Saturday, January 10, 2009

Argument Starter of the Week: Best of TV

I Like Lists.  Here's my list of the week.  My ten favorite TV shows of all time.  As a yardstick, I tried to ask myself which shows lent more catchphrases to my daily life.  Which shows did I end up quoting until I annoyed myself?  And, of course, which shows affected my life in some way or another.  I like TV, so I had a long list to whittle down.  Here are some that did not make the top ten:

  • WKRP in Cincinnati
  • Carol Burnett Show 
  • Scrubs
  • 30 Rock
  • Green Acres
  • I Dream of Jeanie
  • Bewitched
  • Frasier
  • Cheers
  • Cosby Show
  • Welcome Back Kotter
  • Muppet Show
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Boston Legal
  • M*A*S*H
  • Magnum P.I.
  • Northern Exposure
  • Twin Peaks
And now, may I have the envelope please...

11. Revision alertDean reminds me that South Park should be somewhere on this list. It was a bit of a thrill watching this with a middle schooler, who, in a more parental household, would not have been watching such a filthy and profane show, but it wasn't anything that he wouldn't have heard in school the next day anyway. "No, kitty, that's mah pot pie," "respect my authoritah," and "screw you guys, I'm going home" worked its way into the family lexicon.

10.  Friends.  I know, it's not cool to give Friends any respect, but do you know what a "laminated list" is?  Can you sing "Smelly Cat"? Can you say "How you doin?" the way Joey says it? I rest my case.

9. Simpsons. Homer Simpson's "Doh." Bart Simpson's "cowabunga." Mr. Burns' "eeexcellent." Nelson Muntz's "HA-ha." The Simpsons are part of the family.

8.  The Daily Show.  Thank God this week our long national nightmare came to an end. I'm referring, of course, to the long Christmas vacation taken by The Daily Show. Jon Stewart says the stuff that I would say if I were a lot wittier and had a staff of writers. There have been so many talented "correspondents" come through that show - Mo Rocca, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell (remember Even Stephven?), Ed Helms, Rob Corddry, Demetri Martin.  I am very, very fond of John Oliver and hope he doesn't become a former correspondent. I am very attached to this show.

7.  Star Trek.  This show is cultural common ground.  Everybody knows what "Beam me up, Scotty" means and where it comes from. Can you replay in your head the great fight between Kirk and the Gorn, where Kirk fashions some gunpowder from stuff he finds on the ground? Or the duel between Kirk and Spock during Spock's spawning season? Me too.

6.  The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  When I was in my teens, I thought the only worthwhile life goal was to get on this show and hang with Johnny. I was hoping to be the next Dr. Joyce Brothers. I am not making this up.

5.  Seinfeld.  Sponge-worthy. Soup Nazi. Puffy Shirt. Master of your Domain. Shrinkage. Serenity Now! Festivus. Newman! This show was the 90's.

4.  The Bob Newhart Show.  This is the Chicago psychologist one, not the later Vermont Innkeeper one.  This show effected the course of my life, and not necessarily in a good way. Here was a timid, slightly stuttery guy, who was living a glamorous life in Chicago, riding the El, living in a swanky apartment, and hanging out with funny patients who didn't seem all that mentally or emotionally problematic. Hey, that could be me!  I'm timid and stuttery. I like psychology and big cities. I'll leave you to pinpoint the flaws in this logic. Still, it was a funny show. I especially recommend the Thanksgiving show from Season 4.

3. Blackadder. I argued with myself over whether English shows should be included in this list, but since it's my list, and a list of shows that especially affected me, English shows stay. This is a lesser-known English comedy, and a lesser-known work of both Rowan Atkinson (of Mr. Bean fame, which I do not find particularly funny) and Hugh Laurie (of House fame). Each season presented Edmund Blackadder in a different age, beginning with Medieval times and ending in World War I. My particular favorite is Blackadder III, set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during the reign of George III.  Hugh Laurie plays a lusty, empty-headed Prince George to Rowan Atkinson's long-suffering butler, Edmund Blackadder.  As opposed to Mr. Bean, Blackadder is filled with smart but silly wordplay in the English tradition.  A small sampling of phrases in the Tracy Household jargon from Blackadder:  "thick as a whale omelet," "luck, luck, luck, luuuck," "I have a cunning plan," "horse's willies" (sausages), and "floppelly-doppellies."

2.  Monty Python's Flying Circus. We used to have a VHS tape of Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl, which we wore down to shreds.  It had all the best stuff: the Parrot Sketch, the Spam Sketch/Opera, the Spanish Inquisition, The Lumberjack Song, John Cleese in drag selling albatross (It's an albatross. No bleeding flavor. Bloody albatross flavor. Bleeding seabird bleeding flavor.), Australian philosophy professors, and Silly Walks. I'm a little giddy just writing all this down.

1. Saturday Night Live. I was 13 in 1975. Thirteen! Is there a more impressionable age to watch Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Larraine Newman, Garrett Morris and Gilda Radner make a new kind of humor? Okay, but it was certainly new to me. There was no punch line. There was no rim shot. Now, there's a possibility for humor in anything. I could be living in a humor sketch right now if I wanted to make it one. Oh, the opening of the eyes. Chevy Chase was himself and I was not.  There was a Land Shark. And a Bass-o-matic. The Coneheads. The Wild and Crazy Guys.  And Dan Aykroyd said "Jane, you ignorant slut." Nothing was the same after SNL. And everything is a little bit funnier.

I'm tired and that's my list. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.


cpt a said...

I'm with you on 8/10. The Muppet Show has to be #3 for me, I mean if a 17 yo boy humms the theme song to the Muppets throughout his senior year of football practices it's gotta rate high on the list, and Mash is #4 but all the rest are identical. "Spot on Janice". Now I have to go get some sleep. I'm only up 'cause some drunk needs to htfu...

DT said...

friends but no south park? ehhhh...

piglet said...

South Park! Dammit!

Jenny said...

I nominate, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, on behalf of me, myself, I, and sometimes, Bella. I've tried to convert Dean to the dark side, but he refuses to join. I encourage you to watch and love. Buffy for life!