TV’s ALL-TIME TOP 10 … OR 12



(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, THE WEEKEND EDITION OCT. 13-15, 2017) — Time for THE PLANET to cool down the sizzling drink. Our recent columns detailing the scandal and corruption straightjacketing the city of Pittsfield have stirred up the settlements from the glass bottom, and we have received new information on various and apropos topics that require sifting. You won’t believe what we’re picking up, and you’ll only be reading about it here.

While we process more block-busting voe-dee-oh-doze, we present the first in an intermittent series of Top 10 TV, movies, albums, destinations, books, and so forth. Today, we dial up TV.

One of the coolest gigs THE PLANET ever enjoyed was being paid to watch TV, as we were during our newspapering days as a critic covering pop culture during the late 70s-early 80s. Our ability to aim our discerning glazzies at the boob tube came, as it were, in the dark ages of infancy and toddlerhood, those halcyon sunrises of one channel (WRBG Ch. 6 Schenectady) viewed on a GE console the size of Balance Rock. In fact, in the days prior to the clicker, we served as a remote control for parents and two older brothers.  Later, we felt like George Jetson having seen the future when WTEN-10 in Albany and WAST-13 were added to our choices.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. Today we have thousands of TV viewing options with precious little worth watching. With three channels, on the other hand, we had an abundance of great TV, including such personal favorites as Sky King, The Roy Rogers Show, Cartoon Carnival, Captain Midnight, Car 54 Where Are You?, and so many more. It got us to thinking about the best of the best, and here we present the definitive list of the Top 10 TV shows of all time. We realize that in matters like this, our certainty comes off as arrogance, but accept it as a far-sighted myopia for which THE PLANET must be held both blameless and indifferent.

Presented for your fun in descending order:

  1. CivilizationKenneth Clark‘s magnificent survey of Western Civilization does the impossible, spanning the entirety of this mammoth and complex topic in 13 episodes without cutting corners. Lord Clark and company took two years, traveled 80,000 miles, visited 117 locations in 13 countries. It was and remains the tour de force triumph of this coolest medium. Must See for all, but especially those younger than 40. Conveniently, you can watch the series for free on YouTube. Released in 1969, the precise moment when Western Civ began its headlong dive into the cinders.
  2. The Prisoner — Only 17 episodes circumscribe what is the greatest dramatic television series ever. Patrick McGoohan‘s personal vision of dystopia stands up brilliantly since the 50 years of its making. He did for the small screen what George Orwell did for literature: He gave us the definitive preamble for a near future in which security trumps freedom enabled by high technology run amok. You will never look at a weather balloon quite in the same way after viewing this series.
  3. The Fugitive — David Jannsen’s pursuit of the one-armed man kept us riveted for years. Barry Morse at Lt. Gerard: Perfect.
  4. Freaks and Geeks — This was one of those rare shows that combined great writing, perfect casting, and a production staff that “got it.” The greatest high-school ever put on film. Canceled after just 17 episodes, proving that stupidity and television executives are Siamese twins.
  5. The SopranosJames Gandolfini. Nuff. Ced.
  6. The Twilight Zone — “do dee do do, do dee do do.” When you heard that theme song, you knew you were in for a wild ride of  satisfaction, the kind you get when you can vicariously experience the awe of mystery and madness. Rod Serling performed the unequaled task of creating, producing, and writing, all the while having to skirt the bobbleheads in the CBS boardroom. Greatness.
  7. The Dick Van Dyke Show — “Oh, Rob!”
  8. Breaking Bad — This show literally cooked. High school teacher Walter White gave us one of TV’s most believably 3-D characters.
  9. You’ll Never Get RichNat Hiken‘s (Car 54, Where Are You?) creation brought to unforgettable like by the irrepressible Phil Silvers as Sgt. Bilko. Doberman was the Gunther Toody of his time.
  10. Gunsmoke — TV’s longest running show for a while. James Arness at Matt Dillon provided that model of stalwart goodness that has all but vanished not only in public entertainment but life in general.
  11. The Honeymooners — The Original 39. Live sitcom, Never Done Better. And as a bonus choice, THE PLANET gives you:
  12. The Outer Limits — “Do not adjust your television sets.” When the Control Voice took over, we were won. The anthology series, filmed in glorious noir-and-white, defined excellence.

Honorable Mention: The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (featuring the great Leonard Rossiter), Thriller with Boris Karloff, Bonanza, Secret Agent, Star Trek (the original), The Uncle Floyd Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, I Love Lucy, Hawaii 5-0, Playhouse 90, The Andy Griffith Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show, Your Show of Shows, Shepherd’s Pie, The Carol Burnett Show, Dr. Kildare (Richard Chamberlain).

Most Overrated TV Show Of All Time: Seinfeld as the hands-down winner. No debate. The “show about nothing” proves that nothing beats nothing like something in the oven … roasting.

There it is. You have thoughts?

Have a great weekend, everybody.


“The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of our commands”Led Zeppelin.



The Usual Disclaimer.

46 Responses to “TV’s ALL-TIME TOP 10 … OR 12”

  1. Cosbies
    October 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

    Great choices Dan, add the Fugitive to your list.

    • danvalenti
      October 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

      Agreed. A huge oversight on my part. I have amended my list.

      • Still wondering
        October 13, 2017 at 7:06 am #

        I would have mentioned “The Ascent of Man” by Jabob Bronowski.and the BBC production “The World at War”.

  2. SisterGoldenHair
    October 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    Dan, never heard of half of these, and never knew The Honeymooners was filmed with a live audience. I do agree that 1969 was the last great American Year. We put a man on the moon and the good ole US of A has been on a downward slide ever since. What year did Pittsfiled’s slide start?

  3. Jonathan Melle
    October 12, 2017 at 8:51 pm #

    Channel 1: Dangerous downtown Pittsfield’s shootings and murders!
    Channel 2: Vibrant and Dynamic renaissance arts and cultural venues amidst “Social Services Alley”!
    Channel 3: The lovely Linda Tyer’s Tyler Street trash cans photo-op!
    Channel 4: Jimmy Ruberto and Tricia Farley-Bouvier call for civil and respectful debate on the Berkshire Museum’s arts sale!
    Channel 5: PEDA turned 19 years old this past Summer of 2017 with zero private business tenants!
    Channel 6: Nuciforo sells medical marijuana to Pittsfield residents with medical conditions because he is high on money!
    Channel 7: Nuciforo serves as legal counsel to Boston area big banks and insurance companies because money is green like his dispensary’s marijuana leaves!
    Channel 8: Smitty Pignatelli points out all of the lost jobs and declining population numbers throughout the “older, poorer, sicker” Berkshires!
    Channel 9: Pittsfield politics near financial insolvency, but Matt Kerwood has contigency plans to save the city from going broke!
    Channel 10: The last living wage job leaves Pittsfield in 2018! Pittsfield sets a record for the number of people on welfare!

    • geosims
      October 14, 2017 at 5:25 am #

      What happened to “Sunny”? The usuals all fell in line to support “progress”, wondering how if they’ll all pull off the biggest art heist of the century? Also, PEDA 19? Holy waste

      • Jonathan Melle
        October 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

        News Article:

        “Pittsfield mayor backs museum’s ‘new vision’”
        By Larry Parnass, – The Berkshire Eagle, October 14, 2017

        PITTSFIELD — Opinions about the Berkshire Museum’s plan to sell 40 works of art keep coming in, pro and con, a month before hammer time.

        Pieces are scheduled to be auctioned Nov. 13 at Sotheby’s in New York City. But the legality of the transaction is being reviewed by the public charities division of the state attorney general’s office.

        In a statement Friday, Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer said she supports the 114-year-old museum’s “bold transformation” to an institution focusing on science and natural history. To achieve that, and to address a continuing financial deficit, the museum arranged with Sotheby’s to sell some of the most valuable works in its collection, starting with American pieces, including two paintings given to the museum by Norman Rockwell.

        Tyer noted that the museum’s plan has sparked many conversations, locally and nationally, in which people have exchanged “vastly different perspectives.”

        Though she doesn’t address the issue of the deaccessioning of art, the mayor stands firmly with the museum.

        “My belief in the Berkshire Museum has always centered on my assertion that the museum has been, and is, vital to Pittsfield,” the mayor said, in response to a question from The Eagle.

        Tyer said the museum “has engaged and inspired generations of Pittsfielders, as well as many others throughout Berkshire County and beyond. As a place that has impacted so many, I recognize the Berkshire Museum’s desire to continue this work through bold transformation to inspire and engage a new generation.”

        Museum officials plan to channel about $40 million from the sales into an endowment and use $20 million for renovations and building improvements.

        Other public comments this past week were less supportive.

        Leaders of the Peabody Essex Museum said in a commentary published Friday that they believe the sale would violate a public trust and have an impact beyond Pittsfield.

        “Museum collections cannot be considered as a slush fund that trustees and administrators can tap anytime a museum needs money,” Dan L. Monroe and Robert N. Shapiro wrote in a post on ARTery, a blog run by public radio station WBUR in Boston.

        Monroe is director and CEO of the Peabody Essex Museum and former president of the American Alliance of Museums. Shapiro, an attorney, is the museum’s board president.

        They noted that national museum standards prohibit selling art to cover operational expenses.

        “The board’s present plan of action represents a fundamental and egregious violation of public trust and fiduciary duty and responsibility,” they wrote.

        The art collection in Pittsfield, Monroe and Shapiro said, is “the single part of the Berkshire Museum that makes it special.”

        In an opinion column published Saturday in The Eagle, Alan Chartock, president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio, questioned the suitability of the sale on financial and moral grounds.

        “Nonprofits are supposed to go to their communities and raise money the old-fashioned way,” he wrote. “We know that Norman Rockwell wanted his neighbors in Berkshire County to have his paintings and, to that end, he gave them to the Berkshire Museum.”

        Elsewhere in the column, he wrote: “Sometimes, bad things happen because people just won’t stand in the way of a bad idea. It seems likely that is what is happening right now.”

        Staff writer Larry Parnass can be reached at 413-496-6214 or @larryparnass.

        • SojournerTruth
          October 15, 2017 at 5:14 am #

          As another old sit-com, Gomer Pyle, USMC woukd say’ “Surprise..Surprise”.
          What did you expect from a former WEN political hack ?
          Like the old RCA dalmatian. she listens to her master’s voice.
          Check the signatures of the “supportive” ones on Jimmy Ruberto’s and TFB’s letters to the editor. They definitely don’t want a legitimate forensic audit triggered.

  4. dusty
    October 13, 2017 at 2:38 am #

    Bonanza gets a thumbs up from me.
    At first I thought Seinfeld was stupid but after giving it a chance I thought it was awesome. My kind of humor..One of the greatest shows ever.

    But now I cannot watch cable TV because of all the commercial interruptions. Drives me nuts. Do I need to pay big bucks to Spectrum to watch commercials 50% of the time? That seems kind of stupid.

    Huge fan of Netflix…great price…no commercials…great variety

    Spectrum is a vulture business and they nickel and dime you for everything… EVERYTHING

    • Still wondering
      October 13, 2017 at 7:08 am #

      Tape all your shows on a DVR. Then you can blow through all the commercials.

  5. The school committee
    October 13, 2017 at 5:39 am #

    Hogan heroes , Wild Wild West,Dick VanDyke,Bob Newhart Show,Ironsides,Lucille Ball Show…..Todays prime Time dramas are like movies…they are the best ever written absolutely fantastic writing and the productions are just mind boggling fantastic

    • War Pigs
      October 13, 2017 at 10:56 am #

      WWW with Robert Conrad was a great series!

  6. Jim
    October 13, 2017 at 6:19 am #

    WRGB was really the only channel we got also.NBC at the time.WTIC in Hartford(CBS)-very snowy—WTEN(CBS) somewhat snowy.Loved The Prisoner.

  7. Tricksie
    October 13, 2017 at 7:56 am #

    MASH ?? C’mon man, top 5 all time on any list !!!

    • roman knose
      October 14, 2017 at 9:45 am #


  8. Dilly Dally
    October 13, 2017 at 8:15 am #

    The Saint. And Pittsfields favorite,Lost in Space.

    • h
      October 13, 2017 at 8:40 am #


  9. Kate Dempsey
    October 13, 2017 at 10:29 am #

    Dan, two shows I loved, but one you really missed out on was: “All in the Family.” Archie, Edith, Gloria, and Meathead. That show wouldn’t last 2 minutes past our PC censorship.

    *Sammie Davis Jr kissing Archie Bunker, classic.

    Another show I always liked was “Alice.” Alice, Mel, Vera, and Florence Jean Castleberry, aka-Flo “Kiss my grits.”

  10. mi
    October 13, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    Gold Rush, series about a City who can’t afford a High School, and a road Downtown paved with gold with dead end side streets.

  11. PJMH
    October 13, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    Mr. DV, confirming you have never seen “The Wire” on HBO? If not, winter is upon us, get your binge on.

  12. Two Cents
    October 13, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Very Surprised that Good Morning Pittsfield didn’t make the list.

    • Trumped Up
      October 14, 2017 at 7:24 pm #

      G M P is considered a Commercial.

  13. Wild in the Streets
    October 13, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    There was a mini series on one of the cable channels years ago, it starred Dennis Farina, Joe Pesci, is was about the mob, great series haven’t seen it since.Think it was set in Las Vegas.

    • Bill Q
      October 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

      Runaway was the theme in Crime Story..Del Shannon masterpiece.

  14. mi
    October 13, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Crime Story, great series.

  15. Trumped Up
    October 13, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    After hearing the F Grades for the City Council….F Troop

  16. mi
    October 13, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

    Anyone know when the Conte Debates are on T V

  17. The school committee
    October 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    Mayor Tyer until you go public about violence in Pittsfield and tell the Schools and city council that our next budget requires redirecting money to our police department.Holyoke has 125 police.

  18. The school committee
    October 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm #

    Begging mayor to put Halloween parade back on North street so that family’s will go this year.There were more people in the parade than watched the parade on Tyler street.People and families are afraid of being shot on Tyler.White and Marchetti moved out of the hood.

  19. Shelly Liver
    October 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Well, not one City Councilor lives in the HOOD?

  20. Silent Cal
    October 13, 2017 at 5:36 pm #

    Did anyone see the Frank and Ernest cartoon in the Eagle today. Racist?

  21. Len X Abhorant
    October 13, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    Anyone see the news with the Robbery at Nichols,those guys meant business.

    • dusty
      October 14, 2017 at 3:22 am #

      If all these package stores would just move to North street where it is known to be as safe as a babies nursery they would not be getting robbed.

      Just to test the authenticity of the cities claim that North street is safe I walked from Park Square to the hospital wearing a pair of gold necklaces, a Rolex watch on a naked arm, and counted out $100 bills in front of me as I walked. And I have to admit that I was not shot, not even in the leg. I was not stabbed or kicked or hit on the back of the head. While most of the thugs I came across did reach out to touch my jewelry it was only to admire it and they were most complimentary as well. They made me feel special.

      So forget about those pesky stories you hear at work and get out and enjoy the main street.

      heh heh

      • Shakes His Head
        October 14, 2017 at 11:48 pm #

        I lived on north street and walked to work most days for 5 years, never felt unsafe with my Rolex on

  22. SisterGoldenHair
    October 13, 2017 at 11:03 pm #

    Hey Len X, is the Nichols robbery story fake news?

    • SojournerTruth
      October 14, 2017 at 5:42 am #

      What about the rumors that Harry’s and Johnnies were also targeted ??? No media reports. Suppressed or fake news ?

  23. CosbiesLadies
    October 14, 2017 at 6:59 am #

    The Rifleman, being Chuck Conners was a former athlete.

  24. Trumped Up
    October 14, 2017 at 6:16 pm #

    Better call Saul. Series about a Drug Lawyer who gets everybody off, no charge is too large.

  25. Rocky Creed
    October 15, 2017 at 3:20 am #

    Barney Miller

  26. Don T
    October 15, 2017 at 6:00 am #

    Dark Shadows. Originally set in the City of Pittsfield but had to cancel as even Barnabas was afraid to film there.

  27. Pat
    October 15, 2017 at 6:02 am #

    The Bates Motel is a modern day classic. It’s unbelievable just how good it is. Lots of emotion but also very frightening.

  28. dusty
    October 15, 2017 at 6:05 am #

    I have been hearing stories about people getting their credit cards hacked/used by unauthorized people. People I know. Everyone better keep a close eye on their bank and credit card info.

    Greylock apparently has come out with a new set of rules to protect themselves…you need to read them cuz it looks like you could be on the hook for lots of stuff

    If anyone has problems please chime in as a warning

  29. Pat
    October 15, 2017 at 6:31 am #

    There was a petition signing in front of Big Y yesterday and maybe they will be there today. They want to bring back police foot and bike patrols of neighborhoods again because things are so bad. People from the areas that have turned into war zones here in Pittsfield are urging everyone to sign.

    They only need 1,000 signatures. I’m sure they will get that many easily, but will the political suits ignore the petition like they have so many others? They will listen when it’s anything having to do with pot, but what about when the issue is something that will actually improve the quality of life in the city?

    • Spider
      October 15, 2017 at 9:24 am #

      Pat, they will come up with all these “good” reasons why they can’t do foot patrols. You are right, it just depends on the issue and who would be involved.

      If Rudy Guiliani could clean up Times Square (by adding a cop on every corner), then Pittsfield should be able to clean up North Street and side streets.

      • Jonathan Melle
        October 15, 2017 at 11:02 am #

        Stay off of:
        North st.
        Tyler st.
        Lincoln st.
        First st.
        Second st.
        Linden st.
        Dewey ave
        Cherry st.
        Burbank st.
        Kent ave
        Madison ave
        And Seymour st.
        And you might survive.

  30. Skippy
    October 15, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    Add Wahconah to that list.