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Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" (1 Viewer)

BobO'Link

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A post Bob made in the "Is the b&w era of TV on DVD slowly coming to a end?" thread got me curious about this list.

Here's his post:

In a world where Rolling Stone publishes a Greatest 100 TV Shows list that includes five from the 50s, one ranked No. 7 (The Twilight Zone) and the next highest is No. 32 (I Love Lucy), with a meager showing by cop/detective, Western, and classic dramas from ANY era--well, you're not going to get much of this stuff, past YouTube or other streaming alternatives. (I believe there are are only seven B/W shows on the entire list.) Culturally, these shows are long forgotten--it's Fahrenheit 451 time, time to memorize them and repeat them in an endless loop.

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/list...-time-w439520/orange-is-the-new-black-w439600

So... as any self-respecting TVonDVD aficionado would do I had to go take a look. Of course that's not as easy as it sounds in today's world of presenting *everything* as a "slide show," which I find unacceptable and a kludge to use, so I found several different sites which had bits and pieces and compiled the full list as a text version.

Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" list:

01. The Sopranos (1999-2007)
02. The Wire (2002-2008)
03. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
04. Mad Men (2007-1015)
05. Seinfeld (1989-1998)
06. The Simpsons (1989-Present)
07. The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
08. Saturday Night Live (1975-Present)
09. All in the Family (1971-1979)
10. The Daily Show (1996-Present)
11. Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)
12. Game of Thrones (2011-Present)
13. Late Night with David Letterman (1982-2015)
14. The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)
15. The West Wing (1999-2006)
16. M*A*S*H (1972-1983)
17. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
18. Star Trek (1966-1969)
19. Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-Present)
20. Cheers (1982-1993)
21. The Office (U.K.) (2001-2003)
22. Louie (2010-Present)
23. Deadwood (2004-2006)
24. Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)
25. Veep (2012-Present)
26. Friends (1994-2004)
27. Arrested Development (2003-2006, 2013)
28. The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016)
29. Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969-1974)
30. The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (1961-1992)
31. Sesame Street (1969-Present)
32. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)
33. South Park (1997-Present)
34. 30 Rock (2006-2013)
35. My So-Called Life (1994-1995)
36. Law & Order (1990-2010)
37. Orange is the New Black (2013-Present)
38. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003)
39. Lost (2004-2010)
40. The Shield (2002-2008)
41. The Honeymooners (1955-1956)
42. NYPD Blue (1993-2005)
43. The Americans (2013-Present)
44. Columbo (1971-1978)
45. Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009)
46. The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)
47. The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
48. The Office (U.S.) (2005-2013)
49. Taxi (1978-1983)
50. ER (1994-2009)
51. Fargo (2014-Present)
52. The Colbert Report (2005-2014)
53. The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978)
54. The Muppet Show (1976-1981)
55. Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
56. 24 (2001-2010)
57. Fawlty Towers (1975-1979)
58. Roots (1977)
59. Hill Street Blues (1981-1987)
60. Beavis and Butt-Head (1993-1997, 2011)
61. Your Show of Shows (1950-1957)
62. Sex and the City (1998-2004)
63. The Wonder Years (1988-1993)
64. Chappelle’s Show (2003-2006)
65. Happy Days (1974-1984)
66. Downton Abbey (2011-2016)
67. The Odd Couple (1970-1975)
68. The State (1993-1995)
69. The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971)
70. Roseanne (1988-1997)
71. Mr. Show (1995-1998)
72. Girls (2012-Present)
73. Transparent (2014-Present)
74. The Ren & Stimpy Show (1991-1995
75. American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson (2016)
76. Late Night with Conan O’Brien (1993-2009)
77. The Walking Dead (2010-Present)
78. thirtysomething (1987-1991)
79. In Living Color (1990-1994)
80. The Fugitive (1963-1967)
81. Dallas (1978-1991)
82. The Jeffersons (1975-1985)
83. House of Cards (2013-Present)
84. Real Time With Bill Maher (2003-Present)
85. The Real World (1992-Present)
86. Good Times (1974-1979)
87. Doctor Who (1963-Present))
88. Party Down (2009-2010)
89. Homeland (2011-Present)
90. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)
91. Broad City (2014-Present)
92. American Idol (2001-2016)
93. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999)
94. Jeopardy (1964-1975 & 1985-Present)
95. Key & Peele (2012-2015)
96. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)
97. Portlandia (2011-Present)
98. The Golden Girls (1985-1992)
99. Oz (1997-2003)
100. Eastbound and Down (2009-2013)

I have issues with many programs on this list. Of course, being a fan of TV from its beginnings I feel the early years are woefully underrepresented while the years since 2000 are incredibly over represented. That shouldn't be much of a surprise considering the history of RS and that, I'm sure, the majority of those polled are "millenials" or close to it which means what *they* think is "the best", not what historians and those of us with a large knowledge of the medium would consider to be "the best."

Here's a chart I found at MeTV's site that shows the disparity in years very well.

riFes-1474572188-embed-meta-chart_%281%29.png


Yeah... 11 shows from the 50s and 60s with 43 since 2000. Add the 21 from the 90s and you have 64 of the 100 from the last 25 years. Hardly representative *or* accurate if you're truly looking at TV history from anything other than a more recent perspective which would include those earlier shows you've seen in syndication.

Where's The Flintstones? The first animated series in *Prime Time* was a huge influence.

Where's The Bill Cosby Show? Sure Cosby is on the outs but the show is classic.

I Love Lucy
is only at #32?!? The Tonight Show ranks *below* Letterman *and* The Daily Show?!?

Ed Sullivan is at #69 but where are The Smothers Brothers, Carol Burnett, or The Dean Martin Show?!? These were all highly influential programs.

And these are all TV *series* so why is Roots on the list? Yes, it was highly influential and significant but it's a *mini-series* so does it belong on this list at all? And another mini - American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson? In the top 100?

I also question the inclusion of any programs which are still in production, unless they've been around longer than ~20 years or so. This list contains quite a few. Will any of those, even though hugely popular today, still be "significant" in 10 years? Sure, I *love* Game of Thrones but will it still be considered a "Greatest Show" 10, 20, or more years down the road? Without knowing how it ends, who can say with any reasonable accuracy?

In all honestly, I've only seen 4 of the top 10 and have not seen, or even heard of, most of the programs on the list that date from ~2000 as I've pretty much written off most of "modern" TV programming as just not worth the effort. Of those programs from 2000 and after which I *have* seen I question their inclusion, in spite of liking the programs. Downton Abbey, Deadwood, Arrested Development, and Battlestar Galactica are some I've seen that I very much like but do not believe they deserve a place on this list... yet. They, like all of the ones since ~2000, need some distance before we'll know if they're truly deserving of being in such company.

So... I've sounded off enough to start. What are your thoughts?
 
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Jack P

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I'm not going to bother with the main problem of this "list", namely its overindulgence of recent fare. I'll note first the absence of one show whose absence can be chalked up to what happens when the facts get lost in the shuffle amidst smart-ass "satire" and that's "Dragnet". Modern-day critics have TOTALLY lost sight of the fact that Jack Webb created the basic "procedure" show to television and even Dick Wolf has admitted that "Law And Order" could not exist without "Dragnet." Unfortunately because a generation of people think of "Dragnet" only in the context of smart-ass Nick at Nite parody spots, or the idea that Jack Webb was some crazy reactionary, his work has gotten undeserved short-shrift.

I'll probably have more to add on other things wrong with this list, but that's the best one I can come up with for starters.
 

TravisR

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I know some people in this section think that anything made after 1980 is bad but that's as ridiculous as kids that won't watch older TV shows. That being said, I certainly have some problems with this list.

I think a show on an 'all time best' list should have longevity so relatively recent shows are too new to have a legacy or influence yet. The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad and Mad Men will eventually be seen as some of the finest shows ever made from the second golden age but it's still way too premature to rank them in with shows that have stood for decades like I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cheers.

Also, alot of the shows that have a very small amount of episodes shouldn't be on there. I loved Fargo and The People Vs. O.J. Simpson but it's ridiculous to say that a show that had 10 episodes that aired less than 6 months ago is the 75th best show ever made. At least, Fawlty Towers and The Office (the British one) might have a small amount of episodes but they have a large influence.

And finally, I appreciate that they wanted to include variety or late night shows but I don't think those shows should even be on a list like this because other than the host (and even that isn't true for SNL), there's nothing constant about them. The writers change, there's no ongoing story, it's a different thing than a regular series.
 
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The Obsolete Man

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I know some people in this section think that anything made after 1980 is bad but that's as ridiculous as kids that won't watch older TV shows. That being said, I certainly have some problems with this list.

I think a show on an 'all time best' list should have longevity so relatively recent shows are too new to have a legacy or influence yet. The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad and Mad Men will eventually be seen as some of the finest shows ever made from the second golden age but it's still way too premature to rank them in with shows that have stood for decades like I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Cheers.

.

That's my whole problem with lists like these.

The Sopranos and The Wore are just now reaching the point they should be breaking into the top 20 of "all time greatest" lists, not headlining them.

And Mad Men and Breaking Bad are barely off the air in first run. Game of Thrones isn't even over yet. So to have them in the top five? Come on. We don't know how they'll age yet. I mean, I don't think Seinfeld has aged all that well. Neither has Friends. They're both firmly products of their time, unlike shows that are recognized as all-time classics, like Lucy or Dick Van Dyke or even Star Trek.
 

TravisR

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I mean, I don't think Seinfeld has aged all that well...They're both firmly products of their time, unlike shows that are recognized as all-time classics, like Lucy or Dick Van Dyke or even Star Trek.
I'm a huge fan of Seinfeld so maybe I'm biased but I think it's continuing popularity in syndication and in the culture proves that it is the I Love Lucy of its day.


The Simpsons kinda creates a problem in my mind. The first 10 years or so is some of the best comedy ever on TV but the next 17 years have ran the gamut from pretty good all the way to downright lousy so how do you reconcile a show that has had a long run of truly great episodes but an even longer run of lesser episodes?
 

The Obsolete Man

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I'm a huge fan of Seinfeld so maybe I'm biased but I think it's continuing popularity in syndication and in the culture proves that it is the I Love Lucy of its day.


The Simpsons kinda creates a problem in my mind. The first 10 years or so is some of the best comedy ever on TV but the next 17 years have ran the gamut from pretty good all the way to downright lousy so how do you reconcile a show that has had a long run of truly great episodes but an even longer run of lesser episodes?

I may have been a little hard on Seinfeld.

Instead of "aging badly", it's more of a snapshot of its time.

Like some of today's sitcoms on ABC, for example... The Middle will have a timeless feel, Modern Family will be a snapshot of life in the 2010s, and The Goldbergs will be a... Timeless snapshot of the 80s.

/the Lear shows are the same way... They're firmly 70s shows. If you know about the era, you'll love them. Otherwise, you'll feel disconnected and not understand them.
 

Flashgear

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I collect from the '50s right up to a few, select current shows...and I do believe that there has been more than one Golden age of Television, sometimes decades apart...still, my favorites are mostly in the 1955 -1965 realm...

I don't worry as much about the frivolity and superficiality of lists like this...a conceit that the world started turning the day you were born is itself, reborn in every generation...but, I do think it has gotten worse by far lately...

I worry more about the preconceived contempt and disregard that is born from that conceit...and hope against hope that won't allow the degradation and ultimate extinction of many "obscure" feature films , Television and radio shows, mouldering away, brittle or turning to a vinegary gel in the can...funding, resources and the archivists themselves must also be found in the present generation and those to come...hopefully, also, those few with whom it might be a passion for the art and entertainment legacy itself...it's a hell of a lot to ask for...

I hold absolutely no confidence in corporate America to safeguard that legacy...even those libraries to which they hold extended copyright well into the future...
 
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Brian Himes

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Wow...that list is...just...it seems a bit off. I mean, Good Times is number 86. Good Times? Really? The show started off good and went into the crapper after the third year and never really recovered.

There are a lot of shows on the list that I do agree are some of the best shows ever. While there are some that I don't feel belong on the list.

I have to agree with most here. The shows that are still currently on the air or have just finished in the last few years need to have some distance before they can be judged as being 'the best.'
 

Elizabeth S

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I usually scan these types of lists looking for "thirtysomething" and it's there (though it should be a small "t".)
 

BobO'Link

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^fixed it. The compiled list is a copy/paste job from several sites and looking for proper punctuation just wasn't on my radar. :)
 

The Obsolete Man

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Wow...that list is...just...it seems a bit off. I mean, Good Times is number 86. Good Times? Really? The show started off good and went into the crapper after the third year and never really recovered.

There are a lot of shows on the list that I do agree are some of the best shows ever. While there are some that I don't feel belong on the list.

I have to agree with most here. The shows that are still currently on the air or have just finished in the last few years need to have some distance before they can be judged as being 'the best.'

Yeah, wasn't House (for example) showing up on a lot of these lists quite a while back, before the last couple seasons drove everything into the ground?

That's why there needs to be some distance. House after season 5 is making top 100 lists. House after the series finale? Not so much.
 

BobO'Link

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Another observation on those "modern" shows on the list. i.e. those that are *still* in production. If I counted properly there are *15* that *started production* in 2000 or after and haven't yet ended. That's horribly skewed.
 

bmasters9

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I just happened to notice-- The Bob Newhart Show is on this list. I didn't read it too well to begin with, but that great 1972-78 CBS comedy is here, and that gladdens me a good bit.
 

Hollywoodaholic

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I actually have a subscription and received this issue with great anticipation. Not because I thought it would be remotely true to the actual legacy of series going back to the start, or even fair to the shows many of us boomers grew up with and that still stand the test of time and are... sad to see not honored on this list (The Outer Limits, Route 66, and, if you want to include limited series... start with The Prisoner, for Patrick's sake!).

No, I welcomed the list to see what shows have some kind of consensus from their panel that I might want to actually check out. We are television addicts, after all, who grew up with and still look to the medium with eager anticipation for our entertainment. So, I'll wait for The Americans to finish it's run and look into the box set or on Netflix. I'll pull out my set of The Larry Sanders Show to watch again, missing Gary Shandling. But, Jesus, Eastbound and Down? Nevermind. Who made this stupid fucking list?!
 

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