Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Top 60 Sitcoms...In 30 Days! - Part V(c)

We're getting closer to the #1 spot.  Yesterday, I started taking you all through the Top 10 and now were making our way into the Top 5.  So let's get going!


15. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
14. Barney Miller
13. Murphy Brown
12. Frasier
11. I Love Lucy
10. Everybody Loves Raymond
9. Night Court
8. Seinfeld
7. Friends

6. The Golden Girls, NBC (1985-1992)
Remember when TV Networks used to have original programming on Saturday night.  It seems that once this show ended its run in 1992, Saturday has become the Dead Zone it has become as far as original programming goes.  Well back in the 1970s and 1980s, Saturday was a coveted spot when it came to hit Sitcoms.  And in 1985, NBC entertained us with the hilarious and witty lives of four older women as they went through their "Golden Years."  Now, a show about four ladies of a more mature age is not something you might see nowadays.  But in the 1980s, NBC executives (led by the late Brandon Tartikoff) took a chance.  Former Maude co-stars Beatrice Arthur and Rue McClanahan were cast alongside former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Betty White as three different women who live together in a suburban Miami home.  And each of them were perfect for their roles.  Bea Arthur played Dorothy, a divorced substitute teacher from New York, with the same great timing and perfect attitude she had brought to Maude.  Rue McClanahan was divine as Blanche Devereaux, a rather slutty art museum worker who owned the house the "girls" shared.  And Betty White charmed all as the terminally naive Rose Nylund, a grief counselor from the oddball Minnesota town of St. Olaf (which seemed to have more stories than Scheherezade!)  Rounding out the cast of four was the delightful character actress Estelle Getty as Dorothy's outspoken and sarcastic mother, Sophia Petrillo.  The four women each won Emmy Awards for their work and gained huge followings.  The show, in its syndicated runs, has become one of the most popular Sitcoms in the last 15 years.  As we have lost Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty, many audiences cling to the reruns they see and have adored the career resurgence of the brilliant Betty White (We're going to love her while we still can!).

5. The Simpsons, FOX (1989-present)
This series has a couple feats to brag about on this list.  First, it is the highest ranking Animated Series on the list (you saw both Family Guy and South Park earlier!).  Next, it happens to be the longest running series featured in this genre (It is in Season 23 and still counting, after headline-making negotiations!).  And, it is the highest ranking Sitcom (and I know some people don't consider it a Sitcom, but they're wrong!) that is still currently airing new episodes (the show returns with their annual Halloween episode on Sunday after a hiatus due to the World Series!).  That is a lot to say about a show that initially was just about a "typical American family."  Over the last 20 years, FOX's favorite family have become icons of popular culture.  Homer's famous catchphrase has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary.  Bart has sold more Butterfingers than any other spokesperson in the candy's history.  Marge became the first Animated character to be featured on the cover of Playboy.  The list could go on forever.  I've already covered (twice this year!) how much I love and respect this show.  The show certainly changed the way we think about Primetime Animated Shows and changed the Family dynamic on Television in general.  It is one of the shows that made FOX a major player in the TV politics rather than just a fledgling Network.  After almost 25 years (and a very successful movie!), Matt Groening and his several Springfield denizens will forever be a hilarious part of the Television landscape.  In honor of the upcoming holiday of Halloween, the video clip below is from one of the show's famed Treehouse of Horror episodes.

4. All In the Family, CBS (1971-1979)
One of the most influential TV shows of all-time was destined to earn a high spot on this list.  Norman Lear truly broke ground with this controversial yet extremely popular Sitcom.  It turned the typical Family Sitcom on its ear.  Jean Stapleton and the late Carroll O'Connor wailed their iconic theme song and we were introduced to the Bunkers.  Archie (played to comedic perfection by O'Connor) was a loudmouthed, bigoted blue-collar worker and Edith (charmingly played by the sweet Stapleton) was his scatterbrained and endearing wife.  With their grown daughter Gloria (played by Sally Struthers) and her extremely liberal husband Mike Stivic (Rob Reiner) living with them, Archie was constantly at odds with the changing times and spewing his prejudicial statements left and right (no pun intended!).  With such a character like Archie Bunker, the show covered several issues that were never talked about before on Television: like racism, women's liberation, miscarriage, breast cancer, menopause, impotence, homosexuality, the Vietnam War and even rape.  It changed the way Sitcoms dealt with serious issues (more honestly and with a lot of humor!) and it changed precisely what Sitcoms could be about.  The show was a huge success throughout the 1970s with both audiences and with critics.  Norman Lear went on to develop 6 other successful series (4 of them spin-offs from the All In the Family universe!).  It won multiple (upon multiple!) Emmy Awards for its cast and its writing and it won the top Comedy honor 4 times (a record tied by Cheers and only passed by Frasier!).

The Bunkers may have beaten the Simpsons but there is one more TV Family that edged ahead of them on this list.  And that is just one of the three shows still to come as we get closer to the #1 spot on the Top 60 Sitcoms of All-Time.

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