Thursday, December 20, 2007

SDD's top 100 series of all time: Places 40-31

40) The Muppet Show
syndicated, produced 1976-1981

What: Possibly the finest hour of popular children's TV visionary Jim Henson, The Muppet Show is like a variety show on crack, speeding the pace of the old reliable genre up to a breakneck one and forcing the guest hosts to keep up. But the series was more than just a variety show. While it had the comic sketches and musical numbers associated with such an entertainment, The Muppet Show also had a collection of beloved recurring characters, who continue to be popular with the general public, years after their show had left the air and their creator had died. The show's melding of the sitcom and the variety show managed to make it seem relevant even as the latter genre was slowly dying all over the television landscape. But what shone through the most was Henson's gentle humanism, his belief that there was something honorable and amusing about frogs and comical bears and piano-playing dogs and weirdoes with hooked noses. Even though it's not a part of the actual series, that moment at the end of Muppet Family Christmas where Henson shows up to watch his whole brood sing carols (in what was, I believe, his final production with his creations) gets me every time.

Why: Jim Henson was in love with a lot of genres that were slowly going out of favor in the late 70s, including vaudeville and the broad jokes that went with it. The series took the basic format of Laugh In (lots of fast-paced sketches that bled into each other) and wed it to a backstage sitcom about a bunch of wacky freaks trying to keep an old theater up and running. There's nothing quite like The Muppet Show until The Simpsons, what with the dozens of well-developed characters bouncing around and interacting with guest hosts, who ranged from the obscure (Mummenschanz?!) to the very well known (the cast of Star Wars). Not every guest host was equal, and not all of them could quite give in to playing along with the little puppets, but when the show finds a host who likes playing along with the gang, it can be downright magical in just how much it gets you to suspend your disbelief. Henson threw a whole bunch of stuff together and pitched it at a level that kids would enjoy, even as their parents got a kick out of some of the weirder gags (Pigs in Space, for example). The Muppet Show blends the best of variety shows, sketch comedy shows and sitcoms, and that's something not to be laughed at.

Best season: Season three, still unscheduled for DVD release, was when the show was at its height of popularity, and it boasts the best collection of guest stars, including Leslie Uggams, Sylvester Stallone and Big Bird.

Best episode: I'm partial to two season two episodes. Milton Berle's episode is as good as its reputation, but Steve Martin's episode is a great, winking example of a star having his cake and eating it too on the show.

Did you know?: Unable to find a U.S. network that would produce his show (despite two pilots for CBS, both available on the second season DVD set, and work on Saturday Night Live), Henson took the show to London, where a British broadcaster financed it and sold it into U.S. syndication.

Available on DVD?: The first two seasons of the show are out, and a few best-of DVDs are available sporadically.

39) Gilmore Girls
The WB/The CW, produced 2000-2007

What: Amy Sherman-Palladino's crazy, spiffy portrayal of the small town as heaven was quite possibly the finest hour of the late-period WB. Centered around a mother-daughter relationship that was too close to friendship for some, Gilmore Girls became one of that network's biggest hits thanks to just how fun it was to hang out in Stars Hollow, Connecticut, and just how lovable so many of the characters were. The series boasted one of the all-time great performances in television history (the sadly un-Emmied Lauren Graham) and a portrayal of the small town as loving family that seemed almost directly drawn from a Hillary Clinton position paper. The contrast in shooting styles between Stars Hollow (with its bright, autumnal color palette and smoothly gliding camera) and the staid home of Lorelai Gilmore's parents (with its muted colors and set-in-stone camera) conveyed far more about the characters' various relationships than any lines of Palladino's famously whiplash-inducing dialogue, but the series' greatest strength was in how it argued for the importance of the family in all its forms.

Why: I can see why a lot of people really hate Gilmore Girls. The series is almost patently unrealistic, and it can overdose on twee from time to time (not to mention that Palladino was fond of episodes where literally nothing would happen -- good thing her characters were so fun to hang out with). What makes Gilmore Girls work where, say, Ed fell apart is that the twee goofiness in Gilmore is only a means to an end -- it's a way to get us to keep watching, so we get invested in the good-hearted relationships between the characters and the deeply emotional core of a ruptured family finding a way to put itself back together after years and years of bitterness. Gilmore Girls had its problems (the last two seasons are desperately uneven, largely due to Palladino's insistence on keeping the central Luke and Lorelai pairing apart when it was obvious they should be getting married or something and the leavetaking of the Palladinos from the show in the final season), and the series could be a little too pleased with just how clever it was, but at its best, it was a look at how a child is best off if she has a whole mess of parents, all invested in her life.

Best season: Season three, Rory's final season in high school, has the benefit of the best plotting that plays into the strengths of the notoriously spotty Alexis Bledel.

Best episode: "Wedding Bell Blues" takes the show's two best actresses -- Graham and Kelly Bishop -- and turns them loose, showing just how wrapped up in each other's lives the two characters had become.

Did you know?: Gilmore Girls was the first pilot produced with funding from the Family Friendly Programming Forum to go to series. The Forum has since helped numerous projects, including Commander-in-Chief and Chuck.

Available on DVD?: The whole run is available on DVD in an attractive complete series set.

38) South Park
Comedy Central, produced 1997-present

What: Originally an irreverent cartoon full of scatalogical humor and grossout gags, South Park evolved into an increasingly bitter satire of the ridiculousness of American culture in the late 90s and 2000s. The politics of the show occasionally seemed as though its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, were just diligently dedicated to flaunting the status quo of Hollywood at every turn, but the two also made trenchant points at the show's highpoint, hilariously willing to skewer just about anything or anyone and helped in that task by a large cast of great characters and a production schedule that allows them to make a whole animated episode in a week. The animation on the show is crude, but the world of South Park, just a hair removed from our world, makes all of this bearable. South Park is both shallow and deceptively deep.

Why: I actually think South Park has become a touch overrated in recent years, as Parker and Stone have started to buy into their own hype and unleashing more and more basic political satire. But there's no denying just how sharp the show was at its height (roughly seasons four through eight), and its talent for close observation has allowed it to do funny episodes in every one of its seasons (the recent episode about Guitar Hero was a perfect satire of gaming culture and movies about rock bands -- in other words, an instant classic). South Park is nothing without its characters, especially the four little boys at its center (even if Eric Cartman gets too much credit for the show's humor). Even without Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman, though, the show would boast a great ensemble. What other show would boast a character as demented as Butters (possibly the closest the television medium has come to capturing your editor as a young man) or as despairingly white-bread as Stan Marsh? South Park isn't what it once was, but when the show kicks back and is content to spend a little time in its meticulously crafted world, it can still be a lot of fun.

Best season: Season six gives Butters the most to do and makes a great running gag out of the boys trying to find a replacement for the finally completely dead Kenny.

Best episode: For whatever intensely personal reasons, "The Death Camp of Tolerance" makes me laugh long and hard every time, largely due to the voyage of Lemmiwinks.

Did you know?: Everyone remembers the "Spirit of Christmas" short which launched the show, but the original iteration of the South Park characters featured a battle between Jesus and Frosty, NOT Jesus and Santa.

Available on DVD?: Most of the show's seasons are available, while the current season returns in the spring.

37) The Wonder Years
ABC, produced 1988-1993

What: The culmination of a long string of critically acclaimed but low-rated dramedies (including Hooperman, Frank's Place and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd), The Wonder Years capitalized on the current taste for '60s nostalgia in the '80s and gave baby boomers a show they could watch with their own kids, one that hit on universal truths of growing up but also found the important moments of life in the '60s -- Vietnam and the hippie movement and the civil rights movement. The Wonder Years grew a bit long-in-the-tooth toward the end of its run (largely thanks to the many child actors the show employed), but it's early seasons were a wonderful blend of Leave It To Beaver-esque family sitcom, coming-of-age story and earnest social issues drama (with a killer soundtrack to boot). There's stuff now that seems silly about The Wonder Years (namely the way the narrator would often strain to tie every episode of the show into some universal Life Lesson while Fred Savage stared, dewy-eyed at the camera), but it's also one of those defining documents of life, a show that feels so important and real and achingly beautiful that it almost seems as if it just dropped onto the primetime schedule directly from Nick at Nite or something.

Why: The Wonder Years' critical reputation has taken a bit of a beating in recent years as the show has largely disappeared from reruns -- a lot of this is just due to not seeing the show, which has a tendency to grow more mawkish than it actually was when you think about it in your head (I didn't have it on the list until I forced myself to revisit it and was somewhat blown away). That devastating Simpsons parody of the show (in Three Men and a Comic Book) is accurate to a degree, but the series doesn't really get enough credit for just how unsentimental it was at its best. The element of having David Stern there as a narrator lent the show a certain air of sentimentality and nostalgia, to be sure (much as the Bob Saget narration makes the very year we're living in seem like a golden age we never can return to in How I Met Your Mother), but it also leavened some of the show's harsher moments for its younger audience. While I know that the series had moments of sheer stupidity (especially in its last season), I can't think of many shows that can match the heights of Winnie discovering her brother had died (in the pilot, no less!), Kevin going to visit his dad at work (in the third episode, no less!) or Kevin going to make sure Winnie was all right after a car accident. The series also popularized the use of popular music on television, making unprecedented use of a soundtrack of '60s hits, and the performances, especially from Fred Savage and Dan Lauria, were note perfect. The Wonder Years deserves to return to a mainstream cable channel to regain the reputation it once had.

Best season: The first four seasons are all pretty great, but the Emmy-winning first season is six episodes of pure perfection.

Best episode: "My Father's Office" is one of the best realizations of the moment you have when you realize that your parents haven't met all of their dreams and that you almost certainly won't either. And, again, the THIRD EPISODE.

Did you know?: Creators Neal Marlens and Carol Black wrote five of the first seven episodes, then were removed from the series under still mysterious circumstances. The two now are advocates for home schooling and have completely removed themselves from the world of show business.

Available on DVD?: Music issues mean the series is likely to never be released on DVD. There are two best-of DVDs.

36) Lost
ABC, produced 2004-present

What: The best of the mid-2000s big network serialized genre dramas (and that's less specific than that sounds), Lost was a glorious, often maddening, remix of a whole century of pulp fiction, tossed into a paper shredder, reassembled in scripts, and dumped on a mystical island where nothing was as it seemed and the characters were allowed to think back on their lives to that point and find themselves in a new crucible, ready to prove that this time, they would be able to do it right. Lost could kind of wander offtrack (season two is basically meaningless in the larger narrative now, since it was one long up and back of a season), and its uneven nature has driven many of its fans and admirers crazy by this point (the broad-based hit promised in the first season has morphed into what's probably the world's biggest cult hit and essentially turned into a retelling of every ginormous book Stephen King has ever written). But when Lost is on, it's ON, and there's really nothing else like it in the history of television. For its willingness to toss hundreds of years of literature, theology and philosophy into its scripts (even if these concepts occasionally come off as 101 versions of themselves) and its sheer audacity, Lost more than earns its spot in the top 40.

Why: Before the back half of season three, things were getting pretty dire for Lost apologists, who increasingly had to turn to pointing out all of the show's promise and the times when it had gotten it right, instead of pointing to current, great episodes. Then, the show seemingly grew tired of being the subject of fan and critic sniping and unleashed a straight stretch of incredible episodes that more than lived up to the bars Lost set for itself by invoking some of the best genre fiction of all time. I'm not going to lie and pretend that Lost is an all-time masterwork of the televised form, but it's tremendously entertaining, and its dime-store philosophy is at least on a par with the Star Wars trilogies and/or The Matrix (take your pick). Even when the writing is letting the show down, the phenomenal cast and the stirringly visual direction are enough to keep anyone watching, and the good will built up for the characters in earlier episodes gives us something to latch on to (there have been characters like these before on television, but the specific assemblages of, say, John Locke or Ben Linus are new). Even the much-maligned flashbacks (which have a tendency to distill everything every character does to a single motivation or two) can sideswipe you with a scene of real, raw emotional power. Lost is that rare show that was probably overrated at first, then mostly underrated, but can any of you say you WON'T be back after that third season finale, the best payoff in the show's history?

Best season: I think season two is unfairly maligned -- yes, it does nothing for the big picture of the show, but there's a lot of really fun small-scale storytelling in it -- and season three is great, but season one is still the best, packing a lot of power into its episodes.

Best episode: The three-hour "Exodus" has a dud of a cliffhanger, but that's more than made up for by everything that comes before and the moment when the raft sets sale, a startling, cinematic montage told almost entirely through music and pictures.

Did you know?: The series was initially conceived of by ABC exec Lloyd Braun, who came up with the idea for a show set on a deserted island after an airing of "Cast Away" garnered huge ratings for the then fourth-place network.

Available on DVD?: Seasons one and two are available, and season three will be available later this month. Season four airs this February.

35) Survivor
CBS, produced 2000-present

What: Based on a Swedish game show format, Survivor hit the airwaves in the summer of 2000 with low expectations and completely reinvented the television landscape. It helped that the show came on at a time when TV didn't have a lot of shows with recognizable characters or exciting plotting; Survivor had both in spades, and it was tremendously entertaining to boot. Like any series that's lasted 15 seasons, Survivor has pretty much become a shadow of itself at this point, but there are moments and characters throughout the run of the show that still resonate and provide classic TV memories. Survivor also blended The Real World with a game show and invented a new TV format that would go on to take over the entirety of the networks' broadcast schedules over the seasons to come. Like American Idol or The Amazing Race or America's Next Top Model? Not a one of them would be on the air if Americans hadn't flocked to Survivor so readily and proved that cheap, reality programming could compete with more expensive scripted programming. Survivor isn't the best reality show (that's probably The Amazing Race), but it is probably the most consistently entertaining -- reliably exciting, even in its weaker seasons.

Why: Survivor is probably the show that rated the highest based on its influence, its entertainment value and its value as comfort-food TV. But, really, what's so wrong with that? Many of the series Survivor inspired are pretty awful, but the original itself is just terrifically fun television, allowing viewers to spend one hour per week with people willing to do anything to get that $1 million prize. Survivor also manages up surprising lessons in basic ethics from time to time, as when Colby wouldn't betray Tina in season two or when the sneaky Rob utilized the trust of those in his team to pretty much screw them over in the all-stars edition. This quality can make the show frustrating to watch from time to time, but the series usually gets you coming back for more thanks to its impeccable casting, its handsome production values and its best-in-the-genre editing, which takes what must be hours upon hours of boring footage and assembles them into episodes that are tautly paced and fun to watch. There are seasons that are weaker than others, and recent seasons just haven't had the sparkle the show had in its first years, but Survivor is the old reliable of reality television, and that has to count for something.

Best season: Season two is pretty great, as is the Pearl Islands season, but nothing can quite match up to that very first year and its perfect cast.

Best episode: While the first-season finale is probably more famous by now, I'm still partial to the episode early in the season when Richard Hatch decides to form an alliance with a few other players. In his cacklingly evil glee, you can see the invention of the way a WHOLE GENRE OF TELEVISION would play out.

Did you know?: The creator of the original format for Survivor, Charlie Parsons, is basically unknown to American audiences, despite picking up an Emmy for the program. Producer Mark Burnett, who exported the show to the U.S., is far better known.

Available on DVD?: Six seasons are available on DVD, including the first season, and a few best-of DVDs are also available.

34) Moonlighting
ABC, produced 1985-1989

What: In a time when most detective dramas were fairly dry shows where the crimes were formulaic and easily solved (like, say, Murder She Wrote), Moonlighting followed the "wacky detectives" path set out by Remington Steele and created something very like a screwball comedy from week-to-week (well, from month-to-month -- the show is famously the worst-run hit show in history). Glenn Gordon Caron's perfect scripts played with the fourth wall, destroyed storytelling conventions and pinged all of this off of one of the best will-they/won't-they storylines in the history of the medium. It helped that the dialogue was tremendously funny and the episodes were never formulaic. While the mysteries themselves were almost always a disappointment (Caron considered them basically beside the point), the chemistry between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd more than made up for that, as did Caron's willingness to do episodes inspired by film noir or Shakespeare or classic musicals (including sequences directed by Stanley Donan, of all people). Many of the dramas of the '80s don't hold up as well today, as the longer running times meant that the shows needed to fill more space (usually with exposition). Moonlighting's famously short scripts created situations where the show had to stall for time, and it somehow still holds up to this day.

Why: Moonlighting, for me, comes down to just how much fun the dialogue was and just how much its genre mash-up managed to play up comedy, then drama, then mystery, then romance. Willis and Shepherd may have hated each other, but the two of them had a palpable chemistry that fairly burbled on screen. I know that the show gets a lot of flack for getting the two of them together too early, but if you look at the show, it was a writers' strike that killed it -- since it unnaturally extended Maddie's pregnancy. The original plan -- examining two people who had slept together and then realized that was a bad idea and THEN realized they still had to work together -- still strikes me as the kind of thing that would have worked given the proper time to make it work. But the strike and other external factors made that impossible, and we're left wondering what might have been. Still, those first three seasons are all pretty terrific (and the fourth is underrated), full of smartly written television that just goes all out in its attempts to amuse and entertain you.

Best season: Season three is the show's most inventive and the peak of its terrific dialogue.

Best episode: "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice" is both a film noir tribute AND a he-said/she-said episode, making it that rare televised cinematic feast of pre-90s television.

Did you know?: The average television script is 52 pages long. Thanks to the rapid-fire dialogue on Moonlighting, its scripts were often 100 pages long, and episodes still often came in short in editing.

Available on DVD?: All five seasons are available.

33) Barney Miller
ABC, produced 1975-1982

What: The warmly witty and understated Barney Miller has become the great lost sitcom of the '70s, thanks to its virtual disappearance from cable reruns and syndication. At first, the show was a fairly standard workplace sitcom with a strained "home life" element, but the subtle, character-based humor of the show often eluded the studio audience, and the show soon gave up on filming live and evolved into one that utilized still-legendary, all-night taping sessions, where executive producer Danny Arnold and his cast would stay up with that episode's director and tweak and tweak and tweak the episode until the thing was tight as a drum. The series slowly tweaked itself until it became the best possible version of itself, and its note-perfect ensemble helped deliver those acclaimed scripts. The series was a critical success at the time, but unlike other big sitcoms of the time, it's mostly faded into obscurity. It's time for the show to come back, though; one of the most common things to say when you're trying to hype a sitcom is that its scripts recall great one-act plays. But, here's the thing. The often one-set, occasionally poetic Barney Miller really DOES.

Why: Danny Arnold is the forgotten sitcom genius, perhaps because Barney Miller never managed to hit the heights of other '70s sitcoms and because he never had another hit that matched up to this series. Most sitcoms, even the good ones, eventually tend to get too broad, but Barney Miller just got more and more intricate as the seasons went on and the irascible Arnold started to figure out all that he could do with the show. One of the rarest things in the world of stage-bound sitcoms is a show that takes place on one set predominantly (the first season of Cheers did this), but Barney Miller worked this to perfection, turning its squad room into a microcosm of the world in whole. Each episode tended to focus on the characters' personal problems and then juxtapose those with the latest criminal in lock-up (often for some ridiculous and amusing crime). Arnold's working methods may have been mildly insane, but they created a sitcom that genuinely felt like nothing else on the air then or now. Fred Goss, creator of Sons &; Daughters, is one of the foremost champions of the show and he keeps trying to do a series in its spirit (only with mostly improvised dialogue). Here's hoping he pulls it off, because this is a show that deserves to live on, if only in spirit.

Best season: The show is one of the few that got better as it went on, and I think season five is its height, when the ensemble was at its funniest and the writing staff at its strongest.

Best episode: "The Photographer," the only episode to win the show a writing Emmy, won that award for a very good reason.

Did you know?: The series invented the phrase "All the good ones are taken."

Available on DVD?: Season one has been available for years, and it will finally be joined by season two (when the series started to get its groove together) in early 2008.

32) Late Night with David Letterman
NBC, produced 1982-1993

What: It's rare that you can legitimately cleave the history of a medium (any medium) in two thanks to the influence of one person, but David Letterman is like that for television. Before Letterman, televised humor was pretty firmly in the camp of the old, traditional borscht-belt stuff -- wacky one-liners, gags about the commander-in-chief, that sort of stuff. After Letterman, the sky was the limit. You could do ironic stuff. You could do blatantly absurdist stuff. You could waste network time by donning a suit of Alka Seltzer and getting dunked in a water tank. The whole "let's put something not especially funny on the air and see if it gets a laugh just through our attitudes" school of television comedy is Letterman through and through. I don't know what, exactly, this has wrought, but Letterman was, at least, tremendously funny and a good interviewer to boot. His program gave the first TV appearance to a number of indie bands (including REM) and stars who weren't exactly in the limelight. While I like Letterman's Late Show, it's really just an imitation of the early, groundbreaking work he was doing on NBC.

Why: Really, all of the reasons why I put Letterman on this list are above, but I'll reiterate them. The first time I ever saw David Letterman's Late Night, I was 11, and I had no idea what was going on, but I thought it was terrific. I watched the show whenever I could and followed him to CBS when he moved two years later. I even watched the later reruns of Late Night on Bravo and Trio, so I could get an idea of the weird stuff he was doing in the '80s (and some of it could be REALLY WEIRD). Letterman's first show was just different from anything else on, and no one has done bizarre humor better than him since, not even himself. I'm not going to say that everything he tried worked, but so much of it did, and that was largely due to the wryly grinning man playing with his notecards and sitting behind the desk just off to the side of center-stage.

Best season: While not really applicable, if you can find his strike stuff (when he would get shaved on TV or have his producer play Lady of Spain on an accordion), do check it out. We could be looking forward to this sort of thing in the weeks to come.

Best episode: That historic confrontation between Andy Kaufman and Jerry Lawler is good, but so are many of Crispin Glover's appearances, including the one where he almost kicks Dave in the head.

Did you know?: REM made their first national television appearance on the show, but Michael Stipe refused to be interviewed, leaving the other three members to pick up the slack.

Available on DVD?: Sadly, not even best-of DVDs are available.

31) Northern Exposure
CBS, produced 1990-1995

What: So I like quirky small town dramedies. And for my money, Northern Exposure (NoExp to its fans) is the best quirky small town dramedy of all time. The characters are goofy and twee, but not TOO goofy and twee, and the scripts are smart and literate and brimming with literary references and philosophical discussions. The direction, while not as great as rough contemporary Twin Peaks, is very good and makes excellent use of location shooting (which began to become de riguer in the '90s after being mostly limited in early decades). This probably shouldn't have worked as well as it did, but Northern Exposure ended up being a default training ground for the same crew that would go on to create The Sopranos, the great drama of the 2000s, where they learned from the people who created St. Elsewhere, one of the great dramas of the 1980s. At the time, no one could see it, but Northern Exposure is one of the few places where '80s and '00s-style drama come together in an intoxicating brew. The series also probably has the most varied and perfect soundtrack in the history of the medium, drawing on all sorts of genres and musical types to create the world's best-stocked jukebox. There are things about Northern Exposure that are forced or unbelievable, but the series as a whole is a charming statement about what we all wish small towns might be in our heart of hearts -- loving places in which we can reinvent our very selves.

Why: Northern Exposure is another show that has taken a bit of a critical drubbing in recent years, largely due to a final two seasons that were both pretty weak and a huge number of quirky small town shows that spun off in its wake, few of them able to match up to it (though you'll find one down there at #39). This makes it hard to view the series that created all this mania through fresh eyes. First broadcast as a summer replacement series, the show garnered some curious critical praise (mostly from people who wanted to see where things went from the pilot) before evolving extremely rapidly into a cult obsession, then a national one in its abbreviated second season. The series is one of the oddest to have become a big hit, largely because it made no pretensions of being about important social issues (as was the style at the time) and often found itself taking time to allow the local radio DJ time to read from Whitman or discuss Nietzche. A lot of this was really superficial stuff, but Northern Exposure was dedicated to the idea of the small town as a kind of paradise. Cicely, Alaska, is the natural heir to Mayberry, N.C., and the ancestor of so many more TV towns. So was NoExp, which was either the last of a breed or the first of one, depending on how you look at it.

Best season: The third season is just a massively accomplished season of television, including the series four or five best episodes. Really, the first four years are all good, but season three is the best.

Best episode: "Cicely," the third season finale, is a time-bending journey through the history of the series' setting that closes on one of the best lump-in-the-throat moments in TV history. Also, if you're looking for good Christmas viewing, you can't go wrong with "Seoul Mates."

Did you know?: The showrunner for the series' sixth season was whispered by some to have run the show into the ground. Consequently, he had a lot of trouble getting the next series he created off the ground. It was about a mobster who started visiting a psychiatrist. . .you may have heard of it.

Available on DVD?: Music rights issues are irritating, given how great the soundtrack was, but the entire series is available.

The list so far:
31) Northern Exposure
32) Late Night with David Letterman
33) Barney Miller
34) Moonlighting
35) Survivor
36) Lost
37) The Wonder Years
38) South Park
39) Gilmore Girls
40) The Muppet Show
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: Those Lutherans! What won't they do? Well, here's a carol that I've only heard in Lutheran services, "Before the Paling of the Stars."

Tomorrow: 10 one-season wonders, five on DVD and five. . .not on DVD.


Carrie said...

Not Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure! Oops. I can't believe I forgot about that show, considering how much my mother and I loved it at its height.

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