Rolling Stone’s Top 100 TV show: Three mistakes and three oversights

Rolling Stone just issued their list of the 'Top 100 Television Shows of All Time.' The rankings, which came from a survey of actors, writers, critics, and producers, includes all the shows you”d expect like Seinfeld, The Simpsons, The Sopranos. And a bunch of other programs that don”t start with the letter “S.” It”s a pretty comprehensive list and a reminder of how many great shows there have been even before what we”re now calling the Golden Age of television.

Like any “top” anything list, there”s controversy. And we”re more than happy to dive into that topic. One thing we didn”t do is re-rank everything. If we did that, we”d be here forever and you wouldn”t want to read any further. So rather than that, we”ve just picked three shows that made the list that shouldn”t have and three replacements to fill those gaps.  As for what order those replacements should be in? Let”s just say they”re in the Top 100. 

How did they end up on the list?

24: A gimmick doesn”t equal an “all time” TV show. Sure producers decided to create a program that ran in “real time,” resulting in a continual tension. But no episode of 24 ever stood out from any other episode. One might call that consistency, but I call it a lot of the same. As proof, I bet you remember your favorite episode of Arrested Development or Star Trek or Chappelle”s Show.  All I took away from 24 was that Kiefer Sutherland yells a lot, but never with any real conviction. Just the idea of 24 (#56) being higher ranked than Dallas (#81) makes my head spin.

Friends: Just because something is popular doesn”t mean it”s good. If that was the case, McDonald”s would be seen as the best restaurant that ever existed.  And we all know McDonald”s isn”t even the best fast food joint.  That title belongs to In-N-Out (Editor's Note: Obviously it's Shake Shack). But back to the subject at hand.  Friends lasted because of hype, hair, and pretty people.  The stories were never deep, the jokes were hacky and, worse, it brought us the unnecessary spin-off Joey. EP and co-creator Marta Kauffman”s work on Grace and Frankie is 10 times better and sadly, much less appreciated.

LOST: I watched the entire series, and as innovative as the first season was, the show suffered from not having a specific end point to build their stories toward. This resulted in not just what I call “filler” episodes, but really “filler” seasons. I should have given up after Season 2, but I”d invested too much time so I stuck it out. But that”s hardly a justification for watching a show. Plus, as those who watched LOST know, the ending not only stunk, but was so predictable I figured it out early on. I even have an email to my sister (a LOST superfan) dated May 11, 2006 to prove it. Let”s call LOST what it was, a brief phenomenon that burned out quickly. That”s hardly something deserving of legendary status.

How could they have missed these?

Moonlighting: How on earth could this show be overlooked? Moonlighting took every private eye drama and turned it upside down. From breaking down the fourth wall to rapid-fire dialogue to musical numbers to out-and-out parody, it had everything. And it did it with quality acting from Cybill Shepherd, Bruce Willis, and the perfectly cast Allyce Beasley as Agnes DiPesto. Sure things went sideways later in the series, partly driven by the tension between Shepherd and Willis. And, after they did “it,” the show lost some steam too. But overlooking the rest of what the program delivered seems like a major mistake.

Police Squad: Sure, it was only on for six episodes, but those were six fantastic episodes whose influence can still be felt today. Police Squad, for the uninitiated, came from David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, the team that brought you Airplane. Police Squad was a parody of cop shows like Dragnet and M Squad, with Leslie Nielsen playing Frank Drebin, the hard-nosed, but periodically unaware detective. After ABC dropped it in July 1982, the idea lay dormant until a little movie called Naked Gun came along in 1988 and brought back Nielsen”s Drebin. This film spawned two sequels and a slew of movies that seemed to be from the same mold, but not nearly as good, including Hot Shots (from Abrahams), Scary Movie and every film that Aaron Seltzer ever directed.

Match Game: Rolling Stone gives it a small plug in its review of Jeopardy! but this show deserved much more credit than it”s getting from the publication. The mid-1970s version with Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers and a cast of future (possibly drunken) Love Boat guest stars made Match Game a game show for adults. The program, driven by double entendres aplenty, was essentially a comedy show with a couple of contestants periodically interjecting. And Gene Rayburn played the perfect straight man who kept the show from breaking into complete chaos.  Match Game continues to prove its influence with shows like Hollywood Game Night, Celebrity Name Game, and the rebooted Match Game.

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