Ok, so it’s Monday and I promised one of these every Monday until it’s finished. However we also got 81-90, and 71-80 thrown in during last week. We should get 51-60 and 41-50 before next Monday as well. So look here next Monday for 31-40.
71-80 can be found HERE.
81-90 can be found HERE.
91-100 can be found HERE.
70. CHUCK (2007-???? NBC)
Yeah, I like CHUCK. I can hear the complaints now. WHAT?!?!? CHUCK over WEST WING! and (insert show name here). Yeah. CHUCK is number 70 deal with it! Sure, this show is young so in 5 years it could be up or even off the list, but so far the show is well paced, well written, and extremely well directed at times. When you can get Jay Chandrasekhar to direct a dramedy you’ve just hired the best director for hire right now in comic timing (he’s the director of the Broken Lizard movies).
CHUCK is some people say just a modern day version of GET SMART. I say “oh, no, no it’s not.” Which it definitely isn’t. Yes it mixes spies and comedy. It however does it without low brow humor or telephone shoes. CHUCK is smart, and sometimes it is definitely groan worthy. There was a spot in early season 1 that almost made me change the channel permanently (CHUCK asks Sarah who is under the influence of truth serum if there is a chance for them, she says no, and later says to Casey “thank god I’ve been trained to withstand that serum,” which was just such a BS weak writing moment that I almost gave up on it) but it turned the corner near the end of the 1st season and by the end of the 2nd season we saw true character development from multiple characters. It’s not for everyone, and some of the early episodes are hard to swallow, but it definitely found its groove.
Of course Season 3 could throw all that out the window and make this show fall of the list, but until then or until it just gets better, it’s number 70, deal with it.
Example Exhibit B: You Didn’t See This On GET SMART
69. Joe Bob’s Drive-In Theater (1986-1995 The Movie Channel)
For number 69 on the list it was this or CINEMAX AFTER DARK, but lets be honest only Joe Bob provided actual entertainment value with his show. Joe Bob Briggs was a phenomenon (real name John Bloom) that originally appeared in the Dallas Times Herald. It was a pen name that Bloom used to write reviews of exploitation flicks. By 1986 his schtick had become so popular that he was picked up by The Movie Channel to host their DRIVE-IN THEATER program that was quickly renamed the JOE BOB’S DRIVE-IN THEATER. Joe Bob used an interesting rating system that basically counted exposed breasts, explosions, ammount of blood spilled, number of bodies, and a unique FU system that described any fighting in the movie with either the person fighting or the tool used (I’ll show an example soon) and “aardvarking.” Aardvarking was his unique slang for having sex. So he’d introduce a movie, then end it with something like “12 bodies, 34 pints of blood, 17 breasts exposed, 3 counts of aardvarking, 1 account of lesbian aardvarking, kung-fu, lesbian-fu (one of his favorites), tree-fu, and about 7 on the vomit meter.
There was only one Joe Bob Briggs, and The Movie Channel has been a shadow of its former self since they let him get a life. He made some truly awful movies at least enjoyable for a moment. His description of the movie I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is still one of the most famous reviews ever. It’s a shame when some of these bad movies are released on DVD they don’t include his TMC introductions and closing remarks.
68. ROSEANNE (1988-1997 ABC)
I think this might be another show where people are going to say “What?!?!? That low?” However, I’m sticking to it. Sure, the show lasted nearly 10 years, but it lasted imho about 6 years too long. However the early seasons were golden, and while I personally can’t stand Roseanne Barr all that much (remember that National Anthem incident?) her show was funny and well believable. The idea at the time was a stretch. A small town family made up of low income workers trying to just get by. The kids were believable. They weren’t cute. The family atmosphere was easy to believe and funny. Unlike MARRIED WITH CHILDREN it was more believable. MARRIED WITH CHILDREN would take the same concept to an extreme. Like MARRIED WITH CHILDREN the show’s families had dominant women, but the heart of the family was the father. John Goodman flat out made the show work. His extraordinary acting chops helped seal the deal on the show. For those early seasons it was a great comedy and it definitely helped shape modern TV.
67. TWIN PEAKS (1990-1991 ABC)
David Lynch. Do I have to say more? Somehow someone at the alphabet network got the idea of giving David Lynch a TV show was a good idea. So for a very short run American TVs were turned into an art house theater. It was weird. The show was weird. How it ever got on the air was weird. It also entertained in the way only a David Lynch program can. The show centered around the murder of Laura Palmer an extremely popular girl in the town of Twin Peaks. The series was supposed to be about the investigation into her murder and the things that it brought up. However the show was initially a hit and a pop culture phenom that started to lose viewers. ABC’s answer was: SOLVE THE MURDER BEFORE WE LOSE MORE VIEWERS!!! Which back-fired. Big time. Once solved the viewers left in droves. The result was a show canceled before its time and a murder solved too quickly (but you’re saying 1 1/2 seasons isn’t quick enough?).
66. MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE (2000-2006 FOX)
A genius idea that took forever to come about: A dysfunctional family unit with children who are virtually uncontrollable and the parents that are forced to ward over them. This show was genius and about a genius. A genius forced to live with idiots. The pranks the kids would come up with were hilarious. The ways they’d get revenge against their parents, and then their parents way of getting back were all over the top. Babysitters that were scared away. The show for at least the first 3 seasons was amazing and it won a lot of awards. It twice won best writing in a comedy Emmy, and every season it was on Jane Kaczmarek was nominated for an Emmy (and was quickly becoming the Susan Lucci of the non-daytime emmys) and any time Cloris Leachman appeared on the show she was nominated (and won twice). I believe this was the last truly successful “family comedy,” as I can’t really think of one that has come on in the last 5 years.
65. WEEDS (2005-???? SHOWTIME)
Showtime makes the list. WEEDS is a story of a mother who becomes a widow at a young age and what she has to do to survive in what I call McMansionville. How is she to do it without her husband having been properly prepared? She becomes a marijuana dealer. The first 3 seasons of the show are incredibly amusing and alarming. The show jumped the shark quickly in season 4 with some extremely lazy writing (they never explain how her new boyfriend and weed grower just disappeared from the show for instance) and it ended with the jump the shark moment of SHE’S PREGNANT! The show however succeeded in making Mary-Louise Parker a sex symbol at 40 (and still at 44) and made pot a house hold discussion.
Example Exhibit C: 44 is NOT too old. She is still sexy and glam at 44
64. BURN NOTICE (2007-???? USA)
Matt Nix created a show about a spy that gets burned (so he’s kicked out and black listed, every bank account whiped, etc) and filled the cast with actors over the age of 40. Its got humor. Its got slight drama. Its got action. It’s got the coolest “how to,” scenes since MacGYVER. Its got the chin himself: Bruce Campbell. Its got Miami (thus bikinis everywhere). I know what you’re thinking… why isn’t CBS airing this? Because they’re morons. Instead its one of cable’s most watched dramas. It doesn’t get a heck of a lot more pure fun than BURN NOTICE. Did I mention its got the chin in it? I mean we’re talking the greatest B Movie actor to ever live! It’s the modern day THE EQUALIZER.
63. DEADWOOD (2004-2006 HBO)
David Milch. If you glance back at number 90, I mention the name is synonymous with “good tv, ” and “weird tv.” Well this show was definitely both. One of the greatest Westerns ever, the show is about the town of Deadwood which before the series was most famous for being the place where Wild Bill Hickock was killed. However after the show Deadwood is likely now more known for being the home of Ellis Albert Swearengen aka Al Swearengen. I believe David Milch was looking over historical records and found mention of “The Gem,” a saloon in Deadwood and the pimp/proprietor of Al Swearengen and thought “he’s got the word swear in his name,” and thus the most foul mouthed believable SOB ever created for TV was born. I’ve never heard anyone drop the word C—sucker more.
However it was more than that, it was a pure western. Good vs. the corrupt. Loosely based on fact and primarily based on pure entertainment. Easily one of the best shows of the last 10 years.
62. NORTHERN EXPOSURE (1990-1995 CBS)
A series nominated for over 50 Emmys and won for Best Drama, and won twice for Best Drama in the Golden Globes. The story of a NYC doctor who is surplanted in the small town of Cicely, Alaska is one of the examples of “Summer Programming,” that actually worked. In 1990 CBS decided to hold back the release of NORTHERN EXPOSURE until the summer where they successfully aired 8 episodes. CBS was worried that the show couldn’t garner a foothold if released in the Spring on the extremely competitive Monday night 9/10 time slot. So they held it back, and the ploy worked. Boy did it. The show would end up becoming a regular in the top 10 for 3 seasons and provide America with one of the most quirky and original dramedies ever. NORTHERN EXPOSURE was a character show. It was all about the characters. I was personally a fan of Ed, the local film buff who learned everything about life from the movies. However I was also a fan of Chris the ex-felon DJ/Philosopher of the local and only Radio station in Cicely. A fish out of the water story on the outside, a character piece on the inside. The show was pure genius.
61. FAMILY GUY (1999-2002, 2005-???? FOX)
Ok I get it. It’s not the greatest show. It’s not the funniest show. It is funny. Sure, it’s not cohesive and it’s basically just gag after gag being thrown up against the wall until one makes you laugh. Seth McFarland has even admitted they’ve taken jokes out of one episode and put them into another because 90% of the gags have nothing to do with the plot. So it’s like the animated version of a variety show with recurring regular players. My favorite episode is probably still the episode “TO LOVE AND DIE IN DIXIE,” which has the family move to the South after Chris’ life is threatened. Then it turns into a DUKES OF HAZZARD episode including the last work ever of Waylon Jennings who reprised his role as the balladeer for the episode.