Wednesday, June 25, 2008

EW's New Classics

If you catch the current edition of "Entertainment Weekly" on newstands, you can read what their writers claim to be the 100 best movies, TV shows, books, albums, etc. over the past quarter-century.

Of course, any time you make a list of what is "the best" in a genre, you won't satisfy everyone, and such lists are there to provide the spark for an argument among the fans.

Here's EW's top 10 TV shows, all of which debuted from 1983 and after:
1. The Simpsons
2. The Sopranos
3. Seinfeld
4. The X-Files
5. Sex & The City
6. Survivor
7. The Cosby Show
8. Lost
9. Friends
10. Buffy The Vampire Slayer

You can check out the other 90 shows in the magazine or at the EW Web site.

It's really impossible to compare a show like "The Sopranos" to a show like "Sex & The City," one of the flaws of such lists, but also, the editors of EW don't really give us a set of criteria as to how they rank the shows, except for things like quality and pop culture impact.

My criteria would include longetivity, specifically, how well a show holds up years after it's off the air. For example, "The Twighlight Zone" is still a classic today; so is "M*A*S*H."

Think of it this way: How often do you pull out the DVDs of certain shows, or sit down to watch them as they play perpetually in syndication?

Shows like "The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld" clearly fall into that category, not to mention the pop culture impact both shows still make today.

But "The X-Files," a show I'm a big fan of, doesn't really belong in the Top 10. Even die-hard fans were disappointed by the show's final few seasons, and it has sort of become a series that has been out of sight, out of mind (the upcoming movie sequel not withstanding).

"Survivor" was a pop culture phenomenon when it first aired, and it cleared the way for reality fare, but most people would be hard-pressed to name a cast member after the third or fourth installment aired. Even winning "Survivor" is no longer a guarantee of fame, only fortune. If the EW crew wanted a reality show in the Top 10, "American Idol" would have been a better choice.

Some of the other interesting choices: "Freaks & Geeks" at No. 13 is one. Though I absolutely loved this series, it only lasted one season on NBC, so it's hard to say it had a huge pop culture impact (even though it launched the careers of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and others). "The Daily Show" at No. 14 is another. This one deserves to be in the Top 10. It's hard to think of a show that has had a bigger pop culture impact over the past five years, and it's one of the few shows on the list that actually influences the American political scene.

Ditto for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (No. 17), again the most influential show of its kind and therefore should be higher on the list.

Meanwhile, shows like "Beverly Hills 90210" (No. 20), "Roseanne" (No. 21), and "Ally McBeal" (No. 48) seem irrelevant and dated by today's standards.

Anyway, feel free to check out the list at Which shows were ranked too high? Too low? ("Battlestar Galactica" only at No. 59? Seriously?) Which shows were left off the list, and which shows didn't deserve a ranking in the first place?

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: HBO is airing a tribute to George Carlin by airing the late comic's specials from over the years tonight and Thursday, beginning at 8 p.m. In addition, "Saturday Night Live" is airing its original Carlin episode from 1975 this Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.

Bravo tries to do for hair what it did for fashion and food with the return of "Shear Genius" (Bravo, 10 p.m.)

One of the weirdest concepts on TV airs tonight with "The Baby Borrowers" (NBC, 9 p.m.) as teens borrow babies and care for them, learning the rigors of child-rearing.

Finally, Georgia only came up nine runs short last night to clinch the College World Series. So the Dogs give it another try tonight (ESPN, 7 p.m.) in the third and final game against Fresno State.


zodin2008 said...

Phillip, you are NOTHING if not completely predictable.

You're right about ONE thing. A #13 rank for 90210 is wrong. It should be in the top 5.

Phillip, let me explain something - just because you didn't watch something, doesn't minimize the pop culture phenomenon that "90210" in fact was.

Let's examine the evidence.

1. was on for 10 seasons, culminating in the wedding of 2 original characters, Donna martin and David Silver. If you add in the characters of Steve, Kelly, and Dylan, that's 5 original characters around for the final episode, not to mention a 6th original character, Andrea, who showed up for the wedding.

(ironically, the show was originally built around Minnesota twins - no, not Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek - but Brandon & Brenda Walsh and their parents - none made it to the final episode).

3. Ratings. Was not only one of Fox's all time highest rated shows, but the syndication numbers wherever it airs, continues to be impressive.

4. Watercooler talk. Just about everyone I know was either a fan of the show or knows the names Donna, kelly, David, Brandon etc., when you say them. They are THAT synonimous with pop culture.

5. Even modern day famous people were fans.

Speaking of EW, your buddy and sizzling hot screenwriter of "Juno", Diablo Cody, just wrote a piece in a recent EW about how seriously psyched she was about the upcoming spinoff, because SHE'S still obssessed with the original show - and this woman just won an Oscar for "Juno".

6. Spinoff

The show's popularity remains such a pop culture phenomenon (the level of Lost, Sex and the City, The Sopranos, Seinfeld) it's spawning a spinoff this Fall with a new groups of kids at West Beverly High.

In fact, to show you the impact this show has, it was originally not going to feature ANY original castmembers, now, Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling are on board as Kelly & Donna - ensuring that people from 18 all the way to 40 will be tuning in. Smart move.

(and Spelling's fame is pretty much known while Garth certainly created a new legion of fans with her recent time on "Dancing with the Stars"). I wouldn't be shocked to see 1-2 more 'originals' either become regulars or pop up. Ian Ziering (Steve) and Luke Perry (Dylan) are both clearly available.

In fact, there's a rumor they are going to bring actor Joe E. Tata out of mothballs to repirse his role as Peach Pit owner, Nat Vessuccio. Now that's just cool.

Friends of mine can still site particular when Brandon leads a protest after Donna Martin gets expelled with everyone chanting, "Donna Martin Graduate!". There are t-shirts sold by the thousands with this saying.

I agree with you about "The X Files". That show tarnished its legacy by season 7. I could care less about the upcoming movie.

Finally - GO DAWGS. The REAL Dawgs, Georgia.

Jonathan said...

But I still think, Zod, for the same reasons you cited about 90210 (Which even though I hate the show, I agree with your reasoning), that X-Files deserves to be up there. A lot of shows teetered out in their final couple of seasons; "Seinfeld" is a prime example of this.

But "X-Files" still remained a ratings hit even in its last season, and for the first six or seven seasons it was one of the most talked about shows on. And yes, I do, along with a lot of other fans, go back and watch episodes on the DVD's as often as I would "Seinfeld," "Friends," or "Buffy." And yes I am, along with a lot of other fans anticipating the film.

Phillip Ramati said...

90210 may have been the watercooler show of its day, but you watch a rerun by today's standards and the show seems dated.

Seriously, a show with such insipid plotlines and wooden acting was hard to take seriously. If you enjoyed it so much, more power to you, but I'd like to point out that behind 90210 on the list are such shows as Homicide, Frasier and The Office, all of which I'd consider to be much better TV.