September 25th, 2009


old TV

Lately, I've become addicted to watching old television shows, in their entirety. Here's what I've been watching over the past year and some thoughts.

Max Headroom

The short lived futuristic drama that attempted to bring cyberpunk to television. Matt Frewer was charming, Amanda Pays was smokin' hot, and Jeffrey Tambor still didn't have any hair, even back in 1987. It began as a BBC Channel 4 TV movie and was expanded to a U.S. series that ran for two, partial seasons with a total of 14 episodes. Even so, it still ranks as one of my all-time favorites.

Miami Vice

A favorite of mine when I was in high school, but I quit watching it at some point. I thought it'd be fun to go back and see the entire 5 season series, but I was wrong. Don't get me wrong, re-watching the first season was great. While the fashions and music are very dated, the first season is still gripping, fun, and highly stylish. Unfortunately, it grows stale really fast midway in season 2 and by season 3 I couldn't bring myself to watch any more of it and gave up. What's interested about watching some of these old shows is seeing actors who were nobodies in supporting roles who are now recognizable on hit TV shows today. A case in point on this show was Terry Quinn (aka John Locke from Lost) playing a weaselly lawyer.

WKRP In Cincinnati

I was really too young to appreciate this sitcom when it aired from 1978-82, but recall it being one of my dad's favorites. In my mind, three of these characters - Les Nesman, Herb Tarlek, and Dr. Johnny Fever - are three of the greatest sitcom characters ever. Gordon Jump had spectacular comedic timing as well. And Loni Anderson... wow. Watching her made me realize just how much notions of what constitutes female beauty has changed in the past 20 years. With notable exception (Mad Men's Chistina Hendricks comes to mind) you just don't see women built like that on TV any more.

Night Court

Another of my all-time favorite shows. Probably in my top 5. Thanks to the power of the internet I managed to watch all 8 seasons. John Larroquette as Dan Fielding is one of the great comedic performances for my money. The blend of writing with him as a lecherous womanizer combined with his knack for physical comedy carried the show the entire way. In the final season, there is a 3-show story arc which includes a young Cristine Rose (aka Angela Petrelli from Heroes) as a "sex surrogate" who employs Dan.


Through the 90s and most of this decade, I began watching less and less television. Having been a fan of Cheers in the 80s, I had seen some of Frasier in the first couple of seasons and knew it to be high quality. In fact, it's safe to say that Frasier raised the bar for quality in sitcoms. The writing was impeccable and it has won more Emmys than any other show in history. That's no small feat. It's the show I'm currently working through, somewhere in the 8th of 11 seasons. I didn't realize all of the "guest callers" on his fictional radio program were actually "guest star" appearances. David Hyde Piece has the ability to send me into hysterical fits of laughter with his dry delivery and physical comedy.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do next. I'm of a mind to delve into The John Larroquette Show and follow it up with Boston Legal. I plan to start and catch-up on some currently airing shows like 30 Rock and Burn Notice. I've also got a couple of short-lived shows lined-up: Herman's Head and Freaks and Geeks. After watching Frasier and having been immersed in Monk for the past couple of years with Welf, I might revisit the sitcom Wings which I saw here and there through the 90s. I also plan to do Seinfeld from start to finish. One I'd really like to do from the 80s is Newhart if I can get my hands on the complete 8 seasons.