Monday, September 20, 2010

My Favorite TV Sitcoms

Dazzle the blogging world with your boob tube knowledge and fascination
 for cheap sitcoms, over-emoted dramas, and weakly programming.

Well, Alex and all you out there in the blogging world I don’t know if I will dazzle you with my boob tube knowledge and my fascination for cheap sitcoms, over-emoted dramas or weakly (yes I got it) programming, but as they say in show business, “Here goes nothing!” Here are my top ten favorite TV shows in the order of how I rate them.

1.         Burn Notice

This is a show about a former spy who was burned. In the first three seasons, Michael Weston (the burned spy) teams up with Sam Axe (his buddy who informs on him to the FBI), Fiona Glenanne (a trigger happy ex-girlfriend) and Michael’s mother (from Cagney & Lacey fame) to track down those who burned him so he can get back into the “company.” In the meantime he was dumped out in Miami with no job, credit, bank account, or record of existence. The team takes “odd-jobs” helping people who are in trouble and can't got to the police for money to live on while they figure how who “burned” Michael Weston. I love this show. Watch it religiously. I have bought the first three seasons.

2.         Frasier

Frasier was a spin off of Cheers. Kelsey Grammar played Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers who occasionally came into the bar, Cheers. This is still one of the most successful spin offs in TV history. This series followed Crane from Boston after his divorce from Lilith to a new job and condo in Seattle. Dr. Crane became a radio shrink in his old hometown. In the meantime his dad, an ex-cop who had been shot and medically retired moved in with him with his Jack Russell Terrier, Eddie. Crane’s brother, also a shrink falls in love with the housekeeper Daphne. The writing is brilliant in this series. The cast is excellent and hilarious. In this series, Maris, Niles' wife never appears on screen. The sad note to mention is one of the creators David Angel and his wife were on one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers in New York on September 11th. In the series Daphne and Niles Crane finally marry and have a baby. The baby was named David after the deceased creator.

3.         Royal Pains

This is a new sitcom only in its second season. It is about a young E.R. doctor who, after being wrongly blamed for an important patients death, moves to the Hamptons and becomes a reluctant "doctor for hire" to the rich and famous. When the administrator of the local hospital asks him to treat the town's less fortunate, he finds himself walking the line between doing well for himself and doing good for others. He and his younger brother form “HankMed” and go about doing good. This sitcom is funny and well written. 

4.         Perry Mason

Who doesn’t remember Perry Mason? Mason was a LA defense attorney who never lost a case. Raymond Burr played the attorney who with his secretary Della Street and Private Detective Paul Drake would win cases by usually forcing a confession from the actual killer. Did you know that the creator of Perry Mason, Earle Stanley Gardner borrowed the name Perry Mason from the company in Boston, MA that published his favorite childhood magazine? It was the Perry Mason Company. Perry Mason is the longest running lawyer series. This run includes the time it was a radio show, TV show, 21 or more movies and the series that depicted an older Mason later in life.

5.         Seinfeld

This was another sitcom that was successful because of brilliant writing. Seinfeld  played himself as a New York based comedian and his life with his friends George and ex-girlfriend Elaine and the strange neighbor Kramer. Week after week this show that was all about nothing aired the daily lives of the primary characters as they went about doing nothing.

6.  CSI: Vegas
This series is about Las Vegas criminalists who use physical evidence to solve grisly murders on the night shift. This show has been highly successful and has led to two spin offs and a number of other genre related shows. Each week the team headed by Gil Grissom solves various murders that usually are bizarre in nature in the Nevada desert. The show has been criticized as being grizzly, gory, and too bloody for TV. This show has stayed popular despite the fact that they broke the golden rule of not changing the cast. Brown is dead, Grissom gone, Sarah left, but has come back and now the 11th season will be the last for Katherine. I liked the original cast and it remains on my top ten favorite list at least for the first nine seasons.   

7.         Gilligan’s Island

This show only ran for three seasons but it was funny, especially when I was a kid. The show followed the comic adventures of seven castaways as they attempted to survive and ultimately escape from the island where they were shipwrecked. The crew and passengers had planned on a short three hour cruise but found themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island. Gilligan was a bumbling deckhand that always seemed to “accidentally” and “innocently” foil all of the attempts to be rescued and get off the island. "The Professor An' Mary Ann..." I can still here the song today. God forgive me, but if the polls were revisited today I would vote for Mary Ann over Ginger.

8.  M*A*S*H  

This was also a very brilliantly written sitcom about a rebellious and rascallion Mobile Army Surgical Hospital team in Korea during the Korean conflict. The show revolved around "Hawkeye Pierce" a top-notch surgeon who against his will was drafted and sent to surgically stabilize wounded soldiers prior to being shipped to a hospital for recovery. The show was very funny but at times contained very serious moralistic tones of "preaching" against the establishment. The show often took liberties with the facts of the Korean conflict but was humorous and popular nevertheless.

9.   Rawhide  

Rawhide was a real favorite of mine. This series was set in the 1860s and it portrayed the challenges faced by the men of a cattle drive. Some 20-25 cowboys moved  3,000 head of cattle. The cattle drive begins in San Antonio, Texas, and makes its way along the Sedalia Trail as they headed to the cattle market in KC, MO.
Gil Favor was the Trail Boss who ramrodded the crew and cattle through all sorts of adventures, trouble, and real life situations. The Trail Boss  was a savvy and strong leader who always played "square" with his fellow men. Often Favor would be pushed into a fight and have to use his fist or guns to keep his herd, his honor, or his cowboys.

The weekly episodes were usually introduced by Gil Favor.. The episodes would revolve  the cowboys who would come upon people on the trail and getting drawn into solving whatever problem they presented or were confronting. Sometimes one of the members of the cattle drive or some of the others would venture into a nearby town and encounter some trouble from which they needed to be rescued.

Rowdy Yates was played by Clint Eastwood and was a wild cowboy that would get in trouble and Favor had to keep a tight rein on him.. Gunfights, fistfights, drinking sprees, cattle rustling, and stampedes were the mainstay of this popular western which by the way ran eight seasons. It was exciting for a kid to watch these cowboys in action. After the show I would go down to the basement and put on all the western gear I had and long with my six shooters I would be a cowboy. I still like the re-runs.

The Producer, Charles Warren used a diary written in 1866 by trail boss George C. Duffield to develop the character of Gil Favor.

10.  Combat

Combat would come on at 8:00 PM. The rule was if I wanted to see the show I had to take my bath, jammy up and brush my teeth by 8:00 PM. Then I got to watch the 30 minute program and then it was off to bed. Combat was about the lives of a squad of American soldiers fighting in France during World War II

 Even though the series ran for five seasons, King Company never fought its way out of France. The show centered around the platoon leader  
2nd Lt. Gil Hanley and platoon Sgt, Sgt Saunders who carried a Tommy Gun. saunders was played by Vic Morrow. I loved Combat and any cowboy show. 

Our instructions stated that we were to list our top ten favorites from both the past and present. This required me to leave several favorite shows off the list. I feel compelled to list them as my top ten honorable mentions:

The Andy Griffith Show
Leave it to Beaver
The Donna Reed Show
Father Knows Best
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Daniel Boone
Law and Order


Renae said...

Great list! I had a hard time narrowing mine down as well!

arlee bird said...

I've never seen any of those newer shows and there were a couple I'd never heard of.
I did used to watch "Rawhide" sometimes. After reading your description I realize it was a sort of "Wagon Train" for cows.
I never did get into the "MASH" craze, but that's also when I was on the road and rarely watched prime time TV.
Never watched "Seinfield" either except for the last episode. Since then I've watched some of the reruns and I do like that so.

Interesting list.

Tossing It Out

Ellie said...

Mission accomplished - you successfully dazzled me with your boob tube knowledge! (Mission . . .Mission Impossible, another great show I've just thought about).

Perry Mason very nearly made it into my list, along with Ironside. Two classics. The LSO treated me to Perry Mason season one last Christmas!

Karen Peterson said...

Those are some great shows. I love series from a cleaner, more innocent time.

Jennee said...

Great list. I really need to get into Burn Notice...I keep seeing it on everyones list. I forgot about Matlock...and that makes me think of that one show...Father Dawlings Mysteries or something.

Jennee said...

Great list. I really need to get into Burn Notice...I keep seeing it on everyones list. I forgot about Matlock...and that makes me think of that one show...Father Dawlings Mysteries or something.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

MASH is awesome. And first person to also list Burn Notice - that's cool! Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Great list Gregg, I was most impressed especially when I saw Gillian's Island I well remember seeing that it was exported to the UK also Mash, there were a few more I well remembered.


Budd said...

this is the first list I have seen mention Andy Griffith. It looks as though it is underappreciated.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You selected some older ones! I love CSI. I'm sure it will end soon as cast members move on and I will miss it.

ali said...

Oh you've got some great ones here! Love Frasier, MASH, Perry Mason, Seinfeld, and of course Gilligan's Island!! I should have put that on my list. :)

BryStearns said...

Those are some classic shows! MASH is probably the only classic that I've seen, but it's absolutely fantastic!

Summer Ross said...

I havn't seen many off your list. but I saw a few seinfeld

RaD said...

I like Frasier and agree that it was definitely well written. Thanks for the little tidbit on Niles' kid, I didn't know about that.

I've never seen burn notice, but I might check it out. As for the others, I have to say sorry don't watch 'em. Either I've seen them and don't care one way or the other to watch them or they just hold no interest for me. But don't feel badly because we choose not to have cable in our home since we get sucked in, so if we had "tv" in our home I might just try to watch them all :)

On a side note, my two favorites are Monk and Lie to Me which I watch on DVD and internet.

iZombie said...

little buddy and the skipper...

Jennie Bailey said...

Burn Notice made my list as well. Love Michael! I've learned everything I know to be a burned spy and still make a living in Florida from that man! Great list!!

Gregg said...

Renae - Thanks! It was hard to narrow down. After reading the other lists there were so many I didn't even remember.

Lee - Mash, Seinfeld, Frasier had brilliant writing. Not just funny, but written to get the laugh in an ingenious manner. I would like to recommend Burn Notice to you - it is a great show.

Ellie - too bad Perry didn't make your list. Go on the internet and put in Perry Mason, you can find the entire series for 80.00 plus shipping. That is my goal to get all 245 episodes. Don't know how I dazzled you but thanks.

Karen Peterson - yes, I enjoy the more cleaner shows. Sometimes the innuendos or direct references ruin a program for me. Simply adding them to my list didn't mean I endorsed every episode or topic. Mash and Seinfeld especially could be questionable at times.

Jennee - yes you need to spend some time with Burn Notice, it is a fantastic show. Matlock was outstanding.

Alex J Cavanaugh - your welcome, glad to take part. Just love yogurt! Just love Burn Notice.

Yvonne - I am glad you saw some of these shows. The British show that I have actually watched and enjoyed was Yes, Mr. Priminister. (It think that was what it was called)

Budd - yes I was surprised that Andy Griffith, or Andy of Mayberry didn't appear anywhere else. It was a great show.

L. Diane Wolfe - yes I am afraid CSI will end. I have purchased the first 7 seasons and will probably by 8 & 9 and quit then. I like the older shows. Although I forgot a couple great ones like Get Smart.

Ali - Thanks, I thought they were great!

BryStearns - yes they are classic. Hope you take some time and see some of the others. MASH was great.

Summer Ross - take some time and watch a few.

RaD - Frasier is great, I have all 11 seasons, you are welcome on the tidbit. I think you would like Burn Notice, the story line and acting and cast is great. It is set in Miami so the bikini's get a bit of a notice more than I like. I would still watch with my parents or pastor though. I understand how some things hold not interest. I am shocked at how many shows made the top 10 list that I have never heard of. After seeing the title, the description and photo I wouldn't watch 90% of them. We don't have cable either, just basic to watch the News and the NFL.

I got into Monk just before it went off the air. I like it. I have never seen Lie To Me.

iZombie - yes, as stupid as it was, I not only liked Gilligan's Island, it made my top 10 list. Though after I saw Get Smart on a few lists, I might have swapped them. I did like Get Smart.

Lynda Young said...

I'd totally forgotten about MASH. That would have gone on my list :)

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>The writing is brilliant in this series. [Frasier]

Amen, Brother. The best ever, in my opinion.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Jemi Fraser said...

I love MASH, CSI, Frasier and of course Gilligan's Island! Great list! :)

Pat Tillett said...

I totally forgot about Perry Mason and Rawhide! Great list...

LibbyLibbyLibbyLibbyLibby said...

I loved Gilligans Island! Fun list!

Kelly said...

How could I forget about Frasier? That was a great (and long running) show!

IanH said...

Gregg, you forgot about thatall time, greatest one of all "Soap" That tops the list in my book!

SFDaddy - Bryan said...

Great list. The MASH Finale made me cry so hard when I was a kid! I saw Andy Griffith when it was in syndication and I'm sure his lectures are where most of my manners and lessons came from. (Thanks, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Cleaver, and Ms. Evans!)

Angela M. said...

I was wondering when someone would bring up Royal Pains. I kept seeing Burn Notice, which was created by the same person, on other lists. I liked the concept of RP better than Burn Notice, I think, but I haven't watched enough of either. I'll have to add them to my to-be-viewed list!

Kansas Bob said...

Burn Notice has been on my list for a while.. I have got to watch that one! I resonate and like(d) numbers 2-8 on your list.

Gregg said...

Linda Young - How could you forget about M*A*S*H? I know, there are so many to choose from. I forgot several I wish I had thought of, like Get Smart for example.

Stephen T McCarthy - Thanks! I don't know of another sitcom where the writing, acting, actors, story lines all came together so brilliantly as it did in Frasier. Now Kelsey Gramar can't come back. He has had two flops due to bad supporting cast, bad writing, and bad story lines. He is forever Dr. Frasier Crane, radio pyschologist.

Jemi Fraser - Thanks! I love em also!

Pat Tillet - thanks for stopping by. Just too hard to remember them all!

LLLLL - thanks Libby, great to see you back. It was a fun list!

Kelley - thanks for your comment, or question. Frasier ran 11 years, I have all 11 seasons and I watch it all the time.

IanH - I admit I forgot about soap on this list, but I made an additional or supplemental list and SOAP is on it. That was so hilarious.

SF Daddy-Bryan - Mash finale was great! So was Andy Griffith. I still watch it today when I can.

AngelaM - I really like both Burn Notice and Royal Pains. I like Burn Notice better! But even though it is only in its 2nd season I think RP is a winner!

KB - You should watch Burn Notice. Watch it in sequence though. Each one builds on the prior. Go to and buy a used season and you will be hooked. I have seasons one through three, it is currently in the fourth and has been picked up for at least two more seasons. I liked 2-8.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

>>I don't know of another sitcom where the writing, acting, actors, story lines all came together so brilliantly as it did in Frasier.

I feel the exact same way. Some shows have a good cast, some shows have a good concept, some shows have good writing, but in most cases, something stands out as being their strong suit.

But in the case of Frasier, it was all so completely brilliant that it's almost impossible to separate any one thing and say "This was the single most important element".

And one thing I've noticed about Frasier that also stands out head and shoulders above every other show in television history is the casting. Not just the casting of the principal characters, but even the casting of all the incidental or bit-part players was spot on.

Think about it... the guy who played Daphne's brother, Simon; the woman who played Frasier's agent, Bebe; the woman who played Frasier's ex-wife, Lilith; the guy who played the radio station's Food Show host, Gil, etc., etc. Somehow they always found just the right actor or actress who really brought something outstanding to their role, no matter how small or short-lived it was. Amazing!

I see this stuff that passes for topnotch television entertainment today, compare it to Frasier, and just shake my head. I don't think it will ever all come together again so perfectly like it did in Frasier; that was a singularly great show. Superintelligent AND superfunny.

~ D-FensDogg
'Loyal American Underground'

Ricky said...

I used to love the dog, Eddie on Frasier.

Kelley said...

Seinfeld is awesome! So is burn notice i adore Fiona she adds a whole different dynamic to the show!

baygirl32 said...

narrowing down the list to 10 was definatly the hardest part! you have some intresting selections on there