XRT 4D Flashback Weekend: The 90s will be upon us this Friday so let’s put some pictures in your head from a time before the world went stark raving mad. To qualify for my list of the top 10 TV programs of the 90′s, a show must have one crucial element. It has to be a show I watched. Sure, E.R. might have been one of the most important TV shows of the 90′s or any decade, but I didn’t watch it. Take a look at the list and then you can regale me with the shows I should have watched instead.
10. Freaks and Geeks. Short-lived, but long-loved. Judd Apatow before he ascended to godliness produced this ensemble high school comedy with SCTV’s Joe Flaherty as the perplexed father. “Elvis never expectorated on his fans.” More future movie stars per square inch than any other TV show of its era. James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Jason Siegel all played high schoolers on a show no one watched.
9. Mad About You. New York neurotics on parade. With our first glimpse of the lovely Lisa Kudrow as a clueless waitress.
8. X-Files. Not a TV show. A way of life. My only objection was how Gillian Anderson ripped off Mary Dixon’s look.
7. Sports Night. Behind the scenes at a struggling sports channel. Funny and insightful with Aaron Sorkin’s rhetorical flair. Cast included Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman. A bomb, commercially but it provided the morning show with countless drop-ins.
6. NYPD Blue. It is difficult for a cop drama to survive so many major character deaths and Jimmy Smits managed to die for a long time. So pin the success of this edgy show on Chicago’s own Dennis Franz, who was Detective Sipowicz, a classic cop character. Just try not to piss him off.
Northern Exposure. Alaska has never looked so appealing and that was just Janine Turner. A quirky collection of characters and a moose and somehow it all worked. Dr. Joel was a stranger in a strange land.
Master chef and jack of all trades Adam Arkin remains one of my all time favorite TV characters.
4. The Simpsons. It’s all about the writing and a gentleman from Chicago’s Second City by the name of Dan Castelleneta
3. The Larry Sanders. Behind the scenes at this fictional TV talk show was always funnier than this or any other talk show. Rip Torn in one of his defining roles. And Larry’s sidekick, Hey Now, Hank Kimball was perfect.
2. The Sopranos. Brutal and beautiful. Nancy Marchand as Tony’s mom made all those moms of Greek tragedy seem like Cinderella.
1. Seinfeld. Gold. Hear my full consideration of the pre-eminent sitcom this weekend.