Monday, June 3, 2013

Best written TV shows

Last night I attended a function at the Writer's Guild theater to listen to some legendary writers as well as find out what the best writing in TV history. It was an interesting evening for several things. Note that it's not the best TV shows but rather .
the best-written shows

First of all, we got to watch clips of different eras; the 1950's, 60's, 70-80's and 90's-2013, with each era having two people from that era. So we had the following;

Carl Reiner who's 91 and who created, among other shows, The Dick Van Dyke Show.

1960's- had Norman Lear who created the American version of
All In The Family and spinoffs like Maude and many others. Also Gail Parent who did the Carole Burnett Show

70's - 80's had Stephen Bochco who created NYPD Blues as well as Jim Brooks who created The Mary Tyler Moore Show as well as making Terms of Endearment (which won 3 oscars). Also Winnie Holzman who did My So-Called Life.

And for the present day, Vince Gilligan whose Breaking Bad series was quite a ground-breaker. Also Matthew Weiner who created Mad Men and Ronald Moore who did Star-Trek New Generation and Battlestar Gallactica. Also Steve Levitan who did Fraser and Wings.

Needless to say I was in awe of these people, especially Reiner. I have a comedy record with him and Mel Brooks, The 2000-Year Old Man, which was made in the 60's and still is some of the best comedy you'll hear.

Each of them had time to talk about the era they were in as well as the frustrations of fighting networks who felt they knew more than the writers. It's a classic situation that will always be, as you probably know if you read my blog two years ago on the TV series I did.

But the best was Carl Reiner and Norman Lear who told stories of the early days of television. Reiner, at 91 was a little slow to walk out but when he sat down he fired off story after story with hilarious responses from the audience.

As we watched clips of the 101 best written shows, it was interesting to note that applause was very age-responsive; older people applauded for older shows and younger applauded for younger shows. 

It would be hard to really judge the best in the first place, but this was mostly for fun and to
help sell TV Guide, which most people I talked to thought was gone long ago. I found a stash of old TV Guides dating back to 1967, when they cost 15 cents, and gave them to friends of mine. I have my 1968 TV Guide with the cast of Gunsmoke on the cover.

All in all it was a fun night with a nice reception afterwards where starving actors work as bartenders and food servers... but hey, we were all there once.

Here's the top 10 best written TV shows;

10 - The West Wing
9 - The Wire
8 - Cheers
7 - Mad Men
6 - Mary Tyler Moore Show
5 - Mash
4 - All In The Family
3 - Twilight Zone
2 - Seinfeld
1 - The Sopranos

So what do you think?