My plan of posting every Tuesday failed miserably, as school vacation distracted me from writing. So, 24 hours late (appropriate, if you look at No 1), here is this week’s Top 10 list — My Favorite Television Shows:
Honorable Mention: It hasn’t been on long enough to justify a spot, but This is Us absolutely kills me every week. It’s beautifully written and acted, and the emotional roller coaster ride it brings viewers on every week makes it truly must-watch TV. If it can keep the momentum through a second season, it will be on the list,
10. Happy Days — A throwback to my youth, Happy Days was one of my favorites (along with The Brady Bunch and Three’s Company). What made this show stick out was the vast array of characters as well as the episodes, as I can remember specifics about probably dozen episodes, even 30 years later. The Fonz was the favorite of everyone, but the various Als, as well as Richie, Potsie and Ralph, were also great characters. Those three had normal problems most teenagers faced at that time, and Al’s looked like a great place to hang out. Plus, there was the legendary Weezer video for “Buddy Holly”, which took place at Al’s.
9. South Park — I do not watch this show religiously, but I enjoy the occasional episode now and again. The satire is fantastic, and I reference several episodes often. My personal favorites are “Douche and Turd”, which I referenced consistently during the 2016 Presidential Election (which was exactly what this episode described), “The Death of Eric Cartman”, “The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers,” “Make Love, Not Warcraft”, and “The Tale of Scrottie McBoogerballs”,which parodies The Catcher in the Rye as well as Sarah Jessica Parker and the Kardashians.
8. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia —Another show I do not watch all the time, but always find myself laughing when I do. The first season is brilliant, but the addition of Danny Devito put the show over the top. The two episodes that always stand out to me are “The Gang Recycles Their Trash”, “The Gang Gets Trapped”, and “The Gang Broke Dee”. These two can give you a pretty good idea of what the show and its characters are about.
7. Parks and Recreation — I never watched the show when it was on, but Dayna and binge-watched it on the recommendation of out friend, Jessica. Dayna loved Leslie Knope, while my favorites were always Ron Swanson and Andy Dwyer — though we both loved most of the characters. These days, some people refer to us as Ben and Leslie, which is a great compliment because they were a great couple on the show!
6. Arrested Development — Another show I watched occasionally when it aired, but became addicted to it thanks to Netflix. The show is brilliantly written, filled with obnoxious and arrogant characters who fail to see their own flaws. We reference this show all the time, and can probably recite several episodes with little problem. We loved the first three seasons, but didn’t care for the fourth season. I’m cautiously optimistic that the new season this year will be good and that the rumored film will finally happen.
5. The Simpsons — The best show on television for over a decade, it’s still going — albeit not as strong as it once was. In its prime, the writing was brilliant and cutting edge, and it eclipsed anything else on TV. It may not have the same panache it once had, but every once in awhile, it turns out something genius. The Simpson family are obviously awesome, but the secondary and minor characters (like Mr. Burns, Lenny and Karl, Apu, Flanders, Smithers, Comic Book Guy, and Barney) just brought it to another level. The “Treehouse of Horror” series, “Mr. Plow”, “Flaming Moe’s”, “Homer versus the 18th Amendment” and “Lisa the Iconoclast” stand out as the best in my mind.
4. The West Wing — This series featured the best writing of any of the shows on this list, as well as some of the most memorable characters. It fed right in to my interest in politics, even though I’m far more anti-establishment that any character on the show, and was the perfect mix of comedy and drama. It was informative, intriguing, and memorable. My favorite character was probably Josh Lyman, with President Jed Bartlet, Leo McGarry, and C.J. Cregg not far behind. There are so many standout episodes, but I’d recommend the pilot episode, “In Excelsis Deo”, “2162 Votes”, “Shutdown” and “Two Cathedrals” to anyone who wants to see great TV.
3. Vikings — I remember watching the first episode, and Dayna not being enthralled, which led to me saying, “We don;t have to keep watching it.” Thank goodness we did, as it has become one of our favorite shows, which I think was solidified watching season 2 on our way to and back from Iceland last summer. Ragnar Lothbrok has moved into my Top 5 characters of all-time, and many of the other characters (Floki and Lagertha, for example) are almost as great. Ragnar’s death in season 4 was as powerful a scene as I’ve ever witnessed, and although I wasn’t sure how the show would progress without him, so far, it’s been pretty good. Ivar looks to be a great replacement, and I’m still interested to see what happens with Bjarne, Lagertha and Rollo.
2. The Office — I’ve watched this show through at least three times now, and I still find something new to laugh at each time. Michael Scott is a great character, but the dynamic between Jim and Dwight is what made the show for me. The interaction of those two characters is something to behold. Of course, there is also the Jim and Pam storyline, as well as the Michael/Holly storyline. Plus, the secondary characters (especially Andy, Craig, and Kevin) provided some amazing moments. It got a bit stale toward the end, and Will Farrell added almost nothing to the show, but still one of the funniest shows I’ve ever watched. If you haven’t seen this show, check out the following episodes: “Diversity Day” and “The Dundies” from season 1, “Sexual Harassment”, “Booze Cruise”, “The Secret” and “Casino Night” from season 2, “Safety Training” from season 3, “Dinner Party from season 4, “Threat Level Midnight” and “Goodbye. Michael” from season 7, “Dwight Christmas” from season 9, and the series finale.
1. 24 —Perhaps the only show I made an effort to watch every week during its run, 24 is the best show I’ve seen. The writing wasn’t as solid as The West Wing, let’s say, but no character has been more dynamic than Jack Bauer. For better or for worse, that’s who I see Kiefer Sutherland as in every role (I’m still waiting for him to go Jack Bauer on people in Designated Survivor). Season 1 is superb but seasons 3 and 4 are absolute genius. And while most shows are stale by the end, the “Live Another Day” final season was a great way for it to end. I have yet to (and likely won’t) watch the 24 reboot that’s on now, but if Jack Bauer ever returns, I’ll be watching for sure.