Tag the greatest — but not obvious — TV shows

Do a friend a favor and list your favorite 10 TV shows ever — but not the dutiful ones, the ones you like for a reason — in the comments here or better yet, on your blog with the tag: 10shows (following Steve Rubel’s example of the 10blogs tag… just link to “http://technorati.com/tag/10shows” when you create your post).

I can’t stand the dutiful lists that include Milton Berle (rude, egotistical, and not terribly funny) and The Honeymooners (sorry, gang) and The Simpsons (never grokked it).

I will claim the right to change my faves — because, after all, such lists are as meaningless and meltable as Silly Putty. But to get the ball rolling:

: Cheers. When it went off the air, I argued that it was the perfect ensemble sitcom.
: Picket Fences. In its early days, it was an amazing show with imaginative writing, characters, and messages. In its later days — when it suffered from David Kelly’s chronic creative ADD — it got awful. But it had its moments.
: David Letterman. He set the comic tone of his era, like Johnny Carson before him and Jon Stewart after him.
: The Daily Show. OK, in a few years, or even now, this may be a dutiful choice. But it has changed news by poking a pin in journalistic ego and we needed that.
: Cosby. Yes, in the end, he became an insuferable sermonizer (and he sent me poison pen letters when I said that in People). But at the beginning, Cosby not only resurrected the sitcom and with it prime time but he also had a direct hand in the best decision I ever made, though one I resisted: having kids. He made having a family look like fun.
: This Old House. TV is so useless but how-to TV is useful and This Old House (along with Julia Child) created the genre and, brilliantly, added in the drama of the dorky homeowners. Was this the original reality TV show?
: The Sopranos. Who has pushed the form farther?
: The Wonder Years. Because it was the story of my youth (except for the beautiful brunette neighbor).
: Jeopardy. Who says TV is dumb?
: You convince me of the 10th. I have many nominees: Star Trek, China Beach, Roseanne, Garry Shandling, MTM, Hogan’s Heroes, Hill Street, M*A*S*H, but I fear they are too old (like me now) and so I want something more contemporary (and my Total TV reference work ends when I stopped being a TV critic, so I don’t have current grids to jog my memory).

I’ve shown you mine. Show me yours.

: Comments are coming in already. One added a very obscure favorite of mine: Good Neighbors. I had such a crush on Felicity Kendall.

: My friend Matt Drapkin asks how the hell I could leave off Seinfeld. Right, he is. I’d say that’s the missing show. My son would say it’s Friends but I’ll take Jerry.