When I was a little kid, I preferred comedies; now I only watch one-hour reruns— watch ballgames and movies the rest of the time. Here are 13 of my all-time favorite TV shows:
13) Without a Trace— Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) runs an FBI unit specializing in missing persons investigations, while his personal life falls apart around him. Sometimes they found the people, sometimes they didn’t, which is part of what made the show so good.
12) Suits— A brilliant young college dropout slips into a job interview with one of New York City’s best legal closers, and talks the guy into hiring him as a lawyer, even though the young man has never gone to law school— he took the bar exam for other people (and passed it) many times, on the sly.
This show ended in part because one of the actresses (Meghan Markle) married a prince from England.
11) Lost In Space— This show was on in the 60’s; a space colony family struggles to survive when a spy/accidental stowaway throws their ship hopelessly off course. Dr Smith (Jonathan Harris) was the annoying stowaway who provided comic relief; his interaction with the Robot (“Danger!!! Danger!!!) were one of the highlights of the show.
One of the prized pieces of my bobblehead collection is a Robot bobblehead.
10) Addams Family— The Addams Family is not your typical family: it takes delight in most of the things of which normal people would be terrified. Gomez Adams (John Astin) is an extremely wealthy man and is able to indulge his wife Morticia’s (Carolyn Jones) every desire, whether it’s cultivation of poisonous plants or a candlelit dinner in a graveyard.
Morticia would read the stock ticker, and if Gomez lost, he would say “Easy come, easy go”
Cousin Itt, Thing, Lurch were all excellent characters.
1993, I have an emergency appendectomy; I’m in the hospital couple of days. Guy in the next hospital bed is watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and when they run the credits at the end of the show, I get kind of excited, because Felix Silla played one of the robots.
Felix Silla played Cousin Itt on the Addams Family; my neighbor wasn’t impressed when I gave him that bit of trivia. The nurse smiled, then checked to see if she gave me too much medication.
9) White Shadow— An NBA player retires and gets a job as a basketball coach in a inner-city high school; the uniforms that Carver High wears in this show are the same ones that the star (Ken Howard) of the show’s team wore in high school on Long Island.
Basketball scenes were very well done.
Bruce Paltrow was the show’s creator; Gwyneth Paltrow’s father.
8) Green Acres— A New York City attorney (Eddie Albert) and his city-loving wife (Eva Gabor) attempt to live as farmers in the bizarre community of Hooterville. Hank Kimball was my favorite character, playing the bumbling county agent.
My lasting memory of this show is that seemingly every time I had it on, my father would walk in the room and say “Why the hell are you watching this?” Then five minutes later, he’d be laughing harder than I was.
7) Mister Ed— A wisecracking talking horse is the star, but he only talks to the guy who owns the barn he lives in, Wilbur Post (Alan Young). Mister Ed was a big baseball fan; he once took batting practice off of the Dodgers, with Sandy Koufax on the mound.
Good trivia; Dodgers’ CF Willie Davis was Mister Ed’s favorite ballplayer.
6) M*A*S*H— The staff of an Army hospital in the Korean War find that laughter is the best way to deal with their often-horrendous situation.
Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is the star of the show; Alda was so recognizable as Hawkeye that it probably hurt his acting career after M*A*S*H went off the air— the series finale is one of the most-watched TV shows ever.
Alda played a therapist on Ray Donovan the last couple seasons.
5) CSI— An elite team of police forensic evidence investigation experts work their cases in Las Vegas; in real life, I searched fingerprints for ten years for the state of New York, so I know a little bit about this line of work, but what attracted me to this show was a) Las Vegas and b) the loyalty the characters had to their co-workers and their jobs.
The eulogy Gil Grissom (William Peterson) gives after Warrick Brown is murdered is one of the great speeches (albeit a short one) in television history.
4) Billions— Showtime series in its 5th season, a U.S. Attorney goes after a hedge fund king in a battle between two powerful New York figures. Making things sticky is that the attorney’s wife (Maggie Siff) works as a psychologist for the hedge fund guy.
Lot of interesting cameos thru the years; John Malkovich, Kevin Pollak, Eric Bogosian, pro wrestler Becky Lynch, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Durant, Mark Cuban. Great show.
3) Law and Order— 20 years, 456 episodes that follow a crime (usually a murder), usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points, the police investigation and the prosecution in court.
One of the few shows that survived the stars of the show moving on and being replaced by other characters. This show was a launching pad for many acting careers; there are 26 actors who have appeared in Billions who also appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order.
2) Odd Couple— Two divorced friends who are complete opposites share an apartment; one is really neat and stuffy photographer, the other a sloppy, easy-going sportswriter.
1) Magnum PI— The adventures of a Hawaii-based private investigator (Tom Selleck), as he solves cases with the help of his buddies, TC (Roger Mosley) a helicopter pilot, club manager Rick (Larry Manetti) and Higgins (John Hillerman) who runs the estate Magnum lives on.
The parade of beautiful women as guest stars on the show was an 80’s who’s who of Hollywood: Sharon Stone, Jill St John, Mimi Rogers, Leslie Uggams, Erin Gray, Dana Delany, to name a few.
Frank Sinatra did an episode near the end of the series; Ernest Borgnine, Carol Burnett, Cesar Romero, Ten Danson, Dennis Weaver— a long list of famous guest stars.