Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Top Ten TV Shows

So, we were eating a lovely lunch out today for Mark's birthday (happy birthday to the love of my life!) and our family started talking about TV shows we like. I started listing my favorites and easily came up with 6 or 7, so I decided I wanted to think of more and come up with an even ten. I did it; hence, this post.

Criteria? Basically, if just about any episode of this show were on, I'd easily be sucked in and have to watch it. So, in no particular order:

1. Friends - This show is our most-oft quoted show. Our TiVo routinely tapes episodes in syndication and when we see favorites, we hit play and mouth along to it. We pretty much know every one verbatim. Great characters. Great lines. We quote this show at least once daily without even trying. This show is also responsible for helping us make some fantastic, real friends of our own. "Fajitas!"

2. Frasier - Fantastic show. Excellent writing. Interestingly, Frasier himself is, by far, my least favorite character on the show (reference my diatribe on shallowness below), but the supporting cast of this show is phenomenal - Niles, Daphne, Martin, Roz, and every, single other side character . . . all great. The writing on this show is so intelligent, so witty, so . . . Freudian! Personally, I love all the psychological references in this series. I think Frasier may well be one of THE most cleverly-written shows on television. And you can't help but root for Niles and Daphne, even if it does take him ten years to get the nerve to tell her of his love for her.

3. Gilmore Girls - Oh, how I love Gilmore Girls. Yes, so much that I did an entire post about it. There is a feel about this show. I want to live in Stars Hollow. I want to be friends with these people. I want to go to Luke's for breakfast. The writing is quick and snappy, full of great, sarcastic zingers and fast-paced wit. They even throw in deliciously obscure book, film, and music references. The characters are so likeable, both in their strengths and their faults. Mark and I watched all seven seasons in one summer and we loved every minute of it. I missed it completely when it was in its first run, but loved watching it all on DVD this past year. I have to really love a show to own it on DVD and I'm happy to say that this is one we added to our collection, because we like it that much.

4. The Big Bang Theory - Oh oh oh, how I love this show. SUCH. GREAT. CHARACTERS. Excellent writing, tons of geeky references, and more witty, erudite humor (a la Frasier). Sure, this one has a physics, rather than a psychology bend, but I still love it. This was a show that I thought I wouldn't enjoy given that I didn't used to consider myself someone interested in physics. I could not have been more wrong. I love the characters, main and side, and this is a show that gets better every season. I started to list my favorite characters and then realized that I was listing all of them. There's not a bad one in the bunch. I really think this is one of the best shows on TV in quite some time and I'm so glad we've discovered it. Mark got us started as part of our 15th anniversary celebration and it continues to be a big hit. Winning! "Bazinga!"

5. Modern Family - Oh wait! THIS is also one of the best shows on television in quite some time. This is a family favorite for us. We even have one of those daily quote calendars based on Modern Family that Santa was so wise as to put into my stocking. I love all three families and their respective dynamics. I love the Latina flair that Gloria's character brings us. I love that Cam and Mitchell are helping to bring gay families into the mainstream. And I love how all three families intertwine through the Pritchetts. Hilarious show with genius writing and great plot lines. We are so excited for this show to start up again next month. My favorite characters? Gloria and Cam.

6. I Love Lucy - This one is a classic and my all-time favorite show. It's a good thing that we watch TV deliberately (meaning we sit to watch something specific; we're not channel surfers at all) or I'd get sucked in to every old rerun that comes on. Fun fact - this show is always on, somewhere in the world, at any given time. It is arguably the most popular TV sitcom in the world. I do love Lucy and remember feeling so sad when Lucille Ball died back in 1989. I put a picture of her in my journal and wrote an entry about it. I always felt like I could relate to her crazy antics. When she wanted something, she'd just go after it, even if it took some kind of crazy scheme. That is so how my mind works. Lucy, Ricky, Fred, Ethel . . . I love them all. Every episode is a ton of fun, but my favorite one ever is the classic "Vitameatavegamin" episode. Great, great show. There is a reason it has such classic, lasting power.

7. Peanuts - Most people know about the holiday specials, but the entire animated series is even better. I didn't know about it growing up, but I discovered it in the late 90s in our first married apartment (we had free cable) and was quickly hooked. Years ago, Mark found the entire collection on DVD on eBay (in English as well as several Asian languages) and got it for me. They are great, great episodes. Charles Schulz was a master artist and had such great messages in his comic strips as well as the animated series. Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes are two of my favorite comic strips. I love the sparse backgrounds in all of his work. And his characters? Loveable. My favorites are Linus and Marcie. Excellent animated series. If you ever get a chance to see them, do it. You will fall in love with them.

8. Malcolm in the Middle - Oh. My. We have recently discovered this gem of a show (thank you, Netflix!) and we are hooked! I love Lois, Malcolm, and Dewey. Stevie and his family are also great characters. We have friends here who remind us of this family -- lots of loud yelling and craziness, but so obviously full of love. This is another show I completely missed during its first run. I'd heard of it, but hadn't ever seen it. I had no idea how great it was. A friend of ours recently mentioned it and then I saw it listed on Netflix, so we thought we'd give it a go. And . . . we have a winner! The plots lines are great (admittedly, I didn't care for the Francis-in-military-school story lines, but his plot lines have gotten better with progressive seasons) and the characters, again - main and side, are so hilariously likeable. We are currently on season 4 of 7 and are love, love, loving it. Plus, their opening song is by They Might Be Giants, making it even easier to be a big fan. We have many laugh out loud moments watching this show. Genius! Highly recommend.

9. Amazing Race - My favorite reality television show, no question. I've said it before - I don't like the reality shows that are essentially cameras in someone's home and private life (even though I'm totally a closet TMZ follower). I recognize that I'm a walking dichotomy in that I think paparazzi should stay out of famous people's lives, yet I love reading about them. Hey, at least I'm honest about it. :P Anyway! I don't like, and haven't ever really gotten into, shows like The Bachelor or Big Brother or even Survivor. As much as they can be interesting in their own way, any time I have watched a bit, I generally feel "empty" afterward, like "there's 20 minutes I can't get back." Sort of like the feeling one gets after too much time on Facebook, I suppose. I prefer shows like this one (and American Idol and X-Factor) that are more contest/talent/racing/skill/smarts based. And while I like the singing competition shows (we're also going to try The Voice this season) and enjoy blogging about them, I love The Amazing Race and look forward to it every season. Phil is a hottie and seeing all the different countries and cultures and tasks totally fascinates me. I love rooting for favorite teams and this show has taught us tons about world cultures and places. Love it.

10. Freaks and Geeks - Best. Show. Ever. This show is high school for the rest of us. This is another show that has a feel about it. Jason Segel, James Franco, and Busy Phillips (as well as the parents, the high school faculty, and all the geeks) are fantastic in this show. I'm going to go ahead and post something I wrote on our blog back in 2009:  "How in the world shows like Full House, Saved by the Bell, and Family Matters ever even air, let alone continue past one season while pure genius like Freaks and Geeks gets inexplicably dropped before it even completed one season is one of the greatest mysteries of the pop culture world. This show had brilliant writers and producers. Unfortunately, this show also had a lousy time slot and poor marketing. This show should've never been canceled. Never. Its cult following is huge (have you seen the show's ranking on and it is totally worth owning and watching again and again, especially if you're a child of the 70s and 80s. And that's coming from people who don't generally own a lot of movies or TV shows. This one is a gem. It's like "high school for the rest of us!" The selection of music on this show is nothing short of truly awesome. And every time we watch it (all 18 episodes, *sniff*), I swear I tear up a little at the thought that anyone could be so supremely stupid as to cancel this show. Seriously, that level of moronic ineptitude just makes me sad." See? Get it. Watch it. It's genius.


Popular shows that I like okay, but that do not make it in the top 10:  Scrubs, Arrested Development, Seinfeld, Simpsons

Reason: I can recognize every one of these shows as brilliant. I love the satire of Simpsons -- it's genius! Probably some of the best social commentary of our times exists in the episodes of this long-running show. Arrested Development is a great, inventive show that ended way too soon. People who don't get the humor of that show are probably people who don't, in general, share my taste in pop culture. I can sit and watch all three seasons in a row and I'm fairly excited about the upcoming movie. Seinfeld is another clever, quotable show. A show about nothing! And yet a show about everything. Seinfeld is also genius, but it doesn't make the cut. Scrubs. Probably the best, most realistic medical show on television ever. It beautifully captures the emotions of those involved in the health care industry, complete with great Dr. Cox rants, a hilarious and masterful musical episode, and great story lines, including one of the best finales ever, ever, ever, and and despite the random daydreams.

So, all that being said, none of these shows are ones that I crave or want to see every chance I get. I'm hardly ever in a Seinfeld, Scrubs, Simpsons, or Arrested Development "mood." I think the biggest reason is that all of these shows are FULL of shallow characters with very few redeeming qualities (Scrubs fits that description least of all -- there are some great, deep, emotional aspects of that show). And yes, I see that Lisa Simpson and Jason Bateman's character in Arrested Development both have redeeming human qualities that almost make up for everyone else in the show. And Seinfeld . . . well, none of them are redeeming; they are all incredibly horrible people who are shallow, shallow, shallow. For whatever reason, shows like that just don't resonate at all with me. Recently tried "How I Met Your Mother" and didn't like that one either for similar reasons coupled with really bad acting (which is a shame, because we love Jason Segel).

But the above ten shows? Love them.

What shows do you love and what shows don't you love? Based on this post, are there any more shows you'd recommend to me (to watch or to not watch)?


Jagged Rocks said...

I am not really a TV person (or movie person). I like some shows but there are no shows that I love. I have no problem turning of show or movie in the middle (or towards the end) to go to bed or something. It drives Kraig nuts!

Emily Foley said...

Love Friends. Have been watching reruns a lot lately, still love it. Can't believe how old it is when it feels so recent.

Loved Frasier, also hated Frasier the character. Niles was my favorite.

Gilmore Girls. You already know. Love. I bought each season when around Christmas times so they were $10 or $15 each, and I watch them often. Makes me wish I drank coffee.

The Big Bang Theory--not for me. Goes for the easy laugh. I've tried 3 times to watch a full episode and cannot get through it. It seems like it wants to be cerebral...but isn't. That's probably not fair of me to say since I haven't ever actually watched a full episode.

Modern Family. HILARIOUS! I was so surprised during the pilot to realize that the families were related. I didn't see that coming. Also--in the pilot, when Phil is trying to shoot Luke at the end? Wet my pants. Laughed SOOO hard.

I watched Malcolm when it was live but I don't remember loving it.

Seinfeld is probably my favorite of all time. Like you with Friends, we quote Seinfeld daily and have something happen in our every day life that we can relate to Seinfeld. EVERY day. I love that man. Seriously. I've been watching "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" and loving it, but you probably wouldn't if you don't love Seinfeld (although if you like to laugh, it's worth a try). I like Arrested Development but it's not my favorite ever. They're currently filming 13 new episodes that will air on Netflix. SO. STINKING. EXCITED.

Scrubs is also a good one. We own them on DVD and watch them on syndication occasionally. There are a handful of episodes that just make me BAWL--especially the one with "somewhere over the rainbow" at the end. And the finale really was the best ever.

My current favorite show is Happy Endings. I'm telling you it is one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud break a rib show ever. They are the funniest cast together. It's worth a watch if you can find it online. I can't WAIT for it to come back.

Emily Foley said...

I have no idea what I meant here: "I bought each season when around Christmas times"...but I think I was trying to say I bought each season around Christmas over a few years when they were cheaper than normal.

Jimmy said...

I really liked Friends but got into it towards the end of its run. I never, ever got into Seinfeld, but I do think he's a funny comedian.

Some shows I've liked not mentioned on your list...

M.A.S.H. - I can't say I've seen every episode, but I think it was quality television.

Ally McBeal. That short guy who in his mind busts out in the Barry White voice--I can relate to him.

The Middle. That family keeps it real.

Cancelled show that I miss. Terminator-The Sarah Connor Chronicles. So much promise. I can't believe it was cancelled.

Dr. Mark said...

I think we generally agree on these, with some debate on a few, but I like your analysis.

Friends: Yeah. Awesome.

Frasier: I totally agree.

Gilmore Girls: What a great find! It's getting time to pull those out again and wish we lived in CT.

TBBT: Can't wait for that to start up again. I'm feeling the need for some geek laughs.

Modern Family: When does Season 3 come out on DVD because we have got to get it! And why oh why is ABC making us wait until the end of September?

I Love Lucy: Admittedly, I was not a fan until after marrying you. It's definitely grown on me and it is very good TV. Also, I appreciate it more since I'm kind of married to Lucy, even though I haven't come home to a playground in my living room . . . yet.

Peanuts: I love how excited you got when you discovered all the shows. I remember coming home one day and you were very animatedly telling me all about the episode when Marci names all the baseball players who had hats. So funny.

Malcolm: Another great find! My only worry is that we'll blaze through all 7 seasons too quickly.

Amazing Race: Again, I agree completely. It's the only reality TV I can stand without any complaint.

Freaks and Geeks: Probably the most tragic mid-season cancellation ever. How this show didn't survive and some of the other crap on TV did continues to boggle my mind.

I can watch Scrubs a bit more than you like to, but at least we all agree it was probably the best finale ever! The characters are superficial at times, but I think they definitely learn and grow with each lesson, unlike in Seinfeld where they are doomed to repeat a meaningless and thoughtless existence.

M*A*S*H is an example of very good writing. Growing up my dad and I would watch it in syndication after the late news. He'd fall asleep and I'd finish the episode. Over time I've seen all of the episodes multiple times and they are really easy to watch again. Although, they can be a bit heavy at times a la Scrubs.

I also really like Numb3rs. It combines the intelligence of The Big Bang Theory with good crime dramas. I was pretty sad when they decided to stop airing it.

Lindsay said...

LOVED Freaks and Geeks and miss that show terribly. It was on the other day and I was so excited. The few shows that we have been into are:

Once Upon a Time
Downton Abbey
So You Think You Can Dance

That is pretty much it. We don't have a lot that we watch, but enjoy a good show!

Dave Johnson said...

Thanks for the linky! You guys are our penguins.

I guess you know that some of my tastes run a bit counter to the stuff we watch together (though much of it is still in my top ten):

1)The Wire
3)The X-Files
5)Breaking Bad
7)Arrested Development
8)Big Bang Theory

Almost edging into my top ten (mainly because I've only seen the episodes 1-2 times):
*Freaks & Geeks
*Gilmore Girls
*The Simpsons
*The Naked Truth (the original Tea Leone series on Fox, not the watered down NBC version that came later)
*30 Rock
*The Amazing Race

Boquinha said...

LOL, Kim. I bet that does drive Kraig nuts. I know you're a bookworm. Can you do the same with books?

Emily - BBT took me a few episodes, but the characters are so great, that every adventure is a treat. LOVE Modern Family and that scene in the pilot where he gets Dillon in the neck? Bwahahahaha! Malcolm - we have 4 episodes to go to finish all the seasons. LOVE it.

We may have to try Happy Endings. You like 30 Rock, too, right?

Jimmy, M.A.S.H. is my FIL's all-time favorite show. LOL at the Barry White comment. And they always cancel great shows too early. Hmph.

Mark, great comment. See? We are so alike, and we're okay with our small differences. :D

Lindsay, we need to get going on Downton Abbey. We love Maggie Smith.

Dave, penguins? Or lobsters? :P Also? Whatever our differences, we ALWAYS have Friends.

Dave Johnson said...

Lobsters. Lobsters. Where did I get penguins from?