Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Top 100 TV Shows Of The 20th Century, Part 3 Of 3

Man, I completely got the yips on this topic. What seemed like a good idea at the time turned out to be an enormous amount of work, so I put the project away after writing 25 or so essays (Part 1 is available here, and Part 2 here). Judging from the traffic on those posts, it wasn't worth the heavy effort. However, I hate to leave the damn thing incomplete, so what I'm going to do is post the remaining pieces I have written, and then list the remainder of the top 100. If you have any thoughts on the list or would like me to elaborate on anything, please let me know, and I'll see what I can do. Remember: the list is generated randomly, so the #22 show isn't necessarily any better than #84.
6 seasons on NBC
September 1974–July 1980

It's been over a year since the last time I reviewed a ROCKFORD FILES episode on this blog. I made it more than halfway through Season One before getting derailed. You can find a few of my reviews here, here and here (the first one links to "The Kirkoff Case," the first regular episode after the pilot and one that guest-stars a young James Woods). You'll get the gist of my love for the show, but to summarize for those of you not curious enough to check out any of the old reviews, THE ROCKFORD FILES is quite simply the best private-eye show in television history.

Not only did it make TIME's list, but THE ROCKFORD FILES made it to #39 on TV GUIDE's list of the Top 50 shows all-time. Its star, James Garner, is unquestionably one of television's most popular stars, having made his bones as the co-star of MAVERICK in the 1950s. He quit that show in a salary dispute with Warner Brothers, and became a major film star before his return to the small screen with the one-season flop western NICHOLS in 1971. Garner has been a regular cast member on eight different series, including GOD, THE DEVIL AND BOB (on which he played God!) and 8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (which he joined after the sudden death of star John Ritter), but the role for which he is best known today is Jim Rockford, the rare TV private detective who didn't have a sexy secretary (he had a beat-up answering machine), didn't shoot it out with all the bad guys (he kept his gun in his cookie jar and preferred talking his way out of trouble to fighting), and didn't live in a flashy bachelor pad (he lived in a dilapidated trailer, albeit one parked on a Malibu beach). TV was full of private eyes when ROCKFORD debuted in 1974. Most of them were distinguished by a particular gimmick (Cannon was fat, Longstreet was blind, Barnaby Jones was old…), but Rockford was notable for being the most human of the group.

ROCKFORD was created by Roy Huggins, the maverick television writer/producer who had also created MAVERICK in the '50s, and Stephen J. Cannell, a Universal contract writer who became a fledgling producer on the short-lived private-eye show TOMA. Recognizing that the best way to be noticed among the glut of private dicks then populating the airwaves, Huggins and Cannell decided to add humor to ROCKFORD. It worked for MAVERICK, and you couldn't slide a cigarette paper between Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford in terms of character. While Rockford may have been the same guy, he was all James Garner, and audiences loved his slick-tongued methods of dealing with bad guys, whether he was running a con job on a greedy mobster (often using a disguise) or asking a thug who just pounded on him, "Does your mother know what you do for a living?"

While ROCKFORD's mystery plots were sometimes clever, they usually took a backseat to characterization, which stretched from its main character to include the eccentric Angel Martin (Stuart Margolin), Rockford's cowardly ex-prison cellmate (Jim was eventually pardoned after serving five years for an armed robbery he didn't commit) who could never resist a chance to pick up a few bucks, even if it meant ratting Jim out; Dennis Becker (Joe Santos), Rockford's only friend on the L.A. police force (unlike most TV detectives, Rockford was hated by cops); Beth Davenport (Gretchen Corbett), Jim's smart young lawyer (and old flame); and several others who popped in occasionally during the six-year run. Another unusual aspect of ROCKFORD was its portrayal of an adult father/son relationship, as retired truck driver "Rocky" (Noah Beery, Jr.) constantly fretted and worried about Jim, but was always there to patch him up after another goon rapped him on the head and ransacked his trailer as a warning to lay off his current case.

NBC hated the humor in the show, and tried to force Cannell to remove it and make Rockford a normal P.I. who punched the bad guys out and made out with a different chick every week. Less MAVERICK, more MANNIX. Cannell refused, though the series did showcase a lot of action. It did it very well too, partially because of Garner's insistence upon performing many of his own stunts. ROCKFORD became famous for its car chases, often with Garner behind the wheel of Jim's tan Pontiac Firebird, which became one of TV's most beloved automobiles.

ROCKFORD was never a major hit in its Friday time slot, but was quite popular with its fans. It spawned a direct spinoff, RICHIE BROCKELMAN, PRIVATE EYE, starring Dennis Dugan as a young P.I. who learned from Rockford how to fast-talk his way out of dangerous situations (Steven Bochco produced this NBC short-timer). A few months after ROCKFORD left NBC, CBS picked up the slack with MAGNUM, P.I., which starred Tom Selleck as a Honolulu private eye with a whimsical tone quite similar to ROCKFORD (Selleck, in fact, guest-starred on a couple of ROCKFORD episodes as a funny spoof of a typical TV P.I., which neither Rockford nor Magnum were).

Garner reprised the Jim Rockford role in eight made-for-TV movies that aired on CBS during the 1990s and rounded up the series' cast members and writers (including David Chase, who went on to create THE SOPRANOS) for more fun adventures.

7 seasons on CBS
September 1969–September 1976

If any series on this list is going to receive howls of protests, it will most likely be MEDICAL CENTER, which, before ER came along, was the longest-running medical drama in television history (airing two episodes more than MARCUS WELBY, M.D.). I admit that I have a soft spot for the show, in that it was a steady source of unintentional comedy during my college years when it reran daily on the TNT cable network. Stiffly performed, naively written and melodramatic as hell, MEDICAL CENTER did its damnedest to be relevant, tackling serious issues of the day such as abortion, male impotence, campus unrest, alcoholism, recreational drugs, witchcraft (!), homosexuality, Vietnam, even venereal disease.

One reason MEDICAL CENTER was able to logically face such polarizing topics is because it was set on a college campus. Young physician Joe Gannon (Chad Everett) and chief of staff Paul Lochner (James Daly) worked at the university medical center (I believe exteriors were filmed at UCLA, though the show's setting was never stated), where a wide variety of illnesses and ailments crossed their paths. Since the center was also involved with medical research, plots like "The Combatants," which guest-starred William Shatner as a brash scientist whose recklessness to create a cancer cure puts lives in jeopardy, were made possible.

Some stories played like soap opera, such as "Suspected." Earl Holliman played a gifted heart surgeon who was the only man on Earth qualified to perform a difficult procedure that could save a patient's life. His problem is that he was a convicted sex offender who ran off to Canada to avoid incarceration, and if he returns to the U.S. to save the patient's life, he will likely go to prison. "Witch Hunt" found Gannon competing to save the life of a girl with Addison's Disease against the black-magic forces of her coven, led by guest Dana Wynter. Forrest Tucker was "The Professional," a cornpone ex-college football star who faked various illnesses because the loneliness he felt at home was too much to bear.

Perhaps MEDICAL CENTER's most famous episode was "The Fourth Sex," a two-parter that kicked off the seventh season. Robert Reed, just coming off THE BRADY BUNCH, played a prominent surgeon who comes to his friend Gannon with a shocking request. He wants to become a woman and for the procedure to be performed at Medical Center. At first, the hospital board, just like Reed's family (including his wife played by Louise Sorel), rejects their colleague's wish because they find it repellent. However, with the righteous Gannon urging them on, the board changes its mind and grants permission. Two things about the episode are interesting: 1) will the show bravely go through with the operation (I don't believe a sex change had ever happened on episodic TV before) and 2) will we get to see what Reed looks like afterward? Well, the answer is yes on both counts, and the series deserves much credit for not only doing a show about transgenders, but one that treats the uncomfortable subject with class. Reed received an Emmy nomination for his dignified performance.

MEDICAL CENTER made a star of Everett, though he arguably didn't take to it well. In addition to recording some awful record albums, he became slightly notorious for his misogynist interviews, including a DICK CAVETT SHOW where he drove fellow guest Lily Tomlin off the stage after he lumped wife Shelby Grant in with the family pets, saying she was the best animal he owned. Still handsome in his 70s, Everett never again found a role as popular as Dr. Gannon, but he continues to act in movies (MULHOLLAND DRIVE, ANCHORMAN) and TV (WITHOUT A TRACE, COLD CASE). James Daly, by the way, was the father of actors Tyne (CAGNEY & LACEY) and Tim (WINGS).

4 seasons on BBC1
October 1969—September 1974

The legacy of Britain's most popular comedy series lives on in North America, where nearly every TV sketch-comedy show that followed it bore its influence to some extent. Monty Python was a comedy troupe consisting of Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle—six brilliantly talented writer/performers who introduced a blistering new absurdist style to television. Granted, the Pythons were themselves influenced by THE GOON SHOW, a BBC radio program of the 1950s, but FLYING CIRCUS seems to have been the first show to bring that style of surrealism to television, or certainly at least the first to do so at such a high level of popularity.

Surprisingly, only 45 episodes were ever made, but they were rerun almost constantly on PBS during the 1970s. Younger audiences, schooled perhaps on MAD, flipped over the silly slapstick and wordplay, whereas hip college students grooved on the political and sexual humor. Americans had never seen anything like the Python style, which often involved starting sketches in the middle and cutting away before the end. Transitions were often eschewed with one sketch bumping right into the next. The Pythons played all the roles (or nearly all) themselves, including female parts, which is still a rarity on American shows.

While FLYING CIRCUS may not have reached mainstream acceptance the way SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE did, it earned a rabid fanbase that can recite nearly every sketch ever performed on the show and helped make it the only sketch show to branch into movies. Sure, the Brothers Blues and McKenzie had their moments on the big screen, but the whole Monty Python troupe made the shift with larger-budgeted, sharper-targeted versions of the series, where they were able to hone their satire to a sharper prick.

Chapman died in 1989, but the rest of the Pythons remain popular as writers, actors and filmmakers (both Gilliam and Cleese have been nominated for screenwriting Oscars).

1 season on Fox
August 1993—May 1994

In the fall of 1993, the young Fox network debuted its new Friday prime-time lineup. Both shows were SF/fantasy-oriented. One was upbeat, funny, exciting and highly publicized by Fox, which clearly expected this show to be its breakout hit of the season. The other show was dark, moody, edgy and felt like a network throwaway. The first show, THE ADVENTURES OF BRISCO COUNTY, JR., was cancelled after one season. The second, which Fox barely promoted, was THE X-FILES, which became one of the most influential television series of its time.

BRISCO was simultaneously behind and ahead of its time. It was an outdoor western with horses and shootouts and cowboys, a genre that hadn't been successful since GUNSMOKE left the airwaves nearly twenty years earlier. At the same time, it was an unusual mix of genres–an adventure series with overriding story arcs, which is common today, but not at all back then, except on soaps. Frequently compared to THE WILD WILD WEST, BRISCO closely mirrored the fantastic storylines and campy adventure of that 1960s series. However, the latter series knew to occasionally play it straight, which made its characters more human and the dangerous situations they frequently found themselves in more suspenseful. THE WILD WILD WEST was a cartoon, albeit often an entertaining one.

The series should have been a breakthrough role for its handsome star, Bruce Campbell, whose pliable face and sharp jaw helped demonstrate that he could do everything a good leading man should. He could throw a punch (and take one), he was funny, he was effective in all clinches, both romantic and dramatic. He was also a fine physical performer who appeared to be one-half Bob Conrad and one-half Shemp Howard. Campbell already had a small but loyal fan base as the star of the EVIL DEAD trilogy—black-comic, blood-soaked horror movies in which he served as a producer as well as an actor—but it was BRISCO that should have made him a household name.

Campbell played Brisco County, Jr., a Harvard-educated bounty hunter who roamed the West collecting bad guys while searching for the group of outlaws who murdered his father, Marshal Brisco County, Sr. (played in the pilot by R. Lee Ermey). The gang of thirteen was led by the sinister John Bly (played with a weird whisper by the incredible-looking Billy Drago), who spent much of the series evading Brisco's grasp. Key to the series, however, was its supporting cast, most of whom appeared in recurring roles. Besides Campbell, the only regulars were Christian Clemenson as Socrates Poole, Brisco's intellectual lawyer sidekick, and Julius Carry III as Lord Bowler, a big, tough bounty hunter who originally was Brisco's somewhat friendly rival (the two took turns making each other's lives momentarily miserable), but eventually became his partner. Occasional players included John Astin (THE ADDAMS FAMILY) as a batty inventor, John Pyper-Ferguson (DRIVE) as eccentric gunfighter Pete Hutter (who couldn't stand it when anyone touched his gun), Gary Hudson (ROAD HOUSE) as Aaron Viva (a sheriff who talked and dressed like Elvis Presley), and the delectable Kelly Rutherford as Dixie Cousins, a showgirl who enjoyed a series-long off-and-on love affair with Brisco.

Another supporting player was The Orb, a mysterious alien sphere with extraordinary powers and removable rods that caused all kinds of supernatural problems for Brisco to solve. The Orb bounced around from character to character with all of them trying to learn the extent of its power—in the case of John Bly, to use them to rule the world. The series also introduced other anachronisms, such as a rocket built by Astin's Professor Wickwire and even the donut, which a little boy named Duncan gave to a hungry Bowler.

Ratings problems began plaguing BRISCO almost from the beginning (though the 2-hour pilot got good numbers), and Fox—obviously to this viewer—began fiddling with the show's format. A hunky new character, Whip (Jeff Phillips), joined the cast, The Orb was hastily explained away and gotten rid of, and Brisco and Bowler changed careers from independent bounty hunters to special agents for the U.S. Government. None of the network interference improved the show, though Fox did stay with it long enough to produce extra episodes at the end of the season for the unusually high number of 27 altogether. Still, the high cost of making a western, particularly one with special effects, sent BRISCO packing at the end of the season, but it remains one of Fox's most memorable series. TNT aired Saturday-morning reruns for several years, and the entire series was released on DVD in 2006. Campbell, who shoulda been a star, has since bounced around in TV guest shots, starring roles in crummy independent movies, and supporting roles in classy studio films, but has never received the acclaim that should have been his.

4 seasons on NBC
1 season on CBS
September 1965–September 1970

GET SMART! missed the top by that much. Yeah, I know the rankings are random, but how could I pass up the opportunity to make that lame joke? GET SMART! is practically the lone exception to the rule that satire dies on network television. Hitting the NBC airwaves at the peak of the James Bond craze, this irreverent sitcom not only spoofs spy-movie conventions, but also government bureaucracy, the Iron Curtain and often other television shows and movies (Robert Culp popped up in an episode titled "Die, Spy").

How could GET SMART! miss, created as it was by two of Hollywood's great humorists: Mel Brooks and Buck Henry (though Brooks' participation seems to have waned after the pilot)? And while the two men deserve their fair share of credit, the lion's share should go to Leonard B. Stern, the executive producer who heralded the series through most of its Emmy-winning run, and star Don Adams, a standup comic who adopted a nasally voice that was part William Powell and part Billy DeWolfe. Adams perfectly inhabited the sweet, buffoonish personality of Maxwell Smart, an American secret agent working for CONTROL whose code number, 86, may also have been his IQ. Partnered with the beautiful and bright Agent 99 (ex-model Barbara Feldon), Max somehow always managed to get his man, no matter how inept his investigative skills.

If GET SMART! had only been about Smart and 99 bumbling about, the series would never have worked. In addition to scripts that carefully crafted standard (though absurd) action plots for the agents to bounce around in, the series created an amazing extended family of unusual, colorful supporting players: the Chief (Edward Platt), Max and 99's blustery boss; Hymie (Dick Gautier), a robot that literally performed any command asked of it; Siegfried (Bernie Kopell), Smart's opposite number at KAOS, an evil spy organization dedicated to disaster; Agent 13 (Dave Ketchum), a master of disguise often found inside filing cabinets and potted plants, and several others. The "family" extended to the series' wide coterie of catch phrases ("Sorry about that, Chief." "That's the second biggest ___ I've ever seen." "Missed by that much.") and gadgetry, such as Smart's famous shoe phone. My favorite is the Cone of Silence, which, on the surface, appears to be a one trick pony of a gag, but somehow was funny every time it was used.

Max and 99 got married in the fourth season—its last on NBC—and they had twin children in GET SMART!'s fifth season on CBS. This shifted the comedy's focus (unsuccessfully) from spy adventure to domestic antics. Still, the series has managed to endure since leaving the air in 1970. Not only did it immediately go into syndication, where it will probably run forever, it spawned one theatrical reunion (1980's unfunny THE NUDE BOMB), a charming TV-movie (GET SMART, AGAIN!), a shortlived Fox sitcom (starring Andy Dick as Max and 99's bumbling son, once again paired with a smart, sexy agent played by Elaine Hendrix), and 2008's feature-film remake with Steve Carell (THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN) and Anne Hathaway (THE PRINCESS DIARIES).

#26: M*A*S*H
11 seasons on CBS
September 1972–February 1983

M*A*S*H, the series that brought blood and black humor to prime time, remains one of the most popular television series ever produced. It was a Top Ten show in nine of its eleven seasons, reaching #3 the year it was canceled. Its final episode, the 2 ½-hour "Goodnight, Farewell and Amen," remains the highest-rated in history, reaching over 100 million viewers. It won fourteen Emmys, surprisingly only one of them for Best Comedy. And it will likely play in syndication for generations to come.

Developed for television by the great comedy writer Larry Gelbart (TOOTSIE), M*A*S*H was, of course, inspired by Robert Altman's smash 1970 film, which was in turn based on a series of novels by Richard Hornberger about a group of hell-raising surgeons trying to remain sane while patching up U.S. soldiers on the front line of the Korean War. Alan Alda, who went on to win Emmy awards as an actor, a writer and a director on M*A*S*H, the only person ever to do so, became one of TV's biggest stars playing the leading role of "Hawkeye" Pierce, a sardonic, humanistic and hopelessly romantic doctor who was the unit's de facto leader inside the operating room and as the instigator of pranks. Pierce and his sidekick, "Trapper" John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), did everything possible to make the war miserable for their ferret-faced tentmate, the officious Frank Burns (Larry Linville), and his stick-in-the-mud lover, nurse "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit). Others in the camp included commanding officer Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), alert clerk "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff), crossdressing Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher).

Despite several important cast defections, M*A*S*H remained incredibly popular during the late '70s, as Rogers, Stevenson and Linville split and were replaced, respectively, by Mike Farrell as Hawkeye's new partner in crime, B.J. Hunnicutt, Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman T. Potter and David Ogden Stiers as the blueblooded surgeon Charles Emerson Winchester. As the series progressed (far beyond the Korean War's three-year length), it became more mature, often dropping its laugh track (which Gelbart, from the beginning, insisted be kept out of the OR scenes) and leaning towards more dramatic episodes sprinkled with comedy.

If nothing else, M*A*S*H proved there was room on television for sophisticated wartime comedy, far removed from the absurd antics of HOGAN'S HEROES. It nimbly presented the hell of war from all angles and did as much to put a human face on the brave men and women who have served their country as any newsreel could.

4 seasons on ABC
September 1965–May 1969

It will surprise many to learn that BONANZA did not make my Top 100 list, but THE BIG VALLEY, which was clearly inspired by it, is. Simply, I never cared much for BONANZA, which seemed overly simple and whose characters never engaged me. THE BIG VALLEY was a more exciting show with a premise that lent itself to domestic stories, courtroom dramas, suspense, action, light comedy. It also had a majestic theme (composed by George Duning) that lent the series an epic aura that BONANZA's guitar picking could not.

THE BIG VALLEY chronicled the adventures of the Barkleys, a wealthy family who lived together on a large spread near Stockton, California. Though the patriarch, Tom, was long dead, the Barkley household was held together by his strong widow, Victoria, played by "Miss" (as she was credited) Barbara Stanwyck. Oldest son Jarrod (Richard Long) was an attorney; fiery, black-gloved son Nick (Peter Breck) ran the ranch; and barely-out-of-her-teens daughter Audra (Linda Evans) helped her mother run the home. In the first episode, young, blond Heath (Lee Majors) showed up and announced he was Tom's illegitimate son. Surprisingly, his half-siblings didn't put up as much fuss as you might expect, and he and Victoria eventually settled into a normal mother/son relationship. (And—shades of Chuck Cunningham—another son, Eugene, dropped out of the series during the first season and was never heard from again.)

Boosted by high production values, accomplished guest stars, an absorbing mixture of stories and its appealing main cast made THE BIG VALLEY an ABC hit for four seasons. Like other westerns like MAVERICK and BONANZA, episodes often revolved around just one or two regulars. The two-part "Explosion" was a nice showcase for Majors, Long and Breck, as they transported a load of deadly nitroglycerine across rough terrain to help put out a forest fire. Charles Bronson guested in "Earthquake," in which he, as a recently canned Barkley ranch hand, became trapped underground with Victoria and a pregnant woman.

While all the regulars had successful television careers, THE BIG VALLEY made a star of Majors, who leapt to another western (THE MEN FROM SHILOH) and the legal drama OWEN MARSHALL, COUNSELOR AT LAW before his iconic roles as THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE FALL GUY, both on ABC, the network that aired THE BIG VALLEY.

28. Law & Order
29. Gunsmoke
30. Murder One
31. Outer Limits, The
32. SCTV
33. Police Squad!
34. Carol Burnett Show, The
35. Adventures of Superman, The
36. Barney Miller
37. Taxi
38. Fugitive, The
39. WKRP in Cincinnati
40. Maverick
41. Bob Newhart Show, The
42. 77 Sunset Strip
43. Magnum, P.I.
44. Pee Wee's Playhouse
45. Sports Night
46. Naked City
47. Crime Story
48. Mannix
49. 60 Minutes
50. Jeopardy!
51. I Love Lucy
52. Mystery Science Theater 3000
53. Politically Incorrect
54. Mission: Impossible
55. Harry O
56. Batman
57. NewsRadio
58. Cagney & Lacey
59. Ernie Kovacs Show, The
60. Ed Sullivan Show, The
61. Match Game
62. Dick Cavett Show, The
63. What's My Line?
64. I Spy
65. X-Files, The
66. Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The
67. Thriller
68. Flintstones, The
69. Star Trek
70. Jack Benny Program, The
71. All in the Family
72. Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The
73. Homicide: Life on the Street
74. Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The
75. Andy Griffith Show, The
76. Hill Street Blues
77. Monday Night Football
78. Late Night with David Letterman
79. NYPD Blue
80. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
81. ABC's Wide World of Sports
82. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
83. Have Gun Will Travel
84. Monkees, The
85. Avengers, The
86. Playhouse 90
87. Dean Martin Show, The
88. Larry Sanders Show, The
89. Lone Ranger, The
90. White Shadow, The
91. Dick Van Dyke Show, The
92. Hawaii Five-0
93. Honeymooners, The
94. Freaks and Geeks
95. Perry Mason
96. Police Story
97. Sesame Street
98. Prisoner, The
99. Columbo
100. Dragnet


Hal said...

Glad to see THE WHITE SHADOW and DOBIE GILLIS on your list, though I'd rate SHADOW, DICK VAN DYKE, THE PRISONER and COLUMBO much higher. I do think DOBIE fell off after the high school graduation considerably, but that first season and a half is as good as sitcoms got in that era.

Speaking of Dwayne Hickman, you really ought to get around to giving your LOVE THAT BOB DVD a look. :) Historically important for sure; I just wish the 16 episode sampler had better episode selection.

Great list overall; I rate MAVERICK ahead of ROCKFORD, but then, I rate MAVERICK as one of the 10 best television series ever.

I can see why POLICE SQUAD! might make it ahead of SLEDGE HAMMER!, but I'd actually be more inclined to list the latter. I'd probably leave DEAN MARTIN off; though there are some great clips, watching a complete episode was pretty tedious last time I tried.

I'd like to give MEDICAL CENTER a look now; haven't seen it in years, but I don't remember it being any better than TRAPPER JOHN M.D. And Trap at least had my childhood crush Madge Sinclair around.

I guess I should try this 100 best thing myself at some point.

Marty McKee said...

Having watched some TRAPPER JOHN recently (after I originally made this list), it probably is not any better or worse than MEDICAL CENTER. Really, they're pretty much the same show (and they both shared producer Don Brinkley, so it isn't a surprise). Chad Everett, however, was a much worse actor than Gregory Harrison, which adds a lot of camp value. If I was making the list today, I doubt either show would be on it, but such is the nature of these things.

Gary Baumgarten said...

Stephen J. Cannell will be my guest on News Talk Online on Friday July 11 at 5 PM New York time.

You can talk to him by going to and clicking on the link. There is no charge.