If TV is that vast wasteland, there are a lot of people out there.
And if we are what we watch, what does that say? On a recent TV Guide special that highlighted the magazine's 50 greatest shows of all time, comedian Jerry Seinfeld said there is something about that blue light glow that flickers in home windows at night.
It's like they are tanning in there, Seinfeld said.
The blue light does let us live vicariously on many levels -- spies, doctors, crime solvers and just funny people in absurd situations. People get so upset about losing characters they write in to save canceled shows. And let's face it there must be some type of perfected subliminal messages that allow viewers to watch "Law and Order" episodes over and over and over again. It seems the show is on every hour of the day on one cable network or another. And that's a show with interchangeable characters. They come. They go. The show appears able to go on forever and spin-off multiple copies.
It was number 24 on the top 50 list.
Work place breaks abound with questions about the previous night's viewing. Even in a newsroom there are the questions about what happened on "Friends," "ER," "Third Watch," "Alias," or "CSI." There are regular "West Wing" watchers among some of the sit-com viewers.
And there are those among us who are addicted to that reality TV that was supposed to disappear after Sept. 11. Ozzy Osbourne's show on MTV is enough for a few laughs based on British accents alone.
But you know you are getting older when the shows you feel nostalgic for have never been heard of by the younger set.
TV Guide's list of the top 50 shows is eclectic enough to suit many tastes. Some of the shows that made the list were on the air when you could count the number of stations on one hand. They ruled the airwaves. Yes TVs were fueled by spindly antennas, when changing the channel meant getting up off the couch to physically turn the knob.
There are shows on the list that people knew were high quality dramas but had shaky starts in terms of viewers like "Hill Street Blues." These days networks appear to have little time to build an audience. But cable stations are giving today's viewers a chance to see those vintage shows that once reigned during prime time.
Did your favorite make the top 50?
Here's the list from last to first -- "Bewitched," "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "Taxi," "Rocky and his Friends," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Twin Peaks," "The Bob Newhart Show," "Bonanza," "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Gunsmoke," "The Rockford Files," "The Larry Sanders Show," "The X-Files," "The Fugitive," "Roseanne," "Frasier," "Playhouse 90," "American Family," "The Defenders," "Your Show of Shows," "Donahue," "The Cosby Show," "Sesame Street," "The Twilight Zone," "MASH," "Law and Order," "Nightline," "ER," "Friends," "St. Elsewhere," "thirtysomething," "Cheers," "Today Show," "The Carol Burnett Show," "Hill Street Blues," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Saturday Night Live," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Simpsons," "The Late Show with David Letterman," "60 Minutes," "The Sopranos," "All in the Family," "The Honeymooners," "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld."
What shows may make the list in the next 50 years is anybody's guess. The TVs will no doubt be of better quality with those flat high definition screens and 3-D quality images. But the relationship may not have changed much since the TV first came into American living rooms.
On the television special where the top shows were recalled with clips, Seinfeld noted the odd relationship people have with their TVs. We'll fight much-needed sleep to catch a few more minutes in front of that flickering screen. And he said the last part of the body to fall asleep is the trigger finger on the remote.
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