The new fall TV season is almost upon us. And Reality Television is flooding the schedule. It's tough to find a show with quality writing and a cast of characters that keeps our hands off the remote these days. Makes us long for the past. That said, here is the definitive list of all-time Top 10 TV Shows:
10. Twin Peaks
Cherry pie, steaming black coffee, dancing midgets and a freak named Bob. Week after week, David Lynch took us deeper into the woods of the great Northwest, pursuing Laura Palmer's killer. It was both quirky and scary and contains one of the all-time best lines: "Cooper, you remind me of a small, black Mexican Chihuahua."
Really now, how cool would it be to hang in a place where everyone really knew your name? This was a likable cast of characters whose lives we came to know propped up with a tall frosty. Sam and Diane were the classic flirtatious couple while Cliff, Norm and Carla made us feel like regulars. Frasier's worldly insights reminded us there was a life beyond the Back Bay barstools.
8. Sex and the City
One of the best-written TV shows. The Manhattan exploits of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda were sometimes uncomfortable but always real. Women could relate and guys got an inside glimpse to the opposite gender. The quartet was a true circle of friends, who made us both cringe and laugh. Their loyalty to each other as flawed guys swooped in and out of their tony lives was admirable. And who could forget "fashion road kill"?
7. The Wonder Years
Accurate portrait of pubescent life in the late '60s and early '70s. Kevin Arnold was our hero -- perceptive of his place in the junior high caste system as he worked on his self-image with his geeky friend Paul and girlfriend Winnie. The show's spirit was a reminder of an innocent time, before we dealt with boardrooms and deadlines. Well-written and close to home.
6. Happy Days
You just had to cringe watching Richie Cunningham interact with girls. It was downright embarrassing. The super-cool Fonz added some levity to the queasiness, with buddies Potsie and Ralph contributing their own goofy perspective on growing up in the days of sock-hops and waitresses on roller skates. Ground-breaking TV that captured the squeaky-clean essence of the '50s.
5. Beverly Hills, 90210
The oft-times campy dialogue aside, the kids from Hollywood delivered the cherished spirit of the '90s. Everyone wanted friends like these -- great-looking and wealthy. We suffered through the corny Brandon scenes only because we knew bad-boy Dylan and hip-hop David would even things out. And we didn't exactly mind watching Kelly, Donna, Brenda and Valerie waltz around their beach house week after week.
4. American Idol
This is really, really good stuff. A talent show/soap opera with a painfully honest judge makes for compelling drama twice a week. The formula is brilliant and viewers' ability to influence the vote avoids a storybook script. The music is often schmaltzy but there are enough gem performances to keep our interest. The weekly results inspire a furious debate, rivaling a Monday morning quarterback discussion.
3. Freaks and Geeks
The best TV show to get cancelled before its time. This was an accurate capsule of early '80s high school, with cliques, stereotypes and music so close to the heart that we felt we were hanging with these kids. Lindsay was both book-smart and cool, the glue with her peers that included the likes of potheads, motor heads, drummers and sluts. Sam, Bill and Neal were the freshmen geeks, and very funny.
Perhaps the most tightly written comedy ever. The pretentious wine-swirling, latte-sipping Crane brothers invited us into their twisted lives of social irony and intrigue. The numerous sub-plots always found a way to tie in perfectly with the joke almost always on Frasier, Seattle's loved and maligned radio talk show host. The supporting characters were outrageously funny (especially Frasier's dad) and we were always left wondering how Frasier would mess up another seemingly perfect date.
Hands down, the best show ever to beam from our living rooms. The chemistry between Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer was unmatched, and the creative writing was genius. Each episode was from the bizarro world, yet strikingly accurate. The story lines blended seamlessly and dozens of quotes are now part of America's vernacular. We learned about "shrinkage," "sponge worthiness" and "Festivus" and found out how to sleep under our desks. These four New Yorkers and their nutty supporting cast truly lit up our lives (with authentic Cuban cigars). Even in syndication, it's as fresh as ever.