Sunday, July 7, 2013

Entertainment Weekly - 5/12/13

Entertainment Weekly recently released their "100 All-Time Greatest" issue, where they rank the 100 best TV shows, movies, albums, books, and plays.

Of course, when a major pop culture arbiter such as EW does something like this, there's always a bunch or bunches of people who walk away from it mad, angrily tossing the magazine across the room in disgust that their favorite show didn't rank higher ("Where's 'Manimal', dammit?!?")

And while I of course consider M*A*S*H to still be the greatest TV series of all time--still, thirty years after it went off the air--there are a handful of shows (IMO, The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Simpsons, Mary Tyler Moore, The Wire) that I think deserve to breathe that same rarefied air, so if any of them had gotten the top spot, I wouldn't have thought much of it.

But look at the graphic and you can see where M*A*S*H placed--#31. Gadzooks, #31? Here's a list of some of the other shows that EW deemed greater achievement than M*A*S*H:
  • Seinfeld (#3)
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer (#8)
  • The Office (U.K.) (#14)
  • Lost (#24)
  • The Abbott & Costello Show (#28)
  • E.R. (#30)
Now, you can argue those are all great shows (though I'd say Seinfeld has curdled like bad milk), but the idea that they deserve to be on any list, in any known universe consisting of sentient beings, above M*A*S*H is so bizarre that I lack the words to fully express how I feel. I mean, sure, the British Office was great, but...what did they do? Like, eight episodes? M*A*S*H practically had more one-hour episodes than The Office's entire run.

And while no one is a bigger fan of Abbott & Costello than me, their greatest fame came from their movies, not the TV show. I'd be hard pressed to find anyone below a certain age who even knows A&C, and if they do it's thanks to "Who's On First?" I bet a lot of people who are fans of their movies don't even know they had a TV show.

So while I started this post acknowledging that lists like this are always pretty meaningless, it still gripes my cookies (to borrow a phrase from Henry Blake) that the show whose final episode is still the highest-rated single episode of all time, and is still running on several networks in syndication, was put so far down. To angrily quote another 4077th veteran: "Boy!"


Richard said...

"Where's 'Manimal', dammit?!?" Huh, I didn't realize you knew my mom.

"I'd say Seinfeld has curdled like bad milk" -- wait a minute, did I write this post using you as a pseudonym? I guess that would explain you knowing my mom.

The upshot is, I think it ranked so low because the writers at EW very likely weren't even born when the show ended. Yes, one can enjoy the show having only seen it in syndication. But to fully appreciate the show's cultural impact and how remarkable it was that it even got on the air when it did, maybe you need to have been there.

rob! said...

"But to fully appreciate the show's cultural impact and how remarkable it was that it even got on the air when it did, maybe you need to have been there."

Then explain The Abbott & Costello Show!

P.S. Say hello to your Mom for me, and tell her I'll see her at brunch next week.

Neal P said...

I agree with Richard on the age issue. Whenever VH1 would do one of those lists of music videos, the videos that ranked highest were usually of a more recent vintage because the 20-somethings who put the lists together had no frame of reference for the older stuff other than they heard Thriller was kinda popular in its day. More people under 40 understand Seinfeld's impact on TV than they do M*A*S*H's. The Abbott and Costello thing is a head scratcher though. Their style of humor was coarse and grating no matter what age you are.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of ways to look at it. The UK Office had 8 episodes, but they were all fantastic. That's 100%. M*A*S*H has 251 episodes, but only 50% of them might be considered fantastic.

Just 'cuz there's more of them or something did better in the ratings doesn't mean it's better.

That said, I love the show and think it deserved to rank higher, sure.

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