5. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit spun from Law & Order
While I have at times enjoyed every incarnation of the L&O franchise included but not limited to Trial by Jury, Criminal Intent, and Conviction (2006), none has wasted as much of my time as SVU. These crimes are especially heinous—which also happens to be the name of the SVU ‘zine I once made, as an adult, for a grad school assignment [shame shudder]. Actually, it was really awesome and if you don’t have a copy, please send me your address (oh wait, all three readers of this blog have a copy). At any rate, the first ten seasons of this show, which starred Chris Meloni, were actually pretty great television. I love the detectives, Stabler, Benson, Fin and Munch and Captain Cragen too. USA Channel used to air this show on Tuesdays, this show exclusively. To be clear that means that they aired ONLY this show on Tuesdays, not that they only aired this show on Tuesdays. I cannot even begin to imagine the number of hours I have committed to this program. It is pretty simple. Body of the week. Detectives who form unhealthy bonds with victims and their families, and take EVERYTHING personally. It is certainly trash television, but I like it, and like its origin show, so does everyone else.
4. Maude spun from All in the Family
And then there’s Maude! I feel like I can simply say, this show starred Bea Arthur and anyone who knows me at all will understand my fascination with it. Admittedly, I have nary seen an entire season, but I love and respect the highlights. Seriously, this show had an abortion episode that was way ahead of its time. As in, even now people would be up in arms about it, and for that, I applaud it. Maude was the kind of woman we never see on television, and Bea Arthur played her with panache. Maude was one of the first blatantly feminist characters on television, and as such, she deserves a place on my top ten list of greatest ladies on the small screen, and a spot at number four on this list. Also, the theme song: incredible. See also: the Family Guy clip wherein they mock it.
3. The Simpsons spun from The Tracey Ullman Show
The memory is vague, very vague but there. I was in my family room with my dad in what must have been 1989. I was six years old and there was a cartoon on in the evening, a cartoon my parents ELECTED to watch. I knew that what I was watching was great, a cartoon that kids and adults could love, but I didn’t quite get it until years later when it became a pop culture phenomenon and earned its spot in the television hall of fame. Part of me loves that The Simpsons is still on the air, and I certainly tune in if I see a new episode as I’m surfing through the channels. . . but the other part of me sort of wishes this show would have departed the airwaves before it was so out of its prime. I suppose it is still funny, and the characters hold up, but it is sort of like when you see a comedian from the early 90’s and think “yea, this schtick is up” but then laugh really hard at a classic joke. Post script: this show got me through two years without cable in college. It was on CW every night from 6:00 to 8:00 and I ate dinner every evening with The Simpsons.
2. Frasier spun from Cheers
Anything I have to say about Frasier will no doubt be overshadowed by Matt’s epic ode to its wonderousness. So I shall keep it brief. Frasier was my least favorite character on Cheers. In fact, I found him downright off putting. When he came into the bar, I felt like other patrons must have felt. “Oh great! This pretentious asshole is going to talk for a long time.” And then he moved to Seattle, got a radio show, reconnected with his family, and made me giggle laugh, like spit up some soda kind of laughing. Classic. Enjoy a favorite scene:
1. Daria spun from Beavis & Butthead
I just realized that this list is oddly similar to my list of shows that deserve a reboot. For that, I apologize. I actually recall laughing at the Daria character in a great episode of B&B in which the two titular idiots are trying to grow nachos for a school assignment. I don’t think I even remembered she appeared until I saw a rerun years later, after I had channeled all my teenage angst through the sharply drawn teens of Lawndale High. I love that this show both mocked and celebrated what it was like to be in high school during the 90’s. It is just so unfortunate that the DVD’s couldn’t secure the rights to the original soundtrack. Still, it is a solid show that regardless of whether or not it holds up over time, I will always love.