Tag Archives: Seinfeld

The five best TV sitcoms of all time (well, my five favorites). And a scary sex-ed documentary

miles.murphybrown

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.

A very cool ad tests the buttered bread/cat theory. The Rangers drive me crazy, again. And a “Wheel of Fortune” contestant makes me very sad

It’s a question as old as time itself: If a cat always lands on its feet, and a piece of buttered bread always lands butter-side down, what happens if you strap a piece of bread to the back of a cat?
I know, I know, you’ve spent hours pondering it. Well, a Brazilian ad agency has solved the problem with this creatively awesome ad for an energy drink.

**Rangers-Devils, Game 2. Once again, my beloved Blueshirts fail to take command of a series. Three times this playoff season they’ve been up 1-0, and now all three times they’ve blown Game 2 at home.

Lot of wacky stuff happened Wednesday, especially when there was a 10-minute delay in the second period when the penalty-box door broke and, hilariously, they tried to fix it by having a MSG crew guy kick the door really hard, three or four times (that never works at my apartment, not sure why it would work there).

In the end , my boys blew it again. They’re just trying to make me sweat. Or, they’re just not that much better than any of these teams, so every series, every game is going to be a struggle.
Some quickie thoughts from another very entertaining game:
— Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world, and it’s obvious even on a night he lets in a few. He made two or three ridiculous saves Wednesday night.
— Chris Kreider, wow. That kid is going to be a superstar for the Rangers with a capital S.
—  Because it’s a Rangers-Devils series, I feel obligated to link to this David Puddy clip from “Seinfeld” at least once. It has to be done.
— MSG crowd was dead most of the night. Why? Because real fans, who know when to cheer and when to boo, can’t afford the insanely-priced playoff tickets. It’s a damn shame that real sports fans can hardly afford to go see their teams play.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

**Finally, I love 1980s music as much as the next guy. OK, way, way more than the next guy. Which is why this woman playing “Wheel of Fortune” and guessing what she guessed makes me really, really sad.
Come on lady, really????

Thoughts from a Bris (don’t worry, no pictures). A very cool new ad. And the Elvis impersonator who robbed welfare.

Went to one of those hard-to-explain Jewish rite of passage rituals the other day: the bris of a new baby born to a very close friend.

A bris is one of those things that, to borrow a concept from the great Jerry Seinfeld, would be really hard to explain to someone from outer space.

“So what we do is, we take a newborn male baby who’s a week old, bring him to a small party attended by about 40-50 of his parents friends, bring him in front of a table with a person called a mohel trained to do this sort of thing, say a few prayers, then the mohel makes a small incision on his wee-wee and he cries for a few seconds. Then, everybody eats bagels and lox and celebrates a little.”

Good luck convincing someone that that really exists. It’s really a lovely little ceremony, as this one I attended was. It has a legitimate religious significance, of course, besides the real-world importance of a circumcision.

It’s just always feels a little strange to me to be eating and drinking after a baby has his first trauma, ya know?

Anyway, thank God this mohel at my friend’s service was better than this guy.

**I love a good clever commercial. Check out this LG spot that looks pretty real.

**See, the problem with being an Elvis impersonator is that een in a small town, everyone knows who you are. So when you do stupid things, it’s going to come back to you.

In my old stomping grounds of Glens Falls, N.Y. (and I mean that literally:, I often had to stomp to get through all the damn snow), a fella named Joseph Ramsey, an award-winning imitator of Elvis, has been charged with welfare fraud. Seems he took $50,000 in food stamps and benefits he wasn’t entitled to, because he never reported all of his Elvis-related income.
Ya know, when you’re playing the Dubuque Holiday Inn Memorial Day show and you don’t report the $400 they paid you, that’s bound to catch up to you someday.

 

The silver anniversary of the Buckner game. More proof life in 2011 is awesome. And another disgraceful newspaper exec

There was a great World Series game Monday. Texas beat St. Louis 4-2, and I have to admit I was captivated during the final innings, partly because I so enjoy watching Tony La Russa overmanage and ruin his team’s chances on a regular basis (I hate La Russa. Probably irrationally so. But I just think he’s a pompous ass who’s nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is. Also anyone notice that all-world superstar Albert Pujols has only gotten a hit in ONE of the five games played so far?)

But today I want to talk about a different World Series game. One that happened 25 years ago today.
Game 6. 1986. Mets. Red Sox. Bill Buckner.
I don’t think I have to say anymore. Even though I’ve always been a Yankees fan, I remember where I was that night. I was watching the game with my Dad in my parents bedroom (I was 11), and when the Sox took the lead 5-3, my Dad gave up on the game and went to sleep, while I stayed in the room to watch (my parents’ room had the good TV back then).

As the Mets started to come back, I woke him. When the Mets tied the game, I think all of New York was awake and screaming. And then poor Bill Buckner let the ball go through his legs, and became a totally unjustified goat all these years (Why don’t Sox fans blame Calvin Schiraldi and Bob Stanley just as much for the loss?).

It was one of the greatest moments in New York sports history.  You’ve all seen the Buckner clip 1,000 times, so I put the next best thing up above: An RBI Baseball re-creation of the inning, synced perfectly to Vin Scully’s wonderful play by play.
And Jason Gay of the Wall Street Journal wrote this excellent piece on memories from 25 years ago.

And of course, since Keith Hernandez is involved, how can I not show this? Maybe the funniest “Seinfeld” scene ever.

(And while we’re talking about Bill Buckner, a chance for me to plug books by my boy Jeff Pearlman (who’s on the NY Times bestseller list this week for his Walter Payton bio, whoo-hoo!), who wrote this fabulous tome on the 1986 Mets a few years ago. If you know a Mets fan or are one, check it out if only for the story about Rafael Santana peeing on a teammate’s head while passed out drunk on a bus. Truly epic.)

**So my sister calls me Monday night. She just got Verizon Fios cable TV service, which I’ve had for a few months.
“Did you know you can order from Cherry Valley (an awesome local deli where we live) through the TV?”
“No way” I shouted.
I then checked it out and within five minutes I was able to order a pastrami on rye (if I was hungry, which I wasn’t).
You can order food through your TV remote control and have it delivered to your door. Screw the iPhone, this is better!

Can’t wait until mid-December when it’s -12 degrees out and I order food through my TV.

**You know, I thought once I was out of the newspaper business full-time, stories like this would cease to anger me so. But nope. There are a lot of reasons my beloved journalism industry is dying, but sheer corporate greed is often overlooked.

Yet check out how the ex-CEO of Gannett made out upon retirement. This is a man, Craig Dubow, who fired thousands of employees and single-handedly helped ruin some wonderful newspapers.

Just despicable.

My “Melrose” memories

Melroseplace

Why oh why does TV suddenly seem to be trampling all over my lovely memories?

First NBC brought “Knight Rider” back, which was an abomination on so many levels. The new car stunk, the acting was horrendous, and I couldn’t make it past 15 minutes of the first episode (did they make more than one episode?) When I was 9 I wanted nothing more than to drive K.I.T.T. And then 25 years later, I couldn’t bear to watch.

Now the CW is destroying my favorite TV show of the 1990s, bringing back a new and fresh version of the show.

When I tell you I loved “Melrose Place,” I mean, that doesn’t even begin to do it justice.

I worshipped at the freaking altar of “Melrose Place.” I had a crush on all of the female characters on the show at one time or another (though Heather Locklear will always be my queen, before and after she played the magnificently bitchy Amanda Woodward).

I thought the acting was so delightfully over the top that you had to laugh, and the scripts were so god-awful that, as a fellow lover of words, I had to believe the writers were trying to be terrible on purpose.

Ever since I started watching it, around season 2, I was addicted. I never really was a big “90210” fan (I hear the Gen X’ers yelling now “Traitor to your generation!”), so I didn’t catch on to Melrose for a while.

But once I did, I never missed it. In college I always made sure I was home to see it, and after I graduated it was appointment viewing on Monday nights at my swingin’ bachelor pad in Wilmington, N.C.

I remember feeling so happy that for an hour a week, I could completely turn my brain off, not think about anything, and just get completely lost in this ridiculous fantasy world.

I loved Sydney the best; she was so evil and yet so lovable. Then there was Amanda, who, gorgeousness aside, was a fantastic slut who always got what she wanted. Michael was my favorite male character; truly despicable, but also somehow endearing. I thought Jane was always way too much of a pushover, but when she finally fought back she was fantastic.

Then, of course, there was Jake, who I never cared about either way, and Billy, who I found pathetic and actually rooted against (I was glad when he kept getting screwed over by the women in his life, including the pre-“Sex in the City” Kristin Davis).

Jo always annoyed me; she never seemed to have any idea what to do with her life. Allison had a great smile and had some good fights with Amanda, but was always so emotionally screwy.

Matt had some great moments as an openly gay man, which in 1992 was still pretty rare.

Then, of course, there was the transcendent Marcia Cross, as Kimberly. Remember this scene?

The plots on “Melrose” got loonier and loonier by the year, and they changed the cast too much toward the end. (Amazingly, the acting got worse as the show went along; Rob Estes and Lisa Rinna might not be in the Worst Actors Hall of Fame, but they’re sure as hell right up there).

But still, I remember being genuinely bummed when the series went off the air, and, thanks to a classic “Seinfeld,” episode, (this scene here still kills me) “Melrose Place” will always be immortalized in reruns.

And yet, now the stupid CW is bringing Melrose back. New cast, new attitudes, new everything.

It’ll suck, I’m sure. I refuse to watch. There’s no way it can be as classically trashy as the original. Although the fact that Laura Leighton’s Sydney is returning, despite, her, um, DYING in “Melrose Place,” can only be seen as a good sign.

Darren Star, I salute your brilliance in creating the original “Melrose Place.”

It’s just a damn shame good smut can’t rest in peace.