I hope you’re enjoying the list of my twenty all-time favorite TV shows. I’m sure you have some ideas about what should have been omitted and what should have been added, please feel free to leave a comment below with any suggestions you have.
For those of you who missed the first three installments, you can see part one here, part two here and part three here.
Now, without further adieu – the top five shows on my list.
5 – Batman – (1966-1968) – In just three seasons, the Dynamic Duo of Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) made 120 episodes. Compare that to most shows these days who make fifteen or twenty shows per season. The mistake most people make when they think about the Batman TV series is that it was too “unbelievable”.
Of course it was…it was supposed to be, that’s what made it hilarious. In my opinion, Batman can be credited with helping spawn an entire genre of campy, tongue-in-cheek humorous programming that laughed in the face of the formula sit-com or drama. There are too many things to even list here, but take Batman’s utility belt for example. Regardless of the situation, he had a gadget in that belt to save the day. The “batarang”, come on, that’s just funny. The “bat-shield”, a bullet-proof shield that folded out to be big enough for Batman and Robin to hide behind. How about the must have “bat-grenades”? Everything about the show is funny, even the subdued parody references to real-life people and places. The show made great use of the teaser (intro) and the cliffhanger (outro) with the announcer telling us to return for the thrilling conclusion…”same bat-channel, same bat-time.”
4 – Boston Legal – (2004-2008) – I know this one caught a lot of you by surprise. Sure, it’s only been off the air for a couple of years, but I really miss it. Denny Crane (played with absolute brilliance by William Shatner) and Alan Shore (easily the best role of James Spaders’ career) were the funniest buddy team in recent history. The show combined great drama, emotional court room scenes, tension, comedy and some great characters. Every episode had the potential to make you laugh, cry and get outraged over whatever cause Alan was defending, and they were always hot-button topics. The veiled references to Star Trek were hilarious. Denny and Alan having sleepovers was so weird it was funny and Alan holding cue cards for Denny’s soliloquies – forget it. Compared to some shows that stick around much longer than they should, Boston Legal is one that didn’t stay long enough. I’ve been hoping for a spin-off, as was casually mentioned in the series finally – that would be a hoot, that’s what that would be!
3 – Hogan’s Heroes – (1965-1971) – Despite suffering from controversy and not being very well received by critics, Hogan’s Heroes is still one of my favorites. A band of captured allied prisoners conducting acts of sabotage and running an escape system right under the noses of their captors…I think it’s a funny concept, myself. Back in the day, people protested the very idea, claiming the situation was nothing to make light of. What they didn’t understand was that German P.O.W. camps were not the same as the concentration camps. In actuality, the Germans treated their military prisoners as humanely as one would expect. Be that as it may…Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane) and his crew conducted some of the most outrageous acts of sabotage imaginable under the noses of, even sometimes with the help of, the Germans. Their setup enabled them to do just about any task the script required (what a coincidence) and when they ran into complications, Hogan always came up with a brilliant plan. I was very excited when Mel Gibson announced plans to revise the show in movie form back in the nineties. Unfortunately the plans were shelved amid protests from people with the same uninformed attitude of those who complained about the show back in the sixties (probably their kids). If you ask me – it’s silly. Hogan’s Heroes was a fun show and there’s no escaping that.
2 – The Twilight Zone – (1958-1964) – Life is full of unexplained, unexpected and unpredictable situations. Things happen to us that we write off as “just weird”. Rod Serling was not happy to simply shrug something off as just being weird…he tried to offer explanations for them. He also tried to teach us a lesson with those explanations. From this – came The Twilight Zone. It isn’t a place, or a time-it’s more of an idea. When unexplainable phenomena occur, according to Serling, it is usually the result of a trip to The Twilight Zone. At a time when most television programming was fairly lame and trite, Rod Serling introduced a fresh and pioneering idea that made people think. Even today, more than fifty years after the original program aired, it is still popular in reruns and has also spawned to modern remakes. In 1983 a movie was made, which updated three original episodes and included newly written fourth episode. The list of guest stars, many of whom were not stars yet, is incredible. I was too young to enjoy the show in its original run, but I have since seen every episode numerous times and despite the black and white format, the period wardrobe and props and the production methods of the time – it is still worth watching. Many of the story lines revolved around themes that were highly relevant at the time, the cold war, the space race, etc, but just as many dealt with issues that will never be outdated, such as tolerance, understanding and self examination. To this day, it is not unusual for somebody to whistle the unforgettable notes of the opening theme song whenever something strange happens. We’ve all been to The Twilight Zone, some of us just don’t know it…
Now we’re down to number one…the top dog, the big enchilada, my all-time favorite TV show. Any guesses? It certainly won’t come as a surprise to anybody who knows me – but for the rest of you, here it is…the number one show on my list of Twenty TV Shows That I Really Miss…
1 – Get Smart– (1965-1969) – “Hello, Chief? Max…” That cracks me up every time, especially if spoken in a nasally voice into a piece of fruit. Former stand-up comedian Don Adams got his big break when he was offered the role of secret agent Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of CONTROL. Along with his nameless partner, and eventual on-screen wife, 99, they fought the forces of KAOS, The International Organization of Evil. Masterminded by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, Get Smart is the Grand Poobah of Parody and the Sultan of Satire. Taking advantage of the spy craze of the time, Mel Brooks took everything James Bond did and did it more. The plots were crazy (in a comical way), the villains were ridiculous (in a humorous way) and the gadgets were unbelievable (in a hilarious way). Like anything else, Get Smart’s humor is not for everyone, but I think there’s so much of it that almost everyone can find something funny about it. The series must have had very broad appeal since it was remade in 1995 with Max, 99 and their inept son Zach (played by Andy Dick). It also spawned four movies. The list of guest stars is as impressive as you could get and there were dozens of great cameos as well. All told, the original series had 138 episodes. I’ve seen every one of them a dozen times and can’t think of one I didn’t like – “Do you believe it, not one?…Okay, would you believe…?”
So there you have it – the Twenty TV Shows I Really Miss.
Please feel free to leave a comment below…what did you think of my list? What would you have added or deleted?
As an added bonus for sticking it out all the way to the end – I’d like to leave you with a surprise…click here and enjoy.