By tv Emmet
Since the very first television broadcast of “The Sopranos” I have argued that it the best written (and acted) show on television. I would dutifully troop to Chief Al’s house to catch every Sunday night episode until I discovered I had access to the show in my own 700-channel package.
Now, the Writer’s Guild of America has buttressed my argument. This week they named “The Sopranos
the best written show in television history. Go ahead, argue with them.
“This list is not only a tribute to great TV, it is a dedication to all writers who devote their hearts and minds to advancing their craft,” WGA West and East presidents Chris Keyser and Michael Kinship said of their “TV 101.”
In case you have been vacationing on Mars, The Soprano series was created by David Chase and aired on HBO from 1999-2007. It followed Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who lived in New Jersey with his wife, Carmela (Edie Falco), and family as he juggled the struggles of his illegal enterprise and his family’s happiness.
Imagine the conversation when Chase approached HBO with an idea about a murdering Mafia family headed up by a fat, neurotic mob boss who is so unhappy that he goes to a (babe) shrink whenever the psychic load gets too heavy. The boss has a terrible life, even if he makes boat loads of money and ends up in bed (always with his t-shirt on) with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen and could scarcely imagine.
His mother (honest to God) and his uncle are so displeased with our Tony and his shrink that they hire hit men to remove him from this Earth.
Talk about “must watch television.” Texas Larry says I write much too much about the show. What does he know? He lives in Texas!
I was always amazed and impressed at the continuity of the writing when one event would affect several other episodes, very subtly. You had to pay attention.
My very favorite scene was when Tony was driving with drug-addled nephew Christopher. Christopher rolled over the SUV and was trapped in the car bleeding heavily. Tony crawled out of the wreckage to help. He called for help but only got as far as 9-1.Before he dialed the other 1, he realized what a liability Christopher had become. He closed the phone and held Christopher’s mouth and nose until he choked on his own blood.
Then, he called 911.
“The Sopranos,” with its 1999 debut, was the newest of the shows to make the top five. The oldest was “The Twilight Zone,” which hit the airwaves in 1959.
I was surprised that my second favorite show, “Lonesome Dove” didn’t make the list. Maybe because it was considered a movie, rather than a television show.
Actually the number two on the list was “Seinfeld.” Since I still watch the show every chance I get and it still makes me laugh out loud, I certainly won’t argue. The gang of Kramer, George and Elaine became real enough that I would expect to see them walking together on the streets of New York.
Blue Eyes cannot understand how anyone can watch the same show 35 times. She is so…normal.
One show I never rewatch even though it is broadcast continually, is “Twilight Zone.” That collection came in third. First of all I have seen them all, I bet. I now find them strangely moody and depressing. The one I hated the most was the show in which a man was alone in the world with all his favorite books, then he broke his only pair of glasses. I hated the demon on the airline wing, too. Not bloody funny. Makes my hands sweat.
“All in the Family” was four. It is hard to remember how revolutionary that was at the time. There was nothing like it, with “Archie” making insanely racist remarks followed by liberal drivel from “Meathead.” A pox on both their houses. The show reached the Hall of Fame when Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed Archie on the cheek.
“M.A.S.H” came in fifth and was like, “Family,” revolutionary for its time. The television show was despised by its creator, Waterville surgeon Richard Hornberger. But it was adored by the rest of us. This show, too, has become dated and virtually unwatchable, at least at Cobb Manor.
I would watch “The Mary Tyler Moore” show whenever it is on. Mary and Ted Baxter, (one of my very favorite television characters) came in sixth. The final scene when the crew could not bear to leave the newsroom is a television classic. Of course I have been in love with Mary since “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Still am.
She would love me if she knew me, of course.
I was in love with Diane from “Cheers” as well, since she is the spitting image of Blue Eyes. I cannot remember who I fell for first. The Boston barroom saga, located only a few steps from my grandfather’s paddocks, came in eighth, behind “Mad Men.”
Ninth was “The Wire” which I have never seen. Tenth was “The West Wing’ which was good, but not top-ten- good, according to a recent Cobb Manor poll.
Maybe we shouldn’t take the WGA poll too seriously.
“I Love Lucy” came in twelfth, just ahead of “Breaking Bad.”