Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Smartest Show Ever?

Granted, my list was off-the-cuff and not meant in any way to be definitive, but this blog points out an omission of grievous proportions in my top ten "smart" shows.

"Rocky and Bullwinkle".

And I was thinking a lot about putting "The Powerpuff Girls" in there, which was a very smart cartoon.

It also points out that the guy claims to watch 10 hours of TV a day. For a smart guy, he's an idiot.


  1. You neglected to mention the Wire which is the best show that was ever on TV bar none. Next week a major character gets killed in such a surprising way that it's unreal, but very real to what the reality on the street really is all about. You can see it on HBO
    on Demand a week early and it is worth a viewing. The episode is written by Dennis Lehane who is a great mystery novelist who wrote among other things the novel Mystic River which is miles better than the movie of the same name.

  2. And you also left off Mr. Ed. One of the most subversive depictions of repressed sexuality ever commited to film. All subtext Wilbuuuuuuur.

  3. TY,

    Still haven't seen The Wire. I need to see if they have Season 1 On Demand, so I can catch up.

    And, if I were ever inclined to watch Mr. Ed, you've now either ruined it for me, or made it a whole lot more interesting.

    I definitely gave short-shrift to HBO overall. "It's Garry Shandling's Show!" for example was the only post-modern sitcom I've ever seen. And "The Larry Sanders Show" had to be the most biting commentary on Hollywood ever.

  4. What, no Buffy! Wonderfalls was also very nice, but then, as a Thorne Smithian, I may be more inclined to whimsy than some; speaking of which, wasn't Monty Python originally a TV show? Though going across the water may be out of the reach of the concept. Still, I'll mention Dave Allen, for whom I always would stay up late when the Boston station had him on.

  5. Sorry, reading top to bottom, I missed the earlier post where you said you were sticking to US shows. In which case I submit "The Rockford Files," a show in which hardly any individual characters were smart at all, yet each story had a convoluted plot of nearly Chandlerian complexity. All this and great car chases.

  6. Yeah, I debated between "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files" and the latter show was probably better and smarter. But "Maverick" was ground-breaking.

    This raises the question of what a "smart" show is, though, as does, say, "Buffy". "Buffy" is smartly written but it's not...erudite? Or is it? (It's been a while.) Do we call a show smart if it shows intelligence on the part of its creators, or because it demands intelligence of its audience, or perhaps just rewards intelligence. And intelligence or education?

    Anyway, I liked Wonderfalls as well. It reminded me quite a bit of the also short-lived Dead Like Me. (Which makes sense, since the creator of DLM split over creative differences and left to do WF.)

    As for Dave Allen--huge fan. Loved him. Was sorry to hear he died.

  7. Actually the show after the Rockford files by James Garner was even smarter. It was called Nichols as I recall and co-starred
    John Beck a country western singer and Margot Kidder as the love interest in a triangle situation.
    Also M. Emmett Walsh in a supporting role. If it comes on TV land, it is really worth a view.

  8. "Nichols" preceded "Rockford" according to IMDB, which was back when my TV viewing consisted of "Felix the Cat" and "Gigantor".

    The head writer, Frank Pierson, looks to be no lightweight: Cool Hand Luke, Cat Ballou, Dog Day Afternoon.

  9. Sorry mixed up the order. But it was a very cool show. You should see if you could catch it. It had a cool comedy/western vibe much like support you local sheriff. Lots of fun.

  10. Ah, we love those "Support your local..." movies. I think I may have seen a few episode of that show, but I'm not sure how. It only lasted one season, so no syndication....

  11. Linked here, with something about Mensa. Thanks for inspiring a post.

    When you say that "'Buffy' is smartly written but it's not...erudite?" you have a good point. All the erudition in "Buffy" is pseudo, it's made-up stuff for a comic-book world, yet what's done with it still seems smart. Sort of like steam-punk SF, or secondary-world fantasy like The Lord of the Rings. Real stories set in imaginary worlds, or as Marianne Moore said, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them."


Grab an umbrella. Unleash hell. Your mileage may vary. Results not typical. If swelling continues past four hours, consult a physician.