Play by Play Act One.

Celebrities and Politicians Mingle at the The Hill-Extra-Thomson Reuters Reception at the Embassy of Canada the Night Before the White House Correspondents Dinner (April 29, 2016)

Tony Kornheiser of ESPN stands beside Corporal John Fitzgerald of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the red carpet at the The Hill-Extra-Thomson Reuters Reception at the Embassy of Canada in Washington D.C. on April 29, 2016, the night before the White House Correspondents Dinner. Kornheiser is a former sportswriter and columnist for The Washington Post, as well as a radio and television talk show host. He co-hosts Pardon the Interruption on ESPN. (Photo by Jeff Malet)

     I have been working hard on reconstructing my first act 
of my current play, Play by Play.  I told you I would have an update for you.  The update is now upon us.  My problem with
the act was that it was taking too long to bring my second 
lead character into the script.  I had to cut and 
unfortunately that means I had to sacrifice bits I liked.  It was all for the good.  Now I have the staff meeting in first 
five pages of the play.  Now Marty is in the second scene of
act one on page 19. 
    By bringing Marty in earlier, I was able to play with 
Marty and bring about his naive nature.  Marty thinks he's 
therefor an interview, with the owner, who told him he would
like to meet with him.  Marty thought he was having an 
interview for the new Play by Play jobs for the Seadogs.  What didn't realize is he's already been hired  When he arrives,
the staff is about to watch a video of his most embarrassing
broadcast moment that was seen on the internet.  Let this be a lesson not to post embarrassing videos on YouTube.  
Management believed it was an air check Marty wanted radio 
stations to see, when in fact, Marty's whacky cousin Skeeter 
put it up there as a joke.  
     All in all I am happy with the way act one is going. 
The play is beginning to come together.  It's the broadcast
version of the "Odd Couple." The main characters are lively 
and active.  Chick McSorley is bitter that his Baseball careerwith the Red Sox ended due to injury.  He arrives at WPME whenhis former broadcast partner, the legendary Ned Plummer finds him in a bar, drinking his life away.  Ned saves his life and hires him as his broadcast analyst for the Portland Seadogs.  Chick is the type of character you love to hate, and hate to 
love.  Personally I love complex characters and this guy is 
complex, obnoxious.  He  will say anything to get a rise out 
of his loyal listeners, no matter the FCC fine or the 
suspension he receives from the Tinkle Broadcast network.  
Marty Busby is a young upstart, whose forte is Basketball 
because it fits his rhythm as a broadcaster.  He feels 
Baseball is too slow and holds him back.  At the end of act 
one, these two are put on the air together for a talk show 
called, The Chicken Coop.  Chick is not given a say on who is partner is and he's angry about that.  Chick decides to 
embarrass Marty by bringing up his YouTube video, which leads to an outburst by Marty.   
     I put the characters in the zaniest situations.  The 
Program Director holds the big meeting and loses control.  TheOwner announces he's hired a Consultant.  The Consultant 
treats the staff like children.  Chick's Producer, Renee 
dresses in black and is an inept mess.  The Receptionist, Abbyis Renee's fill in and when Renee messes up one final time, 
the Program Director makes her Chick and Marty's producer
full time.  
     Act Two is in the works. Marty falls in love with Abby, 
even though she's dating the Seadogs star Pitcher. The stationis under attack by outside influences, but outside influences
eventually save it.  Marty is put under broadcast pressure 
with hilarious consequences.  One scene involves Abby's 
boyfriend throwing a no hitter for the Seadogs.  Marty doesn'trealize that mentioning a no hitter is a broadcast no no.  
Marty jinxes it. 
     All in all the show is moving along quite nicely and I
have been working hard to finally finish this play.  I hope
when it's done, I have a play I can be proud of and in future
see it staged.   

 

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The Writing Process

Writing RulesDon’t worry this won’t be the do’s and don’t of how to write, however if your writing fiction, a screenplay, or a play I can take you through a process that I go through that might help.

We’ve all been there before, you have this great idea, but how does turn from an idea into a masterpiece of writing.  Something I learned a long time ago was create your own process.  I like to begin by putting all my ducks in a row.

THE IDEA:

     It starts with an idea.  Usually my ideas are not fully fleshed out.  It’s maybe a small thing like, two college kids meet and become best of friends.  Their friendship changes once they start dating.  A simple idea, but there are a couple of good things in here.  Right away you have the conflict in the second sentence and you have three questions you are asking the audience?   How does a friendship change when it becomes a relationship?  Does acting on the feelings that you are having for the opposite gender, effect the friendship negatively?   Can that friendship be destroyed, which then damages the relationship.

CHARACTER SKETCHES.

     After I have the idea, is formulated, I begin to work on character sketches.  I like character sketches.  They become my bible for all the characters.  It’s horrible to write a play or a screenplay or even a piece of fiction without that character sketch.  In fact, if you’re writing a novel, I would suggest a well thought out character sketch.  It doesn’t have to be for a movie or a play.  There are so many things you can learn from character sketches.  First a decent character sketch gives you an idea of what the character looks like when he or she come to life.  As you writing you will suddenly begin to realize that you are seeing them with every piece of dialogue or action you write for that character.  For me, it goes a little further than that.  I feel their presence in the room.  If you a good character sketch, that character can take over your keyboard.   Secondly, the history of a character gives you an idea how the character reached that point of conflict in the script.  The third thing is the history of a character and the plot can sometimes go hand in hand.  If you have a hole in your plot, reread the character sketch and you may fill that hole or make a complicated plot, easier to write.  There have been times, the only thing I have is a character.  If I put together a solid character sketch, the plot suddenly emerges.    A British soccer movie I wrote called “Derby Double”  started with a character with no plot.  Once I wrote the character sketch, the plot arrived.   If you’re not sure on how to write a character sketch, a good book I could suggest on this is called Successful Script Writing by Jurgen Wolff and Kerry Cox.  If you’re writing a novel, this book may not be what you’re looking for, but there is a really great character sketch chapter with a set of questions you can ask yourself about your characters.  I have used this, not only for my writing, but while directing a play.  Some of the questions may not be relevant to your characters.   I found some were not and chopped and changed it to suit my needs.

RESEARCH:

If you’re writing something of a historical nature, or a particular topic,  be sure to research the subject before you get started, because if you don’t, your writing is not going to be believable to the reader and it will be hollow.  When I  wrote “Derby Double,”  my lead character Seamus O’Brien was a former soccer player.   The IRA assassinates her at a peace rally in Belfast.  Seamus rips his knee open, playing soccer on the same day and his career is over.  He joins Interpol to find the killer and is forced to play soccer again to bring the villain to justice.  In order to create a realistic portrayal of Seamus, I had to do my research on the IRA.  I used the internet and two very informative books on the subject.  I enhanced a scene with new knowledge.  In one of the books, I wrote there was a picture of an IRA funeral, with soldiers dressed in military fatigues and hoods.  It was chilling to look at.  The picture gave me a great idea for a funeral scene.

THE OUTLINE:

     I don’t always follow this rule, but the older I get the more I feel structure is in order.  An outline definitely helps with structure and keeping your plot on track.  The outline is a way for you to see the whole script that you haven’t written.  My suggestion would be after the outline to reread it and make sure everything is in the order you hope it will be.  Then throughout the process of writing your piece, look at it again.

THE SKELTON OR ROUGH DRAFT:

     AC_Smitty_The_Rough_Draft-front-largeOnce I have put the first four together, I begin my rough draft.   I call my rough draft the skeletal structure, or the Skelton script.   I always see the rough draft much like the skeletal structure of a body.  You can’t have the core of a body unless you have a skeletal structure.  The most important thing to know about that rough draft is let it be as awful as it’s going to be.  Yes, don’t worry if it’s awful.  I have often reread my rough draft years after writing it.  I find it amusing because it usually is so bad.   Don’t stop and rewrite it over and over until you get that perfect rough draft.  I have only done this once and it has been with my current script.  I found it something was not working right and I couldn’t move the story along.  Don’t do that though.  What you should be your concern is finishing whatever it is that you are writing.  the story, play or movie.  Remember the rough draft is for you.  I never show a rough draft to anyone.  Why?   I want to read it first and be my own worst critic.  I have to be, because  as I am reading, I see the holes in the script.  I come up with new ideas that I hadn’t thought of, or enhance an idea further.  In fact I don’t even consider the skeletal draft a real rough draft.  I consider it a fake draft, so that I can improve it for the real rough draft.  That second rough draft is where I begin to fill plot holes, I chop, change and move things around.  The best part of the second draft is the character’s are enhanced.  Some characters may not even be there in the rough draft.  Don’t worry about that, you’ll give them their voice,  a few drafts down the line.  I may even change a character name if I feel the name isn’t working.  So don’t worry about that rough draft.  Laugh at it.  You’re allowed to.

Remember the writing process is important.  As I have aged, I have felt a writing process to be a comfort zone.  It also makes me feel like a writer when I know what I am working towards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Character in Search of a Story.

jimRome

Jim Rome the typical controversial sports talk host.

Over twenty years ago, I was listening to a bombastic radio talk show host, when Chick McSorley came into my head.  Chick didn’t have a name, or a face, he was just a glimmer of an idea.  When you have a character in search of story it can be problematic.   The day he came to me, I didn’t brainstorm.  I tried to write the first pages of a scene.  The scene was hollow and had no direction.  Chick remained lifeless without a story or any true identity except his bombastic attitude.  So where does a writer go from there.  Nowhere, you just put the character back in your head and let him percolate for a while

.

Mel Allen

Mel Allen.  The Ned Plummer of his day.

My characters love to talk to me and seven years later, Chick did, while I was reading a book about Baseball Announcers.  He made it blatantly apparent to me that his story needed to be told and he screamed at me.  “Hey Murray, this is me.  Yeah, I’m a bombastic Baseball Announcer, I work in a radio station in Washington DC.  I’m was a former big league Shortstop with a lot of promise.  I busted my knee twice and my career was in the can.    Losing my livelihood sucked, and I started drinking and I became a bitter SOB.   I’d make a hell of a character.  You need to bring me to life.”

e272932433eee82b5640d96f2bc5faaeChick was right, I needed to bring him to life.  I worked on him for about five years off, but never finished a first draft.  Once again I had to put Chick on the shelf to percolate some more.  It wasn’t until this past week, that I picked him up off the shelf to see if some new insight had come to me.

Originally Chick was an analyst for a Major League Baseball team.  In the last few days, I ditched the The Major League Baseball idea.  A flagship station for a Major League Baseball team didn’t seem to fit the character of this very messed up radio station.  A few days ago, I moved the station to Maine and it’s now the flagship for the Red Sox double A affiliate, the Portland Seadogs.  Of course since I moved the team to Portland, that meant I also had to change the call letters of the station.  Yesterday, the irony of the new call letters hit me, they fit the name of the Broadcast company in a sense and it was not my intention to do that, but I really like the call letters now and plan to keep it.

Bob Costas

Bob Costas Mr. Professional.

The premise for this play is a simple.  You’ve probably seen this type of story told many times before.      It’s the disgruntled veteran who is forced to work with some wet behind the ears kid to.  The play starts a few weeks after the death of legendary broadcaster Ned Plummer, Chick’s only friend and broadcast partner.  The station is in search of a new play by play guy.  The Owner of the station gets this whacky idea that he will look on Youtube and find some young talent.  He finds this young kid named Marty Busby.  Marty is fresh out of Syracuse communications department.  His forte has always been Basketball, because of the fast pace.  When the Owner finds Marty, he is working for a college network broadcasting a Baseball game.   Marty hates Baseball.  He finds the game laborious, slow and tedious.  It doesn’t suit his style.  Marty can never think of anything to fill the time.   During this broadcast, Marty’s worst fear happens, a rain delay.  It’s bad enough that Marty has to fill during a Baseball game, but now he has to fill more time during a rain delay.  Marty’s producer has this hair brained idea that he should sing show tunes.  He picks “Being Alive” from “Company”, but loses his voice during the peak moment of the song.  The Owner of the station, decides this is Ned’s replacement.  Chick resents this kid from the start.  Chick embarrasses Marty throughout both the talk show and the Baseball games.  Finally, it comes to a head and Marty stands his ground and begins to relax on the air.  As the season moves into a hot pennant race, Chick and Marty slowly find respect for one another and from time to time, Chick gives Marty some pointers.  Along the way a new friendship is born.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully gave the best Home Run call in Baseball History.  Gibson hobbling to the plate fouls off pitch after pitch and then hits the home run off of Eckersley. As Gibson hit it and rounded the bases, the call was  silence as he let the crowd and the moment do the talking for him.

This has been a difficult play to write because the story has no ending yet.  When I find myself in this situation, I usually have trouble moving through a first draft.  I would write forty pages of the script and feel the writing was forced and not very good.  Other times the writing was better, but it was taking far too long to get into the story.  The last few days I have been working through the kinks.  I have ditched a prologue that I liked.  I found the Prologue was bogging down the story.  I have decided to give Marty’s love interest a promotion.  She becomes the Producer of the sports broadcasts and their sports talk show.   As I have worked through some of the trouble spots, I realized that Chick McSorley is no longer a character without a story, he’s a character that is deeply flawed and he speaks through me to find some direction.   I always find the flawed characters the most interesting and difficult characters to write.

As the days move along, I will keep people up to date as to what is happening with a play, I call Play by Play.  It’s about broadcasting and the wild world of radio broadcasting.

 

Inception A Wild Ride Into Your Dreams

inceptionOkay, I know it took me seven years to get to this movie, but I did it.  Here’s what I thought.  Wow!  Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is a wild ride into your dreams, literally.  This is the most intense movie I have seen in a long time.  It’s the story of Cobb(Leonardo Di Caprio  and Arthur(Joseph Gordon Leavitt), who steal corporate secrets for a living through dream technology.  Saito(Ken Wantabe) hires them to inverse the task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.   The movie is intense and has a brilliant cast, with Ellen Page who plays a young woman named Ariadne, the architect of the dream, Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer the CEO whose subconscious the team enters to plant the idea and British Actor Tom Hardy as the forger.  I think one of the wildest concepts is the dream within a dream sequence.  This could have been confusing but Nolan figured out a way of crafting this beautifully and it was very easy to follow.  The one minor flaw and maybe it really isn’t a flaw, was that he utilized that very technique in the beginning of the movie and you were unaware whether Cobb was dreaming, or he was in reality.  That may have been Nolan’s intent though, because the big question is what’s reality and what’s a dream?  If you have a chance and like science fiction watch this movie.  It definitely makes you think.

While Writing I Need Music.

DIRE STRAITSA lot of writers have habits when they sit down to write.  Some writers set a specific time to write, some writers must have an outline, before they start writing and some must have it completely quiet so they can concentrate on the task at hand.  For me the latter is not true.  I can’t write with complete silence, it drives me crazy.  My brain just isn’t wired that way.  I need music to write because it creates a writing rhythm for me and it also kickstarts my creative juices.

The interesting thing about my writing habit is that it breaks down into components.  The music I write is dependent on the type of script I am writing.  If I am writing a play, then any music will do and usually I enlist the help of Pandora.  Okay that’s a shameless plug.  When it’s a movie, that’s a horse of a different color.  I need movie soundtrack music, but not always.    It’s the same for a television series or at least the one I am writing now, which is science fiction.  Why movie music?  I am such a visual person that I need to hear a soundtrack going through my head to help me see what I am writing.  It also makes me feel like I am writing a movie.

Having said that there have been movies I have written with all rock music.  I did this while writing my Soccer Adventure movie and the sequel to it.  A lot of the music I listened to while writing Derby Double, was rock music.

Billy idol White WeddingSince the movie was set in the 1980’s, I was looking for an 80’s feel to it and I wanted a lot of it to be English since the movie was set in England.  Somehow using an American artist just didn’t seem to help me visually.  I remember I had a particular image for the hotheaded kid Mick Such who becomes the star of the team.   I wanted the kid to be a rebel, so I made sure that when I described him, I gave him spiked blond hair, he wore leather and rode a motorcycle.  When this whole image came into my head, I suddenly knew what I needed to listen to while writing, editing and rewriting this scene.  It had to be Billy Idol, a true rebel.  The two songs I always listened to were White Wedding and Rebel Yell.  I used White Wedding when we first meet Mick.  He’s on his bike and he’s late for training for Sheffield United.  He got drunk the night before and he spent the evening with some random girl he picked up in a bar.  When Billy Idol’s White Wedding hit, then my mind went wild and all these cool ideas started happening and it brought Mick’s character alive.  In fact when Seamus meets him at a training the first day, he gives him the once over and asks, “Who are you, Billy Idol or a Footballer?

DS_Brothers_in_ArmsDerby Double is a movie that opens with a bang.  The IRA attacks a peace rally.  To put me in the mood for this scene, I needed something that fit the moment and set my tone.  I chose the title track to Dire Straits Brother In Arms, from there my ideas came fast and furious.

Later in the movie, after Seamus goes through weeks of putting Mick through his paces.  Mick slowly improves and begins to realize his true potential.  We watch Sheffield United climb the League table and start to make serious runs at both domestic cups.  As we watch a montage of matches where Sheffield United take the league by storm, I wanted some music that reflected that.  Odd though that the English band I chose to listen to was not from the 80’s, they weren’t even from the 90’s.  ColdplayIt was Coldplay and the song I listened to while writing this montage, was Clocks.

During the bigger matches, particularly the FA Cup Final, I used a series of different songs.  After Seamus’ big half time speech that kicks his club in the butt after being 3-1 down to their bitter rivals, I listened to a lot of the Joshua Tree from U2.  JOSHUA TREE ALBUM COVER.jpg“Where The Streets Have No Name, was huge for me as they came out of the tunnel back onto the pitch.  I used it because the opening riff, just worked beautifully and as the players egged their club to cheer louder and louder and make United believe, the song seem to intensify my ideas.  The other song I used as Sheffield United made their comeback was Tears for Fears, TEARS FOR FEARS EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD“Everybody Wants To Rule the World.”  It just seemed to fit and helped me create a lot of my better ideas.

For the sequel I pretty much did the same thing, while writing that movie.  The odd thing is that I used very little music from the 80’S and went more modern.  Groups like the Killers motivated me through some crucial scenes and for the big matches with Sheffield Wednesday, which was United’s main rival, I decided Def Leppard fit, especially during the most tense moments in the movie.  David Muckwith, comes on as a substitute and is ticked off at his former teammates, particularly his sister’s ex boyfriend who calls him out in an interview.  Now David is a bit of an odd egg and I decided to have him do some very strange things.  After the interview, he gets a mohawk and when he comes on, the music I listened was by Def Leppard and the song was Animal.  It fit Muckwith so perfectly, because he had animal rage for his former teammates and his former friend Sherwood, who had cheated on his sister.  In the tight match, Muckwith ends up scoring the winning goal for United.

For my television series, I have tended to lean much more towards movie soundtracks.  Most of the stuff I tend to listen to is more in the vein of action adventure soundtracks.  I am very fond of the soundtrack for the Mummy and listen to it quite frequently, but I tend to lean more towards the Super hero soundtrack movies, Particularly the X-man 2 soundtrack.  These pieces have helped me create some great stuff.

Yes we writers are a bit odd and we all have our own methods to write the piece.  For me, it’s music.  I must have music to write, or my muse is stifled.  Music may not be what you need, you may need the quiet mode or you may have another method all together that may be odd in of itself.  All I know is music works for me and I’m not about to stop listening to it while I write, because he helps create those moments that are truly magic and fun.

 

My Top 100 Televisions Shows.

50755963-amazed-couple-watching-tv-program-sitting-on-a-couch-at-home Over the last few months, the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s top 100 shows of all time and I became so incensed.  There were shows that were totally ignored.  The Honeymooners and Andy Griffith to name two.  Oh well,  lists can be subjective. I created my own.   My rule was pretty simple, I had to see it.  So if I haven’t seen your show and it’s not on the list, don’t get mad at me.  I had another rule.  I’ve lived in two countries.  I put British and American shows on this list.  So if you complain to me that British Television doesn’t count, then remember it’s my list.  As you read the list, I have put a small comment about each show and it’s relevance. I start off with a show that changed how women are viewed on television.  A show that goes back to the late 1960’s and early 70’s.

100: THAT GIRL.

That Girl.A groundbreaking show featuring Marlo Thomas, who plays Anne Marie, trying to break into the acting business, while working odd jobs. A very funny show that my mother got me hooked on after school.

99: WINGS:

Wings imagesOne of Must See TV’s most underrated shows.  It starred Tim Daley(Tyne Daley’s brother) and Steven Weber, they played brothers who run a small Airport off the coast of Massachusetts.  Jim Burrows wrote this one.  This was the show that brought us Tony Shaolub and a curmudgeon named Roy.

98: NCIS

ncis imageI never watched all those other CSI shows.  I am not sure why, but they just never intrigued me.  This one does, because Mark Harmon(Former UCLA Football star and husband of Pam Dauber) has been a favorite since St. Elsewhere.  When he was killed off, I was very upset, because his character was very good.  Years later Harmon had the last laugh with this show.  It’s a quirky CSI show.  Harmon plays a curmudgeon like boss named Gibbs.  There’s a whole host of interesting characters in this.  Abby, who is the DNA computer expert, Dinozo, who thinks he’s the ladies man and rubs Harmon the wrong way and last, but not least, some guy named David McCallum, plays an oddball British Coroner.  You wouldn’t know this man is in his eighties because he doesn’t look it.  A fun show, with plenty of intrigue.

97: JUST SHOOT ME:

JUST Shoot me. I think David Spade was supposed to be the breakout star , but he already did that with SNL.  Spade’s funny, don’t get me wrong, but George Siegal and Wendy Mallock steal this show.  It’s a show about a fashion magazine and how the owner(Seigel,)struggles to find a way of working with his daughter.(Laura San Giancomo)

96.  Night Court.  NBC tried putting this show on in about 17 different time slots and it never seem to find it’s audience.  I am amazed it lasted nine seasons, but it always was removed at some point or another and tweaked with.  I am not sure why.  They should have stuck it on Thursday nights with Seinfeld.  It was worthy of it.  Reinhold Weege created this show out his fascination with a New York City Night Court, that he used to attend for kicks.  Harry Anderson played the fun loving Judge Harry T. Stone, while Markie Post and John Larroquette played the lawyers.  Richard Moll, played the Baliff Bull.  Larroquette and Moll were the breakout stars, while Anderson showed us cool magic tricks in court.

95: THIRD ROCK FROM THER SUN.

.Third RockDuring the 90’s everything that came to NBC struck gold. So why not a show about aliens who are fascinated with earthlings and want to know more about them. John Lithgow was a complete scatter brain in this.  French Smith was just off his rocker and Joseph Gordon Leavitt was a 100 year old alien trapped inside a teenagers body.  Poor Jane Curtain, she was the one who had to deal with these people the most as she and Lithgoe worked at the same University together.

94:  THE SHADOW OF THE TOWER:

TheShadowOfTheTowerThe first  British show on the list and I believe it was the first one I watched too.  A  historical series on the life and times of Henry VII.  He was a stingy curmudgeon who united the white rose of York with the Red rose of Lancaster, by marrying Elizabeth of York.  He trusted no one and there was always some sort of conspiracy to return the throne to the House of York.  It dealt with some real historical periods of his reign, like the Perkin Warbeck rebellion. One episode gave me nightmares.  One prisoner was tortured by having his toenails removed.  They didn’t show it, but  we did see the result of the torture which was all bloody and gruesome.

93: THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW:

thedickvandykeshowcastroblaurabuddysallymelCarl Reiner created this great show about a TV writer, played by Dick Van Dyke.  Garry Marshall wrote 18 episodes for this and we were introduced Mary Tyler Moore. She and Dick Van Dyke are brilliant together.  It shows up on TV land once in awhile and it still holds up.

92. Mad About You.  Another must see TV favorite from NBC.  Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt play a married couple, but as you watch this show, you begin to realize, they’re more like best friends in a marriage.  However, they still have their marriage issues.  I remember a specific teaser for one.  Helen Hunt goes into the bathroom before bed, she comes out seconds later angry as a hornet.  In her hand, the toilet paper spool and some toilet paper.  She demonstrates to Reiser the proper way of putting the toilet paper on the spool.  It was little moments like that, you loved.  This show, helped me create a play of my own, called “Pigeons On The Charles.”

91: HAPPY DAYS:

 Henry Winkler“Ayyyy!  and “Sit on it.” Or “Bucko”, all 1950’s jargon that became part of 1970’s American culture.  A show poised to be a huge hit once they brought on the Fonz.  I learned how to catch fifty quarters off my elbow from this show.  Was there ever a more popular show on television. Garry Marshall(RIP) was a genius.  Well it did get a little strange with the jump the shark episode, but it did introduce us to a lovable alien from Orc too.

90: MORK AND MINDY:

 Mork and MindyI wouldn’t say it was a precursor to Third Rock From The Sun, but it was the first time we saw an alien on television.  It was a spin off from Happy Days.  Some odd alien comes to Milwaukee and shows up in Richie Cunningham’s dream.  It was this odd free form comedian named Robin Williams.  He was so good, they gave him his own show.  The show was odd, but you couldn’t help laughing, because Robin Williams could make anything funny.  Now can you pick out the episodes where he and Jonathan Winters break?  I can.  Some of the funniest moments on TV.

89: STAR TREK:

Star TrekMy sister made me watch it, I swear.  Seriously I didn’t watch until England.  My parents would go to the pub and my sister and I would sit down and watch re-runs on BBC 1.  I loved it.  Sure it was campy, the acting wasn’t the greatest, but that was one of the many fascinations about the show.  Plus the stories were interesting.  It was revolutionary and way way ahead of it’s time.  Your were always given a hint as to which member of the Enterprise was going to die, just by the red uniform the character was wearing. It’s interesting to note that some of the devices on the show, are now part of everyday life.  The cell phone for instance was the communicator and the big huge video screen, that could be wide screen televisions or even from Satellite technology.

88: RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASED:

RANDALL AND HOPKIRK DECEASEDThere have been many shows done about the after life, but never like this one.  This is the second Brit show on the list and it definitely was a good one.  Think The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, only far far better.  It had suspense, intrigue, mystery and a ghost.  The Premise was pretty simple.  Two friends, Jeff Randall and Marty Hopkirk start a detective agency.  Marty is married while Jeff is single and Marty’s wife Jeannie works in the office.  When Marty is killed in a mysterious hit and run, it’s up to Jeff to try and find the person responsible, which is the arc of the entire show.  Marty comes back from the dead to help him solve his own murder and other cases along the way.  Marty’s problem is his wife Jeannie has taken solice in the arms of his best friend.  Marty the ghost isn’t too happy about this and he constantly puts a monkey wrench into their relationship.

87: THE ROCKFORD FILES:

 James-Garner-The-Rockford-FilesI remember the first time I saw this show.  No music, just titles and the shot of this answering machine playing message after message, all looking for Private Eye Jim Rockford.  He never answered those calls.   For a PI drama, is was smart, funny and suspenseful.  Rockford was a cranky private eye and he wasn’t very good.  He was always looking for that next case, so he could pay the bills, most of them seemed mundane at first, until the other shoe dropped.  Sometimes the client became the villain.   James Garner was perfect.   And Noah Berry was perfect as his meddling Dad.

86:  THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW:

Carol Burnett ShowA total classic comedy sketch show from probably the best female comedian ever.  Watch Carol and Harvey Corman do their version of “Gone With The Wind”  This is the show, that created Mama’s Family starring Vicki Lawrence, Rue McClanahan, Ken Berry and Carol.  The sketch was so popular it became it’s own series.

85: KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

Keeping-Up-AppearancesIf you watch PBS, then you may have seen this gem, about Hyacinth Bucket.(She pronounces the name Bouquet)  Hyacinth is constantly trying to break into upper class society.  However, Hyacinth Bucket’s family is two notches down the social ladder.  Her family constantly shows up at the most inopportune times and she constantly tries to hide them from sight.  While the lower half of the family barges in on her, driving her mad, Hyacinth returns the favor to her poor husband Richard, with an equally amusing turn of events.  A very, very funny show.

84: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:

MISSION_IMPOSSIBLE_TV_SERIESThe first of four spy shows on this list.  It always started with Jim Phelps(Peter Graves) picking up some envelope with pictures and some sort of tape inside.  He would put the tape into a cassette and here’s what happened.

“Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is…then he gives him the mission which correspond with the pictures and then this would happen.

“As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”  I always wondered what was in those fumes and why they didn’t kill Jim Phelps.  This show also starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.

83: TAXI

TaxiLouis De Palma Who can forget him.  He was disgusting, rude and the worst boss to work for.  He constantly hit on Elaine Nardo(Mary Lou Henner) and insulted half his staff.  This show made Danny Devito a household name.  Another Jim Burrows classic.  So many crazy episodes and so many wacky characters worked for the Sunshine cab company.  Jim Ignitkowski became Doc Brown to Michael J Fox’s Marty McFly. Tony Danza went off to do Whose The Boss and Judd Hirsch did a number of things, one particularly good show called Dear John.  Oh I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Andy Kauffman, the Robin Williams of his time.

82: STEPTOE AND SON:

Steptoe-and-Son-starring-Harry-H-Corbett-Wilfred-BrambleRemember Sanford and Son?  Of course you do.  This was the British version and far far better by a long shot.  The old man makes this show.  He’s crass, disgusting and makes life miserable for his son, particularly when it concerns his love life.   Here’s a series of clips and you tell me whether this show is better than Sanford and Son. Steptoe and Son

81: THE BOB NEWHART SHOW:

The Bob Newhart Show“This is my brother Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.”  It took place in Vermont and at the end we found out it was just one of Newhart’s dreams.  I watched this a lot in re-run and was always amused by the Vermont humor.

80: MY FAMILY:

My FamilyA show I found on BBC America and it never let me down.  Robert Lindsey a dentist, and his wife is Zoey Wannamaker(Related to the famed Hollywood family of the same name.) play a well to do married couple with three kids that drive them crazy.  A young son who is a nerd dealing with his hormones, a politically charged daughter who gets pregnant, drops out of college and moves back home, and then there’s…NICK.(Kris Marshall)  Nick is a bit daft and well…different. He has no inclination to strive to be anything, so he lives in the house off his parents.  He never seems to want to work and when he does, he usually has some hairball scheme to make money, that never works. Marshall was my break out star from this show.  He was just plain wacky and he heightened Lindsey’s frustration.    Watch the British version of “Death At A Funeral,” Marshall plays a drug dealing brother and when his future brother in law is all nerved up about meeting his future father in law, he gives him a drug to calm him down, except the brother in law takes the whole bottle and ends up on the roof of the house naked in front of everyone.  Kris Marshall made this show what it was and Lindsey played off his antics beautifully.  Here’s a perfect example of that.  My Family

79: SESAME STREET:

Sesame Street.jpg Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Bert and Ernie, all taught me a thing or two.  I learned my alphabet and my numbers from this show.  Now if only they had taught me Algebra, I would have been fine.  Kermit the Frog got his start here, but he went on to a much bigger show and that’s later on my list.

78: HOMICIDE LIFE ON THE STREET:

Homicide Life On The StreetBarry Levinson created this fantastic, gritty, dark cop show, set in his home town of Baltimore.  The crimes were cutting edge, the cops were equally cutting edge, with dark and imaginative characterization.  The crimes they investigated were dark and imaginative.  It starred Ned Beatty, (Brilliant in this.) Yaphit Koto and Andre Brauer, comedian Richard Belzar,(Munch, the only actor to play the same character in three different shows, when he turned up in Law And Order SVU and an episode of the X-Files) My two favorites were Kyle Secor.  Secor and Brauer forced to be partners and they didn’t get along at all.  The combination created some combustible moments.   The writing for Homicide was phenomenal.

77: THE WEST WING:

TheWestWing-AboutImage-1920x1080-KOA show about the White House and all that goes on there.  This was the show that kind of kick started a whole lot of other shows, using the President or the White House as a backdrop.  Martin Sheen was brilliant, but Rob Lowe and Bradley Whitford stole the show.

76 GUNSMOKE:

Gunsmoke_thumbI was a tot when this show was on.  However, I was a teenager when I saw it in re-reruns.  Matt Dillon, Kitty, the Doc and Festus provided the humor.  The best Western I ever saw.

75: ROWAN AND MARTIN’S LAUGH IN:

Laugh inNo list would be complete without this show  My parents felt it was so important I see it, they would wake me up to watch.  So many great characters and comedians came out of this show.  Lilly Tomlin(Edith Ann and Ernestine),  Ruth Buzzie, the old lady to Arte Johnson’s dirty old man, Joanne Worley, Goldie Hawn and many more. If this show hadn’t been on, Saturday Night Live would not have existed.   Many of these comedians would have fit seamlessly within the SNL show. A definite trailblazer and it still holds up as this clip attests.  Laugh in

74: PORRIDGE:

PORRIDGEHere we call it doing time.  In Britain, it’s called doing Porridge.  I think it had something to do with the poor food or something.  This is a British Comedy that thought life in Prison would be interesting to poke fun at.  They were right.  Ronnie Barker, plays Norman Stanley Fletcher.  He’s been sent back to prison,  presumably to get away from his wife.  He thinks he can fool the guards(Well maybe Barroclough, the gullible Guard, who Fletcher can manipulate into anything.) but not the Scotsman McKay. McKay makes Fletcher’s life miserable.  There’a s gem of a mob character in this show named Grouty, he always manages to get Norman to do some dirty work for him, which if caught could add another ten years onto his porridge.  This show was so good, I couldn’t resist but add a clip.  Porridge

73:  THE DAVE ALLEN SHOW.  

Dave AllenNow you’ve probably never heard of Dave Allen.  He’s an Irish comedian who would start each segment of his show sitting in a chair with a large tumbler of whiskey next to him.  I am not sure how he got away with that.  It was a prop, but a valuable prop.  He would then tell a series of jokes about Religion(The Catholic Church, Dave WAS Catholic), Sex, Religion, drinking, religion, more drinking, his childhood, more sex,  sometimes war and lots and lots of Religion.  After each segment he would play a series of sketches on the topic at hand.  Did I mention that he told jokes about the Catholic church and sex.  No one was quite as bold about telling religious jokes in Britain, but Dave was.  I think PBS had him briefly, but if you’ve never seen this show, you must youtube it. Brits began to loosen up when Dave was on.  Here’s an example of how funny this show was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt7h3CghJEg

72: 30 ROCK

30 rockA show about a television variety show.  A key show for Tina Fey after she left SNL and the perfect foyle was Alec Baldwin.  Now Alec has always been a good actor, but until he guest hosted SNL about a dozen or so times, we never knew he was comic genius as well. (TNE NPR sketch comes to mind.)He’s brilliant as the head of the network and plays off Tina Fey like a charm.

71: LAW AND ORDER SVU

law-and-order-svu-castI never imagined putting these shows on the list, because I think the formula has become tired.  This one is about the special Victim’s Unit and it’s the only one that is still on.  The show is pretty formulaic, but the story lines are definitely riveting and you are always left with a bombshell.   Mariska Hargitty(The daughter of Jayne Mansfield.) stars in this one.  The writing on any of these shows is top notch.

70:  ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.

All_Creatures_Great_and_Small_tv_series_castBased on the books by James Herriott.  It’s a show about family and the life of a Vet, named James Herriott.  British animal husbandry in Yorkshire in the 1930’s has never been more interesting and more amusing.  Add an eccentric boss named Sigfried and a bumbling playboy of a brother named Tristan and you have a recipe of fun.  It was a ton of fun.

69: MY NAME IS EARL.

My-Name-is-EarlThis show was such a creative idea, I just had to watch it.  Take a guy named Earl who had done all these rotten things in life and give him a conscience.  What he decides is to make a list of all the people he’s ever hurt and do something good for them so KARMA(as he calls it) doesn’t comeback at him.  It was quirky, fun and sometimes poignant.

68: THE MAN FROM UNCLE.

the-man-from-uncle-1A show that was popular during the Mission Impossible days.  In my mind it was the better of the two.  Robert Vaughan made it really cool to be a spy and  Stephanie Powers also made it cool to be a female spy.

67:  THE YOUNG INDIANA JONES CHRONICLES.

 Sean_Patrick_Flanery,_The_Young_Indiana_Jones_ChroniclesIn the 1990’s Stephen Spielberg decided it would be really cool to bring young  Indiana Jones to television.  He was right, it was cool. Very cool.  Snakes. Jaque I hate snakes.The show starred Sean Patrick Flannery,(Later played the evil politician in The Dead Zone series.)and he played him with Wimsey, charm and a whole lot of innocence.  It’s interesting to note that along the way, young Indy, meets some rather famous historical figures through his wild adventures.  If you ever find this show on DVD, it is a must and you won’t be disappointed.  I wasn’t ever.

66: FAMILY TIES:

Family TiesMichael J. Fox became an instant star from this show, which of course led to…”Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”  It was a unique concept by Gary David Goldberg.  Two liberal parents, bring up a smart Republican child.  It’s a liberal parents worst nightmare.  The lessons that Alex P Keaton and his parents learn from each other are often poignant and very funny. Sprinkle in some siblings, Mallory(Justine Bateman) a sort of lost girl in her own world, obsessed with boys, Nick her boyfriend, who is not so bright and the nerdy guy next door named Skippy(He had a thing for Mallory) and what you had was a lot of laughs.

65: MIKE HAMMER:

  Stacy Keach-Mike HammerThis poor show only lasted three seasons, actually four if you count the series in the fifties.  The version in the early 80’s starred Stacy Keach and he was terrific and this show hearkened back to those days of the 1940’s private eye, but was set in current times.  He was equally brash, cool and had an eye for the ladies.  I was hooked.  So much so, that I decided that Drake Darrow’s favorite Private Eye growing up, was Mike Hammer.

64:  COUPLING:

The British version lasted longer than two weeks, which is how long the American version lasted.  Why?  We couldn’t recreate anything as funny as the British version.  It is probably one of the most hysterical, edgy British comedies I’ve seen.  Essentially it’s about couples who get together, but it’s about far more than that.  It’s about the funniest aspects of relationships.  It stars Jack Davenport(Pirates of the Caribbean) and Gina Bellman(Leverage) Bellman is one of the funniest characters in the show, but my favorite character is Jack Davenport’s best friend Jeff, who constantly has sex on the brain.  Some of these episodes were way over the top, with wild titles, like The Melty Man Cometh.  I won’t get into what that one’s about, this is a PG blog, but for adults, it’s a hoot.  Here’s an example.  Coupling

63: MURPHY BROWN:

 Dan_Quayle-crop No, no, no, please don’t leave the blog.  There is a perfectly good reason why Dan Quayle has a picture on show 63.  You see this show had a huge hand in effecting Dan’s political career.  Not for the better.  It seems Dan was this family values candidate running for Pres and he thought that the character Murphy Brown wasn’t a very good role model.  You see Murphy Brown was  god forbid and unwed working mother by choice.   One of the reasons this show is on this list is because it was smart, edgy, funny and tackled issues that were relevant, like working mothers who weren’t married, by choice.

62: WKRP IN CINCINNATI:

WKRPCASTI work part time in radio, so of course I have watched this show many times.  I didn’t get all the inside jokes until I got into the business, but that didn’t stop me from thinking this was one of the best TV shows around.  By the way I never worked with a news guy like Les Nessman.  Although the one I worked with did like to collect newspapers.  In fact his office was filled with them.  However he was probably one of the best news people I ever worked with, but this guy was not Les Nessman.    Les Nessman was just plain, neurotic.  The rest of the characters were just as nuts.  How did Gary Sandy deal with all these nutcases?  Who knows?  Gordon Jump played the boss, scared of his Mother and his own shadow.  His Mother put him in charge.  She really ran the station.

61: CPO SHARKEY:

CPO SharkeyEver wonder what it would be like to have Don Rickles as your Commanding Officer.  So did NBC and what followed was hilarity and a lot of crass insults, the way Don Rickles would do them.  Many a Saturday Night were spent laughing at Mr. Rickles as we watched him froth at the mouth and insult everyone the only way Rickles knew how.

60: BARNEY MILLER:

c-barneymillerA crazy show about a crazy New York Precinct.  Let’s see we had a cop who was a budding writer, one who dabbled in Psychology and liked to get inside your head, and a bitter height challenged cop who was passed over as detective.  Leavitt made sure everyone upstairs knew about his height difference.  These are just the cops.  The criminals were even crazier.  One episode dealt with a guy who insisted he was going to turn into a werewolf and he managed to frighten Sergeant Yamana(Jack Soo) out of his skin.  I can still hear him, calling out for Barney when the crook starts to howl at the moon.  Oh and all these cooks, usually were sent off to Bellview.  Here’s that werewolf episode I was talking about.  BARNEY MILLER WEREWOLF

59: ALL MY CHILDREN.

All My Children A soap Opera?????  Yes a Soap Opera.  A campy Soap Opera about little old Pine Valley.  Sometimes I called this “The Perils of Erica Kane.” The reason this show is on the list, is because it was a ground breaking show that dealt with topics that no one would touch.  Agnes Nixon created this gem and she didn’t shy away from any tough topic, which usually gave prime time the okay to start tackling such subjects.  I learned a lot from this show as it enhanced my writing.  If you want to learn how to write character, google some clips of this show and you will see probably the most unique and interesting characters that were ever on television.  Take the two in this picture, or a pimp named Billy Clyde Tuggle, Tad the Cad, who eventually didn’t become quite the cad.  This is not the last of the Soaps. I have three more.  Technically, one is a horror show, that claimed it was a soap and one is the longest running Soap of all time and still on today and no it’s not American and no Soap is not one of them.  I couldn’t get that show on the list and along the way many famous actors were discovered like Chris Bruno(The Dead Zone series Steven King)  and one talk show host, named Kelly Rippa.

58: SCTV:

SCTV_6197While Saturday Night Live was still top of the heap, a sketch comedy full of Canadian comics decided to challenge.  SCTV brought us the likes of John Candy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin and Katherine O’Hara.  It was a hoot to watch.  My favorite  skit was that campy soap sketch, The Days of The Week.  Occasionally I still see re-runs and I have to watch.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9dKYxkYYXM

57: ROBIN HOOD:

Robin HoodI am talking about the most recent BBC America version.  It was intense.  Jonas Armstrong played him far differently than Kevin Costner.  The show was darker and far edgier.  Although Keith Allen who played the Sheriff of Nottingham was no Alan Rickman.  I liked the writers take on Guy of Gisborn played by Richard Armitage.  Gisborn discovers he’s Robin Hood’s brother.  They also killed off Marian, which was indeed different.  Oh and Marian was far different than any Marian I have ever seen.  Definitely a Marian for todays world.

56: THAT 70’S SHOW:

That_70s_Show_CastA show created in the 90’s about the seventies.  How would that work?  Humor my friend.  A lot of humor.  This show was brilliant. Red(Kurtwood Smith) was always ready to put a foot up Eric’s ass.  Topher Grace, played Eric as a bumbling stumbling geek, which he was.  My favorite scenes, were the pot smoking scenes.  They were very realistic.  THAT 70’S SHOW Probably the most realistic I have ever seen.  Oh and didn’t we all know someone like Hyde in high school?

55: CRIME STORY:

Crime StoryA show set in Chicago during the Kennedy era.  A real Untouchables for the 1960s.  It involved a small task force led by Mike Tortello(Denis Farina), trying to stop an up and coming mob wise guy named Ray Luca, played by Tony Denison.  If you like classic American cars and great music from the 1960’s, this show had that.  However, it lasted two and a half seasons.  It could have lasted far longer and I wish if it had, it would have made Denis Farina a huge star and believe me, I’ve been a huge Denis Farina fan for many years since this show.  Denis Farina’s, portrayal of Mike Tortello was very realistic, mainly because he had been a cop before he became an actor.  He knew these types of criminals and he knew these types of cops. Tony Denison was equally as good as the young wise guy Ray Luca.  You didn’t want to cross this guy.   One of the most haunting episodes, someone crossed Ray, so he took him up in a plane and threw him out.  The only problem I had with this show, was the slight steal from Godfather two.  Ray latches himself onto this Jewish mobster, kind of like Hyman Roth and I felt like I was watching a re-run there.   It’s unfortunate that this show died a slow death.  Even my father liked it and he’s not one for cop shows.

54:  THE TUDORS:

 The TudorsI made the mistake of picking this show up mid run.  I think season four.  As I am watching it, I become a little ticked off about the historical inaccuracies.  First of all they gave Henry an extra sister, who he pawns off to the elderly King of Portugal.  This woman never existed.  However, I decided to start from the beginning.  I wasn’t sorry I did. I ignored the inaccuracies.  I even liked the extra sister, Margaret, played magnificently by Gabriel Anwar. This must have been one of her side projects while she was in Burn Notice.  She was very funny and eventually she ends up sleeping with one of Henry’s chief counsel.  It was one of those sexual tension things, that magically worked.  Henry was played by  Johnathan Rhys Meyers.  He was just as arrogant as you would imagine and just as avarice with his women, but at times, we saw a softer side to Henry, which I liked.  My one problem with Henry was when he had the accident with his leg.  I think, his leg infection(Later he got gout) caused him to gain quite a bit of weight, because he simply couldn’t exercise and he loved to ride horses.   I am not sure if that is true, but Henry became plump way before  Katherine Parr and they kept Jonathan Rhys Meyers svelt and toned.  It was interesting to note the relationship between Katherine Parr and Henry was not as contentious as I remember reading.  They toned it way down and Henry actually did love her a great deal.  It was beautifully crafted.     It was a show filled with high intrigue and awesome acting.  Look for James Frain(24,  Audrey’s Ex) who plays Cromwell.  For a while you really loathe Cromwell, but when his whole world crumbles around him, Frain manages to make you empathize with him.  I also liked the idea that Anne Bolelyn wasn’t as power hungry as most portrayals I’ve seen.  This was a true event when you watched it and deserves to be in my top 100, not just for the writing but the acting.

53: MOONLIGHTING:

 moonlightingBefore Bruce Willis had a movie career he had television.  Before Cybil Shepherd had television, she had movies.  The two came together to create this awesome chemistry together.  The show revolved around Maddy Hayes who hires David Addison to help her run a private detective agency.  From the git go, the two didn’t not get along at all, which made the scenes electric, with crackling dialogue.  Check this out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nU3AIvfK04 The two actors may not have gotten along and when rumors hit that the show was in trouble, the creators did something totally brilliant, they wrote it into the actor tension into the script.  However that only lasted so long before Bruce Willis had enough and bailed for a movie career.  And that my friends is how it all began for Bruce Willis.

52: HOGAN’S HEROES:

HOGANS HEROES“I know nothing.  Nothing.”  How can you keep off a show that stands the test of time.  It’s still as funny today as it was when it came on the air.  I have often wondered whether this show was somehow based slightly on The Great Escape.

51: LAW AND ORDER CRIMINAL INTENT:

Law & Order: Criminal IntentWhen the third in the Law in Order franchise came on, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  However what came out, was this detective played by Vincent D’Onofrio who had this way of Psychologically manipulating a suspect into a confession.  He was riveting to watch and it was then that I realized he was an incredibly underrated actor.  Although if you watch the Movie Full Metal Jacket, the seeds were there. The show became very engaging to watch and I watched it to see him act and see where he would take the character.  Of the three it remains my favorite.  Unfortunately of the three it had the shortest run.

50: MIAMI VICE:

MIAMI VICEI was very late coming to the party, but once I did,(late 80’s re-runs), I found it extremely gripping.  The writing was awesome and the characters were very well developed.  The show had a cool soundtrack and it helped moved the scenes seamlessly.  Watch for Phil Collins in at least two episodes and he is quite good.

49: MAD MEN:

MAD MENI always like shows that are set in the late 50’s to early 60’s.  A show about ad men.  Donald Draper is definitely no saint.  He has demons, he drinks and he’s a womanizer, but he’s just plain fun to watch.  It’s a compelling show about power and who wants to be on top.

48: THE INBETWEENERS:

 The InbetweenersI’ve seen lots of shows about what it’s like to grow up as a teenager; However I’ve never quite seen a show about the stupid things we do as adolescents. The British took this show and put it on Channel 4.  The fourth channel and there’s a reason why, it’s bold and extremely edgy.  Channel 4 in England is like HBO, it allows for a series to take some risks.  This show took a ton of them and when it ran out, it found more.  This show is about four British Nerds.  There’s Will, the new boy trying to fit in.  Simon who can’t think of anything other than his neighbor Carly.  Jay who talks a big game, but has never really done anything with any girl and Neil.  Neil is well…different and the kid you really thought might be this side of nuts. It’s a show that’s pretty mature for it’s age and at times a bit graphic, but believe me if you can get by those moments, this is a show that definitely will make you laugh.  Here’s an example.  The Inbetweeners

47.  GENERAL HOSPITAL:

ABC's To hook in the male audience, a soap opera must create a show, that’s like a spy show.  You know lots of caboom, bad guys trying to take over the world, that sort of thing.  That’s exactly what General Hospital did in the 1980’s and soon every soap was doing it. Why? because General Hospital had introduced this really cool character named Luke Spencer.  Sure he started out as kind of a slimy guy, working for the mob, but that’s definitely not what happened once he met Laura Webber. He fell in love with Laura and he wanted out of the mob.  So he turns on them and hijacks Laura from Scotty Baldwin’s wedding, that pretty much started a series of interesting plot lines for these two. It also changed Scotty Baldwin from a hero to a cad.  Luke and Laura were on more interesting adventures than Indiana Jones and because General Hospital wanted to keep you tuned in, they brought in a whole team for Luke to play off of, like this strange Australian James Bond guy named Robert Scorpio, his former boss Sean Donnolly and his ex wife Anna Devane(A really cool Emma Peel type.)  I put General Hospital here, because it changed the face of daytime television forever and brought in a whole new idea of what to do with a soap.  I also think it actually had a hand in helping prime time start telling better stories.

46: REMINGTON STEELE:

Remington SteeleThe idea was simple. A con man named Remington Steele(Pierce Brosnan, pre James Bond) and put him with this gorgeous woman(Stephanie Zimbalist) and you have the makings of a really cool detective show.  You did, it killed.  It was smart, cutting edge and different.  Brosnan was more than suave and Zimabalist played off that suave cool demeanor well.

45: NEWS RADIO:

 news radioNews Radio was definitely a show that I related to. I knew who many of these misfits were. I’d worked with people like them. From the Owner to the Chief Engineer. It was set in New York City and revolved around WNYX.  It starred Phil Hartmann, who was “BILL MCNEIL,” the most arrogant self centered news announcer you would ever meet.  He made Rush Limbaugh look tame.  Believe me some of the antics that happened on this show, are believable, I know, I been through some of the same situations.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JpwjnMFlJI

44: SHOGUN:

shogun

There a few mini series on this list.  James Clavelle’s Shogun is the first.  Richard Chamberlain starred and was brilliant.  I still remember it vividly and I was hooked every night of the run.  Far better than The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise.

43: I LOVE LUCY:

.Lucille Ball.Way before your time, you say.  You’ve never heard of the wacky Lucille Ball, you say.  Go to TV land.  I’m sure they still have re-runs running. She’s the reason Carol Burnett came along and any other female comedian after.  This show was gold.  If you happen to stumble upon this episode watch it, it’s a classic. Here’s the classic chocolate factory episode.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkQ58I53mjk

42: CORONATION STREET:

Coronation-StreetIn the 1970’s, my parents would go down to their local pub and would come back and regale my sister and I of colorful tales of colorful pub characters named Skinner, Tup and Duffy.   What my parents didn’t know is that my sister and I were also at our local pub.  It was called The Rovers and it was the favorite watering hole for all the locals of Coronation Street set just outside Manchester England.  A unique and different English Soap Opera, that is still going strong.  In fact it is the longest running soap EVER! Sorry Days Of Our Lives this show has you beat by a mile.  If you happen to get Canadian television, you can catch it.  It’s a show that always has interesting characters, plenty of intrigue and most important, it doesn’t take itself seriously.  In fact it can be a laugh riot and here’s an example from one of my favorite characters, Steve McDonald.  Coronation Street

41:  HOLOCAUST:

Holocaust_(TV_miniseries)_dvdMERLY STREEP before we knew who she was.

In the 1970’s and into the 80’s the mini series was all the rage.  And a lot of them were simply spectacular.  Holocaust was by far one of the best.  I was becoming curious about the topic.  This show was the perfect teaching tool.  It starred two people, you might have heard of, James Woods and Meryl Streep.  The acting and the writing were incredible.  Meryl Streep became a huge star after this and James Woods revamped his fledgling movie career.  Both won Emmy’s if I am not mistaken.

40: THE HONEYMOONERS:

  Gleason_honeymooners_1965A classic among classics.  Jackie Gleason could simply do it all.  In this show, he was brilliant. I saw re-runs in England and here.  The English loved it so much they copied it and created their own show called “On The Buses.” Funny, but not like this.  I always saw Alice(Audrey Meadows) as the key to the whole show.  She was definitely a strong female character and had Ralph Cramdon wrapped around her finger. Alice Cramdon was ahead of her time and in a lot of ways, so was this show.  Here’s and example.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCBa-bvJeqk

39:  THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW:

Barney FifeWhen the Hollywood Reporter came out with it’s list of it’s top 100 television shows, this show was nowhere to be found.  Uh hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I’ll give them a little slack because the people that came up with that list were probably born yesterday.  This show  was comic gold.  Here’s an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8m4zM9kfY4 Barney alone was the worth the price of admission .  Oh sure there were other colorful characters, Otis the town drunk, Floyd the Barber, Gomer Pyle and Goober, and who can forget Ernest T Bass and the Darlings.  I put the show in bold, because I believe it was the first time we caught a glimpse of a single dad on television.

38:  THE PACIFIC:

A recent mini series.  While National networks tried to revive this type of show without success, cable found a way of recreating it and turning it back into gold.  Particularly HBO.  This is the partner series to the very highly acclaimed “Band Of Brothers” that Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created.  I’ve seen movies on the theater in the Pacific, but never one that dealt with it more realistically than this.  The Pacific was different than “Band Of Brothers”, you had a chance to get to know these characters away from the war.  You saw them at home as well as in the theater.  It was a brutal mini series.  In fact if you decide to watch this, don’t take it all in one gulp.  You’ll be drained emotionally.  You have to take it in bits and pieces.  PacificRami Malik was already starting his rise to stardom.  In this show he starts to solidify it.  He’s equally as good in this as he is in Mr. Robot.  Also look for James Badge Dale.  If you watched 24 he was in season 3 and was Kim’s boyfriend(Jack Bauer’s daughter.)  He’s brilliant in this.  The episode where he catches a peeing disease in the jungle is his best.

37: FRASIER:

FRASIERWhat does James Burrows do after he creates one of the most iconic comedies of all time.  He takes a character from that bar, moves him to Seattle and he becomes a radio talk show host.  What a brilliant move and what a brilliant funny, funny show. Frasier, moves in with his Dad(John Mahoney) an ex cop with a bad leg.  So bad he needs Daphne(Jane Leeves a former Benny Hill girl.) to take care of him.  Put a little dog in the mix named Eddie and  Frasier’s equally pompous brother Niles(Also a Psychiatrist.)  and Burrows had himself another huge hit.   Of course my favorite parts were always Frasier’s radio show scenes.  He took calls from  people with strange Psychological hangups.  The callers were often famous actors dying to get on the show.  

36:  THE OFFICE:   

The OfficeThe most successful comedies deal with something new or deal with an office setting.  Office settings are always gold.  The Office was the only American show, stolen from the British, that hit gold. The original was done by Ricky Gervais and some hobbit guy named Martin Freeman.  Steve Carrel made this show what it was. Mr. Carrel is the most underrated funny men in this country.  He doesn’t over do, he underplays a lot.  As my father and my Godfather would say, less is better, not more.  He was insensitive without meaning to be.  He was silly with intentions to change moral and it never worked.  The show was a laugh riot and you could relate to any of these characters if you have ever worked in an office setting.  A great show, and here are examples of both the American version and the British.  American version.  The Office.  The British. The Office

35: MAGNUM PI.

 magnum-piI watched this show in re-run form and I never realized how good it was.  Tom Sellick was perfect.  What I liked about Thomas Magnum, was he wasn’t that PI that tried to impress you.  He was just an average Joe on the surface, but inside he was a man with his Vietnam past and fighting those demons.  He had a good life, but he didn’t boast about it.  He lived in a nice mansion owned by some wealthy guy named Robin Masters, who we didn’t meet until far later, but of course he was there all along.  Higgins(John Hillerman.)

34: ROSEANNE:

 Roseanne-Dan-roseanne-11819784-1024-768This show grew on me and once I was hooked I realized it was another groundbreaking show.  It dealt with middle class America like no other show. It didn’t matter whether you were middle class or on the upper crust, you could relate to any topic.   Rosanne Barr dealt with tough issues that had never been tackled. The show dealt with domestic abuse, child abuse, mental illness and family dysfunction, and LGBT issues, but it dealt with the issues in a mature manner, while still hitting your funny bone. The chemistry between Roseanne Barr and  John Goodman was incredible and the acting top notch and so many people that came out of this show went on to have very healthy acting careers.  Laurie Metcalf(Small part JFK and Big Bang Theory.)   Johnny Galicki(Leonard Big Bang Theory) and some guy named George Clooney, plus many more.  A show I never seem to get tired of, even today while in re-runs.  Here’s an example.  Roseanne

33: THE MUPPET SHOW:

kERMIT THE FROG AND MS PIGGY.Jim Henson was a genius.  He took a character from Sesame Street and turned him into a star.  However the Muppet show was much more than just Kermit.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCmKw-Zqbj0 He had a great cast of characters around him, like Ms. Piggy(Pigs in Space.) Fozzy The Bear, Dr Bunson Honeydoo and his capable sidekick Beaker, the two guys in the balcony, Stadler and Waldorff(A former co-worker and I have been referred to them on more than one occasion.) and who can forget, that wild Swedish Chef.  You never knew what he was saying, but it didn’t matter, because in the first minute of any skit, he was throwing vegetables behind his back and acting like a madman with his knife.  The most amazing thing about this show were the guest stars and there were a plethora of them.  Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for the likes of Liza Minelli to act with Puppets. It wasn’t just a kids show, it was definitely for adults.  Ask my Dad, he insisted we watch it.

32: LAW AND ORDER:

LAW AND ORDERDick Wolfe didn’t realize it at the time, Law and Order brought franchise television to the world. The original Law and Order was something fresh. The first two acts dealt with some crime. Once the perp was caught, you were treated to the second half of the process, the prosecution. It was unique, no one had ever done this before.  Therefore it was groundbreaking.  My favorite character was Lenny, (Jerry Orbach) never without some sort of joke and always willing to debate his partner about the crime.

31: EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND:

Everybody-Loves-Raymond_1024-768When Everybody Loves Raymond doesn’t crack my top twenty, then you know there must be some great shows ahead.  Here’s a clip to give you an idea, of why I liked this show so much. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9bca0Kjpo Essentially, Ray Romano created a show based on his stand-up.  His stand-up must have been about his wacky dysfunctional family.  The wonderful thing about this show, is it always had a message and that message always came from some guilt trip his wife put on him or Ray’s mom.   Brad Garrett, was the break out star, he played Rays brother Robert, the cop. He also played the lead in Till Death as the lead, not as funny, but he also played Jackie Gleason in a biopic and  was brilliant. Doris Roberts played Ray’s meddling mother(Always pulling a guilt trip on someone and she drove Deborah crazy.) Patricia Heaton played Deborah, who was Ray’s wife.  Ray was damn scared of her. Patricia knew how to keep this sportswriter in his place.  Peter Boyle played his father, who was grouchy a lot.  A show that will live on as one of the best from the turn of the century.

30 DARK SHADOWS:

Dark Shadows BarnabusMy grandmother’s favorite show was “The Edge Of Night.”  She was always insulted if you called it a soap.  “It’s not a soap opera”, she would say, “it’s a detective show.”  She was right.  I read the show history, it was a detective show.   So if The Edge of Night was not a soap opera, either was Dark Shadows.  Dark Shadows was a campy horror serial damn it.  Dark Shadows never took itself seriously, which is what was brilliant about it.  My mother was obsessed with it.  Not me, once that eerie music came on and I saw those waves crash against the rocks, I was out the door in a flash.  The show gave me nightmares. It wasn’t until I was in college that I truly appreciated how good this show was.   My local NBC station decided it would be cool to bring it back in re-run form, but of course there was a reason.  They were going to come out with a new series on prime time and it would star Benjamin Cross.  I watched a few.  Ben Cross was terrifying and the woman that played Angelique was just as scary.  It survived two seasons before getting the ax. The interesting thing is the Barnabus didn’t show up until the third year and that was because ratings were sagging and it was on the verge of getting the network boot.  Once Jonathan Frid came on board, that changed the shows fortunes forever.  The show soon became much more than ghosts and Vampires, it also had witches and werewolves(Quentin Collins, David Selby)  Definitely a show to watch.

29:  ENTOURAGE:

EntourageJohn Cusak has a team of actors he likes to work with, one includes his sister Joan Cusak and this guy, Jeremy Piven.  You might have seen him in “Say Anything” and a little spy movie with Dan Ackroyd called “Grosse Point Blank.”  He was not well known until HBO came knocking and decided to do this interesting show about Hollywood. It’s a show about the ups and downs of a Hollywood movie star named Vincent Chase and how it tests his friendship with his Manager and best friend Eric Murphy, who everyone calls E.  Piven plays Vinnie’s agent and even though, he’s a condescending sleazy son of bitch, you would definitely want this guy fighting for your career.  Since it was on cable, it was a show that was allowed to take a few more risks than a show should be allowed to take and that’s what makes it so brilliant.  There are many guest spots from many Hollywood types playing themselves, from Actors, to Producers to Directors.  My two favorite characters, Johnny Drama(Kevin Dillon) a neurotic mess.  And of course Arry Gold(Jeremy Piven).  Piven just eats up the screen in every scene he is in.  Rather adult content to follow from this brilliant montage of this fantastic show.  Entourage

28:  THE GOODIES:

GOODIESThe who?  The Goodies, a show about three friends who start a company that provides a service to do good in the world.  If you want the Australian Singer Rolf Harris caught and captured, these guys do it.(Because there were apparently many Rolf Harris’s wandering all across Britain.)  Sounds like a British Comedy doesn’t it.  It was and one of funniest I have ever seen in my life. It stars,  occasional Monty Python cast member Tim Brook Taylor, Bill Oddie and Graham Garden.  Whenever these do gooders took a job, it always ended in some disaster or some hilarious confusing result.  This show was so funny a man died of a heart attack, laughing so hard.  During one episode my mother was laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her cheeks.  The Episode?  The Ecky Thump, a black pudding(Or pud as they called it.) that dates back to the Lancashire martial arts period. When used the Ecky thump is a deadly weapon.   I know, absurd.  It’s British humor, it’s supposed to be absurd.  Here’s Ecky thump. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuP1eycaA6c

27: UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS:

upstairs-downstairs-1970s-castEveryone take note, Downton Abbey is not an original. I’ve watched it and all I can think of is another show with a different title that came upon the scene of British television in the seventies, (Also showed on Masterpiece theater) called Upstairs Downstairs.  It starred Gordon Jackson(The Great Escape), Jean Marsh, Pauline Collins(Shirley Valentine and Quartet) and her husband John Alderton.  A totally phenomenal show about the same thing, only this family is called the Bellamys.  It dealt with all kinds on interesting topics.  A maid gets pregnant, by one of the Bellamys, The Stock Market crash and suicide.  So before you go ahead and think Downton Abbey is an original, think again.  This was the original and this was a Masterpiece.

26: GET SMART:

Maxwell Smart and Agent 99.“99 I need you come here.”  Sorry about that Chief.”  “Chief is this top secret?”  “Why yes Max it is.”  “Don’t you think we should use the Cone of Silence”  “Would you believe that this was the funniest show on television in the 1960’s?”  I can recite thousands of catch phrases from this show.  People seem to forget that before Mel Brooks became famous with Blazing Saddles, he created this quirky half hour comedy about a spy agency called Control fighting their evil nemesis KAOS.  Their number 1 agent, the bumbling stumbling Maxwell Smart secret agent 86.  Of course KAOS had their own bumbling agent, named Sigfried.(Bernie Koppel)At the time there was Mission Impossible and The Man From Uncle, why not find some humor in the spy business.  Don Adams played Maxwell Smart and Barbara Feldon played his partner Agent 99. Smart was probably the most inept spy you would ever meet, but somehow in one half hour, he would always seem to get the job done.  Here’s some of the best of this funny, funny show. Get Smart

25:  THE COSBY SHOW:

The Cosby showYou may have your current opinions about Bill Cosby, and I am not putting this show on this list to debate that.   Bill Cosby is one funny guy and during the 80’s and somewhat the 90’s this show was one of the best shows going.  It was relevant.  If you’re African American, it was very relevant and more relevant than any other show about the African American experience.  There had never been an upper class African American Family on television until the Cosby show.  It was also revolutionary because Claire was a lawyer and a woman, and that had never happened before either.  It spawned a spin off called “A Different World.” which was also a good show and if it weren’t for Cosby, no network would have taken a chance on the second upper class black family show, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air with Will Smith.  Also a very fine show.  Here’s a classic episode.  Lamont the Goldfish and his funeral.  The Cosby Show

24: ST. ELSEWHERE:

st_elsewhereBasically Hill Street Blues,  only in a hospital, but if you sat down and watched this show, it was a different hospital show.  Once again it was about character.  Many fine actors came out of this show.  Steven Furst(Well we already knew him as Flounder from Animal House.) Ed Begley Jr.  William Daniels the hard nosed Chief Surgeon,(Later voiced Kit the car for some Hasselhoff show called the Knight Rider.). Mark Harmon, Howie Mandell and the biggest of them all, Denzel.

23: THE AVENGERS:

 john-steed-and-emma-peel-thumbYou had to know that this show was going to be on the list.  I wrote a whole blog on how it inspired me to write strong female characters.  It had everything, a strong female character, a cool hip gentlemen spy and best of all it’s British.  Some of the villains were also bizarre and interesting, the only way British Villains would be.  Diana Rigg is still the best partner for Steed and there were a few before and after her.(Although the character names changed) Steed(Patrick McNee)  was cooler than cool with that cain and bowler and those old British sports cars they drove, awesome.

22:  THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW:

Mary Tyler Moore“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”  Chuckles The Clown remains my favorite episode to this day.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92I04DkMEps Seltzer  and wild stuff happened all the time at that little television station located in Minneapolis Minnesota.  “That Girl” started the trend, Mary Tyler Moore, took it and kicked it up to another level.  A strong woman working in a man’s world.  She knew how to put Lou Grant in his place.   The two had sort of a strange romantic attraction, which, thankfully the writers never acted on.  Once Mary blazed the way, Murphy Brown took it a step further. Then of course there was Ted Knight, the arrogant bumbling news anchor and who can forget Betty White as that happy cooker, Suzanne Niven.  A definite classic.

21: LA LAW:

LA LAWThe eighties saw a whole new world of television.  Like Hill Street Blues did for cop shows, LA LAW did for law the genre.  Now this wasn’t your prosecute the crook law show.  This show dealt with civil law cases and the characters who took them on.  It was a show that dealt with character.  Particularly Arnie Becker(Corbin Bernsen), probably the most loathsome lawyer on the pay role, because Arnie was always on the prowl.   A great show, one worthy of being on a list.

20:  ER:

 ERThe top twenty is here and it starts with ER.  Hospital shows have been around since television was invented, but never has their been a show quite like this.   I believe it was the longest hospital show(Until Grey’s Anatomy surpasses it) that ever aired.  It was nothing I had ever seen before.  Fast paced, gritty, hard edged and it dealt with subjects never seen on Television. You had a chief of staff who not only had a disability, she was a lesbian. You had one of the Chief doctors develop cancer. You had a nurse attempt to commit suicide in the first season.(Julianna Marguiles) because George Clooney just dumped her. Then there was a character who developed AIDS after a needle stab.  It was awesome.  The reason ER worked, is that it was high octane and fast paced, just like an ER.  Each seen was quick, sharp and intense.  Here’s why this was the best most intense hospital show ever.  ER

19: SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:

 snl the original.It’s still on, it won’t go away, please for the love of God make it stop because it’s still pretty damn funny!  Here’s why my tears ducks, ribs and my bladder can’t take it anymore.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ufj5P3W7Jw SNL simply took Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, and made it edgier. It was the first show to have celebrity guest hosts.  It was the first show to make sure you got to see the latest hot musical act and there were many.  It was the show that gave you John Belushi’s Samurai sketch and you fell off your chair laughing.  It was the show that gave you new comedic names like Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtain and Bill Murray.  All of these comedians became huge stars and left to go on and forge very successful careers.  How does this show stay on top?  SNL lets it’s stars out of their contracts and hires new cast members.  It was the first show, that dared to make fun of the White House and attack Politics in a mature and funny way.  It is still the show to watch on Saturday Nights, maybe not as funny as the original, but if I’m home and I am up at the SNL hour, I watch.

18:  HILL STREET BLUES:

hill-street-blues_wide-8f94a0b0d3d404e8d705d04b59a99434e38dba7b-s900-c85 Sergeant Phil Esterhouse(Michael Conrad)would stand before the precinct each morning and have a briefing.  It was usually about what was going on and the  latest case or the latest perps to be on the lookout for.  After Esterhouse ended his brief , each officer would get up and file out and begin their day out on the street, but he would holler at them as they went out the door.   “Hey, Hey, Hey” then a wag of the finger.  “Lets be careful out there.”  Conrad was a genius.  Any other actor would have played it the same way every time.  Not Conrad, he had fun with it.  It was one of my favorite classic moments and I had to see it.  Hill Street Blues was a different cop show.  It dealt with the character’s lives on and off duty.  After each episode,  you had a sense that you knew who these people were and you cared about what happened to them.  They were just like you and I.  It’s what made Hill Street such a classic.  This show changed television, not just the cop genre, all genres.

17: THE WONDER YEARS:

The Wonder YearsWhat were the Wonder Years?  I’ll tell you, because this was one of the best shows on television in the 1980’s.  The Wonder Years where a time when growing up, meant you got on your bike with your best bud Paul Pfeiffer and went for a ride.  The Wonder Years were when you played Football with your friends and if you came home with a bruise on your face, your mother was worried.  The Wonder Years were a time, when girls suddenly became alive to you, particularly the girl next door.  The Wonder Years were when you got cold feet trying to ask that girl to the dance.  The Wonder years were also a time when you grew up, you learned about Vietnam, got your license and just spent your time being a kid in an innocent time with your friends.  It was where you learned how to love and finally got the girl you always knew you loved.  It was where you accepted your brother as maybe, not so bad a guy after all.  It was where you went to work with your Dad and understood what his world was like and you began to understand why he had ulcers and how hard he worked to put food on the table. The Wonder Years were wonderful and it was one of my favorite shows of all time and I could relate.  The Wonder Years the Phone call

16: THE BIG BANG THEORY:

BIG BANG THEORYA show that dares to be what it wants to be.  A show about nerds and there is nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with that at all.  Nerds are funny, but these four nerds are hysterical.  First you have Howard a Jewish Nerd who can’t get away from his mother.  Then there’s Raj a nerd from India, who can’t talk to beautiful women unless he is drinking. Sheldon who is obsessed with Physics and String Theory and then there is Leonard.  All Leonard is hoping for is a shot at the hot blond next door named Penny.  This is a show about nerds and all that is goofy and fun about them.  You’ll learn about video games, comic books and Sheldon’t latest project involving string theory.  Most of all you’ll laugh your socks off. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIp77PUvLTE

15: FRIENDS:

Friends  Okay, I admit it, I was wrong.  Way wrong.  When I first heard about this show,  I thought, oh come a show  about 30 somethings who hang out all day, how on earth can that be funny.  Then one night, I was getting ready for work and I saw the trailer.  Joey was telling the latest story of how he botched an audition.  Chandler made fun of him.  It caught my attention because it was a very funny bit involving a Pinocchio joke. Now I wanted to see this show and I wanted the show to prove me wrong.   It did, from jump street and I was a faithful fan.  Chandler had to be my favorite character(Matthew Perry), although Phoebe was a strong second.  Who else can sing a song about a smelly cat off key and make you laugh. I have many favorite episodes, whether it be an episode involving Ross’ monkey, or any audition Joey shows up at.  The one where Joey shows up at an audition Hernia was a laugh riot.  It was a show that had style, class and humor and many stars begged to be on this show.  Brad Pitt was dating Jennifer Anniston during the infamous I hate Rachel episode.  Susan Sarandon shows up as a washed up actress who hits on Joey. Giovanni Ribisi(Saving Private Ryan, The Wonder Years and the X-Files) is brilliant as Phoebe’s not so bright brother.  It’s a show that will stand the test of time for many, many years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e7bf3hW6lE

14: THE ODD COUPLE:

The odd couple.I will not watch the new Odd Couple, it doesn’t matter if the very talented Matthew Perry is in it or not. It doesn’t matter if they decide to make a female version with Rita Moreno.  There are only two Oscar  Madisons and Felix Ungers.  The original movie actors, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon and Tony Randall and Jack Klugman for television.  It may seem snobby or ridiculous but that is the way my brain is wired.  Klugman and Randall made this show click.  The timing between the two was impeccable.  It was just brilliant to watch.  Here’s why. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Axgw04CD–s 

12: BAND OF BROTHERS:

 lIEBGOT Towards the end of this mini series, a German commandant gives up his pistol to Major Winters and asks to address his captured men. He recites Henry V.  Specifically the speech of St. Crispin.  It tells you all you need to know about what it is like to battle with brothers in arms.  I have never been a fan of war.  I feel that it should be avoided at all costs.  However, it is necessary in certain circumstances.  World War II being one of those circumstances.  Tom Hanks and Stephen Spielberg created what is probably one of the most important mini series of our lifetime.  Yes it’s gruesome, real and bloody, but it had to be told, so we would not forget what we were fighting for.  In fact that is the Title of one of the episodes, “What Are we Fighting For?”  It’s a story about Easy Company run by a fair minded man named Lieutenant Dick Winters, who manages to run this company the best way he knows how, by example.  I have three episodes that stick out in my mind.  The two on Bastogne and the other is the concentration camp episode.  This episode is the most poignant and earth shattering of all.  This clip tells you why we fought.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHcJtU9dr6I I have always been a history buff.  I like to know the where, why and how of history, so I can understand.  I am not Jewish, but this particular topic has always been a fascination to me.  I think because I wanted to know why a monster like Hitler was allowed to do what he did.  This is one of the many reasons this show is in my top twenty.  We should not forget.  We should learn from our mistakes, so that it does not occur again.

12: ROOTS:

 lAVAR bURTONI was never more captivated by a television mini series as Roots.  My father recently gave me Alex Haley’s tome, because I wanted to refresh my memory.  I don’t think there’s a bad bit of dialogue or action in this show, or a bad bit of acting.  I know the remake is out, but nothing is like the original.  Lavar Burton as young Kunta Kinte, John Amos as the older, Ben Vereen as Chicken George and Chuck Conners as his evil master. Roots was a mini series that taught us about our past, the present and at the time hope for the future.  It was a show that not only got us in touch with history, but our own genealogy.

11:  THE SOPRANOS

 The Sopranos Some actors are known by small parts while others make their own magic.  James Gandolfini was one of those guys.  James came to my attention in the 90’s with a small movie called “Get Shorty.”  He was the muscle for Delroy Lindo, the bad guy. His name was Bear, who works for Lindo’s character because if he doesn’t, Lindo will kill his 5 year old daughter.  Once John Travolta(Chili Palmer) bests him in two fights, Bear begins to realize, “hey this guy could help me out.”  The next movie I saw Gandolfini in was Quentin Tarantino’s “True Romance.”  Once again he was the muscle and he was sadistic.  Some of the things he did to Patricia Arquette are beyond description.  This certainly must have caught the attention of David Chase.  Mr. Chase had this idea about a Mob boss in New Jersey who is told to go see a shrink (Loraine Braco) after an anxiety attack.  In his sessions, he opens up and talks about his home life problems and his mob family problems.   A brilliant idea was born and took off.  Gandolfini’s character is loosely based on Decavalcante mob boss Vincent Palermo, or as his associates knew him Vinnie Ocean, because he ran a fish market.  This show was gritty, gruesome at times, funny and very realistic. The show finale is awesome because it left you wondering whether Tony got whacked, arrested or went into the Federal witness protection program. The Sopranos

10:  BURN NOTICE:

  New Burn notice image

The series started out every week, with this opening narrative, which came from the pilot.  Burn Notice had one of the best show opens I’ve ever seen and intrigued me to watch, if you haven’t seen this show, it’s in reruns and it’s a must.  Here’s how the opening sounded.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gRdQeuZ9Tw

The title Burn Notice essentially is the CIA’S term for fired.  So what do you do if your burned?  The only thing you can do, fight back and find the persons responsible.  The problem for Michael Westen is that the CIA can do anything they want to a burned spy.  They dump him in Miami, with no cash, no identity and no sense of self.  They can even kill him if they want.  However, Michael is lucky, he has his meddling mom(Sharon Gless, quite frankly brilliant.) his no good brother, a former CIA agent(Bruce Campbell, equally brilliant.) who snitches on him to the FBI and….wait for it.  wait for it, the most frightening woman to ever grace a television set, his ex girlfriend an ex IRA terrorist named Fiona Glenanne who sells weapons to terrorists for a living.  This forms his team and to make a little cash on the side, he helps people as a sort of vigilante.  A brilliant show with edge, humor and a how to on how to be a spy.  Every action packed scene is set up for you by Jerry Donovan’s character Michael Westen.  The best parts are his narratives on how to operate in a situation as a spy.  He talks to you in the third person and each week I came back for more.  A show in the top ten deserves more than one clip.  One for FI to show you how badass this woman really is Burn Notice FI in action and one of the show. Burn Notice explosions

9:  THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON:

Johnny CarsonI remember Johnny’s farewell show.  My Dad came up for a weekend and we went to see an Expos game.  We stayed the night in Keesville New York and watched an hour tribute to Johnny and then his final show, which was essentially his  tribute to the fans.  He  showed his most iconic moments.  I knew right then and there, that late night television was never going to be the same.  I grew up on Johnny.  He was an Uncle to me and as much as I liked Jay Leno, it certainly wouldn’t be the same.  What made Johnny great was that he was humble.  He was a brilliant interviewer.  He let the guest take over the segment.  It didn’t matter whether you were Burt Reynolds or Tina the Lizard Eating woman.  He was always captivated by your story and that helped draw the guest out.  Johnny was simply the best and if a joke didn’t work, he made fun of it.  My favorite part were the segments with animals and kids.

8: CHEERS:

Cheers_cast_1991You were wondering weren’t you?  You thought this show wasn’t going to be on my list.   Sure it may not be as high as you would like, but it makes the top ten.  A bar where everyone knows your name almost was cut loose by NBC and it would have been a mistake.  However, NBC had nothing to lose.  They believed in this little show and stuck with it.  It starred Ted Danson as washed up Red Sox Pitcher Sam Malone, who runs a bar in Boston.  It was a show that always kept you laughing, whether it was a quip after Norm entered, or whether it was some useless piece of information from Cliff Claven.  Remember the Jeopardy episode?  I do.  Sam was always on the prowl too and he didn’t always succeed getting his lady.  All in all, he was a lovable guy and so were the many characters in this bar.  Here’s one of those ladies Sam let go.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1kbn-LOpes 

7: FAWLTY TOWERS:

 fAWLTY TOWERSThis Christmas my sister gave me a gift to remind me of England.  Not specifically England itself, but a television show.  It was a bottle of Heinz Salad Cream.  She asked me, “You do remember right.”  Oh I did.  A whole whacky scene about salad cream, came from a Fawlty Towers episode.  It was a show that lasted all of three years, but oh what a three years it was.  John Cleese played a pompous, obnoxious self centered ass, who thinks he knows how to run a hotel.  The guests soon find out he doesn’t and that’s where the friction begins.  It usually takes his wife Sybil and his best waitress Polly to get him out of his scrapes.  The scene my sister was referring to involved a young obnoxious brat eating with his family.  Basil, trying to be a good host asks them how their meal is.  The young lad speaks up and complains that it tastes revolting, like a dogs dinner.  He then complains that the salad cream is awful. Here’s the rest of the scene.

Mrs Heath: May I ask why you don’t have proper salad cream? I mean, most restaurants…

Basil: Well, the chef only buys it on special occasions, you know, gourmet nights and so on, but… when he’s got a bottle – ah! – he’s a genius with it. He can unscrew the cap like Robert Carrier. It’s a treat to watch him. (he mimes) And then… right on the plate! None on the walls! Magic! He’s a wizard with a tin-opener too. He got a Pulitzer Prize for that. He can have the stuff in a saucepan before you can say “haute cuisine”. You name it, he’ll heat it up and scrape it off the pan for you. Mind you, skill like that isn’t picked up overnight. Still, I’ll tell him to get some salad cream in, you never know when Henry Kissinger is going to drop in, do you?

The show was constantly filled with moments like this.  My favorite is a site gag. This is where Basil thrashes his car when it stalls on the curb.  Here, let John Cleese tell you.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeEHQzyUdC0 This gives you an idea of this brilliant British show.

6: MASH:

 MashDirector Robert Altman probably never realized that a small comedy movie about the conflict in Korea was going to be a massive hit on the small screen, but it was and it lasted 11 seasons.  Never before has a military medical unit ever been shown on television before and this show, brought some very graphic and realistic moments to television.   Frank was always my favorite character, because we all know someone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

5: MONTY PYTHON:

 MONT015ACCOf all sketch comedy shows, this is the master.  It’s better than SNL, Laugh In, Carol Burnett and any others.  It is the king. The one that has stood the test of time and still holds up today. Monty Python was silly, it poked fun at Hitler, the Queen or anything else it deemed worthy of a slap on the fanny.  Most of the sketches were nonsense, whether it be the Parrot sketch, the sketch about Cheese, or Dennis Moore the Highwayman.  The master of the troupe was of course John Cleese.  A man who still has it today as I witnessed from an episode of Entourage.  He played himself and was quite funny.  Probably Michael Palin follows, then Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones, followed by the token American Terry Gilliam with his masterful animated sketches.  If you’re a millennial and you’ve never seen this show, you must be versed in the ways of Python.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npjOSLCR2hE

4: ALL IN THE FAMILY:

 All In the FamilyWhen Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) arrived on the scene it was a totally different world.  Vietnam was still going on, feminism was taking root and the civil rights movement had come and gone.  Archie Bunker  didn’t like it and he provided his own commentary on the situation.  This was a show was about a bigot, male chauvinism and some one whose right wing politics got under his families skin.  A character like that dealing with a whole host of issues, had never been seen on television before.  He opened up the box and allowed Hollywood to go a bit further.  A true Norman Lear Masterpiece.  Of all the television writers that changed TV for the good, it was Lear and of course no top ten or top five list is complete without All In The Family.

3: SEINFELD:

  SeinfeldIn the late 80’s Larry David’s little show about nothing, became a show about everything.  What Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld were thinking was what we were thinking.  What were they thinking?  They were thinking we lived in a shallow, shallow world, with shallow people and they were going to peel it all back and show us how ugly we had become and if you laughed, then you were laughing at yourself.  There were plenty of laughs, whether it was about George’s shrinkage issue, getting lost in a parking garage and then being peeing in public, or re-gifting a Christmas gift.  It was the show we turned on Thursday nights, which became must see TV and this was a must to see.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A66ierfTCUQ

2: THE X-FILES:

.I-want-to-believe-X-Files-UFOA little show in the 1980’s called Project Bluebook had this perfect opportunity to make us believe in aliens and conspiracies, but it dropped the ball.  Fox must have taken note and gave Chris Carter a wonderful opportunity to give us our beliefs back.  Beliefs about aliens, conspiracies and the paranormal.  The X-Files was by far one of the most fascinating and interesting shows ever on television.  It’s recent reboot, proved we can still believe.  It was a show that was suspenseful, intriguing and kept you up at night wondering what is really being hidden from us and if aliens are out there.  We wanted to believe but Carter wanted us to watch and we did every week and still do when it’s in re-runs.  Why would’t you like a show with chemistry between Anderson and Duchovny like this.  The X-Files.

1. TWENTY FOUR.  24.And my number 1 show is……YES the adventures of Jack Bauer, the man who will stop at nothing to bring down terrorists even if they are the President of the United States.  I cannot say enough about this show.  It has definitely changed the face of television, making the drama more serialized.   A wild concept, one day out of the life of Jack Bauer in an entire season.  Each episode a different hour with a different set of circumstances and a different game changer.  I often think if you were to remake this show(And they are toying with idea), whether anyone else could play Jack.  Nope, Kiefer is the man and 24 is my favorite show.  Through the years it will be interesting to see if it remains on the top of my list.  There are certainly a few contenders.  Blacklist and Mr. Robot come to mind.  These two are not on the list because they are infants in the process and Homeland stumbled around season four, but somehow managed to get it back around season 5.  For now though, 24 is the show.  Here’s a clip to prove it.  24

That’s my top 100.

Movies That Should Be Made.

I have a small list in my head.  It’s not a big list, but it’s an important list.  It’s a list of movies that I would like to see Hollywood make.  The list I chose is in no particular order,  Some of them are based on books, some are biopics and some are just things I have never seen done.

THE IRISH PELE GEORGE BEST.

george-bestI have toyed for years about writing my own movie about the iconic soccer legend, because the man was the Jim Morrison of Soccer.  He lead quite a colorful, but tragic life.  Part of my movie Derby Double came from the general idea of George Best.  My lead Character didn’t live the partying lifestyle, but he was just as talented.

ENGLAND 66:

alan-ball-1966-wcThe 1966 World Cup was such an achievement for English Football, that I am surprised the English have never made the movie.  Why not?  There are definitely some interesting plot lines that you could weave into this movie. Who could play the Great Sir Alf Ramsey.  I know the perfect man, Anthony Hopkins.  You see England was never expected to win this tournament and the fact they did, blew the English into hysteria.  There were also so many colorful characters on that 1966 team, that it begs to made with some humor.  Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Jimmy Greaves and Alan Ball were all colorful, so when you cast those guys you’d have to cast them with actors that would do them justice.  Then there’s the Geoff Hurst story.  Brought into that final at the last minute because Jimmy Greaves could not go, because of an injury.  Geoff was the true hero and was the man that scored the hat-rick to bring them World Cup glory. The Movie could be titled, the Man Who Wasn’t There?”  He simply snuck in without anyone marking him.  It was a play that his own Manager Ron Greenwood crafted for him at West Ham and Greenwood was an Assistant on that team.  If this movie were done it would simply be one of the best movies done about the beautiful game.

THE TEMPLE OF GOLD:

Temple of GoldBased on the book by William Goldman(Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.), it tells the story of Ray Trevitt, whose parents call him Euripedes,  His father is a cold fish who teaches Greek Mythology at a small college in a small Illinois town, not far from Chicago.  We basically follow Ray through his turbulent adolescence, his confusing love for a girl who suffers depression and his friendship with a girl who really loves him.  The book is poignant, funny and leaves you with a better understanding of what it is like to deal with mental illness.  This was a book my Mother introduced to me and it remains my favorite book.  It should be made into a movie.

TRINITY:

TRINITY BOOK COVERLeon Uris’ tale about the roots of Irish troubles.  It was the first book I read that taught me what the troubles were all about.  It has never been made into a movie and I am not sure why.  If you got this book into the hands of the right director, it would be an academy award winner.

RICHARD III:

RICHARD IIINo, not the Shakespeare classic.  What we’re talking about here is an altogether different movie.  In fact it could possibly be a mini series.  I have an idea for one, which I call the “White Boar”, which was the banner that Richard III fought under during the Battle of Bosworth.  Why a movie about Richard since we already know so much about it.  Quite frankly until I read two books, I really didn’t know anything about the man.  What I had heard, was written by William Shakespeare and that was a bit biased and a bit of revisionist history under Tudor times.  He’s portrayed as a conniving man, who will stop at nothing to put himself of the throne, including delegitimizing his nephews, locking them in the tower and having them murdered.  Did he really do it?  I have my doubts.  As I said I read two books on the subject, Richard Duke of York is shown in an all together different light.  One was a fascinating biopic by Paul Murray Kendall, who deals with Richard from his childhood through his death at the Battle of Bosworth.  The other was a fictional detective novel by Scottish writer named Josephine Tay, who questions whether Richard really did do it. In the book she utilizes a bored detective sitting in a hospital after he is put of commission.  To cure his bored mind, he asks a friend to bring him some pictures of historical figures so he can figure out some of the great mysteries in life.  There is only one known picture of Richard III and the woman brings him this picture and asks him, if the man is a villain or a hero.  It was a fascinating book and brings about some of the very questions Murray-Kendall’s biopic presented.  If this were to be a mini series, I would start at the heart of the reign of Henry VI and about the time Richard was born and work through his life.  There are many things people don’t know about Richard Duke of York.  First of all he was the younger brother of Edward IV and one of the King’s best military advisers, who showed no signs of wanting the throne for himself.  He showed nothing but loyalty to his brother.  There is also evidence that when Richard took over as Regent for Edward V, that he had many advisors, some he could trust and some he couldn’t.  One was the Duke of Buckingham, who had his own claim to the throne.  He was instrumental in suggesting that Richard should get rid of the princes because they were illegitimate.  I always thought that perhaps a more balanced version of the man would be far better than what history has told us.

THE PAUL GASCOIGNE STORY:

Paul GascoigneDuring the Spring Semester of College I was at New England College, the Arundel Sussex English campus.  I had just been selected to be one of many actors in a theater troupe performing shows all across the British Isles.  Coming back to the school and the Theater program that my father had started, put me right smack dab back in the middle of my Soccer obsession.  I saw Gazza(As he was known) in one match.  He was playing in a match for Newcastle United against Liverpool.  He was a young 16 year old apprentice and I could tell just by the way he passed, just by the way he moved on the pitch, there was something special about this kid.  The one problem was he was raw and had a penchant for doing some daft things on the pitch.  After the tour was over, I moved back to the States and life took me in another direction.  1989, I had moved to Vermont and managed to find a little bookstore in Burlington called Chessman and Bem, which carried British Newspapers, like the Guardian and the Observer.  This was great, because I could follow soccer again and low and behold I started reading about the exploits of Paul Gascoigne.  Not just his on pitch antics, but his off pitch too.  Later I saw some video clips of Paul in action during the late 80’s and 90’s.  He was no longer with Newcastle, Gazza was with the mighty Spurs.  What I watched was a talent I had never seen before.  He was a player who could do anything.  He had incredible pace and could unlock defenses like no one I’d ever seen.  Gazza was dizzying to watch on these clips, but there was also those very strange moments that happened on the pitch. The 1990 World Cup Semi final comes to mind.  He had already received a few yellow cards during the tournament, and in the Semi against the Germans, Gascoigne made a vicious tackle on a German player.  He received a yellow card for that foul, which meant he would not play in the Final if England went through.  He simply became unhinged.  Gary Lineker had to console him and there’s a famous shot of Lineker motioning Bobby Robson, he better have a substitute ready because Gazza was losing it.  Those were the moments that humanized Gazza, but there was something else going on with this man.  He was tormented off the pitch with alcohol issues, being arrested a few times of drunk driving and then there were those moments when Gazza would be hit with deep bouts of depression.  Gazza was probably the best English talent of his era, but it was the depression and alcoholism that caused his career to end far sooner than it should have.  He still struggles today with depression and alcohol problems.  If a movie about this man was done right, it would be deeply interesting.  It shouldn’t just be about Football though, we should capture the life of a deeply troubled man.

BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE:

Bonnie Prince CharlieIf there has been a movie done on the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, supposed heir to there English throne, I’ve never seen it done.  He is a hero to many Scots and a deeply compelling figure.  I have done a little research about the man and have a movie in mind that I would like to do.

BOYS LIFE:

Boys Life

     Robert McCammon wrote this brilliant book back in the 1990’s.  It is set in the deep south of Alabama and concerns one child’s realization that the world is not always as it should be as you grow up.  Things are not always safe, things don’t always allow you to be a child growing up in what should be your most innocent time.  The book has a lot of humor in it, but a whole lot of intrigue and suspense and even a sea monster.  A book that would be an awesome summer movie and would definitely get families into the movie theater.

                                                                             STONES FROM THE RIVER:Stones From The River

     In the mid to late 90’s, Oprah Winfrey decided to get out of the sensational talk show racket. She decided she had enough of the Sally Jessy Rafael type show and decided to do more of a thinking person’s show and a show that could help people in a positive way.  One of the things Oprah did was have a book of the month segment.  Enter one of the most incredible female writers I have ever read named Ursula Heggi.  She wrote this incredible book about a dwarf during the Holocaust.  Hearing about it, made me want to read it, so I asked for it for Christmas.  I was not disappointed at all reading about the life of Trudy Montag and how she would climb up to a bar and hang so she could grow.  What an incredible book as it follows her life and her families through a turbulent time.  It’s poignant and beautifully written,  Why this book has still not been made into a movie, I don’t know,  because it should be and I’m sure if it were in the right hands, it would be Oscar worthy.

                                                                              THE SPLENDID SPLINTER.

Ted WilliamsI want to know something.  Why has there never been a movie done on the Splendid Splinter?  I’ve read a few books on this man and he is definitely worth a movie.  From his early days starting out with the Red Sox, to the battle for 406 are indeed interesting.  Add in his wars years as a fight pilot and hero during world war 2 and you have a damn good idea for a movie.  I would certainly see this if it were ever made.