Good Television - NOT an oxymoron

We all know that TV has produced more dreck than anything else. But there have been some quality television shows in our history. What shows do you think offered more substance than fluff? A few that come to mind for me:

  • **MASH*** - Was among the most funny shows on television, yet also sucked you in with drama and a touching sense of humanity. I can watch re-runs forever and not get bored.

  • Degrassi Junior High* - Canadians make good TV too. Way before the networks tried to cash in witrh the inferior likes of My So-Called Life and Felicity, this show poignantly portrayed adolescent life in these times we live in.

  • Hill Street Blues* - The ultimate Cop show that had it all - characters you could love and hate (often at the same time), emotional twists that ran from outrage to whimsy, and bizarre plot twists (like when that officer died while having sex) that still fit into a gritty urban Chiicago setting.

  • All In The Family* - A classic that deserves every accolaid it ever got. Changed the way TV looked at us, we looked at TV, and most importantly, the way we looked at each other.

Yer pal,

Your absolutely right, and its much more appropriate to make a list of all the good things on TV and in film than the bad. Finding the bad is like shooting fish in a barrel. But, i’m sure that no matter how good the show is some people will bash it becuase anything popular must be evil and bad.

Your choices are good, but I have only seen them out of order in reruns (a bit before my time) so I haven’t developed the characters like you have.

Some of my suggestions are:

The X-files It frequntly gets bashed because its so fantastic, but it really has some of the best sci-fi out there, and the overall plot line is absolutely engrossing.

Seinfeld It doesn’t need to be explained, its good, and the jokes are relavant to everyone.

Law & Order Very engrossing, each episode stands alone and the writing and concept are so good that character loyalty isn’t necessary. the acting has been excellent, and even with the turn over in the cast there has been no drop off in quality.

The Simpsons Need I say more than it has its own thread here on the SDMB that reached over 110 replies without a negative comment!

Monday Night Football Hey, I like it!!

Well, it all a matter of opinion (I find Seinfeld generally puerile and unfunny, especially George Costanza, whose poor-man’s Woody Allen schtick (emphasis on “poor”) was tiresome from the get-go).


HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET. Excellent cop show to add to the list.

Anything by David E. Kelley, but especially PICKET FENCES and ALLY MCBEAL.

BABYLON 5 – the best science fiction to appear on American television.

THE SIMPSONS – people tend to forget just how brilliant this has been, and for so long.

Ally McBeal??? What were you saying about opinions?

I’ll second Law & Order. I am anxiously awaiting Special Victims Unit this fall! I really hope they keep the same level of quality I have come to expect from L&O.

Although it was a cartoon (manga) **Robotech ** was a great show.

Home Improvement.

Happy Days. It’s old, but it has the Fonz… that has to count for something.

It’s bernard, just under new management

I don’t watch much TV because I think most of it is dreck, especially sitcoms. However, I always thought Cheers was very cleverly written and had a genuine heart to it. Not terribly profound, but good TV.

I also have to agree with MAS*H being a cut (make that 2 cuts) above the rest.

I think what John Walsh has done with America’s Most Wanted is worth a mention also. I get choked up every time I see a snatched kid reuinted with her family, or the pervs finally getting brought to justice.
I must have broken down 7-8 times reading his book.

I’ll vote for MAS*H - I taped a lot of the episodes, although they always seem to be in re-runs. Only shows I make it a point to watch: Frasier, Spin City, Star Trek Voyager. I watch a lot of cable - History, Discovery (he says f–k too much, but I like his rants). I know NYPB Blue, the Practice, and other cop shows previously mentioned are good, but into escapism these days.

Seinfeld, Happy Days, and Home Improvement?

I’m wondering how long before someone nominates Cop Rock or a show from the America’s Most Adjective Noun family.

I’d cast my vote for Homicide: Life on the Street. NBC cancels this show to give us more of (cheap)America’s Most Stupid Videos or whatnot? This was good TV but most of America would rather watch Nash Bridges. Go figure.

My only never-misses are South Park and NYPD Blue. (Sorry, haven’t seen some of the others mentioned so maybe they’re good too.)

Blue has absolutely the best bad guys – they’re so well written, you forget they’re actors.

I really miss Northern Exposure. The first couple years were great. Didn’t care much for the romance between the doctor and the pilot, but the characters were original and you didn’t always know how the story was going to end.

I miss Ed, Chris, Holling, the older lady who ran the store, even the obnoxious, opinionated, rich astronaut.

Now I’m gonna sit here and try and remember all their names.

I totally agree about “Homicide,” that show is the reason my friends never DARED expect me to go anywhere before 10 on Friday nights. I also loved the “Law & Order” crossovers they did, since that’s another one of my favorites.

Oh, and the Simpsons? I’m an addict. There is NOTHING bad to be said about it.

From this last season, I really thought that “Will and Grace” was good.

I almost never watch network TV anymore. But yes indeedy, there is some good stuff out there. My votes go to MASH, Home Improvement,* and Spin City.

There is SO much TV that plenty of it is bound to suck. Plenty of movies suck, too. So I’m glad to see this thread celebrating good TV.

“SportsNight” is my favorite show on the air right now. Its characters are vibrant, the dialogue is sharp, and the setting actually matters. “Spin City” could be set at a hospital, for the amount of political savvy it displays, and “NewsRadio” could have been set at a used-car lot. But “SportsNight” actually convinces you that these people are carefully putting together a sports show and doing it with great care. Everybody works, but this is one of the few shows who have real jobs.

I’ve always liked “NYPD Blue,” but it seems to be slipping badly. I like the intellectual challenges of “Law & Order,” but it’s not (usually) emotionally gripping.

“Friends” has wonderful one-liners, and “Drew Carey” doesn’t hesitate to just act goofy for a laugh. I admire both.

For anyone who cares about TV and its impact, check out David Bianculli’s book “Teleliteracy.” A very readable defense of what TV does well and why it matters.

simpsons - no comment needed
futurama - fresh new show, great stuff!

star trek

3rd rock from the sun
home improvement - havent got tired of it

vh1 - behind the music, legends

probably a couple more i forgot… but most of the rest of it is crap anyway

Chief’s Domain -

I’d throw ‘Taxi’ and ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ into the list. Two of my favorite old sitcoms.

P.S. - while editing my first reply above, I see I managed to drop out part of it and it makes no sense. The “he says f–k too much” refers to Dennis Miller on HBO. I love his rants, as well as his esoteric cultural similes that I (as an extremely intelligent person) always get. It’s nice to hear someone rant and curse about stuff that bothers many of us.

So many of the great shows mentioned here were great in their early years, but declined as the series went on. MASH, All in the Family, Cheers, Picket Fences*. Some didn’t - The Simpsons, Law and Order, NYPD Blue. I’m surprised there’s been no mention of Monty Python yet.

I agree with a lot of the programs everyone listed, but I have a few others to add. Oz on HBO is great, though gratuitously violent. Practically anything on A&E is worth watching. And one of my all-time favorites is Austin City Limits on PBS - they have some great college bands on that you never see anywhere else.

Barney Miller
Star Blazer
Soap–funniest thing in history

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.–Walt Kelly

Okay, here’s my opinion of good television:

Cheers It never became trite, as most sitcoms do after the first season. Damn, it was funny.

The Simpsons It’s practically a religion for me!

Ally McBeal Yeah, I’ll second it. It’s quarky, and I did not like it at all at first. Now I can’t miss an episode! It did come dangerously close to being another lame Melrose-ish show last season, though, with that bizarre near-affair that occurred. If it goes that direction, the show will join E.R. and others that were great for a year or two, before they turned into a soap opera.

Law and Order The best drama I’ve ever seen, despite the multiple cast changes (and hey, that only adds to the realism).

Pop-Up Video As a trivia and music buff, this show is the stuff my addictions are made of!

Emergency Vet (Animal Planet) Okay, so the narrator has some cheesy lines–the writing is a bit goofy. But who cares! The real-life situations have me crying nearly every evening. It’s my most recent must-see.

Hmm…I suppose I didn’t mention too many new shows. Ah, well. I tried to think of what I watched growing up, but you know, 80s sitcoms mostly sucked–except for those already mentioned. I was too young for the dramas–they bored me.

“Me fail English? That’s unpossible!”

“English? Who needs that? I’m never going to England.”