Monday, November 06, 2006

And The Emmy Goes To...

What is your favorite TV series of all time?

I know…a hard question. It’s made a little bit easier by not including great sporting events, mini-series (watching Roots when I was ten still ranks up there as one of my top 20 great life experiences) or other one-offs like those awesome after school specials (who can ever forget John Travolta as the boy in the bubble) or televised movies (Disney’s Magic Kingdom rocked). Stick to television series.

Do I go waaaay back and pick Sesame Street, for all the obvious and wonderful reasons? Or maybe Zoom. Lord knows I loved Zoom. If nothing else, Zoom taught me that Boston, Mass’ zip code is 0-2-1-3-4 and that Bernadette was the master at doing that arm fan thing. I was also a huge fan of Land of the Lost – man, those sleestax guys freaked me out.

Around that age, I was equally enamored with Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. That old Marlin Perkins guys was great. And has any sponsor’s name ever been as synonymous with a show as this one? As a fundraiser, I know that is like the golden goose egg of sponsorship underwriting.

For nostalgia’s sake, I could pick I Love Lucy or the Andy Griffith Show. Both great classics that I love so much.

Or do I pick sentimental favorites Little House on the Prairie or Fame? I logged a lot of hours on both of those shows in my tweens and teens and LOVED them both. Whether it was Pa, who had the answers to all of life’s troubles and that giant laugh, or Laura’s pervy husband Manny (I mean come on, wasn’t he like 30 and she 12 when they married?), I loved every single character on Little House on the Prairie as if they were my own family members. And when Fame’s brooding Leroy would kick ass and fight back against the oppression of the evil math teacher who was keeping him from the big audition by breaking out into big, funky pirouettes on the tables in the Fame school lunch room? Awesome stuff.

Do I go campy/obsessive and pick that USA Network Original “The Big Easy”? What? You’ve never heard of The Big Easy? Oh mon cher, no one was hotter than that babe-o-licious Remy McSwain. That guy could solve the crime in the bayou, whip up the perfect alligator sauce piquant, play the sax at the rockin’ blues bar, Southern sass talk the good-ole-boy police chief, and heat up the boudoir all with the smoothness and kick of a sweet mint julep. I LOVED THE BIG EASY.

Would I try and satiate my universal curiosity and go for something like NOVA? That show is simply amazing and most times it’s a little trippy because you realize how many amazingly smart people there are in the world figuring out things that most of us can’t even contemplate on the most miniscule of level.

I could go for one of my classic sitcom favorites like Happy Days, Facts of Life, Cheers or Murphy Brown. Mash is way, way, way up high on that list. Or maybe an hour-long drama like ER or a dramady like Star Trek Next Generation. Yes, Star Trek Next Generation is awesome and if you don’t think so than you haven’t watched it.

Or do I go more modern day with House or Arrested Development?

So, after spending way too much time thinking about this, I’ve decided that if I had to boil it down to my one all time favorite TV show, I think I would pick…..

Northern Exposure!

I have a real love for it all – the unique, oddball characters and the way their personalities developed over time, the quirky story lines, the unexpected plot changes, its sweetness and heart, the creative use of a wide range of great music, and the beautiful Alaskan setting. It was, quite simply, a cool show.

So, imagine my surprise last week when I stumbled on an episode of the new series Men in Trees. What the heck? The more I watched, the more unhinged I became. It’s a poorly written, less interesting, much shallower version of Northern Exposure. I mean, come on…the central character is a brassy hipster from New York (can you say Dr. Joel Fleischman!) who is fighting her obvious attraction to the gorgeous local (Maggie!). The main gathering place is a restaurant/bar (the Brick!) with the level-headed, even tempered bar keep (Holling!) who steers us through conversations with all of the town’s characters that include the young harlot with a heart (Shelley!), a weird old woodsy guy (Adam!) and the New Yorker’s side kick (Ed!). I mean give me a break, one of the main plot points even revolves around the local radio station DJ’s morning show (HELLO – CHRIS IN THE MORNING!).

Now believe me, I know that there is nothing new about the networks copying the formats of other networks’ popular shows. This is certainly long-standing de rigueur if there ever was such a thing. Cop shows copy cop shows that spawn cop shows. One show about the oval office spins off three more. One reality show started an entire reality show industry. One hospital show births clones on every network. I get it. But I think it’s because these Men in Trees people are messing with my favorite show of all time – a true original – and trying to bring it back to life years later that is so irritating. And to copy the format so exactly, down to the specific characters, is simply…lame.

No matter how hard highly paid network writers try, and no matter how closely they plagiarize the concept and scripts of shows that have gone before them, there will never really be two Fonzies, there will never be two Hawkeyes, and there will never be two Chris in the Mornings!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home