Monday, February 18, 2008

The smartest TV shows of all time?

I came across this story on the internet where A big MENSA muck-a-muck (Jim Werdell, chairman of MENSA international) made a list of what he thinks are the smartest TV shows of all time. This is a topic I hold very near and dear to my heart, because in addition to being a fairly smart guy, I also watch a great deal more TV than I should. I was extremely surprised by most of his list, which I'll share with you instead of making you read the story:

Top ten smartest shows of all time (in no particular order):

1. M*A*S*H
2. Cosmos (with Carl Sagan)
3. CSI
4. House
5. West Wing
6. Boston Legal
7. All in the Family
8. Frasier
9. Mad About You
10. Jeopardy

What's on this list bothers me, but less than the glaring ommisions bother me. There is no mention of ANY sci-fi show, for starters... and you can't tell me that the new Battlestar Galactica isn't just as smart as many on this list. Also, while I appreciate CSI, you're not gonna sit there and tell me that it's smarter than Columbo or Monk. I like that Cosmos is on there, but where the heck is NOVA? And excuse me, but Mad About You? All this list really shows me is that MENSA membership is not rewarded because of good taste.

In any event, I have come up with my own list of the ten smartest shows of all time, in no particular order:

1. Northern Exposure- Smart and vibrant characters were the hallmark of this show ten years before anyone heard of Gilmore Girls. If you are unfimiliar with this show, I highly advise checking it out.
2. The Twilight Zone- It's one thing to be smart, it's another thing entirely to be as consistantly smart as Rod Serling week after week, with entirely new characters and situations.
3. Soap- This show was so smart and so ahead of it's time, it couldn't find the audience it needed to survive. It had among other things the first openly Gay regular character in prime time.
4. Mythbusters- Educating and entertaining. Need I say more?
5. Dr Who- With complex plots, characters, historical accuracy, and flair, Dr. Who manages to be smart by simply never talking down to it's audience.
6. NOVA- the first and still the greatest PBS science show ever produced.
7. Dead Like Me-It always bothers me that this show never seems to get its due. It's very smart and clever in it's execution, and in the way it examines how we as a species deal with our own mortality.
8. House- Smart and very, very funny. Still I wonder how many unusual cases they can come up with before he starts treating common colds and such...
9. Firefly- Just edged out Galactica for a spot on my list. The details of this show are what make it smart... the amount of thought that went into creating the 'Verse that the crew of Serenity lives in are an uncommonly rich and full world for us to explore.
10. The Daily Show- Not only smart, but consitantly edgy. Political satire isn't easy to do, but they do it really, really well without talking down to their audience. Their coverage of "Indecision 2000" should and probably will go into the ranks of classic television.

But then again, that's just my opinion... Maybe i'm just too cool for MENSA. Discuss?


Canardius said...

Yes, you ARE too cool for MENSA.

But CSI would be on his list before Columbo due to the science work the CSI techs get to do. Columbo wouldn't know luminol if he fell over it. Quincy should be there though. And MENSA's tests being what they are -- tests on reasoning and deducing -- ought to leave Mr. Werdell appreciate the deductive skills of Columbo. I think he doesn't because he was probably looking for the intellectual science side CSI gets into. Columbo always ended up getting lucky the criminals were absent-minded or fools.

Galactica doesnt impress MENSA -- come on, walking toasters! It ought to, what with all the clones out to kill us and now looking like us so they can blend in to kill us much easier. But they were toasters. And the original source series has them as robots. The earlier version ought not be superceded by this newer one which owes its very existence to the fans of the first one.

Mad about you has no business being there. A romantic comedy like that should be Moonlighting, which set the pattern and blazed the trail for the demand for that sort of thing. Next to it, Mad about you was a cheap copy. And copycats are never smart.

Monk is a smart show, but has to be careful about stepping on toes, playing comedy about things like OCD. It should trod very carefully. It never should walk on corners, or on any riveted structure joints.

Cameron2 said...

I have Season One, Two, & Three of House MD. The show rocks!

angie. said...

Mad About You? Whaaat?? I don't get his logic on this one, but whatever. He says it's about smarts and it's actually what HIS definition of smart is. I mean c'mon...Mad About You??!!

I am curious to see what he rates as his dumbest shows of all time. Now that would be insightful (or insulting, take ya pick!)

Melinda Barton said...

As I am also too cool for Mensa, I'm with you!

I'm totally pissed that he didn't include:
1. Bones (I loves me some squints!)
2. NCIS (which so kicks CSI's ass if only for the hot Israeli and goth chick characters)
3. Seinfeld
4. The Simpson's (Hello! What other animated show could get Steven Hawking as a guest star?) 5. Futurama (They had a freaking mathematician on staff for goodness sakes!)
6. Star Trek (any series)
7. Numb3rs

There are just soooooooo many! I personally think Mensa needs to increase its minimum IQ to something a little more substantial than 132, because leptons like this one are giving intelligence a bad name.

Canardius said...

Maxim has put out [er... has printed] a list of the 10 dumbest shows....

The Mind of Mencia
Growing up Gotti
MTV's Next
Deal or No Deal
Walker, texas ranger
Saved by the Bell
The War at Home

Stacey said...

I couldn't agree with you more about Twilight Zone. Rod Serling had a brilliant, brilliant mind, and that he kept coming up with original and freaky stuff week after week just blows me away.