28 April 2008

Ultraman vs. 60 Minutes

Any professionally published “Best” list, whether it come from AFI or Blender, has only one purpose: stir up arguments. Opinions are like favorite Sherlock Holmes stories—everybody has one. (Mine is “The Adventure of the Dancing Men,” what’s yours?)

So once more into the breach… I’ll gripe about another of these ubiquitous lists. From The New York Post, the Daily Bugle of real world, comes “The 35 Best Shows on TV—Ever.” Immediately, you’ll discover that they don’t really mean “Best” but “Popular & Influential.” You will know that when you set your eyes on the No. 2 show...

American Idol

??!?!?!?!??!?!??!?!??!?!?

(I promise I will never ever lay down a string of punctuation marks as a complete line again. I try to make this blog look professional, but typing just typing American Idol in connection with “best” of anything caused a horrific muscle spasm.)

And, to make matters worse, you know where M*A*S*H appears on the list?

Nowhere.

Seriously, M*A*S*H does not appear on a list—made by professional journalists—of the best television shows ever.

This isn’t a case of a fannish complaint that some personal favorite didn’t make the list. I’m not a fan of M*A*S*H. I love the original Robert Altman film, but I never got involved in the long-running weekly series. However, it remains one of the most acclaimed comedies in American TV history, and was the defining sitcom of its decade. I think I can say that with strong objectivity, especially since that show isn’t that important to me personally.

And American Idol—influential, certainly, but by no means even a mediocre show—gets on the list and M*A*S*H doesn’t.

So this list is invalid, and somebody at the Post is getting shipped out for a stint in Korea. I’m sure J. J. Jameson raked him/her over the coals, because I know that M*A*S*H is J. J. J.’s favorite program.

Okay, now I get to do my fannish thing and bat around my crazy opinions as if they were scripture. Which, within the confines of my apartment, they are.

Why aren’t the following programs on the list?
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000, greatest TV show ever
  • Ultraman
  • Batman (60s series)
  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • Sledge Hammer!
  • The Muppet Show
  • Have Gun—Will Travel
I could easily kick a few shows off the Post’s list (ahem... General Hospital... ahem) to make room for these utterly awesome episodic wonders. If we are really talking quality over influence, then Have Gun—Will Travel bests Gunsmoke, and Sledge Hammer! takes out Oprah with one shot. Or we could be fair and bump the list up to fifty shows, let the Post keep some of their “not the best but you’ve heard of ‘em” entries, and let me squeeze in some geek quality.

Come on, would you rather watch 60 Minutes, or Ultraman? Be honest. Andy Rooney grousing about Christmas cards, or a rubber-suited super-sized alien hero smashing around a giant monster named Baltan?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the answer is obvious.

(Ah, but what if Ultraman bashed around Andy Rooney? That, my friends, is why we have sweeps week!)