The Writer’s Guild of America recently released its 101 Best Written TV Shows, and it was an awesome list in my opinion. As many of you know, I’m obsessed with Seinfeld – it permeates my life with uncanny and frightening relevance on a daily basis - who would have thought that a show about nothing could represent my life and the people in it so aptly. Seinfeld, highly expected to come out on top on the list came in at a respectable second place after The Sopranos. I’ve never seen an episode of The Sopranos but I do plan to hire the series on DVD to check out the writing for myself. As a side note, it was sad to see that James Gandolfini, the star of the show, passed away last week at the very young age of 51.
My other all-time favourite TV Show particularly for its clever writing, and perfect casting - Arrested Development – comes in at 16, which is a great result considering it was axed despite being acknowledged for being incredibly good. It is hard to understand why it wasn’t more popular – perhaps there aren’t enough lovers of ‘quirky’ out there and it failed for that reason to build on its almost-cult following.
M*A*S*H aired from 1972-1983 and even though I was too young at the time to ‘get’ a lot of its humour (and as a child in those days, we didn’t watch much TV), I do recollect having a sense that it was clever and entertaining without understanding why. Max Klinger, who cross-dresses to prove he is insane and should be discharged from service, is much like a character out of another favourite story of mine, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. John Yossarian wants to be grounded from combat but in order to prove he is unfit he needs to request a mental fitness evaluation, which in itself proves he's sane. I made reference to this character and storyline in my novel, RAIN as a tribute to the book but also because I love the concept of the 'Catch-22' — a term adopted in common language to define those situations.
Other shows on the list I’ve enjoyed over the years include Mad Men, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Modern Family, 30 Rock, The Office (UK), LA Law, Fawlty Towers and Get Smart (to name just a few).