The start of the top 10 Shows of All Time…
10. The ALL IN THE FAMILY SPIN OFFS (Varies but all on CBS)
I know, I know. What a cop out. I’m going to list a whole bunch of shows in one slot. Sneaky, and very unexpected wasn’t it? The thing is each one of the big 4 spinoffs (ALL IN THE FAMILY totaled I believe 6 or more) were themselves extremely solid TV, and those 4 all could have made the Top 100 by themselves, but then we wouldn’t have ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and a few others on the list, and that would have had me tarred and feathered.
MAUDE: Edith’s sister. She had a maid named Florida Evans.
GOOD TIMES: Maude’s maid and her family and their life in the projects.
THE JEFFERSONS: Archie’s neighbor. Had a maid named Florence.
CHECKING IN: Florence’s show.
Plus ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE, GLORIA, & 704 HAUSER. I’m probably not remembering a whole lot. When I learned about spin offs in school ALL IN THE FAMILY was a huge deal and you can see why from the list above.
That’s a lot of spin offs. In the 1974-1975 season, ALL IN THE FAMILY was rated number 1. THE JEFFERSONS was rated number 4. GOOD TIMES was rated number 7. MAUDE was rated number 9. CBS even had 9 shows in the top 11 that season. Talk about success.
I could write a whole lot about each one of those shows, but in this case I’m just going to suggest you google or wiki them. They 3 main spinoffs: THE JEFFERSONS, GOOD TIMES, and MAUDE were great shows in their own right and like I said would easily make the Top 100 list if I gave them separate slots.
9. FIREFLY (2002 FOX)
Perhaps the greatest show to ever be canceled early due to idiot network executives. Why does this show make it so high on the list? How am I not a Joss Whedon fan when I do something like this? Simple:
OUT OF GAS.
It may just be the best 42 minutes of TV … ever. It’s definitely in the top 10. It was also written by Tim Minear and not Joss Whedon, and it followed my 2nd favorite episode of the series: JAYNESTOWN and that too wasn’t written by Joss Whedon but Ben Edlund (you may notice Edlund is an important part of FIREFLY, SUPERNATURAL, and THE TICK all shows that made the list, and he wrote my favorite ANGEL episode, which also made this list).
So many things about this show were just too cool for TV. The sci-fi aspects that I’ve heard many an idiot point to BSGINO (that is Battle Star Galactica In Name Only for you not aware) as being the start of such FX (no sound in space, etc) and I have to tell them that FIREFLY did it first, and BSGINO actually used the same FX company, and that was likely the real reason. The other aspect I loved was the space as a true frontier angle. Sure we were terraforming, but civilizations were without a lot of technology on those planets. So horses, etc. as primary forms of travel. That actually makes a lot of sense. So it appeared some science was being applied to the fiction.
Of course many will point to COWBOY BEBOP for inspiration… but this show for the few episodes we got did it right. It also became a massive DVD success afterwards, had a film made, etc. One of the best examples of ensemble TV in the last decade done right. Great casting, and some amazing writing. The pilot was decent and should have aired first (it aired last a brilliant move by Fox). The show was very hit and miss. I’d say half the episodes were bad filler. However the episodes that hit were stunning. The top 3 episodes in my opinion were OUT OF GAS, JAYNESTOWN, and OBJECTS IN SPACE (the final episode, written and directed by Whedon). The 3 episodes are easily some of the best sci-fi ever and like I said OUT OF GAS is truly great no matter the genre. Those episodes helped push this show up and up the list.
I personally feel this show is a huge reason DOLLHOUSE is still on the air. Fox doesn’t want another mistake like they made before. When you watch the episodes I mentioned it’s hard to not give the guys at Mutant Enemy another chance, and hopefully one that won’t reak of the bad mojo that DOLLHOUSE started with.
8. THE COSBY SHOW (1984-1992 NBC)
I remember reading a piece by TV GUIDE not to long ago that made an outrageous claim: This show revived sitcoms. I didn’t realize sitcoms were dead! Anyone who looks at the history of popular sitcoms will realize that the 1982-1983 season was the winding down of some long toothed sitcoms. 7 sitcoms made the top 20 in 82-83, while only 3 made the top 20 in 83-84. So there was a lack of new sitcoms at the time, but the genre was no where near the shape it is in now.
Bill Cosby was an extremely popular stand up comedian. He also had a few sitcoms fail in the 70s. However his stand up was extremely popular at the time. So he was approached to do a sitcom. His idea was to have the family be blue collar, and he was talked out of it. So the Huxtables were created, an upper middle class African American family living in NYC.
The show was an instant success jumping to number 3 right off the bat. Then for 5 straight years it was number 1. That is a feat that only the comedy ALL IN THE FAMILY can claim. So it wasn’t bad company to be keeping with. The show would spawn a spin off in a very successful A DIFFERENT WORLD.
7. THE WIRE (2002-2008 HBO)
David Simon whose book was used to make HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS created THE WIRE also based on the same book and other incidents he came accross as a police reporter. The 5 seasons of THE WIRE were brilliant, each a story arc focusing on a different part of Baltimore: drugs, port, politics, schools, and the newspaper. Did I mention it was brilliant?
The power of the message behind the show is … nearly overwhelming. This show is actually about something far more than cops and bad guys. It’s about the things that make us what we are, and how the job we have and those that we work with force us down a path more than any other part of society. Thus our jobs are institutions. This show entertained and was deep. It made you think.
David Simon had a message, and I believe many people who watch this show will take something different from it, but something deeper than you normally take from TV. I’m not going to preach to you, but I will suggest: WATCH IT. Just realize this is deeper TV than you’re used to.
6. M*A*S*H (1972-1983 CBS)
Before it became Alan Alda’s soap box, M*A*S*H was one of the best TV shows on the air. It was also the most successful movie to TV adaptation of all time (sorry BUFFY fans). The movie was of course adapted from the book. The show would have 2 spin offs: TRAPPER JOHN, M.D. and AfterMash. Another spinoff about Radar created by Bill Bixby would never make it past a pilot.
The final episode is the most watched regular TV program of all time. The huge success of the show would have many other movies made into horrible TV versions. Comedy in a medical arena would be copied (most recently by SCRUBS) again and again.