Best TV shows of all time

This is a strange time for top-ten lists – usually people do them around the holidays. But here’s yet another list for your pleasure. Britain’s Empire magazine has chosen the 50 best TV shows ever made. Many good, respectable shows listed here, and a few gems completely shunned. We’ll post links to similar lists shortly. What do you think are the best TV shows?
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Big Shots (ABC, Thursdays)

Oh, what hopes have been dashed by this flimsy ‘Desperate Housewives’ rip-off. Oh, how I’ve waited to see Christopher Titus back on television. You remember him, from the short-lived (ok, 3 seasons is not that short) sitcom Titus – about a hilariously dysfunctional family. You probably remember all the male leads from all kinds of recent shows – Joshua Malina from West Wing and Sports Night; Michael Vartan from Alias and of course, the ever-getting-younger-looking heart-throb Dylan McDermott from The Practice. This was a dream male cast, perfectly suited to play powerful CEOs with familiar, identifiable personal issues. Why, oh why did ABC decide to go cartoony on such a solid premise?
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Chuck (NBC, Mondays)

Now that the show has premiered, and the insane media spin is slowly fading out, let’s talk about it. Frankly. It’s bad enough this show reminds me of just how wonderful Alias was, and how quickly it was sabotaged by its own creators and network (thanks, ABC and JJ Abrams), Chuck also shows how easily a show can be appealing to wider audience, and still remain smart and engaging. I spotted these things, did you? Here’s hoping the show can find its tracks fast, because all the elements are there, just mix them in proper order, and you’ll have a runaway hit.
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Juno (2007)

Jason Reitman has another unusual hit on his hands with ‘Juno’. Why unusual? Because his last film, ‘Thank You For Smoking’ was a hilarious, biting satire about the tobacco business. And it’s not an easy task to be satirical and likable about such a topic. Jason got plenty of flak from people who thought he was supporting the tobacco industry. Yes, satire is hard to do these days – people tend to get upset by the face value of it before they ‘get’ the in-between-the-lines message. ‘Juno’ uses sorta the same idea – except completely different. It also deals with a delicate subject with reason, and with understanding. Not really picking sides, but rather exploring the human nature of a finicky situation. This time, the subject is unplanned teen pregnancy, and the approach is somewhat different. No cynicism, no satire. But so much love, and so much diffusing humour that you can’t help but roar with laughter, even though the characters are going through some tough times.
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100 top TV catchphrases

Yes, the end of the year must be here – all kinds of lists are popping up. Here’s one list we just had to share with you. The TV Land cable network has compiled a list of the 100 greatest catchphrases in TV, from the serious — Walter Cronkite’s nightly sign-off “And that’s the way it is” — to the silly: “We are two wild and crazy guys!” The network will air a countdown special, “The 100 Greatest TV Quotes & Catch Phrases,” over five days, starting December 11. You should tune in – and memorize all these gems. Meanwhile, here’s an alphabetical listing.
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Robert Altman RIP

Robert Altman is no more. The famous director of Nashville, Gosford Park, MASH, Dr. T and the Women (and so many more movies) has died. He never got his Oscar – sure there was that lifetime achievement handout earlier this year, but for all the outstanding work he’s done, none has earned him that ultimate honor. Of course, Altman was the kind of guy who cared little for awards and ceremonies. He frequently said that hie biggest achievement was being able to work on movies (and with people) he picked. No assigned contractual obligations, no back-room deals. He saw a story, he asked for it, and he worked on it. In today’s climate, that’s not an easy task. For a guy who’s been in business since the 50s – that’s true honor.
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For Your Consideration (2006)

When this film premiered at the Toronto Film Fest, the director brought out the cast on stage. After Christopher Guest announced the last person to appear, he proceeded to talk about the film, how it was made, and who inspired it. Suddenly, from back stage, Eugene Levy appeared, shuffling quietly and slowly, as if he got lost on a school trip. There they were – about 15 people on stage, right in the spotlight, and in the darkness – Eugene, slowly wobbling towards the light. Christopher Guest stopped for a second, did a double take, and quickly announced “and here’s Eugene Levy, the co-writer of the movie”. By that time, the audience was roaring with laughter. Sure, it was a prepared bit, but it looked natural, unrehearsed. Funny as hell. Right at that moment, instead of joining the cast at the center of the stage, Eugene ran back behind the curtains, a second later a new spotlight hit that curtain, and he emerged again, this time waving his hands, smiling, and walking with confident big strides. The audience was in tears of laughter. We may have expected a bit from Guest and company, but to make a good punchline, and within seconds, to deliver another guaranteed laugh – that was class. And that set the tone for the entire film.
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Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

“We’ll be the very model of the modern network TV show”. Repeat this quickly 3 times, and you’ll get the idea. A show with musical numbers is always worth watching. Studio 60 is a new brainchild of Aaron Sorkin – of course being shown on NBC network. It’s a delicious, well-written, and amazingly cast dramedy. It’s about show-business (takes place in a fictional NBS broadcast network, surrounding an SNL-like late-night show). It’s one of the best shows on television this season, and this is also the reason why Studio 60 is going to be canceled.
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Clerks 2 (2006)

Did you know, the working title of the movie was “The Passion of the Clerks”? I think, in light of Mel Gibson’s recent attack on the Jews of the world, it might have been a good ideas to stay away from that title. It was funny, but it would have given the film a different, unnecessary tone. Clerks 2 is Kevin Smith grown up. Perhaps not quite mature, but definitely showing (and acknowledging) signs of evolution. Both as a person on screen, and as a filmmaker. That’s all I should say in the review. If you like juvenile humour that’s improving, and aging like good wine, then you’ll love the film. If you come to the theater, expecting existential meditation like Dogma, or hi-jinks like Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back – you will be disappointed. I liked it, but then again, I also liked Jersey Girl – and we all remember how quickly that disappeared from theaters.
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