Because I’m a man, and I’m a sports fan, I’m a compulsive list-maker. I think it’s a guy thing, but sports fans do it more than anyone.
Who are the top 5 QB’s of all time? Who’re the 10 best hitters of all time? Who is your all-time starting 5 basketball players (for me, that last one is very difficult. But I’d say Jordan, Magic, Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Kareem. I hate leaving Oscar Robertson and Wilt off the team).
Anyway, during a boring lunch-duty period at school last week (seriously, junior high lunch duty is not exactly rocket science, you just have to make sure the kids don’t stab each other with plastic knives), I came up with my Top 5 favorite TV shows, both dramas and sitcoms.
I was bored, so I actually argued with myself for a while to narrow it down to five. Would love to hear your kudos or vehement disagreements, that’s the whole fun of lists!
So here goes, first my Top 5 sitcoms, and next week sometime I’ll do dramas…
5. Family Ties: The first show, post-cartoons, I ever loved and made a point never to miss. Thursday nights at 8:30, I was in front of my TV watching hilarious young Republican Alex P. Keaton, his former-hippie parents Steven and Elyse, their beautiful air-head daughter Mallory, and their brainy but often overlooked daughter Jennifer.
“Family Ties” brought the funny every week, and even the guest stars like Mallory’s boyfriend Nick and, famously, Tom Hanks as Uncle Ned were great. Every time I catch a re-run, I still laugh.
A clip from one of my favorite episodes, when Alex has a money-making scheme to turn the family house into a hotel for the weekend:
4. Murphy Brown: Wildly underrated and underappreciated (much like “Coach,” and “Mad About You,” which I hated to leave off this list), “Murphy Brown” brought you into the world of the fictional newsmagazine FYI, and the cast was perfect: Miles (above), the nebbishy Jewish neurotic producer; Jim, the straight-laced anchorman with a dry wit, Frank, the insanely funny investigative reporter with an awful love life, Corky Sherwood Forrest (love that name), the bubble-headed blonde who couldn’t find a story if it smacked her in the head, and of course, Murphy, tough-as-nails, hilariously sarcastic and still with a good heart.
Really hard to find this show on cable these days, which stinks.
3. The Wonder Years: As my wife has just pointed out when I told her my list, “The Wonder Years” isn’t really a sitcom. But it’s a half-hour show and it’s my list. This show was so perfect, hitting so many high notes between drama, humor, and heart.
So many classic episodes that moved me; when Paul first makes the basketball team and becomes popular, and how that changes his relationship with Kevin; the ones where Wayne and Kevin stop their bickering and realize they love each other; my all-time favorite episode “The Teacher,” when Kevin gets close to math teacher Mr. Collins, only to see him get sick and die, and of course, this one below, when Kevin and Winnie’s long love affair pretty much ends.
Truly a groundbreaking show, one that moves me still. And every time I think of Jack Arnold yelling “Dammit Wayne!” I laugh pretty hard.
2. Seinfeld: I have some friends, like Scott and Phil, who will scream “Blasphemy” at me having Jerry and Co. only at No. 2. And don’t get me wrong: At its best, like with “The Marine Biologist,” “The Opposite,” “The Contest,” and the Keith Hernandez/second spitter episode, “Seinfeld” was better than any sitcom, ever.
But in the first season and then the last three years, there were way too many episodes where they mailed it in. Where Kramer was doing the same schtick over and over, where George was his pathetic self, where Elaine made up yet another reason to screw up a relationship, etc.
“Seinfeld” was incredible at its peak, and no show could make you laugh harder. But it really stayed far too long at the party in my opinion. Still, I’m really glad its sense of humor has lived on in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
1. Cheers: The granddaddy of them all, and never in doubt as my No. 1 choice. Sam, Diane, Carla, Cliff, Norm, Coach, Woody, Frasier, all integral parts of making the bar in Boston I visited on TV for a decade the most exciting, funniest place to be.
I could go on for hours about the comic timing, the brilliant acting, the writing that was great every single week, but you don’t have that kind of time. Instead, I’ll just leave you with some “Normisms.”
**Finally, I saw this on Upworthy.com and it scared me quite a bit; it’s a trailer for a documentary called “Daddy I Do,” and it’s about girls who pledge to their fathers that they’ll keep their virginity until they get married, and make these pledges at “Purity Balls.”
Creepy, and kinda indicative of how badly we do sex-ed in this country. I know from working at junior highs and high schools that sex-ed is far, far down the list of priorities, and it really shouldn’t be.