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Friends and 30 rock?No way no way no way.
chosen by the writes.I love when you misspell. It makes me feel better about myself, and more sympathetic towards you.
The Sopranos were good throughout, but the first two seasons were a quantum jump ahead of anything that's every been on television.....The Game of Thrones is not mentioned, but it's currently the best thing on television. I rate the Mary Tyler Moore show very highly. If more women took the trouble to look and behave like Mary Tyler Moore, there would be far less divorce in America.....They're all fantasies but some of them you want to believe in.
I agree with AprilApple
What William said. Sopranos in a class of its own.
Why this group of "writers" are shit-for-brains stupid.We are SOOOO lucky they didn't include such poorly written trash like Playhouse 90 with writers like Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefsky. Directed by some idiot named John Frankenheimer.It's sure no "Friends"!And aren't we all glad they didn't include such amateur drivel as Your Show of Shows Starring that no talent and never mentioned as influential hack Sid Caesar. Who were the loser writers on that show?Mel BrooksNeil SimonWoody AllenLarry Gelbart (Mash)Carl Reiner (Dick Van Dyke Show)It's certainly no "Taxi"!
Chosen by the writers (who are presumably the people who give/gave us most of the crap that we have had on TV).That says it all. I'm surprised that Murphy Brown didn't make the list.
BTW -- as far as best "written" series is concerned, the "writing" process for SNL was extensively improv.
ditto Bender. Also, the title should have said "Best written *American* TV series. BBC series outrank many of these - starting with "Yes, Minister".
What wdnelson93 said! Fawlty Towers and Keeping Up Appearances are my favorites! BASIL!!!SNL just doesn't stand the test of time!Never understood the appeal of Friends.
Bender--You do know that "improv" is the bits and gags that have already worked with an audience, right? It's spontaneous like Obama's speeches are spontaneous.
Ditto wdnelson93 on "Yes, Minister." Indispensable.I don't understand the hate-on for "30 Rock." I was surprised to see it so far down the list. "Friends" I'll grant you, AprilApple; "no way no way no way."As I appear to be the one person on the planet who never saw "The Sopranos," I've no way to judge whether it's so awesomely superior to everything else ever filmed for television. I think I would've put "The Simpsons" first, personally -- of those that I've seen of those 25, which is not all of them, but more than half.
I'm from Chicago and have seen lot of Second City bits over the years. I just just as disappointed as the next guy the first time I heard a repeat performance almost word for word. Letting the audience pick the situation, the occupations, etc. is just another trick. If it's crucial to the gags, they go with the one they rehearsed with. Only things that don't matter, they let the audience pick.
The Bob Newhart show (the original 70s one). Co-equal with MTM. If we're going to include BBC stuff, there's a lesser-known one called "Chef!" that was brilliant.
The Chronicle's list specified S1 of SNL, using a cast photo from S2.What's the insty meme? Layers and layers of fact checkers?
Without question and in no particular order the finest American TV screenwriters are:Paddy ChayefskyStirling SilliphantRod SerlingTerry SouthernLarry Gelbart
What utter nonsense--where's Deadwood? Or does David Mulch only get one show?
When BBC polled the UK audience and performers, Sgt Bilko was--deservedly--near the top. Also, very highly rated US shows included Curb, Larry Sanders (and Gary Shandling Show) and Seinfeld. "Written" is a particular qualifier beloved by tv (a showrunners medium) that denies "performance", e.g. brilliantly cast, acted and directed shows like The Rockford Files transform--and in many cases transcend--the limitations of printed word and script. As it should be in a visual medium--Rockford took the 'closed' soundstage-bound television drama and took it to the streets and real locations of Los Angeles.
What a bland list, makes you not want to watch television. Especially sketchy is the fact that they don't call out specific seasons for writing excellence.Was anyone able to find out who the writers making the list in question were?
Good point, CronenDave."Bilko" >>> "Friends". And where's "The Honeymooners"? Much better than "Lucy", IMO."The L̶e̶f̶t̶ West Wing" is pure dreck.
Was anyone able to find out who the writers making the list in question were?The NSA, for sure.
1 of 26? They expect a lot of patience.Was Get Smart on there?
Sopranos #1? - you must be joking. Every other word was the F-bomb.Mostly stuff written to please the Lefties, mostly from the last 20 years.Nothing from the Golden Age of TV - and, no, Lucy was hardly well-written.
That they didn't included "Slings And Arrows" or something by Josh Whedon is ridiculous. And how about a British show or three? Goodness knows American writers spend plenty of time trying to copy them!
rhhardin: Was Get Smart on there?No, it was not. Too "fun" for the likes of them.
There will always be shows which were left off that could have been included... but, really, Friends on the list? What were the writers smoking?
A few genuine gems on that roster, but the unnamed Writers struck an iceberg below the waterline when "The West Wing" elbowed its way onto their list.
"The Wire" is better than any of these shows.
And how about a British show or three?Jason the Commenter should read the comments before he comments!
A lot of great writing in there creating endless hours of joy I can remember watching with family and friends, leaving memories that have lasted decades. I can remember laughing with loved ones or looking at them and saying at the end of a show: "That was amazing."Still, none of it is at the level of a Jersey Shore or Honey Boo Boo. That's quality.
They seem to have excluded consistency from their evaluations."All in Family" and "Taxi" were incredibly uneven. Not just from season to season but from show to show. And where was the "Twilight Zone", "Perry Mason", "The Fugitive", "The Untouchables" or even "Star Trek"?
"Deadwood" should make the list. How could Monty Python's Flying Circus not make it? Game of Thrones?This list sucks.
"Buffalo Bill" and "The Slap Maxwell story" were both incredibly well written show. But chicks didn't like them, so they went bye bye
I could name 20 Limey shows that are better than West-wing
I'm willing to live with PRISM if it can be used to identify the writers that stuck Friends on the list.
They left off Thirtysomething.
rcocean said...They seem to have excluded consistency from their evaluations.And where was the "Twilight Zone", "Perry Mason", "The Fugitive", "The Untouchables" or even "Star Trek"?TZ was on the list, but the others?Really?
PS FWIW, and I am pretty much of a Philistine, I'm surprised "Alfred Hitchcock" wasn't there. Alsways good.But, watching a lot of the old shows on cable (mostly Westerns), it's astounding how much of the old stuff you wouldn't have thought was that good holds up quite well and some of the stuff that was supposed to be so good doesn't.
I saw the very first entry -- SNL at #25 -- rolled my eyes, and quit reading.Anyone who would but that show on a top 25 list of best-written shows is not qualified to have an opinion on quality of writing. :)
I would have liked to see the Soprano writers have a go at the Mary Tyler Moore show. Lou Grant loses it and beats Ted Baxter to death with his fists. Murray embezzles money from production to spend at a strip club. Mary and Rhoda have an experimental fling. There were many stories that could not be told because of the codes of that era.
Missing UK shows:BlackadderAre you Being Served?Yes, MinisterFawlty TowersMonty PythonAbsolutely FabulousThe OfficeTill Death do us PartHitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
jacksonjay: Jason the Commenter should read the comments before he comments!You can find British shows that are well written without going back to the Thatcher era.
"Shows we rilly, rilly like". Bah. *Which* writers? A lot of writers are shit-for-brains worthless sacks of dung.All in the Family doesn't belong on that list, it's just there for the epater le bourgeois effect. And I Love Lucy for the historical back-stop. Between Sports Night and West Wing, Sports Night should have taken the palm for writing - Sorkin's been degenerating ever since his introduction. There ought to have been a Whedon show in there somewhere, probably Buffy even though the writing decayed heavily in the last four seasons.A lot of those shows were mixed bags - MASH was a great service comedy for its first half, and an insufferably pompous left-liberal mess for its second half. Sopranos had maybe three good seasons. Friends was never more than a "perfectly average" Nineties show, inoffensive on its own merits, but not especially well-written. Likewise SNL had a brilliant initial run, followed by twenty or so years of mediocrity interspersed by occasional outbursts of socially relevant sublimity. But for its *writing*? Bah, I say, bah.As for Deadwood, in the comments - it had two good seasons, but fell apart in its last season, sad to say.
rcocean: Missing UK shows:ahem!Queer As FolkSherlockMisfitsBeing HumanSkins
As usual with these lists, a handful of universally acknowledged great shows, but mostly a reflection of the prejudices of the small group that put the list together. Most of them not worth the effort it takes to press the button on the remote.
Missing UK shows?Doctor WhoAs Time Goes ByAll Creatures Great and Small
Looks like a NBC, ratings in the toilet, puff piece. 30 Rock? Can't take it seriously. Cheers? "Norm!" That's magnificent writing?No Moonlighting?As Jason noted, no Josh Whedon?And this may be more acting than writing, but Gilmore Girls had some lines.
The Larry Sanders Show was the greatest written series. As far as the medium is concerned, TLSS immanentized the eschaton, or increased the speed at which the Singularity shall occur, whichever you prefer.Fuck Netflix I ain't been back since they took it off.
I have to agree to a limited extent with Frazier. The funniest slapstick routine I've ever seen is in the episode where Niles is ironing his pant.
Among the really old shows, I thought The Honeymooners would make any list. Same with Carol Burnett. The list should also specify "American TV shows" to stop debate like "WTF about Prime suspect? Or Upstairs/Downstairs?"Distinction needs to be made for original writing vs. writing adaptation of existing books or short stories (Game of Thrones, etc.)The list largely omits the old variety shows ..which was actually where a good deal of the best writers worked at one time or another on comedy, skits, joke monologues, scripts or writers suggestions of topics for hosts and guests that were presented to the audience as "spontaneous reality". The list omits well written kids shows, too.
More great UK shows:- Vicar of Dibley- Bless Me Father- All Creature Great and Small- Upstairs Downstairs- The Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series- Downton Abbey (Well... the first season anyway)- Don Martin
""The Wire" is better than any of these shows."Bet you $50 that's impossible.
"Lucy" was good because the actors did some fabulous clownish acting that really fit together. Same thing as "The Honeymooners." 4 characters, and the actors had a style that matched well. The particular problems thrown at them in a given week hardly matters. X thinks he's won a prize but actually the prize is for Y.A thinks B is leaving him/her but really B is planning surprise party.
And the list omits the great writing - fact or fiction - behind news story hours (60 minutes), shows like National Geographic Presents, Nova and Frontline.That stuff all garnished quite a few writers Emmys.
Buffy the Vapire Slayer and Firefly. Joss Whedon is a genius.
I would have nominated Law & Order if only for the great lines they gave Jerry Orbach.
The list would not be so bad if we did not have the absurdity of writers who apparently cannot read. The question isn't "favorite show" or "good show" or "entertaining show" or even "best stories," the question is the best written show.Unfortunately for the partisan ass-hat writers who infest today's television, they think "Bush sucks" is the pinnacle of literary genius rather than being the hackery that it is.
By the way, many of those "missing" shows are on the full list at the Writers' Guild.Lost and X-Files, for instance, make the list, as does Homicide: Life in the Streets. Playhouse 90 is there, way down the list behind South Park, which should be near the top. Monty Python and Get Smart are even further down.Speaking of animated shows, if we are talking about writing, then shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle, and the original Looney Tunes, definitely need to be there, but are not.
Watch a season of "The Wire" and then tell me that "Friends" and "Mash" and "30 Rock" are better.That is if you can follow it. Maybe schedule it for early in the day. Just sayn'
"The Wire" used top notch crime novelists such as Dennis Lehane and George Peleconos and Richard Price.The dense multilayer story telling was a joy to behold.The only show on the list that even approaches it is "The Twilight Zone."
Currently "Justified" is based on the crime novels of Elmore Leonard who is the preeminent crime novelist writing today. It is consistently well written and the characters are mulch-demesnional yet still believable.If you don't believe me ask El Pollo Raylan.
To talk about writing we should differentiate between plot and character.Some of the shows mentioned created great characters (Archie Bunker, Mary Tyler Moore, Frank Burns, Frazier Crane) yet were essentially plot less in both each episode as throughout the run of the show.Other shows had interesting and engaging plots (The Fugitive, Twilight Zone, The West Wing) but had characters that were basically card board cut outs. Look at President Bartlett. He is so perfect. Richard Kimble... man doesn't he get tired of helping widows and orphans when he is running for his life.There are a few shows that had interesting and unique characters and decent plots like the Sopranos. But over time they ran out of gas as the writers started to repeat themselves or wrote themselves into a corner.So much so that you had to be obscure when you ended the series because you couldn't come up with a satisfactory ending.
David Chase and Terrence Winter basically raided the story of the real life Decavalcante family of Jersey as most of their plots were lifted from actual events and the day to day life of those mooks.They were more copyists that creators much like the people at "Law and Order" who take real life cases and fictionalize them.
Sorry.The characters were multidimensional not mulch-dimensional.Meade is mulch-demensional. Just sayn'
"The Wire" takes us into a world that most of us know nothing about.Inner city projects and corners where the crack trade flourishes and death lurks in the next car driving by.Also it delves into the complete corruption of the police and the news papers as well as the total failure of the school system in urban America. With a quick side view of union corruption. Slickly told with well defined and original characters and a plot that twists and turns but is really well written from the first episode to the last.It is my view the best written show in the history of television.And I watch a lot of television.
I'm very disappointed no one named any television shows I hadn't seen before :|
Well I bet you haven't seen 12 Corazones which is just about the show on television today...bar none.
How would every one rank the writing on Veronica Mars? Justified's lyrical writing makes me happy.I agree, Whedon deserves to be on the list.I watched The Twilight Zone way too young. It formed my tastes in literature, TV, and movies. I'm not sure that was a good thing.
Christy: How would every one rank the writing on Veronica Mars?I love the series, but the characters were probably better than the writing.Can't wait for the movie!
No one mentioned the genius, Lena Dunham.
The Wire and Breaking Bad should be on the list, certainly. But behind stuff like Cheers? No freaking way. THose should be in the top 5 at least.
Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman!
Clue to Baron: the wire is on the list.
No Andy Griffith? No Mission Impossible?
Several points on old 60s dramas vs. 21st century stuff or IOW sopranos vs. The fugitive. In terms of quality, Chase had several advantages of Quinn Martin:1. The Sopranos could target intelligent viewers (5% of the TV audience).2. No commercial breaks3. 13 episodes a season instead of Twenty-six 4. DVD's, Netflix, DVRs, and VCRs. All of which allow people to follow complex plots on a week to week basis. 60s drama couldn't get too complex because people would see an episode on Friday at 10 PM and THAT was it.
1) The Avengers2) The Decalog3) Dr. Katz4) Jonny Quest5) Archer6) Chuck7) Seinfeld8) Nero Wolfe9) Cupid (original)10) Justified11) Community12) Detective Conan13) Key West14) Human Target15) Columbo16) Psych17) Monk18) Sherlock19) Cheers20) Whose Line Is It Anyway?21) Rome22) Top Chef23) Spider-Man (original)24) House of Cards (British)25) White Collar26) Parker Lewis Can’t Lose27) 30 Rock28) Flying Blind29) Lois and Clark30) Supernatural31) You’ll Never Get Rich32) Bugs Bunny33) Castle34) Burn Notice35) Speed Racer36) Better Off Ted37) Twin Peaks38) Chappelle’s Show39) Harper’s Island40) Mission: Impossible41) Batman42) Arrested Development43) Alias44) Maverick45) The Big Bang Theory46) South Park47) House, M.D.48) The Brady Bunch49) Bat Masterson50) The Andy Griffith Show51) Danger Man52) Love Connection53) Family Ties54) Battlestar Galactica55) The Cosby Show56) Friends57) Twilight Zone58) Moonlighting59) The Drew Carey Show60) Everybody Loves Raymond61) Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?62) The Ben Stiller Show63) The X-Files64) Hogan’s Heroes65) Best of the West66) The Daily Show67) Keen Eddie68) Ten Speed and Brown Shoe69) The Monkees70) Amazing Stories71) Bored to Death72) Veronica Mars73) Malcolm in the Middle74) Star Trek75) Lost76) Ellery Queen77) Game of Thrones78) Home Movies79) NYPD Blue80) The Bob Newhart Show81) Person of Interest82) Homicide: Life in the Street83) The Prisoner84) The Associates85) E.R.86) The Dick Van Dyke Show87) Mr. Ed88) Gilligan’s Island89) The Flintstones90) Mad About You91) Early Edition92) Love, American Style93) Fringe94) Bewitched95) Hong Kong Phooey96) Miami Vice97) Jeeves and Wooster98) Happy Days99) The Sopranos100) My Name is Earl
Hannah Arendt was not a television critic, but I do find evil kinda boring after a while. And I like violence! But I swear, the Mafia shows, the drug-pushers, the sociopathic killers, I lose interest.As to the criticism that Love Connection has no writing whatsoever, ahhhhh, you got me. It does have a catchphrase, though. Back in two and two!
So, putting a lot of "fucks" into the conversation makes The Sopranos number one? Hmm. I must have a great team of writers working for me, because I say "fuck" alot. Well, I did before my daughter came along. I don't say it so much now. But you know how having kids always seems to ruin the quality of a show....
Also, the whole list is invalid because Cowboy Bebop isn't on the list.
The writing on I LOVE LUCY was great for its time; it's just over-familiar today because every single LUCY plot has been recycled endlessly by other shows...even other Lucille Ball shows. But the entire structure of the sitcom as it was known for 40-plus years was created by that show.Somebody mentioned Looney Tunes, but sorry, those were theatrical shorts that were re-used for TV many years after they were made, much like The Three Stooges. People still insist they were a TV show, and they most certainly were not.
How could I forget The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show?Now there was some sharp writing, brilliantly delivered by Gracie.
Anyone who thinks "The West Wing" is better than "Game of Thrones" is an inspid dweeb with a "Dogs Playing Poker" picture hung above their Elvis Presley peeing cherub fountain.
@Jason.Here are two more more from the UK that are worth mentioning:1. Minder2. The Goodies
Since the list does not include "Barney Miller" it is utterly worthless and without any redeeming value. Just to take one example, "Taxi" was a very funny show but Barney Miller made it look like Gilligan's Island. Also if you're going back to the '50s with Lucy then you should have "Honeymooners" and "Sgt. Bilko".
"where was The Twilight Zone"rcocean proving what we've suspected all along, that he's illiterate.
"I thought the Honeymooners would make any list"Were you teenager when it came out, Fudd, or only 9 or 10?
A bit biased toward current shows...
Mary Hartman was a groundbreaker. The Reverend Jimmy Joe Jeter and Condo's For Christ. Put all of the televangelists in their place. Martin Mull is one of the funniest men ever on tv.
Sorry.I left out the word "other."What I meant was that it should be number one not the overrated Sopranos.Sorry if I wasn't clear.
I don't see a lot of love for Benny Hill on this thread.
I hate the Sopranos because if they were going to dramatize a Mafia family they should have used the Colombos.
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