-town shows, and I like comfort-food TV. The Andy Griffith Show is the perfect blending of the two, even if its best episodes regularly rise it above the level of the latter (it's a meditation on how a whole town can raise a child that comes almost 40 years before Gilmore Girls started). In the town of Mayberry, it's easy to find the little town we'd love to lose ourselves in, and the characters, from Barney to Opie to Aunt Bea, are all the sorts of people you might meet in such a little town. Like Green Acres, Andy Griffith populates its town with a full cast of characters, rather than just a handful, and that's what makes Mayberry seem like the sort of place that really exists, instead of just a television construct. The series, filmed on a single camera, also managed to not feel as stagebound as many of the 60s sitcoms, and the experience of filming this way later led to Ron Howard (who played Opie, of course) taking the same basic precepts and applying them to Arrested Development, of all things. I often teeter on the line of whether Andy Griffith represents great TV or just very good TV, but so many of its elements are great and so many of its episodes are great that I'll lean toward the whole series being worth your while (at least, the Don Knotts years -- the first five seasons).

Best season: Season three perfectly alternates between the series' two biggest strengths -- Barney episodes and Opie and Andy episodes.

Best episode: Season four's "Opie the Birdman" is probably the best example of the show managing to get the elements of sentimentality it frequently basked in just right. Try not to get a little misty at that ending.

Did you know?: The series was launched as a backdoor pilot from the Danny Thomas series, Make Room for Daddy, where Thomas ended up in the jailhouse in a small town named Mayberry.

Available on DVD?: Every season is available, as is a complete series set.

44) 60 Minutes
CBS, produced 1968-present

What: Taking the basic concept from a Canadian show, 60 Minutes aimed to present the news as a series of interesting investigative reports, aimed at a general audience and usually focusing on the people involved in the news stories. In the process, CBS News invented the news magazine and created the premier example of the genre. At its height, 60 Minutes was as important to journalism as any of the premier print publications or the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. It was a vital window on the world that millions watched, and it often gave the public their first good glimpses at the public figures that drove the news (as it did when it interviewed the Clintons after the Super Bowl in 1992). Though the show has gone down in recent years, 60 Minutes boasted an impressive set of reporters at its height, and was an entertaining blend of hard-hitting news and personality journalism.

Why: I was never as wild about 60 Minutes as some, but there's no denying the amount of influence the show had over the television landscape. In the early 90s, after the strike-shortened 88-89 season, news magazines almost WERE the television landscape. There's also no denying that 60 Minutes got some of the most famous advocacy journalism in history onto television, back in the days when television journalism was actually worth a damn. The team of Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Ed Bradley, Harry Reasoner and Dan Rather broke lots of stories and introduced America to even more personalities. Usually airing after a football game for most of its run, 60 Minutes has become the essential deep thinking hour at the end of the weekend, a way to get ready for the seriousness of Monday. Recently, the show has become sort of depressing in how little good journalism it does (you can trace its slide to the events depicted in The Insider). A recent report on President Bush's military service ended in scandal after the program failed to check one relatively uncrucial fact, and the series hasn't really recovered from that blow. Still, the best of 60 Minutes was an whirlwind tour of the world.

Best season: The show was probably at its best in the 70s and early 80s, when it was getting the blend of news and entertainment just right, a blend no other news magazine has ever nailed.

Best episode: One of the series' finest hours was "Lenell Gester's in Jail," a report on a wrongly accused Texan that got the man exonerated.

Did you know?: Diane Sawyer was a correspondent for the show in the 1980s, as was Meredith Vieira

Available on DVD?: Many individual reports and a handful of best-of DVDs are available.

43) Your Show of Shows
NBC, produced 1950-1954

What: Perhaps THE most famous "lost" show is this one, one of the cornerstones of American sketch comedy and the basis for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Only a few episodes survived a purge of kinescopes, and those few episodes were aired on Comedy Central for a long while. Ten of the series' most famous sketches were also compiled into a movie, called Ten from Your Show of Shows. The series has attained a legendary reputation, and a lot of that is due to the writers in the writers room (see below), though just as much has to do with some of the surviving scripts for sketches that we no longer have the kinescopes for. Your Show of Shows is one of the most tentative of shows on this list, but I've seen almost all of the surviving programs, and they've all been very funny, so I'll put it on here under the assumption that the talented team behind the show nailed the other episodes.

Why: OK. Here's the writers room for Your Show of Shows. You ready? Mel Brooks. Neil Simon. Danny Simon. Mel Tolkin (the unsung inventor of American sketch comedy). Larry Gelbart. Carl Reiner. And this group would be led by Sid Caesar and his longtime foil, Imogene Coca. Nanette Fabray also was in the cast, and a young Woody Allen would join the writing staff of the show's follow-up, Caesar's Hour. The series' few surviving episodes are all a bit slow-paced by today's standards, but you can see what would become the format for all other sketch comedy shows being put into place. Some of the sketches from the show have become legendary, and the show's cast was the original Not-Ready-for-Primetime Players. Your Show of Shows is one that I'm throwing on the list largely because of reputation, but I've liked what I've seen, and I think you will too, if you're lucky enough to do so (though a lot of it is now available on YouTube).

Best season: I'm not informed enough to call this, as I barely even know which seasons the sketches I've seen were from.

Best episode: See above.

Did you know?: Carl Reiner took his experiences writing this show and turned them into the Dick Van Dyke Show.

Available on DVD?: Some stuff is available, but a lot of it blends Your Show stuff with Caesar's later work, which isn't quite as good.

42) The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
ABC/NBC, produced 1959-1964

What: One of the first (and only) Saturday morning cartoons to become as popular with adults as it was with children, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (two separate programs blended together later in syndication) remains one of the daffiest shows to ever hit the airwaves. Blending together lots of disparate and unconnected sketches and comic bits, the series was like nothing less than a long connection of animated comic strips featuring a time-traveling dog, a large group of goofy fairy tales, a Canadian mountie and a moose and his squirrel. Blending goofy Cold War satire with a mish-mash of genres, Jay Ward pretty much invented the high-speed, irreverent adult cartoon, even if it was initially pitched at kids. Rocky and Bullwinkle remains played on various stations to this day, thanks to its all-ages appeal.

Why: The moose and squirrel endure because of their hilarious skewering of the conventions of the cartoons of the time and because their endlessly malleable episodes can be chopped up and reconfigured almost any way that you could possibly want, thanks to the long series of unconnected sketches that make up each episode. The series, in its own way, pointed the way forward for, say, The Simpsons more than even The Flintstones did, simply because it was a big witches' brew of pop culture references, satirical content and zippy plots. The serialized plotting of every episode seems like it should be confusing, but it really isn't, largely because these plots are just so lackadaisical and goofy, and in Boris and Natasha, Jay Ward offered up the perfect Cold War foils for American can-do and pride -- two bumbling Russians who were always outsmarted by a pretty dumb moose. What's best about Rocky & Bullwinkle is the feeling that it's building a world, though, admittedly, a limited one. The animation has its limitations, but that's all right, as the scripts are the real reason to tune in here.

Best season: Season three is probably the best of the seasons collected on DVD, cutting back and forth between the many comic players in the Jay Ward-verse with aplomb.

Best episode: I think my favorite segment was always the time-traveling adventures of Mr. Peabody and Sherman. That dog could time travel!

Did you know?: The series as we know it is not what was originally broadcast, which was much more Bullwinkle and Rocky-centric. The series that has arrived in syndication to us is a significantly edited version of what was originally broadcast, with 15-minute episodes stitched together with elements from other cartoons. The DVDs mostly preserve the syndicated experience, as that's what people grew up knowing.

Available on DVD?: The first three seasons are.

41) Wiseguy
CBS, produced 1987-1990

What: One of the most influential cop dramas in the history of television, Wiseguy is basically unseen today, even though the format of the show was one that would be copied by, among others, The Shield, 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even The Sopranos. Wiseguy itself doesn't seem as revelatory as when it was airing now, but the series still packs a punch, especially in its first season, consisting of two LONG story arcs that slowly paint the story of an undercover agent getting involved in a criminal world and then slowly working to bring that world down. With its Miami Vice-aping cinematic aspects and its use of pop music, the series feels forward-looking, even as some of its characters are very much cop show cliches.

Why: The arc is the basic element of the serialized storytelling form. Before Wiseguy, most arcs were contained to three or four episodes (think of Hill Street Blues and its offspring). After Wiseguy, arcs could spread across a dozen episodes or even a whole season. The stories of Vinnie Terranova's dalliances with the dark side were more slowly paced than most shows, and that deliberate pacing made critics swoon at the time of the show's airing. Sadly, Wiseguy was never a huge hit, and the serialized arcs made it all but impenetrable to new viewers. This led to CBS forcing the show to break up the arcs much more in seasons two and three, which created a show that often felt unfocused. There's a lot of dumb '80s cop show excess in Wiseguy, but the best episodes of season one have a stripped-down elegance to them that nicely plays up just how influential the show was when it aired. The series also provided breaks to a lot of burgeoning character actors and, weirdly, Annette Bening.

Best season: Season one is pretty awesome, containing as it does the series' best episode, and its best arc -- the Mel Profitt arc, starring a young Kevin Spacey.

Best episode: "No One Gets Out of Here Alive" (excerpted above) is a terrific ending to the show's first arc, and the original version, featuring The Moody Blues, is some great stuff. The DVD version, sadly, substitutes a synth track.

Did you know?: Looking for the beginning of The X-Files aesthetic? Start here. Several of the show's writers and directors got their start on Wiseguy, as did Carol Mendelsohn, who would go on to be one of the major creative forces behind CSI.

Available on DVD?: The first season is available in two volumes, and a variety of episodes from seasons two and three are also available. The music licensing issues rob some of the episodes of some of their power.

The list so far:

41) Wiseguy
42) Rocky and Bullwinkle
43) Your Show of Shows
44) 60 Minutes
45) The Andy Griffith Show
46) The Daily Show/The Colbert Report
47) Michael Mann's crime trilogy
48) Mystery Science Theater 3000
49) Buffalo Bill
50) The Ed Sullivan Show
51) Jeopardy!
52) Mr Rogers' Neighborhood
53) SportsCenter
54) thirtysomething
55) Soap
56) Friends
57) King of the Hill
58) The Larry Sanders Show
59) The Odd Couple
60) Get Smart
61) Saturday Night Live
62) 24
63) The Shield
64) The Dick Cavett Show
65) Monday Night Football
66) Mad Men
67) The Rockford Files
68) Undeclared
69) CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
70) 30 Rock
71) NYPD Blue
72) Sports Night
73) The Phil Silvers Show
74) The Office (US)
75) Green Acres
76) Frasier
77) The Waltons
78) Friday Night Lights
79) The West Wing
80) M*A*S*H
81) The Bob Newhart Show
82) Everybody Loves Raymond
83) Sex and the City
84) The Price is Right
85) Big Love
86) The Amazing Race
87) Futurama
88) Everwood
89) The Cosby Show
90) Beavis and Butthead
91) Firefly
92) Leave it to Beaver
93) Alfred Hitchcock Presents
94) Picket Fences
95) Veronica Mars
96) WKRP in Cincinnati
97) Project Runway
98) How I Met Your Mother
99) The Adventures of Pete and Pete
100) Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Today's Christmas tune: "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" is one of my favorite neglected Christmas carols, and this version by Will Yates makes the song sound like it's taking place at some distant Christmas concert in a rural church or something.

Tomorrow: The underrated list, including Who's the Boss. Just wait until you see my reasoning! (This one may be a little late, so bear with me.