15 TV Shows That Stick

About a year ago we did a Note on Facebook called “15 Movies That Stick”. So today I got to thinking about doing the same thing for television shows.

Here’s the gig: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen television shows you’ve seen that will always stick with you, ranked or listed in no particular order. First fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes.

1. M*A*S*H – I think I must have seen every episode ten to twenty times. If it’s on, I’ll watch. Great ensemble cast.

Col. Potter’s toast:

2. Northern Exposure – the smartest, most well-written show on television, possibly ever. The first series on DVD that I purchased and have watched. Brilliant. And c’mon…Janine Turner.

3. The Waltons – Yeah, it’s easy to mock. (Just how many times did they say goodnight at the end of each episode anyway?) Well written, great cast, and the show that inspired me to write.

4. Kolchak: The Night Stalker – the show that inspired The X-Files. Only on for one season, it scared the heck out of me as a kid and still can.

The Showdown:

5. Hogan’s Heroes – Sure, each episode is basically the same. But still I watch. And I “learn nuthink.”

6. WKRP In Cincinnati – Johnny, Venus, the Big Guy, Les, Herb, Andy, and the duo of Jennifer and Bailey. In fact, forget Ginger and Mary Ann: Bailey or Jennifer?

Phone Cops:

7. Late Night with David Letterman (NBC series) – Yes, back in the day Dave was funny. Very funny in fact, and he had Paul and The World’s Most Dangerous Band, Larry “Bud” Melman, Chris Elliot, Meg from the window across the street, and many more. Now he has none of those things and has become a sarcastic, bitter, cynical human being. But in the 80s no one could touch him.

10th Anniversary Highlights:

8. Baseball Tonight – During the baseball season what else is there to watch?

9. The Carol Burnett Show – Nothing I say here would do justice to this show. Another great ensemble and funny week in and week out each Saturday night.

Obligatory: The Elephant Story:

10. Cheers – Ok, ok…yet another great ensemble. I sense a theme here. A place any of us would love to hang out.

11. Emergency 51 – Johnny, Roy, Station 51, Dr. Garrett, Dr. Joe, Dixie McCall and Rampart Hospital.

And a Nelson Riddle theme:

12. ER – I only watched the first five seasons or so and then got busy raising kids. But I’d still check in now and then when the original cast members were still around. Definitely had its moments.

Carter reads the news about Mark:

13. Happy Days – who didn’t watch the Cunninghams, Fonzie, Ralph, Potsie. The series that gave us Pinky and Leather Tuscadero, Arnold (who I liked a heck of a lot better than Al), and spun off the series Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy and the unfortunate Joanie Loves Chachi. The show that gave us the term “jumps the shark” really did it with that last one.

14. The Twilight Zone – the best writing on television ever. Period. I mean it. If you’re wanting to be a writer and learn how to tell tight stories, this is the show to study. “Walking Distance” with Gig Young remains my favorite episode.

15. The Bob Newhart Show/Newhart – I remember that the original Newhart series was one just before The Carol Burnett Show on Saturday nights. It was funny, but a bit over my head. Years later he came back with a completely different show and was just as successful. And Bob had two of the prettiest wives in television history: Emily (Suzanne Pleshette) and Joanna (Mary Frann). The series finale was pure genius.

The ultimate finale:

There you have it. No reality shows. And really no series television either. I could never start shows like that because time just doesn’t afford me the luxury of catching up in case I miss one. Therefore I completely missed Lost and 24, two shows I wish I’d seen. There’s always DVD sets I suppose. I did start The Walking Dead on AMC last Sunday so we’ll see how I do. Although when they shot a little zombie girl who looked a lot like Sophie in the head in the first two minutes I just about checked out right there. Oy.


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