There is this list of the five best television series of all time, compiled by ABC News and People Magazine, and conveniently broadcast on ABC in the past couple of weeks. Interestingly, all were comedies, none of them were broadcast on ABC, and the latter four would probably be canceled quickly these days because the early ratings were not particularly good. The list included:
I LOVE LUCY (CBS)
ALL IN THE FAMILY (CBS)
I read about it on Ken Levine’s blog. He (pictured) mentioned this because he was a writer for two of the shows, MASH and Cheers, which I suppose I’d consider for my list as well. I’d also pick Lucy, if only because it was seminal in the development of the TV rerun. All in the Family, which I did enjoy at the time, did not age well, though. And Seinfeld I liked for a few seasons, but grew tired of it, about the time the character Susan died from licking an envelope. There are plenty of dramatic shows (Twilight Zone, Hill Street Blues, among others) I’d put on the list, but if I were limiting it just to comedies, certainly the Dick Van Dyke Show would be on the roster.
What was most interesting to me, though, is that someone asked Levine: “Other than you and David [Isaacs, Levine’s writing partner], is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group.” Levine named some writers. He also noted that “George Wendt and Shelley Long [of Cheers] both did guest stints on MASH.” In the comments section, a guy noted that the IMDB has an advanced search function – go to Collaborations and Overlaps – so that one can discover, e.g., that there are 16 people with credits on both The Dick Van Dyke Show and MASH, starting with Jamie Farr and Bernard Fox. Or that five people were affiliated with both the Van Dyke program and Cheers, including Ann Morgan Guilbert and Sheldon Leonard.
One can also put in Dick Van Dyke and Ted Danson to discover that Van Dyke appeared on Danson’s show Becker, as Becker’s father, and Danson was a guest on Van Dyke’s Diagnosis: Murder, as himself, both in 1999. I will definitely make more use of this feature.
Ken Levine’s thoughts on the GQ CHEERS article.