My Five Favorite Comedies of All Time:
1. Barney Miller – This show was the epitome of a well-written comedy. It had a wonderful cast of characters that were believable as real people. It showed the best and worst of people in stressful situations and illuminated some of the social woes of our times, including race relations and public discord. It did all of those very serious things in a very funny way. It gave me, as a child, a view of what a great manager should be like; Barney. He was a wonderful example of a person who was great at handling difficult people and circumstances with humor, wit, intelligence and style. He was a great leader with the main purpose in life of helping everyone around him. I miss that show.
2. The Mary Tyler Moore Show – A lot has been said about what made this show great. For me, it was the example Mary set of a young, single woman making it in Minneapolis that was inspirational. I traveled, several years later, that exact same road to go to a job in that very same skyline. I’m not sure I would’ve done so without that show.
3. The Big Bang Theory – Although this show is still in production, it is so well-written, again, with a great set of characters who all hold their own in their story lines that make this show so popular. Together those characters make us laugh and will probably eventually make us cry together.
4. M*A*S*H – I’ve been falling asleep to this show for the past twelve years. I know every line of every show backward and forwards. I feel as though I know this show from the inside out. After all of these years, there are still one-liners that crack me up and make me laugh out loud. That’s high praise for the wit it took to write those lines. Great writing makes great humor.
5. Chico And The Man – This show only lasted for two seasons as it should have been but it had something special. Like Barney Miller, it took on deep and serious issues of its day in a way that made you laugh out loud. It was the acting of Jack Albertson and Freddie Prinze that made this show great. It had heart and soul. You have to wonder what the world would be like if it had continued the way it was intended, but it was not meant to be. For a while, it was a joy to watch.
SOAP – This show was inventive and hilarious with such over-the-top situations and crazy writing, it just made you smile. Another thing that made it great was the wonderful theme song, which only played up the humor more.
Weeds – This was another show that specialized in the over-the-top humor of the ridiculous situations of the oxymoron of a drug-dealing suburban mom. It got a little ridiculous by the end of the series, but the first few season were hilarious.
My Five Favorite Dramas of All Time:
1. Deadwood – This show was a well-acted, well-written drama based on real events. I love the historical and accurate feel of this series. It was so good that Mr. Jackson and I spent a vacation in Deadwood to see if we could see some of the real places, resting places of the real people, etc. I highly recommend this series if you haven’t seen it.
2. Dexter – I’m going to limit this one a bit and say the first two or three seasons of Dexter were wonderful. You found yourself rooting for the anti-antagonist when you knew you really shouldn’t, which was unique and wonderful and great. The series, however, should have died a more sudden death at its peak. They let it linger and dwindle as Hollywood so often does. After Season Three, it lost much of its mojo, but before that, it was well-written, tight and more of a docu-dramedy, which was and is very unique.
3. The Rockford Files – The most under-rated show in the history of television, in my opinion. James Garner was fantastic! He played it low-key and cool as he should have and for that reason, it didn’t get the accolades it deserved. It was the typical cop drama (even though he wasn’t a cop) so to some extent it was a little predictable, but there were enough contrary and unique moments to keep it entertaining and fresh. Again there was a sense of comedy to the drama, which was great. Even looking back on old episodes, it seems just as cool now as it was then.
4. Law And Order (w/Jerry Orbach) – This show was so good when it was new, it was scary. It wasn’t a big-hyped show, but you knew it was good. When it got to the second and third season, when Jerry Orbach joined the cast, it got so much better. I used to wait to watch it every week just for the Lenny-isms, which was almost always in the prolog section of the show. He was a great actor and made this show something more than special. After he left it just never was the same, and all of the copies have failed to get that little spark that Orbach brought to his part.
5. Six Feet Under – This show was so quirky that it was delicious. You couldn’t wait to see each new episode to find out how somebody was going to die, which was a great and unique way to open a show. We still harp on about lines from that show. (How do you run over yourself anyway? That was a great one!)
Both of these show, though still in production, are so well written and have such a quality of realism in them that they are frightening: The Good Wife and House of Cards.
My Favorite Late-Night Show: Of course, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It’s a wonder I can sleep at all at night without Johnny. I miss him terribly. He was one of a kind. Though Jimmy Fallon is giving him a run for his money, it’ll never be the same. He was just so funny when he wasn’t even trying, that he is impossible to match.