Best. TV. Ever.

Could I be talking about The Sopranos? Well, maybe. I haven’t decided yet. But it’s definitely in the running.

I’m not very good at those list-things. You know – where you create lists of your top 100 best-of-all-time whatevers. I’ve done it in the past, and come up with some pretty good lists of top songs, top bands, top albums. It’s just that no one ever agrees with my list!

I never thought about TV shows until this morning when I heard a radio host saying that The Sopranos is considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. When I tried to think of a show that’s “better” (scare quotes intended), I realized that every good series I’ve ever seen is generally recognized to have some major flaw(s). Every single one.

The Sopranos was generally criticized in season six for the story line about Vito (it just wasn’t all that germane, and took alot of time to tell). There were many unfinished plot lines and dangling threads (what ever *did* happen to that Russian in the Jersey woods anyway?).

Greatest TV of all time? Here’s a nominee – for over 30 years of ground breaking and culture changing comedy – Saturday Night Live. It’s flaw (and nearly everyone agrees!) it’s had several years of unwatchable seasons. And no two people agree on what seasons those were!

But there may be even a better choice, sub-category comedy. The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. But how do you get around the fact that for several years he often “phoned it in”?

Here’s a comedy show that always worked hard. M*A*S*H. Ooof – much like Seinfeld and Friends, that show just stayed on years after its expiration date.
Better comedy? The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Naw – too light weight. But can you think of a comedy that was consistently better? How about The Dick Van Dyke Show?

And while where at it, how about considering I Love Lucy and Gilligan’s Island as best TV? No, huh?

Now don’t get me wrong – I loved all of those shows. It’s just that none of them were simultaneously important (even at the time), or as entertaining, or as intelligent as others. IOW, all were great, but none were perfect. But comedy is a very competitive sub-category of TV.

Nearly everyone agrees that Star Trek is the best Sci-Fi of all time on TV, right? Um, no, not really. The vintage, seminal series is almost laughable. It’s effects were cheap, even for the time, the acting often atrocious, the plot lines thin, and it was wonderful. It changed the world (and if you don’t believe me, just ask NASA). I had a much better time, though, watching a runaway roller-coaster of a show, Babylon 5, even though the five-year story arc was compressed by events into four years (the contract with the studio was not renewed), then a useless last year added (when a new studio was found). It was an awful mess. And the original four years were that good.

Although I haven’t seen them, two other Sci-Fi shows have claims to being the best of all time – Firefly (lasted one count ’em, one year) and Battlestar Galactica (not the original series, but the derivative one).

I think The Twilight Zone has them all beat. And it was in blank and white!

Ok – how about a still easier category, children’s programming. Surely, a show that’s been around for over 35 years, taught countless children their ABCs (um… and how to count, too ;>) must be considered a national treasure, right? Search Google and you’ll find Sesame Street is universally hailed as the greatest thing for children’s TV since sliced bread. I have only one question. After 37 years, why is it that Johnny Still Can’t Read? Besides, everyone knows that Bert is Evil! For Kids’ TV, I have a better choice in mind. And this is why.

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